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Virtualization Journal Print Archives: Volume 2 - Issue 5, September 14, 2005

Optimizing Storage with Network File Virtualization

(September 14, 2005) - Existing storage management methods and tools can't keep pace with exploding storage requirements. Application expansion, digital media formats, and regulatory compliance have all contributed to the fast-growing demand. According to IDC, storage administrator productivity has to increase 60% a year just to keep up with the anticipated growth in storage capacity. To make matters worse, 24x7 data access requirements are closing the management windows available to administrators to do management tasks.

The Challenge
A new approach is needed to dramatically simplify network storage management and drive improvements in capacity, performance, and tiered storage management. Any potential solution, however, mustn't introduce additional risk into storage environments. Administrators don't want to risk data integrity problems, disaster recovery issues, or performance bottlenecks.

A related concern for any viable solution is how end-user access is managed. A solution that requires changing end-user mount points or installing special software on each server or client can significantly outweigh the benefits of uninterrupted access during data movement. Organizations also have to understand how a solution impacts other management tasks. How difficult is the initial deployment? How does it do data retention? Will a potential solution create management headaches elsewhere or in the future? For example, does a solution take a proprietary approach that conflicts with upcoming industry standards?

Network File Virtualization: Changing Storage Management
Virtualization is key to managing demanding file storage requirements. Rainfinity is the first company to optimize IP-based storage with network file virtualization (NFV) that enables unstructured data management without disrupting end-user or application access. Its patented Network File Virtualization Platform optimizes Networked Attached Storage (NAS), eases storage management overhead, simplifies end-user access, and enables additional storage management functionality. NFV lets administrators support heterogeneous storage environments and optimize networked storage across different vendor platforms increasing flexibility and lowering TCO.

Strategic approaches like ILM, Storage Grid, and Utility Computing require data to move freely across the environment without disrupting end-user or application access. Standards-based NFV offers this required non-disruptive data movement across heterogeneous environments, which represents a significant change in an administrator's ability to manage NAS and file server environments effectively.

In traditional file server environments, adding data storage greatly increases management burdens and data exposure, and impacts performance and availability. NFV lets administrators efficiently manage their NAS networks across large-scale multi-vendor storage environments regardless of size, regulatory requirements, data volumes, service levels, or high-availability requirements.

Optimizing Storage with Network File Virtualization

  • Management Applications Combined with Network File Virtualization - One product, for example, RainStorage from Rainfinity, combines network file virtualization with purpose-built applications to simplify storage management, increase flexibility, and lower cost. It uniquely optimizes networked storage with applications that identify, analyze, and resolve capacity, performance, and tiered storage issues. Existing tools on the market provide monitoring capabilities and can provide a great deal of information about the status of a network storage environment, but these tools can't take action and can't actively manage active data. Active data management is the focal point. The applications described below let administrators optimize storage instead of simply checking status.
  • Capacity Management - Automatically identifies over-allocations at the file server, volume, or quota tree level and takes corrective action. RainStorage presents the top-capacity issues from left to right so administrators quickly understand the environment and easily identify capacity problems at the file server, volume, and directory level. A simple click lets them analyze issues in more detail and immediately resolve issues on-demand.
  • Tiered Storage Management - Analyzes access and puts content on the most appropriate storage tier; identifies the least accessed directories on the online storage tier, and identifies the most accessed near-line directories to determine which content can benefit from relocation to the online tier; transparently supports service levels without disrupting storage systems.
  • Performance Management - Identifies file server CPU, volume, and directory process bottlenecks and resolves issues by dynamically distributing content to alternate locations to balance performance better. RainStorage presents the top capacity issues so administrators can quickly understand the environment and easily identify capacity problems at the file server, volume, and directory level.
Capacity Issues
  • Average utilization is 35-50%
  • Management cost per TB isn't improving
  • Over-provisioning is too costly
Performance Issues
  • User productivity impacted by poor response time
  • Application throughput limited by I/O bandwidth
  • New devices don't address the bottlenecks
Tiered Storage
  • Nearline storage represents a huge cap-tal expenditure advantage over online
  • Limitation to dynamically manage data between online and nearline

More Stories By Jack Norris

Jack Norris is Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies. He drives understanding and adoption of new applications enabled by data convergence. With over 20 years of enterprise software marketing experience, he has demonstrated success from defining new markets for small companies to increasing sales of new products for large public companies. His broad experience includes launching and establishing analytic, virtualization, and storage companies and leading marketing and business development for an early-stage cloud storage software provider.

Jack has also held senior executive roles with EMC, Rainfinity (now EMC), Brio Technology, SQRIBE, and Bain and Company. He earned an MBA from UCLA Anderson and a BA in Economics with honors and distinction from Stanford University.

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