Saturday, November 17, 2007

NAS devices for Oracle - Netapp versus HP Enterprise File Services Clustered Gateway

Continuing on my earlier topic about Oracle and NAS, the ideal NAS device for Oracle would support just about the following (from a tactical perspective).
  • Supported by Oracle
  • Symmetric active controllers so that load-balancing, linear scaling and HA are possible.
  • 10G ethernet capabilities with Jumbo frames.
  • Supports both Unix and Linux clients.
  • Support Direct and Async I/O.
  • Ability to map luns as a initiator (Leverage existing SAN infrastructure).
  • Direct I/O to luns bypassing the NAS cache as an option. So the NAS basically functions like a gateway device doing protocol conversion only.
  • Snapshots at the NAS level and not at the SAN level. This gives the ability to use different storage for backups and better controlled.
  • Ability to carve volumes from the luns in any manner as requested by the end-user (Raid 0, RAid 10, Raid 5 etc). End user specified Stripe Widths.
  • Set the pre-fetch and write-back policies for the NFS filesystems on the NAS head.
  • Fine Tune the I/O aspects of both NAS and SAN components
  • Not to say the least - easy to support and maintain.
It goes without saying that any NAS should have a decent I/O scheduler sitting in front of the luns which aggressively sorts/merges I/O to reduce disk head movements.

While Netapp cannot do much of the above, there is a new player in the market - the HP Enterprise File Services Clustered Gateway.

The HP solution for Unix is built on the Suse Linux Platform using the Polyserve Cluster Filesystem. It is built to serve as a NAS head utilizing HP branded Storage Arrays (I assume they would support other Arrays - as long as drivers exist for Suse Linux). I personally feel this is a brilliant idea - marrying a cluster filesystem/volume manager with an OS and making a NAS head which can scale horizontally. The OS gives manageability + SAN capabilities out of the box and the cluster filesystem/volume manager gives horizontal scalability and custom volume management. While Linux is not the best performer when it comes to Networking (compared to Netapp or Solaris), with all the other goodness thrown in, it is a mighty force indeed.

It meets most of the requirements as shown above, however I have not yet had the opportunity to test and see in a live environment. I think this would be a great product to watch out for.

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