Category Archives: Storage

Storage Spaces Direct: If Not RDMA, Then What? If Not Mellanox, Then Who?

Over the past couple years, we have witnessed significant architectural changes affecting modern data center storage systems. These changes have had a dramatic effect, as they have practically replaced traditional Storage Area Network (SAN), which has been the dominant solution for over a decade.

 

When analyzing the market trends that led to this change, it becomes very clear that virtualization is the main culprit. The SAN architecture was very efficient when only one workload was accessing the storage array, but it has become much less efficient in a virtualized environment in which different workloads arrive from different independent Virtual Machines (VMs).

 

To better understand this concept, let’s use a city’s traffic light system as an analogy to a data center’s data traffic. In this analogy, the cars are the data packets (coming in different sizes), and the traffic lights are the data switches. Before the city programs a traffic light’s control, it conducts a thorough study of the traffic patterns of that intersection and the surrounding area.

 

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Double Your Storage System Efficiency

Enable Higher IOPS while Maximizing CPU Utilization

As virtualization is now a standard technology in the modern data center, IT managers are  now seeking ways to increase efficiency by adopting new architectures and technologies that enable faster data processing and execute more jobs over the same infrastructure, thereby lowering the cost per job. Since CPUs and storage systems are the two main contributors to infrastructure cost, using fewer CPU cycles and accelerating access to storage are keys toward achieving higher efficiency.

 

The ongoing demand to support mobility and real-time analytics of constantly increasing amounts of data demands that new architectures and technologies be used, specifically those with smarter usage of expensive CPU cycles and as a replacement of old storage systems that were very efficient in the past, but that have become hard to manage and extremely expensive to scale in modern virtualized environments.

 

With an average cost of $2,500 per CPU, about 50% of compute server cost is due to the CPUs.  On the other hand, the I/O controllers cost less than $100. Thus, offloading tasks from the CPU to the I/O controller frees expensive CPU cycles, increasing the overall server efficiency. Other expensive components, such as SSD, will therefore not need to wait the extra cycles for the CPU. This means that using advanced I/O controllers with offload engines results in a much more balanced system that increases the overall infrastructure efficiency.

 

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Mellanox and ScaleIO Help Hoist Hyper-Converged VSPEX to New Heights

Early May is a time of celebrations. May 1 is the traditional start of summer, as well as International Workers Day. Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French in 1862.  In the United States, it’s time for Mother’s Day.


John Kim 050614 Fig1Figure 1: A traditional Maypole celebration in England

 

Most importantly for IT, it’s time for EMC World. EMC is Mother Storage to many enterprise customers gathered in Las Vegas this week.

 

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Figure 2: EMC CEO Joe Tucci says “Live Long and Prosper” to mothers (and storage users) across the galaxy.

 

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RDMA enhancements for ISCSI

Guest post by Noam Shendar, VP Business Development, Zadara Storage

Just Punch It:  Accelerating Storage the Easy Way

Architecting storage solutions means being on the hunt for bottleneck after bottleneck and removing them to eliminate latency wherever possible. With the availability of storage media such as Flash and high-performance disk drives, the bottleneck has often moved away from the storage medium itself and onto the interconnect.

 

When building our enterprise storage as a service offerings, we’ve had to overcome several bottlenecks – from reinventing the proprietary, purpose-built controllers of traditional arrays that caps the speed and expandability of an array, through the performance of the controllers, to using flash cache acceleration, it was clear that to deliver applications with even better efficiency our award-winning Virtual Private Storage Arrays (VPSA) need to take advantage of new technologies for the datapath.

 

What is iSER technology?

iSER is an interface that uses Ethernet to carry data directly between server memory and storage devices. The protocol eliminates memory copies (a.k.a. memcpy) and the operating system TCP/IP stack, and bypasses the CPU of the target system entirely.  As such, it is lossless, deterministic, with low overhead, and delivers far better CPU efficiency by freeing up resources.

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Catching up on the latest from Dell Fluid Cache for SAN

Did you know Dell Fluid Cache for SAN now supports Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 6.5 and VMware vSphere® ESXi™5.5 U2*? With these two additions plus the ability to use a variety of Dell PowerEdge 12th and new 13th generation Dell servers as Cache Contributor servers, customers have even more deployment options to turbocharge OLTP and power heavy use VDI workloads.

 

Big data analytics are growing in demand across enterprise organizations with the need to sort and analyze vast amounts of data in order to guide business decisions. Many companies using ERP solutions which require vast amounts of I/O to process multiple transactions could benefit from extraordinary performance increases required of these databases by adding Dell Fluid Cache for SAN.

 

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Deploying Ceph with High Performance Networks

As data continues to grow exponentially storing today’s data volumes in an efficient way is a challenge.  Many traditional storage solutions neither scale-out nor make it feasible from Capex and Opex perspective, to deploy Peta-Byte or Exa-Byte data stores.

Ceph_Logo_Standard_RGB_120411_fa

In this newly published whitepaper, we summarize the installation and performance benchmarks of a Ceph storage solution. Ceph is a massively scalable, open source, software-defined storage solution, which uniquely provides object, block and file system services with a single, unified Ceph storage cluster. The testing emphasizes the careful network architecture design necessary to handle users’ data throughput and transaction requirements.

 

Ceph Architecture

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Mellanox Powers EMC Scale-Out Storage

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.

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4K Video Drives New Demands

This week, Las Vegas hosts the National Association of Broadcasters conference, or NAB Show. A big focus is the technology needed to deliver movies and TV shows using 4K video.

Standard DVD video resolution is 720×480. Blue-ray resolution is 1920×1080. But, thanks to digital projection in movie theatres and huge flat-screen TVs at home, more video today is being shot in 4K (4096×2160) resolutions.  The video is stored compressed but must be streamed uncompressed for many editing, rendering, and other post-production workflows. Each frame has over 8 million pixels and requires 24x greater bandwidth than DVD (4x greater bandwidth than Blue-ray).

 

Bandwidth and network ports required for Uncompressed 4K & 8K video
Bandwidth and network ports required for Uncompressed 4K & 8K video

 

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Four Big Changes in the World of Storage

People often ask me why Mellanox is interested in storage, since we make high-speed InfiniBand and Ethernet infrastructure, but don’t sell disks or file systems.  It is important to understand the four biggest changes going on in storage today:  Flash, Scale-Out, Appliances, and Cloud/Big Data. Each of these really deserves its own blog but it’s always good to start with an overview.

 

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Flash

Flash is a hot topic, with IDC forecasting it will consume 17% of enterprise storage spending within three years. It’s 10x to 1000x faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) with both higher throughput and lower latency. It can be deployed in storage arrays or in the servers. If in the storage, you need faster server-to-storage connections. If in the servers, you need faster server-to-server connections. Either way, traditional Fibre Channel and iSCSI are not fast enough to keep up. Even though Flash is cheaper than HDDs on a cost/performance basis, it’s still 5x to 10x more expensive on a cost/capacity basis. Customers want to get the most out of their Flash and not “waste” its higher performance on a slow network.

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Flash can be 10x faster in throughput, 300-4000x faster in IOPS per GB (slide courtesy of EMC Corporation)

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The Storage Fabric of the Future Virtualized Data Center

Guest post by Nelson Nahum, Zadara Storage

It is evident that the future data center will be based on cutting-edge software and virtualization technologies to make the most effective use of hardware, compute power, and storage needs to perform essential analytics and to increase the performance of media-related and advanced web applications. And it turns out that the wires that will connect all this technology together are no less crucial to next-generation data centers and clouds than the software and virtualization layers that run within them.


There are multiple storage fabrics and interconnects available today, including Fibre Channel, Ethernet and SAS. Each has various pros and cons, and fabrics were chosen according to need of performance, compatibility and cost efficiencies.

 

As an enterprise storage as-a-service provider, delivering a software-based cloud storage solution for public, private and hybrid cloud models based on commodity hardware, Zadara Storage provides storage as-a-service in multiple public cloud and colocation facilities around the globe. Consistency, high availability and predictability are key in supplying the scalable, elastic service our customers expect, regardless of their location, facility or the public cloud they employ. The hardware we use needs to be dependable, pervasive and cost-efficient in order to sustain the performance and cost-level of our service, anywhere and at any scale.

 

When choosing our fabric, Ethernet came as a clear choice. Ethernet is likely to become the new standard, and boasts several advantages vital to our product:

  • Ethernet’s speed roadmap is aggressive: from 10GbE to 40GbE, and upcoming 100GbE
  • Ethernet is ubiquitous: we can employ it with no complication at any data center or colocation facility around the globe
  • The latency we have found to be more than manageable, specifically as we use advanced techniques such as IO virtualization and data passthrough
  • Ethernet is the most cost effective: an as-a-service company needs to have a competitive pricing edge.

The future of enterprise storage
The future of Enterprise Storage lies in software and a choice of hardware (premium or commodity). Software-defined storage can scale performance more easily and cost effectively than monolithic hardware, and by combining the best of hardware of software, the customer wins. Ethernet is a critical element of our infrastructure, and Mellanox switches offer significant higher performance and consistent dependability that enables our storage fabric and meets our customer’s needs.

 

Zadara Storage at the Mellanox Booth at VM World 2013
Wednesday, August 28, at 2:15pm
At the Mellanox Booth at VM World 2013, Zadara Storage CEO, Nelson Nahum, will present the Zadara™ Storage Cloud, based on the patent-pending CloudFabric™ architecture, and providing a breakthrough cost structure for data centers. Zadara’s software-defined solution employs standard, off-the-shelf x86 servers, and utilizes Ethernet as its only interconnect to provide performant, reliable, SSD- and spindle-based SAN and NAS as a service.

 

About Zadara Storage
An Amazon Web Services and Dimension Data Technology Partner and winner of the VentureBeat, Tie50, Under the Radar, and Plug and Play cloud competitions, Zadara Storage offers enterprise-class storage for the cloud in the form of Storage as a Service (STaaS). With Zadara Storage, cloud storage leapfrogs ahead to provide cloud servers with high-performance, fully configurable, highly available, fully private, tiered SAN and NAS as a service. By combining the best of enterprise storage with the best of cloud and cloud block storage, Zadara Storage accelerates the cloud by enabling enterprises to migrate existing mission-critical applications to the Cloud.