New File Services Capabilities of PowerFlex 4.0
Tue, 16 Aug 2022 14:56:28 -0000|
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“Just file it,” they say, and your obvious question is “where?” One of the new features introduced in PowerFlex 4.0 is file services. Which means that you can file it in PowerFlex. In this blog we’ll dig into the new file service capabilities offered with 4.0 and how they can benefit your organization.
I know that when I think of file services, I think back to the late 90s and early 2000s when most organizations had a Microsoft Windows NT box or two in the rack that provided a centralized location on the network for file storage. Often it was known as “cheap and deep storage,” because you bought the biggest cheapest drives you could to install in that server with RAID 5 protection. After all, most of the time it was user files that were being worked on and folks already had a copy saved to their desktop. The file share didn’t have to be fast or responsive, and the biggest concern of the day was using up all the space on those massive 146 GB drives!
That was then … today file services do so much more. They need to be responsive, reliable, and agile to handle not only the traditional shared files, but also the other things that are now stored on file shares.
The most common thing people think about is user data from VDI instances. All the files that make up a user’s desktop, from the background image to the documents, to the customization of folders, all these things and more are traditionally stored in a file share when using instant clones.
PowerFlex can also handle powerful, high performance workload scenarios such as image classification and training. This is because of the storage backend. It is possible to rapidly serve files to training nodes and other high performance processing systems. The storage calls can go to the first available storage node, reducing file recall times. This of course extends to other high speed file workloads as well.
Beyond rapid recall times, PowerFlex provides massive performance, with 6-nines of availability1, and native multi-pathing. This is a big deal for modern file workloads. With VDI alone you need all of these things. If your file storage system can’t deliver them, you could be looking at poor user experience or worse: users who can’t work. I know, that’s a scary thought and PowerFlex can help significantly lessen those fears.
In addition to the performance, you can manage the file servers in the same PowerFlex UI as the rest of your PowerFlex environment. This means there is no need to learn a new UI, or bounce all over to set up a CIFS share—it’s all at your fingertips. In the UI it’s as simple as changing the tab to go from block to file on many screens.
The PowerFlex file controllers (physical) host the software for the NAS servers (logical). You start with two file controllers and can grow to 16 file controllers. Having various sizes of file controllers allows you to customize performance to meet your environment’s needs. The NAS Servers are containerized logical segmentations that provide the file services to the clients, and you can have up to 512 in a cluster. They are responsible for namespaces, security policies, and serving file systems to the clients.
Each of the file volumes that are provided by the file services are backed by PowerFlex volumes. This means that you can increase file service performance and capacity by adding PowerFlex nodes to the storage layer just like a traditional block storage instance. This allows you to independently scale performance and capacity, based on your needs.
The following table provides some of the other specs you might be wondering about.
Max file size
# of files
# of ACLs
User File Systems
Snaps per File System
Beyond the architectural goodness, file storage is something that can be added later to a PowerFlex environment. Thus, you aren’t forced to get something now because you “might” need it later. You can implement it when that project starts or when you’re ready to migrate off that single use file server. You can also grow it as you need, by starting small and growing to a large deployment with hundreds of namespaces and thousands of file systems.
With PowerFlex when someone says “file it,” you’ll know you have the capacity to support that file and many more. PowerFlex file services provide the capability to deliver the power needed for even the most demanding file-based workloads like VDI and AI/ML data classification systems. It’s as easy managing the environment as it is integrated into the UI.
If you are interested in finding out more about PowerFlex file services, contact your Dell representative.
Author: Tony Foster
1 Workload performance claims based on internal Dell testing. (Source: IDC Business Value Snapshot for PowerFlex – 2020.)
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What to do with all that data? Answer: SingleStore on PowerFlex
Wed, 10 May 2023 22:55:28 -0000|
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Every organization has data, every organization has databases, every organization must figure out what to do with all that data from those databases. According to research by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business there were 44 zettabytes of data in 2020, and by 2025 it is estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created daily. That’s a lot of data, and even if your organization only contributes a fraction of a precent to those 463 exabytes of data a day, that’s still a lot of data to manage. A great approach to this modern ocean of data is using SingleStore on Dell PowerFlex.
Recently Dell and SingleStore released a joint validation white paper on a virtualized SingleStore environment running on PowerFlex. The paper provides an overview of the technologies used and then looks at an architecture that can be used to run SingleStore on PowerFlex. After that, the paper looks at how the environment was validated.
Before I get into the details of the paper, I suspect there might be a few readers who have yet to hear about SingleStore or know about some of its great features, so let’s start there. Built for developers and architects, SingleStoreDB is based on a distributed SQL architecture, delivering 10–100 millisecond performance on complex queries—all while ensuring that your organization can effortlessly scale. Now let’s go a bit deeper….
The SingleStoreDB :
- Scales horizontally providing high throughput across a wide range of platforms.
- Maintains a broad compatibility with common technologies in the modern data processing ecosystem (for example, orchestration platforms, developer IDEs, and BI tools), so you can easily integrate it in your existing environment.
- Features an in-memory rowstore and an on-disk columnstore to handle both highly concurrent operational and analytical workloads.
- Features the SingleStore Pipelines data ingestion technology that streams large amounts of data at high throughput into the database with exactly once semantics.
This means that you can continue to run your traditional SQL queries against your every growing data, which all resides on a distributed system, and you can do it fast. This is a big win for organizations who have active data growth in their environment.
What makes this even better is the ability of PowerFlex to scale from a few nodes to thousands. This provides a few different options to match your growing needs. You can start with just your SingleStore system deployed on PowerFlex and migrate other workloads on to the PowerFlex environment as time permits. This allows you to focus on just your database environment to start and then, as infrastructure comes up for renewal, you migrate those workloads and scale up your environment with more compute and storage capacity.
Or maybe you are making a bigger contribution to that 463 exabytes of data per day I mentioned earlier, and you need to scale out your environment to handle your data’s growth. You can do that too!
That’s the great thing about PowerFlex, you can consume resources independently of each other. You can add more storage or compute as you need them.
Additionally, with PowerFlex, you can deliver bare-metal and virtualized environments without having to choose only one. That’s right—you can run bare-metal servers right next to virtualized workloads.
The way the engineers built this environment was using PowerFlex deployed in a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) configuration where the compute nodes are also storage nodes. (PowerFlex supports both two-tier architectures and HCI.)
As shown in the following diagram, our engineering team used five Dell PowerEdge R640 servers with dual CPUs, 384 GB of RAM, and eight SSDs per node. These five nodes were configured as HCI nodes and connected with a 25 Gbps network. The storage from across the nodes is aggregated to create a large software-defined pool of storage as a single protection domain that provides volumes to the SingleStore VMs. This is ideal for even the most demanding databases due to its high I/O capability.
For this validation, the SingleStore Cluster VMs consist of two aggregator VMs and multiple leaf VMs. The white paper details the configuration of these VMs.
Additionally, the white paper provides an overview of the steps used to deploy SingleStore on VMware vSphere in a PowerFlex environment. For this validation, they followed the online user interface method to deploy SingleStore.
With the environment configured, the white paper then discusses how to validate the environment using TPC-DS. This tool provides 99 different queries that can be used to test a database. For this validation, only 95 of the 99 were used. The paper then describes both how the sample data set was created and how the tests were run.
The validation tests were run on 4, 6, and 8 leaf node configurations. This was done to understand the variation in performance as the environment scales. The testing showed that having more SingleStore leaf nodes results in better performance outcomes.
The testing also showed that there were no storage bottlenecks for the TPC-DS like workload and that using more powerful CPUs could further enhance the environment.
The white paper shows how SingleStore and PowerFlex can be used to create a dynamic and robust environment for your growing data needs as you do your part to contribute to the 463 exabytes of data that is expected to be created daily by 2025. To find out more about this design, contact your Dell representative.
Author: Tony Foster
Introducing NVMe over TCP (NVMe/TCP) in PowerFlex 4.0
Fri, 26 Aug 2022 18:59:38 -0000|
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Anyone who has used or managed PowerFlex knows that an environment is built from three lightweight software components: the MDM, the SDS, and the SDC. To deploy a PowerFlex environment, the typical steps are:
- Deploy an MDM management cluster
- Create a cluster of storage servers by installing and configuring the SDS software component
- Add Protection Domains and Storage Pools
- Install the SDC onto client systems
- Provision volumes and away you go!!*
*No requirement for multipath software, this is all handled by the SDC/SDS
There have been additions to this over the years, such as an SDR component for replication and the configuration of NVDIMM devices to create finegranularity storage pools that provide compression. Also added are PowerFlex rack and appliance environments. This is all automated with PowerFlex Manager. Fundamentally, the process involves the basic steps outlined above.
So, the question is why would we want to change anything from an elegant solution that is so simple?
This is due to where the SDC component ‘lives’ in the operating system or hypervisor hosting the application layer. Referring to the diagram below, it shows that the SDC must be installed in the kernel of the operating system or hypervisor, meaning that the SDC and the kernel must be compatible. Also the SDC component must be installed and maintained, it does not just ‘exist’.
In most cases, this is fine and there are no issues whatsoever. The PowerFlex development team keeps the SDC current with all the major operating system versions and customers are happy to update the SDC within their environment when new versions become available.
There are, however, certain cases where manual deployment and management of the SDC causes significant overhead. There are also some edge use cases where there is no SDC available for specific operating systems. This is why the PowerFlex team has investigated alternatives.
In recent years, the use of Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) has become pervasive within the storage industry. It is seen as the natural replacement to SCSI, due to its simplified command structure and its ability to provide multiple queues to devices, aligning perfectly with modern multi-core processors to provide very high performance.
NVMe appeared initially as a connection directly to disks within a server over a PCIe connection, progressing to being used over a variety of fabric interconnects.
Added to this is the widespread support for NVMe/TCP across numerous operating system and hypervisor vendors. Most include support natively in their kernels.
There have been several announcements by Dell Technologies over the past months highlighting NVMe/TCP as an alternative interconnect to iSCSI across several of the storage platforms within the portfolio. It is therefore a natural progression for PowerFlex to also provide support for NVMe/TCP, particularly because it already uses a TCP-based interconnect.
PowerFlex implements support for NVMe/TCP with the introduction of a new component installed in the storage layer called the SDT.
The SDT is installed at the storage layer. The NVMe initiator in the operating system or hypervisor communicates with the SDT, which then communicates with the SDS. The NVMe initiator is part of the kernel of the operating system or hypervisor.
Of course, because PowerFlex is so ‘flexible,’ both connection methods (SDC and NVMe/TCP) are supported at the same time. The only limitation is that a volume can only be presented using one protocol or the other.
For the initial PowerFlex 4.0 release, the VMware ESXi hypervisor is supported. This support starts with ESXi 7.0 U3f. Support for Linux TCP initiators is currently in “tech preview” as the initiators continue to grow and mature, allowing for all failure cases to be accounted for.
NVMe/TCP is a very powerful solution for the workloads that take advantage of it. If you are interested in discovering more about how PowerFlex can enhance your datacenter, reach out to your Dell representative.
Kevin M Jones, PowerFlex Engineering Technologist.
Tony Foster, Senior Principal Technical Marketing Engineer.