IBM Scale out NAS (SONAS) v1.1.1

IBM SONAS from IBM's Flickr stream (c) IBM
IBM SONAS from IBM's Flickr stream (c) IBM

We have discussed other scale out NAS products on the market such as Symantec’s FileStoreIBRIX reborn as HP networked storage, and why SO/CFS, why now (scale out/cluster file systems) in previous posts but haven’t talked about IBM’s highend scale out NAS (SONAS) product before. There was an announcement yesterday of a new SONAS version so thought it an appropriate time to cover it.

As you may know SONAS packages up IBM’s well known GPFS system services and surrounds it with pre-packaged hardware and clustering software that supports a high availability cluster of nodes serving native CIFS and NFS clients.

One can see SONAS is not much to look at from the outside but internally it comes with three different server components:

  • Interface nodes – which provide native CIFS, NFS and now with v1.1.1 HTTP interface protocols to the file store.
  • Storage nodes – which supply backend storage device services.
  • Management nodes – which provide for administration of the SONAS storage system.

The standard SONAS system starts with a fully integrated hardware package within one rack with 2-management nodes, 2- to 6-interface nodes, 2-storage pods (one storage pod consists of of 2-storage nodes and 60 to 240 attached disk drives).  The starter system can then be expanded with either a single interface rack with up to 30 interface nodes and/or multiple storage racks with 2 storage pods in each rack.

With v1.1.1, a new hardware option has been provided, specifically the new IBM SONAS gateway for IBM’s XIV storage.  With this new capability SONAS storage nodes can now be connected to an IBM XIV storage subsystem using 8GFC interfaces through a SAN switch.

Some other new functionality released in SONAS V1.1.1 include:

  • New policy engine – used for internal storage tiering and for external/hierarchical storage through IBM’s Tivoli Storage Managere (TSM) product. Recall that SONAS supports both SAS and SATA disk drives and now one can use policy management to migrate files between internal storage tiers.  Also, with the new TSM interface, data can now be migrated out of SONAS and onto tape or any of the other over 600 storage devices supported by TSM’s Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) product.
  • Asynch replication – used for disaster recovery/business continuance.  SONAS uses standard Linux based RSYNC capabilities to replicate file systems from one SONAS cluster to another cluster.  SONAS replication only copies changed portions of files within file systems being replicated and uses SSH data transfer to encrypt data-in-flight between the two SONAS systems.

There were some other minor enhancements for this announcement namely, higher capacity SAS drive support (now 600GB), using NIS authentication, increased cache per interface node (now up to 128GB), and the already mentioned new HTTP support.

In addition, IBM stated that a single interface node can pump out 900MB/sec (out of cache) and 6 interface nodes can sustain over 5GB/sec (presumably also from cache).  SONAS can currently scale up to 30 interface nodes but this doesn’t appear to be an architectural limitation but rather just what has been validated by IBM.

Can’t wait to see this product show up in SPECsfs 2008 performance benchmarks to see how it compares to other SO and non-SA file system products.

4 Replies to “IBM Scale out NAS (SONAS) v1.1.1”

  1. I am expecting SPC numbers to show the power of the SONAS but keep in mind all interface nodes can serve data not just the controller that has pinned data. Also failover can be mutiple nodes unlike other scale out systems.

  2. SONAS 1.1.1 supports NIS for ID Mapping and NFS netgroup only. ID mapping is required mainly for mapping unix IDs with windows SID. If you are using LDAP for authentication then ID mapping is not required as UID ( Unix IDs ) and SID ( windows ID ) are stored in LDAP, however if SONAS is configured with AD ( Active directory) then for mix environment with Unix and Windows we need mechanism to map UID and SID. In R1.1.1 through NIS this mapping is supported where user can create different mapping rules to map users and group.

  3. Whey I say NIS for ID mapping and NFS netgroup it only means SONAS 1.1.1 does not support NIS as authentication. Reason is NIS does not support windows Hash for password… so no one will like to send password in plain text 🙂

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