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What is a clustered storage system?

Discover the differences between clustered storage systems, distributed computing systems and mainframe systems as they relate to enterprise data storage environments.

What is a clustered storage system? What is the difference between a clustered storage system, a distributed computing system and a mainframe system for enterprise data storage?
Clustering usually refers to the physical connection of independent compute nodes (servers) and a controlling function that distributes workloads to each node and/or manages the transfer of workloads between nodes.

For enterprise data storage, clustering usually requires a shared storage system, such as a storage-area network (SAN). A mechanism to duplicate the data in the storage system that's directly attached to each node can also be used.

Common storage clustering applications provide failover capabilities for critical processes and enable load balancing for high-performance processes.

A distributed computing system consists of nodes that have processing power and memory to support that processing. A distributed system architecture is typically used to break a larger processing job into sub-processes that each node can handle simultaneously to shorten the job.

A mainframe system is a single-node compute system. Mainframe systems were originally designed with a single processing engine, but also have multiple processors that can operate somewhat independently.

To learn more about clustered storage:

BIO: Eric Slack is an analyst at Storage Switzerland

This was first published in May 2010

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