A dynamic four-tier storage design

The decision

Given these factors, Sun won the agency's business, not only for its tier 1 and tier 2 needs, but for tier 3 and tier 4 as well. Here's what the agency decided on (see "Final tiered storage system design," below):

  • Tier 1: Sun StorageTek 9990V System
  • Tier 2: Sun StorageTek 6540 array
  • Tier 3: Sun StorageTek 5320 NAS Appliance (model now discontinued)
  • Tier 4: Sun StorageTek SL500 Modular Library System


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Click here for a larger view of the final tiered storage system design.




The central component of the storage subsystem is the Sun 9990V, which performs all tier 1 functions via the Storage Navigator Web interface; virtualizes tier 2 storage for servers; and handles the NAS cluster, tier 4 backup storage, as well as LUN management for all storage tiers. The system -- which currently has 48 300 GB, 10,000 rpm FC drives amounting to 14 TB of tier 1 storage -- has performed exceptionally out of the box, with no tuning. The only anomaly occurred during a firmware upgrade to the 9990V, pointing to a configuration problem with the 6540; that problem was resolved without system interruption.

In its role as the tier 2 system, the Sun StorageTek 6540 provides more than 100 TB of 3 Gbps SATA II drives virtualized by the 9990V as external storage. There are eight 4 Gbps FC connections between the 6540 and the 9990V, balanced based on I/O loads between the two 6540 controllers. Array and LUN slicing and dicing is handled interactively without hindering performance on the other tiers and servers. The system has performed admirably since it was installed.

At tier 3, two Sun StorageTek 5320 NAS Gateway units are linked to the 9990V through eight 2 Gbps FC connections and to project servers via multiple 1 Gbps network connections managed by Ethernet switches. The system supports all three protocols the agency uses: NFS, iSCSI and CIFS. LUNs presented by the 9990V are sliced into local volumes that reside on a proprietary Sun StorageTek file system. The system has passed the tests InfoPro has put it through: failover testing and interactive expansion of the NAS cluster volumes shared via NFS to networked servers.

This was first published in May 2009

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