PowerStore—The Power of Clustering
Mon, 27 Feb 2023 14:01:20 -0000|
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PowerStore is designed to be a continuously modern storage platform. Its adaptable architecture allows for deploying appliances into a single- or multi-appliance cluster. Configuring a multi-appliance cluster with two to four appliances enables additional powerful functionality that you can be leveraging in your environment today!
PowerStore clustering capabilities are designed to simplify administration, provide integrated intelligence, and add flexibility, enabling multiple appliances to function as a single cohesive system. This blog discusses many of the benefits of deploying a multi-appliance cluster.
Configuring and managing a multi-appliance cluster is designed to be as simple as managing a single appliance. For both single- and multi-appliance clusters, storage administration is accomplished through a single user interface. The HTML5-based PowerStore Manager GUI provides an easy-to-use interface for management actions and monitoring operations that are crucial to an organization’s needs. There is no additional learning curve to manage your multi-appliance cluster.
Many PowerStore objects, such as protection policies, remote systems, vCenter and VASA provider connections, vVol storage containers, and hosts, exist at the cluster level. These objects can be used on all appliances, regardless of the size of the cluster. This alleviates the need to repeat operations on each appliance in the cluster.
For example, host registration for volume access needs to be completed just once. Hosts can be configured to have active initiators to one, some, or all appliances within the cluster, depending on your access requirements. This also enables volumes to be migrated between appliances within the cluster without any added management overhead. This can be used in situations such as if an appliance runs low on capacity, and when making service level changes, consolidating workloads, and more.
Most settings are also applied at the cluster level. These include PowerStoreOS code upgrades, security settings, network settings, user management, support materials, and more. Alerts, events, jobs, and audit logs are consolidated into a centralized area for all appliances in the cluster, eliminating the need to monitor each appliance individually. Performance and capacity metrics are available at the cluster, appliance, and resource levels. This provides the administrator with multiple levels of granularity needed for different tasks.
In multi-appliance configurations, each appliance has its own set of initiators for volume access. This level of granularity enables the highest level of control, providing the flexibility to connect specific hosts to specific appliances. However, if you want to connect a host to all appliances, you don’t need to go through the tedious effort of connecting to each appliance individually. PowerStore offers the option to configure a Global Storage Discovery IP address. This is a single, global, floating storage IP address that can be used to discover all paths for all the appliances in the cluster.
PowerStore includes integrated intelligence that is used to determine the initial placement of a new volume. This is known as the Resource Balancer, which is designed to streamline operations with an integrated machine-learning engine and seamless automation. Resource Balancer works at both the cluster and appliance levels. When a volume is provisioned, the default selection for placement is “Auto.” This setting allows the Resource Balancer to determine the best appliance for the new volume, depending on capacity metrics and configured host access. You can always maintain full control of volume placement by selecting a specific appliance for the volume as well.
The PowerStore active/active architecture means that volumes can always be accessed through both nodes of an appliance. When a volume is attached to a host, Resource Balancer also selects which node within the appliance to advertise as optimized for host access to that volume. This is known as node affinity. It enables both nodes within the appliance to actively service I/O simultaneously to multiple volumes, so all available hardware is efficiently utilized.
Workload characteristics might evolve over time and cause imbalances between nodes within an appliance. PowerStore features dynamic node affinity, which enables automatic balancing of node affinity of block storage resources between nodes. Dynamic node affinity allows the system to maintain relatively consistent utilization, latency, and performance between both nodes of an appliance. This intelligent architecture enables both seamless load-balancing and high availability.
PowerStore also allows for nondisruptive migration of volumes, volume groups, and vVols across the cluster. As capacity and performance characteristics and requirements change, users can initiate manual or assisted resource migrations of resources from one appliance to another. When resources are migrated, all associated storage objects, such as snapshots and thin clones, are also moved to the same destination.
The system periodically monitors storage resource utilization across all appliances within the cluster. As storage consumption increases over time, an appliance might start to run out of available capacity. In this scenario, the system generates migration recommendations based on factors such as drive wear, appliance capacity, and health. If the administrator accepts the recommendation, a migration session is automatically created. The PowerStore cluster can do all the planning for you!
PowerStore clusters offer flexibility by providing the ability to scale up, out, and down as needed. The initial cluster can be created with anywhere from one to a maximum of four appliances. If the maximum appliance count has not been reached, you can add appliances to the cluster at any time after the initial configuration without any disruption. The additional appliances can be used to add capacity, increase performance, and expand limits.
Within a cluster, you can mix appliances with different configurations such as models, drives, I/O modules, and fault-tolerance levels. NVMe expansion enclosures can be added to specific appliances within the cluster if additional capacity is needed. This allows each appliance in the cluster to have its own individual configuration that’s tailored for its specific use
Administrators can tell PowerStore to evacuate storage resources such as volumes, volume groups, and vVols from an appliance. This operation can be useful in situations where an appliance needs to be powered off for maintenance or removed from a cluster, or when migrating to a new appliance.
Appliances can just as easily be removed from a cluster. For example, after migrating data from one appliance to another, you might want to decommission or repurpose the original appliance. After ensuring that all the data is migrated, the appliance can be safely removed from the cluster. After the appliance is removed, it is reverted to factory settings so it’s ready to be configured as a new cluster, added to an existing cluster, or powered off.
Clustering can be used as an end-to-end life cycle management strategy to make operations such as hardware refreshes painless. The new appliance can be joined to the existing cluster without any impact, enabling both the old and new appliances to be used together. The existing data can be seamlessly and nondisruptively migrated from the old appliance to the new one. The migration can be done either incrementally over time or all at once. Once all the data is migrated, the old appliance can be repurposed or removed from the cluster. All these features and benefits of PowerStore clustering provide you with essential investment protection.
The PowerStore continuously modern storage architecture allows for deploying appliances into a single- or multi-appliance cluster with minimal complexity. PowerStore multi-appliance clusters provide many benefits and advantages, with simplified configuration and administration, integrated intelligence, and increased flexibility.
Wei Chen, Senior Principal Engineering Technologist
Related Blog Posts
Configuring PowerStore File Extension Filtering to Prevent Ransomware
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 18:12:28 -0000|
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Disallowing known ransomware extensions from being written to the file system can be a simple and effective mechanism to deter and/or prevent ransomware. PowerStore file systems include a file extension filtering capability that restricts specific file extensions from being stored on an SMB share. Traditionally, this feature has been used to prevent users from storing non-business data on a share, however its uses extend to blocking malicious extensions from being written to a share at all.
File extension filtering can be leveraged in conjunction with other features such as CEPA to implement a ransomware strategy with multiple layers of defense. Let’s dive into how to configure PowerStore file extension filtering to better protect your system today.
To configure file extension filtering:
- Go to the \\<SMB_Server>\c$\.etc\.filefilter directory as an administrator
- To configure a filter, create an empty file using the naming convention extension@sharename
- For example, to filter .wcry ransomware files on the FS1 share, create a file named wcry@FS1
- To enable the filter on all shares on the SMB server, create the file with only the extension, such as wcry
You can configure multiple filters by creating additional files in this directory. For ransomware prevention use cases, create additional filters for other known ransomware extensions. Each SMB server has its own independent file extension filtering configuration, so each can be customized with its own configuration. The following figure shows an example of the configuration of the file extension filtering.
After configuring a file extension filter, you can permit exceptions for specific users or groups by changing the ACL on the filter file to provide Full Control privileges to the users or groups that should be excluded.
For example, if the Administrators group is provided Full Control permissions on the wcry filter file, then users in the Administrators group can store .wcry files on the share, while others cannot. Exceptions can be configured independently for each file filter being created, as shown in the following figure.
When users attempt to copy a file with a blocked extension, they receive an Access Denied error, as shown in the following figure.
Note that this feature only works on SMB and does not filter file extensions when writing over NFS. Users could manually rename file extensions to bypass this filter, provided those other extensions are not also explicitly blocked, however malware may not be able to adapt and work around this as easily. Since the list of filtered extensions must be checked each time a file is written, having many filters could impact performance.
File extension filtering is a simple and powerful capability that provides administrators the ability to control the type of data that is stored on an SMB share. Easy to configure and able to provide an additional layer of protection against ransomware activity, file extension filtering is an effective addition to any comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to protect and secure your data.
The following resources provide more information about PowerStore:
Author: Wei Chen, Technical Staff, Engineering Technologist
Dell VxRail and Dell PowerStore: Better Together Through Dynamic AppsON
Fri, 05 May 2023 16:48:57 -0000|
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Dynamic AppsON overview
When two products come together with new and unique capabilities, customers benefit from the “better together” value that is created. That value is clearly visible with Dynamic AppsON, which is a configuration that provides an exclusive integration between compute-only Dell VxRail dynamic nodes and a Dell PowerStore storage system.
Dynamic AppsON enables independent scaling of compute and storage, providing flexibility of choice by increasing the extensibility of both platforms. It provides VxRail environments access to PowerStore enterprise efficiency, data protection, and resiliency features. Additionally, it helps PowerStore environments quickly expand compute for CPU-intensive workloads in a traditional three-tier architecture.
Another integration point that further enhances the Dynamic AppsON experience is the Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI). VSI brings storage provisioning, management, and monitoring capabilities directly into vCenter. It enables the ability to perform common storage tasks and provides additional visibility into the storage system without needing to launch PowerStore Manager.
With Dynamic AppsON, you have the flexibility to choose the type of datastore and connectivity that fits your environment. Dell Technologies recommends vVols and NVMe/TCP.
Leveraging the native vVol capabilities of PowerStore is the optimal way to provision VM datastores. This enables increased storage granularity at the VM level, offloading of data services to PowerStore, and storage policy-based management directly in vCenter. This further enables vCenter as the common operating environment for the administrator.
For connectivity, NVMe/TCP is recommended because it provides significant advantages. It enables performance that is comparable to direct-attach, while retaining the cost-effectiveness, scalability, and flexibility of traditional Ethernet.
Figure 1. Dynamic AppsON overview
For more information about Dynamic AppsON, see the Dell VxRail and Dell PowerStore: Better Together Through Dynamic AppsON white paper.
Dynamic AppsON lifecycle management
Dell VxRail and Dell PowerStore have taken this integration a step further by introducing lifecycle management for Dynamic AppsON deployments. This enables an administrator to view the PowerStore details and initiate a code upgrade directly from VxRail Manager in vCenter. By leveraging the VxRail Manager user interface and workflows, an administrator does not need to switch between multiple interfaces for the lifecycle management operations.
The lifecycle management functionality from VxRail Manager is exclusively enabled through VSI. Dynamic AppsON lifecycle management is available starting with VxRail 7.0.450, PowerStoreOS 3.0, and Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) 10.2.
Dynamic AppsON lifecycle management provides the following capabilities in VxRail Manager in vCenter:
- View the attached storage system type and software version
- Upload a code bundle from the local client directly to PowerStore
- Run a Pre-Upgrade Health Check on PowerStore and report any warnings and failures
- Initiate a code upgrade and track the progress until completion
The following figures show these Dynamic AppsON lifecycle management tasks in VxRail Manager.
Figure 2. PowerStore code reporting
Figure 3. PowerStore code upload
Figure 4. PowerStore Pre-Upgrade Health Check
Figure 5. PowerStore upgrade in progress
Figure 6. PowerStore upgrade completed successfully
Figure 7. Updated PowerStore code version
To see all these lifecycle management tasks in action from start to finish, refer to this video:
With the addition of lifecycle management for Dynamic AppsON, the number of storage management tasks for which a virtualization and storage administrator has to leave vCenter is reduced. This functionality provides a consistent, common, and efficient management experience for both VxRail and PowerStore. The integration between VxRail, PowerStore, and the VSI plug-in enables consistent workflows and visibility between storage and compute. Better together through Dynamic AppsON, brought to you by Dell VxRail and Dell PowerStore.
- Dynamic AppsON Lifecycle Management video
- Dynamic AppsON Summary video
- Dynamic AppsON infographic
- Dynamic AppsON: A Better Together Story blog
- Dell VxRail and Dell PowerStore: Better Together Through Dynamic AppsON white paper
- Dell PowerStore: Virtualization Integration white paper
Author: Wei Chen, Technical Staff, Engineering Technologist