Many of my clients use storage backup (snapshots, etc.) to backup their databases. The right and supported way to do that is like any hot backup: place the database in backup mode, take the snapshot, take the database out of backup mode, archive the current logfile and backup the archives, right?
Some clients use the unsupported way of just taking the snapshot, as it is a consistent copy (exactly like a server crash). From my experience it works, but you can only restore the database to the snapshot time and you cannot apply archives.
Well, not any more! In Oracle 12c, as long as the snapshot mechanism meets several requirements (the database is crash consistent, write order is preserved and the snapshot stores the time of completion) you can take a snapshot without putting the database into backup mode. To perform the recovery, you will need to add the new “snapshot time” clause. Much easier than before!