Storage grid pushes the envelope


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To manage the various boot images, the project team came up with the concept of "Golden LUNs"--OS images with specific engineering requirements--and used the NetApp LUN clone technology to present writable LUN copies to each Kilo-Client node. Each node would have to be configured only once to point to an assigned boot LUN, identified by the assigned world wide port name (WWPN) for FC boot LUNs and an iSCSI Qualified Name (IQN) for iSCSI boot LUNs, leveraging NetApp's Data Ontap OS to map and unmap various boot LUNs for a specific node.

The LUN clone technology was selected by the project team for its efficiency. LUN clones only have to store differences between the original image and the cloned image, resulting in huge disk space savings. In other words, a fresh LUN clone requires no additional disk space; it's only as a clone changes that differences from the original image need to be stored. As boot images differ only slightly (mostly configuration differences), they're an ideal fit for operating system boot image provisioning.

The difference between full-disk OS provisioning and using LUN clones is staggering. "It takes about two and a half hours and a little over 200GB to provision 1,500 clients using LUN clones. With full-disk OS provisioning, the same task would take almost a full 24-hour day and over 14TB of disk space to achieve the exact same result," says Brown.

The architecture
The Kilo-Client architecture has three primary networks:

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one for SAN boot, one to connect to NetApp storage systems under test and one management network to blade clients (see "The Kilo-Client architecture" PDF). "The Kilo-Client comprises 1,500 server blades, 7,000 FC and IP ports, and over 94 storage controllers with over half a petabyte of disk space we assign dynamically," says Ferguson.

Click here for an overview The Kilo-Client architecture (PDF).

This was first published in October 2007

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