The skinny on storage clusters

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1 The skinny on storage clusters

2 Storage clustering can mean different things based on the vendor and the architecture which the technology is built on, but the features or benefits are usually similar across all platforms. Some of the main features or selling points of storage clustering typically include increased scalability, higher availability and increased performance. Check out this E-Guide and learn how to leverage clustered storage in your disaster recovery environment and discover a new ready-to-be-deployed Hadoop storage cluster which features self-healing technology, hardware RAID and global spare drives. By: Pierre Dorion What you will learn in this tip: Storage clustering can take on many different shapes, depending on the design and architecture. Learn how to leverage clustered storage in your disaster recovery (DR) environment. Storage clustering can mean different things based on the vendor and the architecture which the technology is built on, but the features or benefits are usually similar across all platforms. Some of the main features or selling points of storage clustering typically include increased scalability, higher availability and increased performance. What is storage clustering? Storage clustering can be a grouping of nodes that share a common storage device and file system. For example, multiple servers accessing data via a distributed file system are sometimes considered a storage cluster; also, multiple systems configured to use the Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) or Linux Global File System (GFS) are often referred to as storage clusters. In this context, the true cluster components are the servers or nodes as opposed to the storage devices. Network-attached storage (NAS) devices can be grouped to provide file-level clustered storage such as NetApp's Page 2 of 7

3 MetroCluster. Clustering can also be achieved at the block level where I/O is distributed across multiple storage nodes as is the case for Hewlett Packard (HP) Co.'s StorageWorks P4000 G2 SAN, (formerly LeftHand Networks). The main difference between multiple systems (e.g., file servers) grouped in a cluster to provide access to storage such as a distributed file system and a cluster made of storage devices is where the actual clustering and load distribution take place. For example, four clustered servers could share a single disk array. Conversely, a number of standalone systems could access storage spread across four clustered storage devices. A storage cluster can be defined as a grouping of storage components that members can be added to for increased capacity, performance and availability. A multi-controller storage array could also be considered a storage cluster, but it is typically limited by its number of ports, cache size, I/O performance and number of disks, which eventually limits growth capacity and performance. Multiple physical storage arrays grouped in a virtualized storage environment is probably the most common form of storage clustering we see today. Storage clustering aims to increase availability, capacity and performance which can be achieved by the addition of storage devices, controllers, etc. Keep in mind that storage clustering and a storage grid are two different things. The distinction is similar to clustered computing and grid computing. While there is not necessarily a clear line separating one from the other, a storage grid is more scalable and covers greater distances than a storage cluster. Disaster recovery strategies and storage clustering As mentioned earlier, the common attributes of the different storage clustering approaches are greater scalability, increased performance and higher availability. However, not all clusters scale performance and storage -- at least not independently. From a disaster recovery perspective, availability is the clear focal point, but be aware that not all storage clustering options offer the same type of redundancy. As part of disaster recovery planning, one of the main goals is to eliminate as many single points of failure as possible. Page 3 of 7

4 When looking at a cluster made of multiple nodes in a distributed file system environment, redundancy exists at the node or server level. For example, in a four-node cluster accessing a distributed file system on a shared storage array, failure of a single node would be alleviated by the remaining three nodes. With that said, the shared storage itself could be the single point of failure if no redundancies exist at the array level; it could cause all clustered nodes to lose access to data in the event of a storage array failure. From that perspective, the storage array requires redundant attributes such as redundant controllers, multiple I/O paths, RAID, hot-spare disks, replication capabilities etc. But this doesn't make it a storage cluster because the clustered nodes alone do not guarantee storage availability. Taking a closer look at the storage clustering options, notice that the clustering takes place at the storage level rather than through nodes accessing the storage. For instance, HP StorageWorks P4000 is composed of multiple independent storage devices grouped in a cluster. It uses a technology called Network RAID, which creates a logical volume distributed across the storage cluster. Depending on the RAID level selected for the logical volume, single or multiple copies of a data block are created and striped across the cluster. Because the cluster can span beyond a data center and across buildings or even geographies, these replicated data blocks offer a good foundation for a DR strategy. The NetApp MetroCluster combines the redundancy of an active-active storage cluster (dual controllers) with synchronous data replication across a campus or metropolitan area. Replication can take place between clusters of conventional NetApp filers or V-Series open-storage controllers interfacing third-party storage arrays from EMC Corp., Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM Corp. and other supported vendors. There are other storage clustering options available such as HP's PolyServe scalable NAS and LSI's ONStor clustered NAS gateway using SAN storage. Another option is 3PAR Utility File Services that is built on technologies like HP PolyServe, NetApp, OnStor and more. Each option aims at providing the storage clustering key attributes: scalability, performance and availability. Page 4 of 7

5 If the adoption of storage clustering is considered part of a disaster recovery strategy, data availability is the key factor and will have to be carefully reviewed. The right storage clustering option should not only include redundancies to provide protection from single cluster member or node failure, but must also offer site-wide failure data recovery options. In other words, local clustering will only support local failure without a geo-clustering or remote data replication component. storage cluster, more NetApp Inc. launched its NetApp Open Solution for Hadoop, a packaged, ready-to-be-deployed Hadoop storage cluster featuring self-healing technology, hardware RAID and global spare drives. NetApp is teaming with Cloudera to distribute Cloudera Apache Hadoop (CDH) and Cloudera Enterprise -- a subscription service comprised of Cloudera Support and Hadoop management software -- with NetApp Open Solution for Hadoop. CDH helps users can manage the operational lifecycle of their Apache Hadoop systems with its visibility into Hadoop clusters. Scale Computing scales out Scale Computing rolled out its Mz models of scale-out storage nodes. The Mz nodes are part of Scale s M-Series of clustered nodes and support 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) connectivity. The 1U blades come in 1 TB, 2 TB and 4 TB capacities. ATTO Technology adds PCIe 3.0 HBAs ATTO Technology Inc. launched its ExpressSAS 6 Gbps SAS and SATA H6F0 GT host bus adapters (HBAs). The HBAs use the PCIe 3.0 specification. The adapters are available to ATTO s OEM partners and will become available through the channel before the end of the year. Page 5 of 7

6 Bocada, Quest team for VMware backup monitoring Bocada Inc. has added support in its Vision data protection management software for Quest Software Inc. s vranger VMware backup application. Vision helps customers monitor and analyze virtual machine (VM) backups and snapshots, providing visibility into the resources being used to protect VMs. QuorumLabs upgrades onq Site Recovery Appliance QuorumLabs Inc. rolled out Version 3.2 of its onq Site Recovery Appliance. The onq appliance now supports disaster recovery mirroring for additional protection of business critical applications, and includes onq Archive Vault. Emulex showcases end-to-end DCB network Emulex Corp. tested its OneConnect Universal Converged Network Adapters(UCNA) at the Ethernet Alliance Data Center Bridging (DCB) InterOperability Test event Oct. 17 to 21 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab. Emulex created an end-to-end DCB network using its Emulex OneConnect iscsi and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) unified converged network adapters. Varonis joins NetApp Alliance Partner Program Data governance software vendor Varonis Systems Inc. joined the NetApp Alliance Partner Program. The partnership allows Varonis DatAdvantage software and Varonis Metadata Framework to help customers control unstructured data on NetApp storage systems. Page 6 of 7

7 Free resources for technology professionals TechTarget publishes targeted technology media that address your need for information and resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Our network of technology-specific Web sites gives you access to industry experts, independent content and analysis and the Web s largest library of vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more drawing on the rich R&D resources of technology providers to address market trends, challenges and solutions. Our live events and virtual seminars give you access to vendor neutral, expert commentary and advice on the issues and challenges you face daily. Our social community IT Knowledge Exchange allows you to share real world information in real time with peers and experts. What makes TechTarget unique? TechTarget is squarely focused on the enterprise IT space. Our team of editors and network of industry experts provide the richest, most relevant content to IT professionals and management. We leverage the immediacy of the Web, the networking and face-to-face opportunities of events and virtual events, and the ability to interact with peers all to create compelling and actionable information for enterprise IT professionals across all industries and markets. Related TechTarget Websites Page 7 of 7

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