Currently, companies are searching for more ways to efficiently manage expanding volumes of data, and to make that data accessible throughout the enterprise. One of the possible choices could be a unified NAS storage.
Unified NAS storage has the following characteristics:
Supports concurrent block- and file-level storage access.
Provides centralized data storage for the application and user data.
Supports centralized backup, with file- or application-level recovery.
Utilizes cost-efficient LAN infrastructure.
Supports multiple storage protocols.
Supports heterogeneous host attachments.
IBM Flex System, as a data center building block, offers integrated server, storage, networking, virtualization, and management capabilities, with intelligent workload deployment across shared IT resource pools.
What are the possible ways to implement a unified NAS storage functionality on Flex System?
1. Unified NAS storage server
For the unified storage server solution, the x240 dual-socket compute node with the storage expansion unit is used.
The IBM Flex System x240 Compute Node is a high-performance server that offers outstanding performance for virtualization with new levels of CPU performance and memory capacity, and flexible configuration options. It supports up to two eight-core Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family and high-density memory designs with 24 DIMM slots.
The IBM Flex System Storage Expansion Node is a storage enclosure that attaches to a single half-wide compute node to provide that compute node with additional direct-attach local storage. The Storage Expansion Node provides flexible storage to match capacity, performance, and reliability needs. It supports up to 12 SAS, SATA, and SSD drives protected by advanced RAID functionality and flash-backed cache.
An x240 compute node with the storage expansion node supports solid-state drives, which can be deployed as an HDD cache with the SSD Caching Enabler FoD upgrade available for IBM Flex System RAID controllers, helping to increase the performance of SMB-based IOPS-intensive applications such as SQL Server.
2. Unified NAS gateway
For the highly available unified NAS gateway solution, two or more x240 compute nodes are used. They are connected to the IBM Flex System V7000 Storage Node integrated shared storage system using the Fibre Channel fabric.
The IBM Flex System V7000 Storage Node offers robust enterprise-class storage capabilities, which include thin provisioning, IBM Easy Tier® automated tiering, internal and external virtualization, clustering, replication, multiprotocol support, and a next-generation graphical user interface (GUI). It supports Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and FCoE connectivity, and scales up to 240 SAS and NL SAS HDDs and SSDs with the optional storage expansion enclosures.
In both scenarios, the x240 compute node is equipped with the onboard Emulex 10 Gb Virtual Fabric controller that supports an IBM Virtual Fabric vNIC solution (splitting one 10 Gb port into up to four virtual ports or vNICs) and, together with the EN4093R 10Gb Scalable Switch, can provide bidirectional bandwidth allocation and traffic metering on a vNIC level that is based on predefined vNIC bandwidth values.
The IBM Flex System Fabric EN4093R 10Gb Scalable Switch delivers exceptional performance that is both lossless and low latency. In addition, the EN4093R delivers excellent cost savings in terms of acquisition costs and energy costs, particularly considering the feature-rich design when it comes to virtualization, CEE/FCoE, high availability, and its enterprise-class Layer 2 and Layer 3 functionality.
For more information, read the IBM Flex System NAS Solutions IBM Redbooks Solution Guide.
Ilya Krutov is an IBM Redbooks Project Leader. He writes books and papers on many topics related to IBM System x, IBM BladeCenter and IBM Flex System. Follow Ilya on Twitter at @IlyaAtRedbooks.