NAS V’s Clusters

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NAS
What if any are the benifits of a Clustered software solution such as Polyserve over traditional NAS?
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The REAL comparison should be Ployserve cluster vs. a NAS cluster. At that point, it is similar. A typical NAS head is just an Intel-based Linux box that serves up files via NFS/CIFS/iSCSI.

You can do the same with a clustered file server.

The comparison comes when you get down to management. Is polyserve Windows-based? It makes it easier to deal with AD, etc. But then the cluster may be put to different uses other than a file server. You are limited to file serving on a NAS head.

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  • Psyklops
    I agree, Polyserve is more comparable to clustered NAS. The Polyserve solutions I've seen use multi-node Linux servers providing strong NFS services. The benefits of a multi-node NAS are performance since each node is in an active-active configuration providing NFS services and availability due to there being more than one node. Typically each node is SAN connected to a large array with inherent high availability features, so you get the best of both worlds in terms of serving robust IP based storaged coupled with FC/SAN fabric flexibility.
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  • Klewis
    Chiming in with my two cents, I agree - Polyserve is best compared to cluster NAS products, like NAS gateways. I'm in the process of deploying a NAS cluster with ONStor Bobcat gateways. My organization wanted to recycle six month-old machines (dual CPU Opteron with plenty of RAM and FC SAN connectivity) to a cluster of Bobcats (attached to the same FC SAN). Strangely enough, the long-term cost of supporting each server was greater than the long-term cost of supporting the Bobcat gateways. Each Polyserve system runs a general-purpose OS that must be regularly patched and maintained. The Bobcat runs a streamlined, propriety OS, like the NetApp and EMC Celerra filers. The attack vectors for proprietary OSes are fewer than general purpose OSes by far. Similarly, the stipped down OS on most NAS appliances uses more CPU and network cycles for what *you* want them to do - serve files via CIFS and NFS, not running Windows Update or applying patches from SuSE. This comment irritates some of my colleagues, that don't believe in proprietary products. But you can't argue with the results - I can drive the network to saturation on my EMC Celerra and on the Bobcats. I don't quite get that on the Polyserve cluster. And, Polyserve supports a maximum of 16 nodes in an active cluster. If I wanted to recycle all 48 of my old single CPU P4 servers, I would have to create at least four Polyserve clusters - more stuff to manage, more stuff to move. Then again, the Bobcat scales to only four nodes per HA cluster, even more stuff to manage. But the concept of virtual servers allows me to move upto 255 virtual NAS and CIFS servers around within the clusters. Not really better than the Polyserve approach, just different. As with all things, your mileage will vary. Still, software product like Polyserve lets you recycle or repurpose old systems and get quite a bit of usefulness out of them. Rumors about that future versions of Polyserve will let clusters failover between OS versions. For example, your Linux-based Polyserve cluster could failover to a Windows-based cluster, if the software supported it.
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