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Avere front ending Isilon

TechOps Guy: Nate


How do all these cool people find our blog? A friendly fellow from Isilon commented that apparently the article from The Register isn't accurate in that Avere is front ending NetApp gear not Isilon. But in any case I have been thinking about Avere and the Symantec stuff off and on recently anyways.. END UPDATE

A really interesting article over at The Register about how Sony has deployed an Avere cluster(s) to front end their Isilon(and perhaps other) gear too. A good quote:

The thing that grabs your attention here is that Avere is being used to accelerate some of the best scale-out NAS on the planet, not bog standard filers with limited scalability.

Avere certainly has some good performance metrics(pay attention to the IOPS per physical disk), and more recently they introduced a model that run on top of SSD, I haven't seen any performance results for it yet but I'm sure it's a significant boost. As The Register mentions in their article if this technology really is good enough for this purpose it has the potential(of course) to be extremely disruptive in the industry, wrecking havoc with many of the remaining (and very quickly dwindling) smaller scale out NAS vendors. Kind of funny really seeing how Isilon spun the news.

From Avere's site, in talking about comparing Spec SFS results:

A comparison of these results and the number of disks required shows that Avere used dramatically fewer disks. BlueArc used 292 disks to achieve 146,076 ops/sec with 3.34 ms ORT. Exanet used 592 disks to achieve 119,550 ops/sec with 2.07ms ORT (overall response time). HP used 584 disks to achieve 134,689 ops/sec and 2.53 ms ORT. Huawei Symantec used 960 disks to achieve 176,728 ops/sec with 1.67ms ORT. NetApp used 324 disks to achieve 120,011 ops/sec with 1.95ms ORT. By contrast, Avere used only 79 drives to achieve 131,591 ops/sec with 1.38ms ORT. Doing a little math, Avere achieves 3.3, 8.2, 7.2, 9.0, and 4.5 times more ops/sec per disk used than the other vendors.

Which got me thinking again, Symantec last year released a Filestore product, my friends over at 3PAR were asking me if I was interested in it. To-date I have not been because the only performance numbers released to-date have been not very efficient. And it's still a new product so who knows how well it works in the real world, granted that Symantec does have a history of file systems with their Norton File System (NFS) product.

Unfortunately there isn't much technical info on the Filestore product on their web site.

Built to run on commodity servers and most storage arrays, FileStore is an incredibly simple-to-install soft appliance. This combination of low-cost hardware, "pay as you grow" scalability and easy administration give FileStore a significant cost advantage over specialized appliances. With support for both SAN and iSCSI storage, FileStore delivers the performance needed for the most demanding applications.

It claims N-way active-active or active-passive clustering, up to 16 nodes in a cluster, up to 2PB of storage and 200 million files per file system. Which for most people is more than enough. I don't know how it is licensed though or how well it scales on a single node, could it run on a aforementioned 48-all-round system?

Where does 3PAR fit into this? Well Symantec was the first company(so far the only one that I know of) to integrate Thin Reclamation into their file system, which integrates really well with 3PAR arrays at least. The file system uses some sort of SCSI command which is passed back to the array when files are deleted/reclaimed. So that the I/O never hits the spindles, the array transparently re-maps the blocks to be available for use.

3PAR Thin Reclamation for Veritas Storage Foundation keeps storage volumes thin over time by allowing granular, automated, non-disruptive space reclamation within the InServ array. This is accomplished by communicating deleted block information to the InServ using the Thin Reclamation API. Upon receiving this information, the InServ autonomically frees this allocated but unused storage space. The thin reclamation capabilities provide environments using Veritas Storage Foundation by Symantec an easy way to keep their thin volumes thin over time, especially in situations where a large number of writes and deletes occur.

But I was thinking that you could front end one of these Filestore clusters with an Avere cluster and get some pretty flexible high performing storage.

Something I'd like myself to explore at some point.