Category Archives: Storage Technology

SUN OpenStorage presentation

“At work (client site) SUN made a presentation about their OpenStorage products (Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems) today.

From a technology point of view, the software side is nothing new to me. Using SSDs for zfs as a read-/write-cache is something we can do (partly) already since at least Solaris 10u6 (that is the lowest Solaris 10 version we have installed here, so I can not check quickly if the ZIL can be on a separate disk in previous versions of Solaris, but I think we have to wait until we updated to Solaris 10u8 until we can have the L2ARC on a separate disk) or in FreeBSD. All other nice ZFS features available in the OpenStorage web interface are also not surprising.

But the demonstration with the Storage Simulator impressed me. The interaction with Windows via CIFS makes the older version of files in snapshots available in Windows (I assume this is the Volume Shadow Copy feature of Windows), and the statistics available via DTrace in the web interface are also impressive. All this technology seems to be well integrated into an easy to use package for heterogeneous environments. If you would like to setup something like this by hand, you would need to have a lot of knowledge about a lot of stuff (and in theFreeBSD case, you would probably need to augment the kernel with additional DTrace probes to be able to get a similar granularity of the statistics), nothing a small company is willing to pay.”

Read Alexander’s full post:  Sun OpenStorage Presentation

A guide to network attached Storage Devices for Backup

The New York Times has put together a guide helping you find the best NAS storage servers for your need:

“… [a] NAS provides a central hard drive on which you can store, share and back up all files from multiple computers in the household. The NAS drive connects via an Ethernet cable to a wireless home-network router, which enables laptops and other devices equipped with Wi-Fi networking to use the drive wirelessly.

Unlike an external hard drive, an NAS device has a processor and uses its own operating system for storing and sharing photos, music, video and personal files.

Makers of NAS devices say home users primarily use the drives for data backup; centralized storage and file sharing among multiple computers; and remote access to photos, video, music and other files.

Most NAS drives enable families to create one consolidated library of photos, videos and digital music that can be streamed to high-definition TVs and other networked devices in the home. To do so, you will need a digital media adapter or a game console like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 that connects to the TV.

NAS drives also have software that can be set to automatically back up every computer on the network. The software enables you to select files, folders and drives to back up, as well as designate the time and day of the week for automatic backups. You will need to install the software on each computer on the network.

A more sophisticated NAS device contains two hard drives and automatically maintains identical copies of data on each drive to help ensure foolproof data storage. The beauty of this setup, known as mirroring or RAID 1, is that if one hard drive fails, the information will be safe on the other one.”

For the shopping tips: A Guide to Network-Attached Storage Devices for Backup

ZFS data integrity tested

Robin Harris over at the Storage Bits blog analyses a new UW-M paper analyzing the fault tolerance claims of ZFS:

“File systems guard all the data in your computer, but most are based on 20-30 year old architectures that put your data at risk with every I/O. The open source ZFS from Sun Oracle claims high data integrity – and now that claim has been tested.
File systems guard all the data in your computer, but most are based on 20-30 year old architectures that put your data at risk with every I/O. The open source ZFS from Sun Oracle claims high data integrity – and now that claim has been tested.

I’m at the USENIX File and Storage Technology FAST conference in Silicon Valley. There is more leading edge storage thinking presented here than any other industry event.

Case in point: End-to-end Data Integrity for File Systems (PDF): A ZFS Case Study by Yupu Zhang, Abhishek Rajimwale, Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau and Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau of the Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison. It offers the first rigorous test of ZFS data integrity.”

Robin Harris’ post in full: ZFS data integrity tested (

iXsystems iX-N4236 Orion II Server Series

The Orion II Storage Server & JBOD Storage Expansion Deliver Unparalleled Storage Density With Redundant Cooling and Powerful Intel® Technologies

iXsystems have released the iX-N4236 Orion II Storage Server which is designed to handle storage-intensive tasks while remaining at an optimal temperature and drawing less power than other servers in its class. The Orion II’s powerful complement of features and light energy footprint create an ideal environment for ZFS implementations, virtualization, and high-capacity storage.

iX-N4236 is a high performance, high quality, ultra dense, 4U rackmount server designed to maximize your rack-space, while saving energy, and your overall storage budget. The iX-N4236 features a highly efficient (92% Gold Level) power supply, 36 hot swap drive bays and amazing redundant cooling. Performance is handled by two Intel(r) Xeon(r) 5500 Series CPU’s, and up to 144GB of DDR3 ECC Registered 1333MHz memory.

The Orion II Server sports dual, intelligent Intel® Xeon® 5500 series quad-core processors, making it a powerful, efficient storage platform. Each Xeon® processor saves power by automatically putting the CPU into the lowest available power state during periods of light utilization. Intel® TurboBoost Technology raises performance on individual cores based on the needs of specific applications, ensuring efficient allocation of resources and increasing overall system performance. This intelligent power management, coupled with ultra-high efficiency power supplies and optional low-power hard drives and RAM, make the Orion II servers top of their class in storage capacity, compute power, and density per watt.

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How to avoid paying the high price of Cheap Storage

Unbelievably inexpensive networked storage options have emerged, but it’s a case of ‘False Economics 101.’

PCMag has  a post advising how to avoid the pitfalls of cheap storage:

The proliferation of huge, cache-laden SATA disks in the consumer market has led to an ever-expanding array of very inexpensive networked storage products for business. More often than not, these devices offer both NAS and iSCSI SAN functions that, until recently, were found only in enterprise-class storage products — at a fraction of the cost. Are these ultracheap alternatives right for you? That depends on who you are and what you do.

A huge range of performance variables separate true enterprise-class storage products from their inexpensive pretenders. The most glaring is transactional performance. Most low-cost storage devices are based on a small number of very large SATA disks rather than larger numbers of SATA or higher-speed SAS/FC disks. These types of configurations will yield extremely anemic transactional performance, which would generally make them poor choices for hosting a busy database or mail server.

What if that’s not what you want, though? If you’re a small business without a whole lot of transactional disk performance needs or a big business that just needs a very large, low-cost parking lot for some big data, are these low-end storage devices a good option?

Carry on reading the article:  What does “Enterprise Class” storage really mean?

So be careful when you venture into the land of low-cost storage. Take a hard look at what your storage will be used for — and how it’s going to get fixed when it breaks — before you congratulate yourself for saving a dump truck full of money. Sometimes, the dump truck you know is better than the one you never saw coming until it ran you over.