This week is EMC World, a huge event with tens of thousands of customers, partners, resellers and EMC employees talking about cloud, storage, and virtualization. EMC sells many storage solutions but most of the excitement and recent growth (per the latest EMC earnings announcement) are about scale-out storage, including EMC’s Isilon, XtremIO, and ScaleIO solutions.
As mentioned in my blog on the four big changes in storage, traditional scale-out storage connects many storage controllers together, while the new scale-out server storage links the storage on many servers. In both designs the disk or flash on all the nodes in each node is viewed and managed as one large pool of storage. Instead of having to manually partition and assign workloads to different storage systems, workloads can be either shifted seamlessly from node to node (no downtime) or distributed across the nodes.
Clients connect to (scale-out storage) or run on (scale-out server storage) different nodes but must be able to access storage on other nodes as if it were local. If I’m connecting to node A, I need rapid access to the storage on node A, B, C, D, and all the other nodes in the cluster. The system may also migrate data from one node to another, and rapidly exchange metadata or control traffic to keep track of who has which data.
The key to making this work is a very fast and low-latency cluster network, and that’s exactly what Mellanox provides in many of the EMC scale-out solutions. It’s not publicized, but inside Isilon and XtremIO is an InfiniBand network. It lets the nodes communicate with high bandwidth and low latency, as well as minimizing CPU cycles needed for cluster networking. Likewise the EMC ScaleIO software requires a cluster network that runs very nicely on Mellanox 40Gb Ethernet, and in fact we’re demonstrating a ScaleIO VDI appliance in our booth #646 at EMC World 2014. (The VDI appliance is built by SuperMicro and incorporates EMC’s ScaleIO software plus flash technology from LSI and networking from Mellanox.)
Scale-out storage is growing rapidly for EMC and I expect we’ll soon see more scale-out solutions from various vendors using Mellanox interconnect to make it happen.
• EMC Isilon scale-out NAS
Author: John Kim is Director of Storage Marketing at Mellanox Technologies, where he helps storage customers and vendors benefit from high performance interconnects and RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access). After starting his high tech career in an IT helpdesk, John worked in enterprise software and networked storage, with many years of solution marketing, product management, and alliances at enterprise software companies, followed by 12 years working at NetApp and EMC. Follow him on Twitter:@Tier1Storage.