On roleplaying…

Ok – certain people do certain things well.

I’m a storage administrator/architect.  If you present me a problem I will *ALWAYS* look at it from a storage standpoint.  If you present me with a non-storage problem, I’ll try and make it fit.

I’ve identified four types of systems engineer-type-people:

Storage people

Server people

Network people

Desktop people

I think that just about anyone in IT either fits into one of those four roles or supports one of those roles.

Now when you are looking to solve a problem, the solution you get depends on who you go to.  If you ask a desktop person to solve a network problem for instance, they will probably come up with something under the desk.  (IE throwing a linksys router under a desk.)

If you try and throw a server person a storage role, you’re going to get a server solution to that role.


GPFS is a server solution to a storage problem.  It’s obvious that the person who came up with the idea of solving a storage problem by loading software on a server is not a storage person.

POSIT:  Mutliple hosts in a web-farm need access to data.  Filesystems need to be R/W to an ingest server and R/O to the web-content servers.

Storage Solution:  NAS/NFS – Trunked connection to a real backbone and multiple Apache webserver front-ends running at 1G to play out data.  (Fastest data transfer is going to be the 45MB/Sec backbone coming into the building, so a single Gigabit connection can handle it.   F5 Round-robin load-balancer to distribute the front-end load.  (might also be proposed by Savvy network people, who tend to understand NAS)

Server Solution:  IBM GPFS solution.  Over a million dollars in net-new server hardware + software licensing (not including storage).   Each host accessing storage requires HBA’s, Drivers, fast RELIABLE network. and a level of complexity unheard of even in government.

From what I can tell, and maybe someone can give me a little more insight, works very much like Sun’s Shared QFS.  A metadata server acts as a gatekeeper telling which member servers can access which blocks on which disks.  There is still no simultaneous disk access because a SCSI lock is a SCSI lock.

Now from a storage standpoint, this is rife with problems.

First off, it would seem that if network access was compromised during a write data integrity could easily be compromised.

Secondly, Other than block-level mirroring of the underlying disks, I can’t see a good way to replicate this.  And block-level mirroring of the underlying disks would require an identical infrastructure at the remote/DR site wouldn’t it?  That is of course assuming that the metadata can be mirrored.

Now in database uses or other types of distributed computing I can see it being VERY valuable.  But for flat file storage and web retrieval I can’t think of a single good reason to use something so obnoxiously complicated.  Especially when EMC Celerra, NetApp, or just about any of the other higher-end NAS appliances would cost *SO MUCH* less and be *SO MUCH* more reliable.


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