The ZFS Nexenta: An Application Guide

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At ICC, we’ve partnered with industry leaders to create storage solutions that offer top-tier performance and compute power, but won’t break your budget. Consider the ICC NovaStor N-Series, a combination of the ZFS file system, NexentaStor unified storage management platform and server technology from Supermicro. The result is a storage solution that offers enterprise-class features without an enterprise-grade price tag. Of course, deploying a high performance storage system is just half the battle — what apps work best with this kind of ZFS Nexenta deployment?

The New Storage

Before singling out ideal applications for a Nexenta-based system, it’s worth examining the current software-defined storage landscape. According to a recent Forbes article, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of software-defined alternatives isn’t yet known, especially past the three-to-five year mark. In part this is due to IT departments holding onto technology as long as possible before upgrading, and in part because — just like the move from centralized databases to virtual machines (VM) — there may be a disconnect between real and assumed costs.

NexentaStor, for its part, focuses on SMARTS: Security, manageability, availability, reliability, (lowered) TCO and scalability. In other words, this software-defined storage (SDS) platform aims to tackle problems like TCO head-on. How? Part of the value proposition here is that Nexenta technology runs on industry standard hardware, making it an ideal match for Supermicro servers. Nexenta systems are also scalable from 10 terabytes up to petabyte configurations and come with baked-in data management functionality. In addition, this SDS has an active open source project called the “community edition,” which is free to use, and supports all major VM vendors including Citrix Xen, VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. Finally, it’s worth noting that Nexenta has optimized their software to run both SSD and hybrid configurations.

The New File System

By pairing the NexentaStor storage system with Supermicro servers, we’ve created an ideal platform for the Z file system (ZFS), designed to mitigate many of the problems associated with hardware RAID. Originally a property of Sun Microsystems, ZFS is now open source and has emerged as a leader in pooled storage.

ZFS includes several critical features that create an enterprise-grade storage environment. By using pooled storage and what’s known as RAID-Z, it’s possible to create multiple file systems that all share the same pool. In addition, ZFS supports the creation of “point in time” snapshots and includes a “rollback” feature if these snapshots are no longer needed. The biggest benefit to ZFS, however, is data integrity protection. All data and metadata are checksummed when read, and these values are then compared to their original checksums. If the values don’t match and you’re running a redundant ZFS pool, any corruption is automatically repaired.

Of course, these features require a certain amount of sheer computing throughput, which translates to a heavy reliance on RAM. BSD Now recommends 1 gigabyte of RAM for each terabyte of storage space for optimal performance, but notes that the more RAM you have the better ZFS will perform. NovaStor solutions support up to 256 Gb of RAM, making it possible to achieve maximum ZFS output.

Choose Your Application

NovaStor solutions cover the full range of NAS and SAN storage appliances, and by relying on the SMARTs of Nexenta SDS along with the speed and redundancy of ZFS, offer unparalleled storage environments — but what kind of apps should you trust to this technology?

Nexenta suggests the use of large-scale streaming applications that take advantage of the system’s large namespace and high performance file repositories. In fact, that’s just the beginning — coupled with RAID-Z file management, it’s possible to run even the most resource-intensive enterprise apps. With up to 100,000 Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS), mission critical apps will never bog down, and have virtually zero risk of corruption since each read cycle is accompanied by a checksum comparison.

The NovaStor N-series isn’t about giving you some of what you want for the right price or selling everything you need at a cost you can’t afford. Instead, we’ve designed a software-defined storage system backed by cutting-edge server technology and the benefits of software-based RAID-Z. As a result, the best apps for a NovaStor are the ones you rely on every day, the ones that can’t lag or fail — the ones that set your company apart.

Bottom line? The N-Series is powerful, future-proof and ready to perform.

-Written by Srijay Sunil
About International Computer Concepts, Inc.

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