This is the 2nd time Brian Dean, Technical Marketing, Dell PowerFlex Storage has been on our show discussing their storage. Since last time there’s been a new release with significant functional enhancements to file services, Dell CloudIQ integration and other services. We discussed these and other topics on our talk with Brian. Please listen to the podcast to learn more.
We began the discussion on the recent (version 4.5) changes to Powerflex for file services. PowerFlex file services are provided by File Nodes each running a NAS Container, which supplies multiple NAS Servers. NAS servers supply tenant network namespaces, security policies and host file systems, each of which resides on a single PowerFlex volume.
File Nodes are deployed in HA pairs, each on a separate hardware server. One can have up to 16 File Nodes or 8 pairs of File Nodes running on a PowerFlex cluster. If one of the pair goes down, file access fails over to the other File Node in a pair.
Each NAS Server supports multiple file systems each of which can be up to 256TB. The NAS Container is also used for other Dell storage file services, so it’s full featured and very resilient.
PowerFlex file services support multiple NFS and SMB versions as well as SFTP/FTP and other essential file data services. In addition, it also supports a global name space which allows all PowerFlex cluster file systems to be accessed under a single name space and IP target.
Next, we discussed PowerFlex’s automated LCM (Life Cycle Management) services which is specific to the PowerFlex appliance and fully-integrated, rack deployment models. Recall that PowerFlex can be deployed as an appliance, rack solution or in a software only solution using X86 servers.
With the appliance and rack models, a PowerFlex Manager (PFxM) service is used to deploy, change, monitor and manage PowerFlex cluster nodes. It discovers networking and PowerFlex servers/storage, loads appropriate firmware, BIOS, PowerFlex storage data services software and then brings up PowerFlex block services.
PFxM also offers automated LCM by maintaining an intelligent catalog, which declares all current software/firmware/BIOS and hardware versions compatible with PowerFlex software. When changes are made to the cluster, say when storage is increased or a server is added, the PFxM service detects the change and goes about bringing any new hardware up to proper software levels.
Finally the PFxM service can non-disruptively update the cluster whenever a PowerFlex code change is deployed. This would involve an intelligent catalog update, after which the PFxM service detects the cluster is out of compliance, and then it would serially go through, bringing each cluster node up to the proper level, without host IO access interruption.
Finally, we discussed changes made to CloudIQ-PowerFlex interface, so that CloudIQ can now troubleshoot and report performance-capacity trends at the PowerFlex storage pool, fault set, and fault domain level. Previously, CloudIQ could only do this at the full PowerFlex system level.
CloudIQ is Dell’s free, cloud service used to monitor and trouble shoot all Dell storage systems and many other Dell solutions, whether on premises or in the cloud.
Brian mentioned that all technical information for PowerFlex is available on their InfoHub.
Brian Dean, Dell PowerFlex Technical Marketing
Brian is a 16+ year veteran of the technology industry, and before that spent a decade in higher education. Brian has worked at EMC and Dell for 7 years, first as Solutions Architect and then as TME, focusing primarily on PowerFlex and software-defined storage ecosystems.
Prior to joining EMC, Brian was on the consumer/buyer side of large storage systems, directing operations for two Internet-based digital video surveillance startups.
When he’s not wrestling with computer systems, he might be found hiking and climbing in the mountains of North Carolina.