Raid Data

November 22nd, 2013

What excatly is a Scale out NAS?

We are looking to this as a possible solution, Whats the difference between this and a normal NAS? What are the negatives and benefits of Scale out NAS?
Cost compairison generaly speaking?

Whilst NAS and SAN are designed to fit different environmental requirements and use different protocols for host access to storage resources, today’s technologies in this space share a common architecture.
A NAS or SAN storage system will have one or two controllers or heads. These provide hosts with access to the data stored in the disks underneath and also provide.

1. Performance (CACHE, CPU, Host connectivity ports)
2. RAID / Data Parity (to protect from data loss)
3. Management of the storage environment (LUNs, Volumes, Snapshots, Migration / replication etc)

Scale out NAS has a totally different architecture and is typically designed for rapid data growth in file or unstructured data environments without the performance or management limitations associated with traditional NAS / SAN systems. There is no concept of storage controllers or NAS filer heads. The system is composed of Hardware “nodes” which contain both disk and CPU / CACHE resources. Each node is a peer in the cluster, there is no “master” node.
These Nodes are clustered together over a common backplane (Isilon uses 40Gbps Infiniband) to form a single storage resource and data is “striped” across the cluster instead of individual RAID groups

Scale out NAS delivers many benefits, particularly for those companies and organisations who store a lot of digital or rich media content. The lack of a controller or controllers in the architecture means the system no longer has natural performance limitations in both I/O capability and data throughput to and from the cluster. As each node includes on-board CPU / CACHE and Host connectivity ports, the system scales linearly. Every time you add more capacity, you are also adding performance (I/O and Throughput).

Some clearly defined benefits for Scale out NAS are:

* Linear Scalability of both performance and capacity with no bottlenecks
* Massive performance due to pooled resources
* Namespace / Filesystem aggregation (single volume storage, like a giant Z: drive)
* More resiliency through clustered architecture, inherently highly available
* Ease of management (97% easier to manage than traditional SAN technology – Forrester)
* Flexibility, meet performance or capacity needs by adding hardware on the fly with no downtime

This is particularly important to users in the life sciences and media space.
It is very effective as a storage platform behind Illumina or Nanopore Gene Sequencer technology for example.
Its also used a lot by people working in post production with AVID or Final Cut Pro editing software.
Both sets of users need massive, scalable, performance storage which presents data in a single volume.

Users and workgroups who need to share or collaborate on particular data and files can only do so efficiently and seamlessly if the data exists in the same LUN / Volume on the underlying storage array. If the data is spread across multiple volumes or multiple storage arrays, then host access is fragmented and the operational workflow is affected.

A good example of this is Post Production for the Television and Film industry.

There are many stages to post production work, some of which include:
# Data ingest
# Transcoding (from one file format to another, typically to alter the bit rate)
# Colour correction
# Editing
# CGI and Graphical Rendering
# Subtitling

Throughout this process the engineers and their workstations involved need access to the same files and data.

If this data (which can be very large) is spread across multiple volumes or multiple storage arrays then it is very difficult to access the same files from multiple workstations on the network. This issue comes as a result of the natural limitations of Operating systems and storage in provisioning large enough LUNs / Volumes to accommodate the data (2TBs is often a common threshold). A single file in this industry can be many TBs in size, so this problem is commonplace.
Scale out NAS provides a single volume for data which can exceed 2PBs (2000TBs) in size and can be accessed concurrently by any host on the connected network. This allows for significant productivity enhancements and time / efficiency savings in operational workflow. It also greatly simplifies the management of the storage environment and reduces the complexity of backup tasks.

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