VERITAS File Server Edition Turning Commodity Hardware into High Performance, Highly Available File Servers

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1 VERITAS File Server Edition Turning Commodity Hardware into High Performance, Highly Available File Servers

2 Table of Contents The VERITAS File Server Edition...1 What is an Edition?...2 File Server Edition Supported Platforms...2 File Server Edition Components...2 Improving File Server Performance...3 Performance Benchmarks...3 Achieving Performance Gains...4 Improving File Server Availability...4 File Server Edition HA Version...5 Making File Server Management Easier...5 Summary...6

3 Introduction File servers are the under-appreciated workhorses of today s information infrastructure. They don t use new, glamorous technology, there aren t new tools and techniques to support them, but everyone notices when they re down. In many cases, the data residing on corporate file servers has critical performance and availability requirements. Examples include: Servers hosting CAD files central to design and manufacturing File servers hosted by Internet Service Providers, where an outage can result in lost business Critical or news servers File servers hosting web content for marketing and sales To complicate matters further, many environments have a mix of UNIX and Windows clients, and use different file servers to serve these clients. This typically requires different system administrators, or administrators that are fluent with both technologies and adept at multi-tasking themselves. The system administrators responsible for these file servers have few options for improving performance and reliability. They can upgrade hardware or buy expensive, special-purpose file server hardware that promises better performance. They can add RAID storage devices or piece together other clustering or availability options. But the end result is an increasingly complex and difficult-to-manage environment. The VERITAS File Server Edition gives these system administrators a new option for improving the availability, performance and manageability of critical file servers. The VERITAS File Server Edition turns commodity hardware and storage into a flexible, high performance and highly available file server that provides transparent access to files and printers for both UNIX and Windows-based clients. Using this integrated software solution, system administrators can improve the performance of existing file servers and consolidate Windows- and UNIX-based file servers into a common device. Consolidation brings many benefits, including: Easier manageability, with fewer systems to manage Reduced network traffic A single point of backup and recovery management Happier users because it is easier for them to share files and printers All of these benefits result in lower total cost of ownership. This paper describes how the File Server Edition functions in UNIX or mixed UNIX and Windows environments to improve file server performance, availability, and manageability. 1

4 The VERITAS File Server Edition What is an Edition? VERITAS Software makes industry-leading storage management software that improves the availability, manageability and performance of data in the enterprise. This software is transparent to the applications you run VERITAS works closely with key database and application vendors to ensure optimal data integrity and reliability. VERITAS core online storage technology is integrated with nearly every major UNIX vendors offerings. VERITAS also offers a number of Editions products, which integrate, configure, and tailor the VERITAS Software solutions for specific applications or environments. For example, the Database Edition for Oracle integrates powerful file system and volume management software with Oracle-specific database support to create an optimal storage environment for Oracle data. The File Server Edition is designed to improve the performance, availability and manageability of NFS (Network File System) file servers or mixed NFS/CIFS (Common Internet File System) file servers with critical performance and availability needs. It provides superior performance in particular for write-intensive environments, including messaging environments handling and news. File Server Edition Supported Platforms Today, the VERITAS File Server Edition runs on Sun SPARC systems running Solaris. It does not require any special storage hardware and works equally well with hardware RAID devices or JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) storage. VERITAS Software is also working to provide this software for other Operating System platforms see the VERITAS Web site at for the most up-to-date information. The File Server Edition supports NFS implementations, the common file server standard for UNIX platforms. It also supports Common Internet File System (CIFS) the Windows-based standard for file server storage. The File Server Edition lets you provide transparent file access to both UNIX and Windows clients. File Server Edition Components VERITAS File Server Edition combines a number of integrated product components, including: The VERITAS File System, a high performance and easy-to-manage file system The VERITAS Volume Manager, which provides logical volume management, software-based RAID, and an easy-to-use Java-based GUI VERITAS QuickLog, a specialized write accelerator Samba, an open source solution for PC connectivity that enables Windows and UNIX clients to share files, printers, naming, and authentication. VERITAS has integrated the open source Samba solution in the File Server Edition, and provides complete technical support for the integrated solution. An optional HA (High Availability) version of the File Server Edition integrates the following components as well: VERITAS Cluster Server (VCS), a highly flexible and scalable application monitoring and failover solution. VCS agents for NFS, CIFS, and VERITAS QuickLog These agents and the Cluster Server product together provide application-specific monitoring and failover support. Using the HA version, the File Server functionality is rolled to another server if a problem develops with the primary file server and the application process cannot be restarted. The strength of the File Server Edition lies in the tight integration of its components and the flexibility that they provide. For example, one common, Java-based user interface controls all of the administrative functions of the Edition, giving system administrators an easy way to manage the file server. At the same time, the Edition does not impose fixed ways of doing things system administrators are free to balance the performance and availability as necessary for individual installations, and even for individual file system mount points. 2

5 The following sections describe how the File Server Edition addresses the specific issues of file server performance, availability and manageability. Improving File Server Performance The File Server Edition provides better performance using existing file servers and storage devices. Performance Benchmarks VERITAS has measured the performance improvements over the standard UNIX File System (UFS) using relevant benchmarks, described below. NFS performance: The SPEC (Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation) SFS (System File Server) performance benchmark is typically used to measure NFS performance. Using this benchmark, File Server Edition provided significantly better performance than the same system running NFS on the standard UNIX File System (UFS) as much as 110% better: Messaging performance: The "Postmark" benchmark from Network Appliance measures performance in messaging environments, such as and news servers. VERITAS File Server Edition provides performance up to 10 times better than the standard UFS with this benchmark. SPEC SFS Benchmark Results: VERITAS Outperforms UFS Postmark Benchmark Results: VERITAS Outperforms UFS In addition, running CIFS file servers on more powerful UNIX platforms with the File Server Edition should provide improved performance (over an NT-based file server) for Windows clients. In all cases, the File Server Edition can create these performance improvements on existing hardware without requiring upgraded storage devices, additional memory or faster CPUs. 3

6 Achieving Performance Gains The VERITAS File Server Edition achieves these performance gains by implementing proven and reliable storage techniques, described below. Extent-based allocation The File Server Edition product allocates storage space in extents instead of blocks. Files written in larger extents have less fragmentation and fewer indirect pointers than files written in smaller, fixed block sizes of traditional UNIX file systems. Applications spend less time waiting for the disk head to cycle to the next set of blocks. Reading and writing larger extents is more efficient for most applications, with fewer, larger I/O operations completing more quickly than numerous smaller operations. Striping With the File Server Edition, system administrators can easily stripe data across several devices. Striping speeds file access by interleaving reads and writes, reducing time spent waiting for disk head movements. QuickLog The VERITAS File Server Edition includes a specialized write accelerator, which improves performance by supporting updates to a journal volume in parallel with data updates. Better I/O Tuning A graphical user interface makes it easy for administrators to monitor and tune the I/O performance of the system, identifying I/O bottlenecks and reconfiguring storage quickly to eliminate them. Improving File Server Availability Users have increasingly little tolerance for downtime. Like any other utility sustaining your business, file servers must be highly available and reliable. And if you are consolidating files from mixed UNIX and Windows-based servers, you need to be sure that the environment is as stable as possible, as you are also consolidating your risk exposure. The VERITAS File Server Edition enhances system availability in many ways: Reduced maintenance downtime The File Server Edition reduces maintenance downtime by enabling online maintenance operations. System administrators can use the graphical interface to defragment storage, add or change storage volumes, resize file systems, and perform snapshot backups all while the file server is up and available. This eliminates the need for most "maintenance" downtime. Reduced outages due to hardware failure System administrators can use the File Server Edition to implement redundancy through software-based RAID. In this case, the failure of one device does not result in the loss of data. The Volume Manager support inherent in the File Server Edition supports mirroring (RAID 1), RAID 5, RAID 0+1 and RAID 1+0 using existing storage devices. Reduced outages due to file system panics The VERITAS File System component of the File Server Edition isolates I/O problems without bringing down the file system. This eliminates a fairly common source of system outages in UNIX environments. Faster recovery from outages that do occur The File Server Edition provides a journaling file system. When restarting after an outage, it only needs to replay the file system journal to restart to a consistent state. The traditional UNIX file system must read large amounts of data to restart. By bringing the file system back up very quickly after a system restart, VERITAS File Server Edition reduces the length of any system outage. 4

7 File Server Edition HA Version For critical file servers, the High Availability (HA) version of the Edition provides an integrated version of the VERITAS Cluster Server, an application monitoring and failover solution, together with agents for NFS, CIFS and QuickLog. If the NFS server fails, Cluster Server either tries a restart or automatically fails over to a designated secondary server in the cluster. The HA version lets you reduce any potential downtime by providing a quick restart or failover in case of any problems. Making File Server Management Easier The File Server Edition provides a single, easy-to-use interface for managing the file server s storage. From the Storage Administrator graphical interface, you can perform basic system and volume management tasks online. For example, you can perform an online snapshot backup, add new storage as necessary, or spot and correct a potential I/O bottleneck. You can also perform more sophisticated tasks, like implementing RAID or striping, and otherwise balancing the I/O load across devices. In a native UNIX environment, these tasks require significant systems expertise and typically entail shutting down the system. The Storage Administrator interface to the File Server Edition provides an easier, online way to perform these tasks. If you are consolidating a number of different servers, including UNIX and Windows servers, the File Server Edition reduces your total cost of ownership by providing centralized and simplified administration for a single system. 5

8 Summary There are other solutions for improving file server performance and availability, most notably specialized hardware offerings sold specifically for this market. But the VERITAS File Server Edition offers the most value for the cost because it is a very flexible solution that runs on commodity hardware. Instead of requiring the addition of new, special-purpose hardware to your environment, the File Server Edition lets you leverage the capabilities of systems you may already have in-house, or otherwise add commodity hardware. It simplifies the system management for the file server, rather than making it more complex. And it provides across-theboard, measurable performance improvements. As a software solution, the File Server Edition puts you in complete control of your storage environment. You can mix mirroring and striping where necessary, change storage configurations on-the-fly, and balance performance and availability requirements as needed. 6

9 VERITAS Software Corporate Headquarters 1600 Plymouth Street Mountain View, CA North American Sales Headquarters 400 International Parkway Heathrow, FL or Fax Global Locations United Kingdom or 44-(0) (0) Fax France Fax Germany 49-(0) (0) Fax South Africa Fax Australia BACKUP 61-(0) Fax Hong Kong Fax Japan Fax Malaysia Fax Singapore Fax China Fax Electronic communication World Wide Web: UNT12-HPWPR VERITAS Software Corp. All rights reserved. VERITAS is a registered trademark of VERITAS Software Corporation in the US and other countries. The VERITAS logo, Business Without Interruption and VERITAS File Server Edition, File System, Volume Manager, QuickLog, Cluster Server are trademarks of VERITAS Software Corporation in the US and other countries. Other product names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Printed in USA. December 1999.

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