Future Storage Systems: A pause in workflow

October 17, 2008

Since I started this article series, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to have my ideas (well, some of the early articles at least) reviewed by person(s) who deal with the actual infrastructure of storage systems day in, day out.  The benefit of such peer review is that you get to learn at the symbolic “feet” of the masters and discover flaws, omissions, and understated features that need to be understood and incorporated.  This post is dedicated to some of those discussions and, where applicable, my understanding of how the FSS either incorporates or misses the boat.

Read the rest of this entry »


Configuring nVidia SATA controllers for use with VMware ESX

October 16, 2008

Part of the beauty of ESX 3.x from a hardware support standpoint was the addition of SATA as a viable install media for the hypervisor and service console.  However, opening up support for SATA also included a few hiccups along the way, most related to the SATA controllers officially supported by VMware.  For folks like myself who spent a lot of time with AMD-based platforms, the only real choices for SATA controllers (onboard the motherboard, not discrete) were offerings from Broadcom and nVidia.  This post will highlight how to configure your ESX 3.x host to use nVidia SATA controllers.

Note: This information is available within the VMware user community as well.  I am indebted to the person(s) in that community who provided this information, albeit in a slightly less “visual” way.

Read the rest of this entry »


Search Term Reviews: October 15th Edition

October 15, 2008

It’s been awhile since I last did a review of what people are searching for (July 30th was the last time…wow) so, let’s see what’s new.

Search Term #1: EMC NX4

Not really suprised here.  Honestly, take the Celerra NS-20, cut the price signficantly, allow blended SAS/SATA drive trays, Read the rest of this entry »


Is FCoE a viable option for SMB/Commercial?

October 14, 2008
Host Bus Adapter (Fibre Channel)

Image via Wikipedia

Since I work in the SMB/Commercial space as a TC, I routintely am exposed to mixed fabric environments.  With the advent of iSCSI, we’ve seen a proportional shift towards iSCSI as a reduced-cost block storage fabric.  Legacy (2Gb/s) fibre still has presence in specific markets but the uptake of 4Gb/s fibre has been slowing down.  With FCoE being announced as the next logical evolution of converged fabrics and 8Gb/s FC and 10G iSCSI working their way to availability, does FCoE make sense for SMB/Commercial markets?

Read the rest of this entry »


Future Storage Systems: Part 4: Operating System – Conceptual Overview

October 13, 2008

In the previous Future Storage System articles, we’ve covered the basic hardware foundation for what I envision to be a powerful future-oriented storage solution for the commercial midrange.  However, as you’re probably aware, hardware is meaningless without software to provide the operational capabilities that are needed to mange information.  In this article, I will focus on a general design for an extensible software layer (an OS) that will provide future-oriented capability expansion as well as robust analytics, capabilities, and integration with business continuity principles.  As always, please reference the diagram below.

Future Storage System - Operating System - Conceptual

Future Storage System - Operating System - Conceptual

Read the rest of this entry »


Future Storage Systems: Part 3b – I/O Expansion Node

October 10, 2008

In Part 3a, we discussed the possibility of a purpose-driven Compute Node based on the Torrenza initiative for the Future Storage system.  This expansion node made use of Hypertransport as a “glue” between the base storage compute node and the expansion node (of computation or I/O flavours) that could be added.  The advantages of that topology were simple:  hot add support for additional processing power, additional I/O bandwidth within the system, and additional computing power for the array OS (which we’ll cover in a later article).  In this overview, we’ll take a look at another variation on an expansion node: an I/O expansion node that will add additional front-end ports and/or functionality to the base system.  We will be referencing the diagram below. (Apologies in advance for the image shearing off in the lower right hand corner).

Hypertransport I/O Expansion Topology

Hypertransport I/O Expansion Topology

Read the rest of this entry »


Future Storage Systems: Part 2 – Detailed Node View

October 8, 2008

So, in my article yesterday, I gave a global view of a very simple storage system for the future. Since I LOVE this type of conjecture and theoretics (is that a word?), I decided to take this a step further and flesh out some of the other intricacies of the design.  Check out the image below and then click through to read the rest.

Fleshing out the Hypertransport Storage System

Fleshing out the Hypertransport Storage System

Read the rest of this entry »


Why wouldn’t the following work? (Future Storage System: Part 1)

October 7, 2008

So, I’ve been toying around with this in my mind for some time.  Essentially, I’ve tried to understand the basic “Storage Processor” limitation of current storage systems and propose an admittedly simplistic design to get around some of the difficulties.  The biggest hurdle, in my mind, is to have cache coherency, low latency memory access to other nodes in a “cluster,” and have a communications “bus” between nodes that is extensible (or at least will grow bandwidth with more devices on the signal chain).  Staring at that problem, then, look at the image below.

A case for Hypertransport connected nodes...

A case for Hypertransport connected nodes...

Read the rest of this entry »


EMC CX4 is ALIVE!

August 6, 2008
Which memory locations can be cached by which ...Image via Wikipedia

Is it just me or have we been waiting for this for a while? 😉  Today is officially the EMC Clariion CX4 public GA (general availability) date.  Good news: they’re shipping TODAY!  No paper launches, folks…this is immediate availability.  The other good news: you get to do more with your storage; faster, cheaper, stronger, more flexible, etc.  Let me rip through some highlights for you:

a.) Cache and SP Processor increases.  Across the board, processor “speeds” and cache sizes have been increased.  Now, this may appear somewhat odd in that the CX4-120, for example, only has two dual core 1.2ghz processors, but, when you consider that the onboard L2 cache is greater in size (and Woodcrest processors were HANDILY more powerful than the older Nocona Xeons), it actually has more innate processing power than the previous generation processors.  Cache sizes, when coupled with the 64 bit FLARE OS for the array, allow for better allocation and utilization within the array. 

Read the rest of this entry »


Search Term Tuesday: June 17th Edition

June 17, 2008
Typical RAID 10 setup.

Image via Wikipedia

Having missed last weeks Search Term post (which actually was a good thing), I decided to delve deeper into the search term logs and see what the top reoccurring searches were for this week. Imagaine my suprise (or not) when I found that RAID and RAID group expandability was a consistent theme. To that end, let’s begin our overview.

Search Term #1: RAID 1 Group Expansion

Read the rest of this entry »