I spent my early years in IT nursing a large Supercomputer. I say nursing because these machines are at the bleeding

edge of the technology curve and, while they were designed for extreme performance, they often lacked reliability.

Many times I would be phoned in the middle of the night by the operations staff because the Supercomputer was

unwell. So I was less a Systems Admin, more a Doctor diagnosing and curing a sick patient. However, when they were

working, the volumes of data they produced were enormous. Many 10’s of TB per day required storage and post

processing. This was often where the real science was done.

 

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This week I was pleased to read the story about the challenges faced by the Poznan Supercomputing facility in

Poland supporting international research projects. Thankfully Supercomputers are much more reliable these days

and it was interesting to note that the data challenges they produce haven’t changed for those that work with

these beasts.

 

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Perhaps unsurprisingly data volumes, growth, backup and latency feature highly in the article. Making simple

tasks like scanning and locating files more complex. As I had experienced, these limitations quickly prevent you

from scaling capacity and performance. Poznan had the additional challenges of processing millions of large and

small files, separating data from metadata and efficiently supporting different virtualisation technologies and

operating systems. With the complexity of their operation they also needed a single administrative interface to

simplify storage management tasks.

 

Poznan solved the challenge by implementing NetApp E-Series storage systems for the data and EF-Series

storage for the metadata. Here are just a few of the benefits this approach gave Poznan:-

 

&bul; The right performance and density for the right data type.
&bul; Multiple OS – such as RedHat, Enterprise Linux, CentOS and Ubuntu.
&bul; Multiple Virtualisation environments such as – VMWare, KVM and Hyper-V
&bul; Multiple Access protocols such as FC-SAN and InfiniBand
&bul; Emerging technologies such as CloudStack

 

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In my experience you may not be a HPC customer today but it is well worth watching the challenges and

dynamics in this segment because one day soon you will probably have the same ,or similar, challenges.

These ‘bleeding Edge’ organisations, such as Poznan, are out there solving these issues today.

 

As Maciej Brzezniak, storage systems specialist at PSNC said:

“With the NetApp EF-Series flash array we can use SSD for workloads that benefit from higher IOPS,while

achieving maximum storage density with the NetApp E-Series.”

 

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The only thing I would add is ‘under a single administrative interface that simplifies management‘ called

SANtricity Storage Manager’

Here is a link to the Story – well worth reading !

 

POZNAN Supercomputing and Networking Centre Story 

mm

Laurence James