Archive for the ‘Product Tips’ Category

The self-encrypted drives erasure puzzle

Risa Galant

Risa Galant

Principal Technical Writer at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Risa Galant

Latest posts by Risa Galant (see all)

Self-Encrypted Drives (SEDs) provide hardware-level security for sensitive on-disk data. Data on SEDs is encrypted using a combination of an internal key and a drive access password. Using SEDs is simple. After performing initial drive set-up, you don’t have to do anything: SEDs handle data encryption and decryption automatically. If you want to access the data, you have to know the password. And without that password, the protected on-disk data is inaccessible.

But what if something goes wrong? Can you recover the encrypted data if the password or internal keys are lost or deleted? What if someone removes a SED from a powered-on node, or a SED becomes corrupt or is otherwise defective? What if business reasons require that you completely erase the drive? How do you safely go about doing that, and how do you verify the erasure?

To find answers to these questions, check out the Uptime Information Hub article Data erasure and SED drives: An overview and FAQ, available on the EMC Community Network’s Isilon community space. You’ll learn:

  • How SEDs work
  • What happens if a password is lost, a drive becomes defective, or someone tries to make off with the drive
  • How to erase a defective drive and how to erase all SEDs in a node or cluster
  • How to confirm that a SED has been erased
  • How long typical erasure operations take

And more.

Let us know what you think of the Data erasure and SED drives: An overview and FAQ article. If you have feedback for us about this or any other Isilon technical content, email us at isicontent@emc.com. And thank you!

Check out the Isilon multiprotocol series

Risa Galant

Risa Galant

Principal Technical Writer at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Risa Galant

Latest posts by Risa Galant (see all)

There’s a new series in town: the Multiprotocol Concepts series on the EMC Community Network (ECN) Isilon community. If you’ve ever wondered how OneFS handles multiprotocol data access or even what it is, this series will be a great place to start learning all about it. The first blog post introduces basic multiprotocol concepts, setting the stage for subsequent posts that explore those concepts in more depth. We’ll post new series topics approximately every two weeks. Topics include:

  • Data access tokens, also known as unified access tokens
  • Directory services
  • User mapping
  • ID mapping
  • On-disk identity
  • OneFS storage of file and share permissions
  • POSIX permissions
  • Access control list (ACL) policies
  • Verifying your multiprotocol environment and some basic troubleshooting

I’ll list the series posts here as they become available. So take a look at the multiprotocol series. And please let us know what you think!

InsightIQ 3.2.1: Cool new stuff

Patrick Kreuch

Patrick Kreuch

Sr. Technical Writer at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Patrick Kreuch

Latest posts by Patrick Kreuch (see all)

[Editor’s note: We updated the title from InsightIQ 3.2 to InsightIQ 3.2.1, changed mentions of 3.2 to 3.2.1, and removed the original photo on 8/5/2015. InsightIQ 3.2 is replaced by InsightIQ 3.2.1. All the cool new features mentioned in this blog are available in InsightIQ 3.2.1, including a fix for an upgrade issue. For more information, refer to InsightIQ 3.2.1 release notes. And while we originally featured the “Deal with It” meme photo because it showcased the ultimate symbol of cool (wearing sunglasses indoors), we no longer considered it a good fit for this blog post. Call it a case of revenge of the meme. For questions or concerns about this blog post, please send an email to isi.knowledge@emc.com.]

Being cool isn’t just about expensive clothes and wearing sunglasses indoors. Being cool is about attitude, speed, and efficiency. Slow is never cool. InsightIQ 3.2.1 is easily the coolest release of InsightIQ yet. If you want to know why, keep reading.

New, faster, lighter PostgreSQL database

InsightIQ 3.2.1 has a sweet new PostgreSQL database instead of the old SQLite database. PostgreSQL offers the monitoring experience you’ve been waiting for. With the new PostgreSQL datastore, InsightIQ runs faster and requires less space to store the same amount of information. It’s the best of both worlds, and nothing is better than the best of both worlds, except maybe the best of three or four worlds. But really, how many worlds do you need?

Configurable stat collection

While earlier versions of InsightIQ were obsessed with collecting every single cluster statistic, InsightIQ 3.2.1 is a little more laid back. InsightIQ 3.2.1 enables you to specify which statistics you want to collect, so you have more room on your hard drive for videogames. If you just don’t care about CPU usage, InsightIQ is right there with you.

Datastore export

In previous versions of InsightIQ, if you wanted to transfer cluster data from one InsightIQ instance to another, you had to connect the two instances and keep them connected while the data was migrated. Those were the rules; that’s just the way things were. But InsightIQ 3.2.1 doesn’t play by the rules. It’s a lone wolf that stays up past midnight and drinks milk from the carton. InsightIQ 3.2.1 lets you export your datastore to a .tar file that you can later import to any number of other InsightIQ instances, and it lets you do it on your own time.

SmartPools support

InsightIQ 3.2.1 also enables you to break out performance data by node pools and tiers, which is more useful than cool, but does everything have to be cool? The answer is yes… and no. Because there are no definitive answers in life, only questions. And thinking like that makes you really cool.

Learn more

At this point, you probably can’t wait to start working with InsightIQ’s new database, move some datastores around, and apply a few node-pool breakouts. And the great thing is: you don’t have to! Follow the link below to start right now. The 1,000,000th user to click wins a free skateboard!*

https://community.emc.com/docs/DOC-42096

*I lied. There is no skateboard.

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Check out the new EMC Isilon podcast

Kirsten Gantenbein

Kirsten Gantenbein

Principal Content Strategist at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Kirsten Gantenbein
Kirsten Gantenbein

If you enjoy listening to technology-related podcasts while commuting on the bus or working out at the gym, there’s a new technology podcast about EMC Isilon that you can add to your listening queue.

The EMC Isilon ClusterTalk podcast was created by Chris Adiletta and Scott Pinzon of EMC Isilon, who also serve as its charismatic hosts. Each monthly hour-long episode features regular segments and expert guests. “Podcast discussions can be more frank and free-wheeling than in a more formal setting, so they provide a great way to address tech issues realistically,” says Scott.

From left to right, ClusterTalk hosts Chris Adiletta and Scott Pinzon

From left to right, ClusterTalk hosts and creators Chris Adiletta and Scott Pinzon

You can download the latest episode now from iTunes or listen on Stitcher.

Why a podcast?

There are several channels you can follow to get the technical information about EMC Isilon products. For example, you can download documentation from the EMC Online Support site (login required), follow @EMCIsilon on Twitter for news and updates, and ask product-related questions on our Isilon Community forum. Now you can listen to the ClusterTalk podcast to learn about tips for getting the most performance, efficiency, and insight from your EMC Isilon OneFS clusters.

“We wanted a way to connect with a large audience of customers over our passion for Isilon, the big data industry, and all of the ways that technology is pushing the boundaries of human capability,” says Chris.

Each episode features a cool command, a popular topic on the Isilon Community, and data storage-related news. You can also hear me each month on the “Hidden Gems” segment, where I reveal a new and intriguing bit of customer support content.

Scott, who also serves as the audio engineer, explains what he loves about the podcast format. “Audio is a fantastic medium for the mind. With sounds, we can help listeners imagine worlds that would require a Hollywood movie budget to create visually, or let them feel like we’re all hanging out discussing big data over beer. Podcasts are terrific for anyone who wants to always be learning!”

For more information, visit the podcast hub on the Isilon Community or show notes for the following episodes:

Feedback

We value your feedback on this podcast. Listeners can also ask questions for Chris and Scott to address on the podcast. You can submit your questions by sending an email to clustertalk@emc.com or leaving a community comment. You can also leave your feedback on this podcast by rating it on iTunes.

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Introducing the EMC Isilon External Network Connectivity Guide

Risa Galant

Risa Galant

Principal Technical Writer at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Risa Galant

Latest posts by Risa Galant (see all)

Ever wonder about the best way to set up communication between Isilon clusters and external client applications? Maybe you’d like to learn about Isilon network topology and how IP routing works in OneFS 7.1, or what the best practices are for using source-based routing in OneFS 7.2. Perhaps you’re curious about considerations around Isilon technology refreshes, or what to tell your client system administrators about DNS settings.

We’ve got just the content for you! Check out the EMC Isilon External Network Connectivity Guide: Routing, Network Topologies, and Best Practices for SmartConnect. (You’ll need to log in to the EMC Online Support site to view it.) Developed as a collaborative effort between Isilon Information Development and Isilon Professional Services, the Isilon External Network Connectivity Guide’s scenario-driven content covers your favorite Isilon external networking topics.  Be aware, though, that it isn’t a tutorial. The guide reviews Isilon networking basics, but assumes that as a network or storage architect or administrator, you’re already familiar with general networking concepts and terms.

Here are some highlights from the guide:

  • An easy-to-consume table to help you choose the best load balancing policy for your environment
  • Guidelines for keeping your Isilon cluster running efficiently
  • DNS setting recommendations to pass along to your client system administrators to help ensure that client connections stay fresh
  • Common questions and answers about Isilon in-band network management
  • Guidelines for calculating the number of IP addresses you’ll need for planning your network architecture
  • An illustrated, scenario-based walkthrough that introduces you to the wonders of dynamic SmartConnect zones and IP addresses
  • Recommended strategies for network design for specialized workloads from different industries, such as media and entertainment
  • Best practices for ensuring cluster stability, data integrity, and optimal network performance
  • Another easy-to-consume table describing common data unavailable causes and preventive actions you can take
  • Planning guidelines for technology refresh cycles
  • Recommended IP allocation strategies for SmartConnect Advanced listed by protocol
  • An illustrated discussion of network routing in OneFS 7.1
  • Another illustrated discussion of source-based routing (SBR) in OneFS 7.2, with a bonus discussion of destination-based routing just for comparison

SBR diagram by Andrew Chung

The guide also covers how best to use SyncIQ and SmartConnect Advanced for backup and disaster recovery planning. In fact, there’s a whole section covering SmartConnect best practices. Learn how SmartConnect works, what to check if you have firewalls, and what practices to avoid.  And if you’ve ever wondered how Isilon and SmartConnect handle DNS delegation, the Isilon External Network Connectivity Guide is the guide for you.

As if that weren’t enough information about SmartConnect, there are more scenario-based descriptions of hot networking topics such as where the SmartConnect service runs, what happens when you replace nodes while SmartConnect is active, and how to use SmartConnect in an isolated network environment.

Pretty comprehensive, huh? That’s the idea: to provide an all-inclusive guide to Isilon external network connectivity. We hope that this will be your go-to guide for getting answers to your Isilon external networking questions. It’s sort of a “how to hook up with an Isilon cluster” guide.

You’ll find the guide on EMC Online Support here: EMC Isilon External Network Connectivity Guide. Note that you’ll need to log in to the support site to access it. Let us know what you think!

Start a conversation about Isilon content

Have a question or feedback about Isilon content? Visit the online EMC Isilon Community to start a discussion. If you have questions or feedback about this blog or comments about the video specifically, contact us at isi.knowledge@emc.com. To provide documentation feedback or request new content, contact isicontent@emc.com.

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EMC Isilon InsightIQ 3.1.1 enhancements

Patrick Kreuch

Patrick Kreuch

Sr. Technical Writer at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Patrick Kreuch

Latest posts by Patrick Kreuch (see all)

No tool is so perfect that it cannot be improved. There’s no knife that couldn’t be sharper, no couch that couldn’t be comfier, no paperweight that couldn’t be heavier. EMC Isilon InsightIQ is a powerful tool, but it can always be made more powerful. That’s why we recently released InsightIQ  3.1.1: to make InsightIQ run faster and more reliably than ever before.

Enhancements

SPOILER ALERT: The following text describes some of the awesome new enhancements of InsightIQ 3.1.1. DO NOT READ if you just want to be pleasantly surprised when you download it.

Speed

Have you ever hiked up a mountain only to discover that your backpack was full of rocks? If so, you’re a really bad camper (or possibly just a geologist), but either way, you could have made that hike a lot faster without the rocks.

Image by akunamatata on Flickr

Image by akunamatata on Flickr

You may notice while running the new version of InsightIQ that it’s a lot faster than before. We’ve removed the rocks by tweaking InsightIQ to run more efficiently, including making improvements to debugging behavior. We’ve removed a lot of unnecessary debugging effort, which frees InsightIQ resources to work on more important things.

We’ve also improved InisghtIQ’s datastore technology. In previous versions, InsightIQ would let disk-space usage data take up more than its fair share of space in the InsightIQ datastore. InsightIQ 3.1.1 makes sure that free space is divided up equally for all.

Stability

InsightIQ 3.1.1 includes improvements to monitoring stability, especially for large clusters. Earlier instances of InsightIQ would request a lot of data from large clusters all at once, which could cause the clusters to become confused and passive aggressive. InsightIQ 3.1.1 has learned to be more patient and build a healthier relationship between it and the monitored clusters.

We’ve also improved stability by correcting an error in InsightIQ’s timeout behavior. Have you ever noticed InsightIQ’s connection timing out more than usual? This was likely due to InsightIQ interpreting a timeout value of 0 as actually meaning 0 (instead of infinity). We’ve reconfigured InsightIQ to fix this issue and stop taking things so literally.

Finally, we’ve made some adjustments to reduce “data retrieval delayed” errors. When previous versions of InsightIQ would lose a connection to the cluster, InsightIQ would sometimes report a data retrieval delayed error indefinitely, rather than report that the connection had been severed. This led to some difficulty diagnosing the issue.

Learn more

Start a conversation about Isilon content

Have a question or feedback about Isilon content? Visit the online EMC Isilon Community to start a discussion. If you have questions or feedback about this blog, or comments about the video specifically, contact us at isi.knowledge@emc.com. To provide documentation feedback or request new content, contact isicontent@emc.com.

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Quick Start Lab Guide for adding capacity or performance in the EMC Isilon OneFS Simulator

Kirsten Gantenbein

Kirsten Gantenbein

Principal Content Strategist at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Kirsten Gantenbein
Kirsten Gantenbein

The EMC Isilon OneFS Simulator is a great resource for trying out OneFS on a virtual infrastructure. The OneFS Simulator is a free version of OneFS 7.2 that you can download for non-production purposes. In this simulated OneFS environment, you can get an idea of what it’s like to administer a full Isilon cluster installation.

After downloading and setting up the OneFS Simulator, take a look at our recently published Quick Start Lab Guide. This lab guide walks you through exercises for using the OneFS Simulator. The featured exercise in this guide helps you add capacity, CPU, and memory to your virtual EMC Isilon cluster by adding another node.

Leave feedback about this lab guide

This is the first lab guide for the OneFS Simulator that we’ve published. Please let us know what you think. If you like this guide, have feedback about the format, or suggestions for other quick start guides, please leave a comment or send an email to isicontent@emc.com.

Get help with OneFS Simulator set up

If you need help with the initial set up of OneFS Simulator on your virtual environment, watch this video:

Start a conversation about Isilon content

Have a question or feedback about Isilon content? Visit the online EMC Isilon Community to start a discussion. If you have questions or feedback about this blog, or comments about the video specifically, contact us at isi.knowledge@emc.com. To provide documentation feedback or request new content, contact isicontent@emc.com.

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Cluster capacity advice from an EMC Isilon expert

Kirsten Gantenbein

Kirsten Gantenbein

Principal Content Strategist at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Kirsten Gantenbein
Kirsten Gantenbein

Avoiding scenarios where your cluster reaches maximum capacity is crucial for making sure it runs properly. Our Best Practices for Maintaining Enough Free Space on Isilon Clusters and Pools guide contains information to help Isilon customers keep their clusters running smoothly.

However, there are common misperceptions about cluster capacity, such as the notion that it’s easy to delete data from a cluster that is 100 percent full. Another misunderstanding: using Virtual Hot Spare (VHS) to reserve space for smartfailing a drive is not always necessary.

To clarify these issues and other concerns about cluster capacity, I interviewed one of Isilon’s top experts on this topic, Bernie Case. Bernie is a Technical Support Engineer V in Global Services at Isilon, with many years of experience working with customers who experience maximum cluster capacity scenarios. He is also a contributing author to the Best Practices for Maintaining Enough Free Space on Isilon Clusters and Pools guide. In this blog post, Bernie answers questions about cluster capacity and provides advice and solutions.

Q: What are common scenarios in the field that lead to a cluster reaching capacity?

A: The typical scenarios are when there’s an increased data ingest, which can come from either a normal or an unexpected workflow. If you’re adding a new node or replacing nodes to add capacity, and it takes longer than expected, a normal workflow will continue to write data into the cluster—possibly causing the cluster to reach capacity. Or there is a drive or node failure on an already fairly full cluster, which necessitates a FlexProtect (or FlexProtectLin) job from the Job Engine to run to re-protect data, therefore interrupting normal SnapshotDelete jobs. [See EMC Isilon Job Engine to learn more about these jobs.] Finally, I’ve seen snapshot policies that create a volume of snapshots that takes a long time to delete even after snapshot expiration. [See Best Practices for Working with Snapshots for snapshot schedule tips.]

Q: What are common misperceptions about cluster capacity?

A: Some common misconceptions include:

  • 95 percent of a 1 PiB cluster still leaves about 50TiB of space. That’s plenty for our workflow. We won’t fill that up.
  • Filling up one tier and relying on spillover to another tier won’t affect performance.
  • The SnapshotDelete job should be able to keep up with our snapshot creation rate.
  • Virtual Hot Spare (VHS) is not necessary in our workflow; we need that space for our workflow.
  • It’s still very easy to delete data when the cluster is 100 percent full.

Q: What are the ramifications of a full cluster?

A: When a cluster reaches full capacity, you’re dealing primarily with data unavailable situations—where data might be able to be read, but not written. For example, a customer can experience the inability to run SyncIQ policies, because those policies write data into the root file system (/ifs). There’s also the inability to make cluster configuration changes because those configurations are stored within /ifs.

Finally, a remove (rm) command for deleting files may not function when a cluster is completely full, requiring support intervention.

Q: What should a customer do immediately if their cluster is approaching 90-95 percent capacity?

A: Do whatever you can to slow down the ingesting or retention of data, including moving data to other storage tiers or other clusters, or adjusting snapshot policies. To gain a little bit of temporary space, make sure that VHS is not disabled.

Call your EMC account team to prepare for more storage capacity. You should do this at around 80-85 percent capacity.  It does take time to get those nodes on-site, and you don’t want any downtime.

VHS in SmartPools settings should always be enabled. The default drive to protect is 1 drive, and reserved space should be set to zero. For more information, see KB 88964.

VHS options should always be selected to set aside space for a drive failure. You should have at least 1 virtual drive (default value) set to 0% of total storage. For more information on these default values, see KB 88964 on the EMC Online Support site.

Q: What are the most effective short-term solutions for managing or monitoring cluster capacity?

A: Quotas are an effective way to see real-time storage usage within a directory, particularly if you put directories in specific storage tiers or node pools. Leverage quotas wherever you can.

The TreeDelete job [in the Job Engine] can quickly delete data, but make sure that the data you’re deleting isn’t just going into a snapshot!

Q: What are the most effective long-term solutions to implement from the best practices guide?

A: Make sure you have an event notifications properly configured, so that when jobs fail, or drives fail, you’ll know it and can take immediate action. In addition to notifications and alerts, you can use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to monitor cluster space, for an additional layer of protection.

InsightIQ and the FSAnalyze job [which the system runs to create data for InsightIQ’s file system analytics tools] can give great views into storage usage and change rate, over time, particularly in terms of daily, monthly, or weekly data ingest.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

A: Cluster-full situations where the rm command doesn’t work are sometimes alarming. In a file system such as OneFS, a file deletion often requires a read-modify-write cycle for metadata structures, in addition to the usual unlinking and garbage collection that occurs within the file system. Getting out of that situation can be challenging and sometimes time-consuming. Resolving it requires a support call—and a remote session, which can be a big problem for private clusters.

Sometimes accidents happen or a node can fail, which can push a cluster to the limit of capacity thresholds. Incidents such as these can occasionally lead to data unavailability situations that can halt a customer’s workflow. Being ready to add capacity at 80-85 percent can prevent just this sort of situation.

Start a conversation about Isilon content

Have a question or feedback about Isilon content? Visit the online EMC Isilon Community to start a discussion. If you have questions or feedback about this blog, or comments about the video specifically, contact us at isi.knowledge@emc.com. To provide documentation feedback or request new content, contact isicontent@emc.com.

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The EMC Isilon Uptime Bulletin, reinvented

Kirsten Gantenbein

Kirsten Gantenbein

Principal Content Strategist at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Kirsten Gantenbein
Kirsten Gantenbein

When we launched the EMC® Isilon® Uptime Bulletin in 2013, each issue was published in a PDF format that could be downloaded from the EMC Online Support site. Because the Uptime Bulletin contains timely information, such as OneFS target code, tips, and the latest firmware releases, we wanted to deliver this information to our customers in a more direct way.

Beginning this year, new Uptime Bulletin content is published to the Uptime Information Hub on the Isilon online community. You can now locate useful information about best practices, OneFS patches, and the latest OneFS and firmware releases, at a glance. The Uptime Information Hub is continuously updated with new information. So be sure to bookmark this page and check it regularly.

New uptime OneFS topic articles

Every quarter, we develop Uptime Bulletin articles that offer tips and best practice information about using OneFS. Here is a summary of new articles that you can now read on the Uptime Information Hub.

  • OneFS MRs and How We Drive Continuous Improvements
    ToddDillon

    Todd Dillon

    Todd Dillon, Senior Director of Software Engineering, explains how Isilon Storage Division uses the EMC Total Customer Experience process to triage every customer-impacting event in OneFS that happens worldwide. Learn how this three-phase process helps to drive continuous improvements with quality assurance (QA) and how maintenance releases (MRs) are determined.

  • Planning OneFS Upgrades with Global Namespace Acceleration (GNA) Nodes
    GNA is a OneFS feature that helps you increase performance by using solid state drives (SSDs) to store metadata for read-only purposes. If you use the GNA feature and are planning to upgrade to OneFS 7.0 and later, there are important considerations you need to make. Learn how to verify that your cluster meets minimum requirements for GNA before you upgrade.
  • Performance Monitoring and Planning
    uptime performance article
    Basic performance measurement knowledge of your current Isilon cluster can help you in understanding how adding new volumes or workloads will impact performance. This article walks you through how to perform a workload analysis, and provides best practice information about when to perform this type of analysis.

If you have article feedback or comments, please leave a comment on the Isilon community.  You can also review the PDF versions of past issues of the Uptime Bulletin by visiting the EMC Online Support site.

Start a conversation about Isilon content

Have a question or feedback about Isilon content? Visit the online EMC Isilon Community to start a discussion. If you have questions or feedback about this blog, contact us at isi.knowledge@emc.com. To provide documentation feedback or request new content, contact isicontent@emc.com.

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New “Hacker How-To” series on EMC Isilon social media

Kirsten Gantenbein

Kirsten Gantenbein

Principal Content Strategist at EMC Isilon Storage Division
Kirsten Gantenbein
Kirsten Gantenbein

If you follow EMC Isilon on Twitter (@EMCIsilon), you probably noticed our new Hacker How-To series. This six-week series highlighted videos, whitepapers, and blog posts on the following topics:

  • Disaster Recovery OneFS modules: SyncIQ, SnapshotIQ, and SmartLock
  • Site Prep and Planning: Cable management, node selection, and cluster installation
  • Multiprotocol support in OneFS
  • Role-based access control in OneFS 7.1
  • InsightIQ overview and installation

The series was popular, so we’re planning a new series in March! We want to know which topics you’d like to see next. We also want to know how you’d like to receive this information.

Here are two questions to help us make the next Hacker How-To most useful to you.

Start a conversation about Isilon content

Have a question or feedback about Isilon content? Visit the online EMC Isilon Community to start a discussion. If you have questions or feedback about this blog, contact us at isi.knowledge@emc.com. To provide documentation feedback or request new content, contact isicontent@emc.com.

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