Clustered storage systems run on storage servers, NAS gateways and hosts. Here's how to determine which clustered file-system architecture is best for your needs and storage environment.
Clustered file systems (CFS) offer a practical way to respond to big storage problems such as the proliferation of low-cost servers, application data growth and the need to deliver better application performance. A CFS pulls together and shares the excess storage capacity that's often available but hidden on storage networks. In doing so, a CFS increases storage utilization rates, delivers performance typically found only in high-end arrays and gives users an economical way to scale their architectures.
There are three ways to deploy a CFS: on storage servers, NAS gateways and hosts. Any server in the cluster can access any block of storage managed by the cluster. Most CFS also integrate the volume manager with the file system. This allows the CFS to break large files into blocks called extents, and to stripe those extents across different storage arrays to improve I/O performance.
There are several key questions that need to be answered before selecting a CFS:
- Can the CFS make use of existing storage and network resources?
- How difficult is it to install and configure?
- How does the CFS manage data integrity?
- Can it scale performance
- and capacity linearly and independently?
- What problem is the CFS best suited to solve?
This was first published in September 2006