28 Apr 2014

Enterprise Storage Area Network (SAN) Solutions For The Cloud

QSAN Enterprise Storage Are Network Hosting Solutions

Enterprise storage is expensive and any reliable business continuity Storage Area Network (SAN) solution usually cost thousands of dollars per month. The purpose of this blog post is to present the storage solutions of QSAN, Host Color offers to customers.

QSANs are Cloud-ready, certified for VMware, Xen server, Microsoft Hyper-V and could be used with any virtualization technology. Physically, they represent the model of external storage (separate physical, hardware-based storage appliances) connected to processing servers (computing nodes used for processing operations) We use them for VMware and Kernel-based VM Cloud infrastructures, but it could be used for Xen or any other virtualized setups as well.

High Availability, Fast Storage

The QSAN models used from Host Color to deliver Cloud Services come with dual active controllers. The standard QSAN solution we use - Q500-P10-D212 - features six (6 x) 1 Gigabit iSCSI channels per controller. It is available as 2U chassis with 12 hot-swap SSD/HDD bays 3U chassis (with 16 bays) and 4U chassis (24 bays) SANs are also available. All models support 2.5 inch SSD, SAS or SATA drives as well as 3.5 inch SAS or SATA HDD. If a customer needs to us 10 GigE connectivity between processing nodes and the storage area network the one could use a SAN with 10 Gigabit RJ-45 or 10 Gigabit SFP+ channels per controller (Fibre Channel models are also available).

QSANs Q500-P10-D212 (most used by Host Color) dual active controllers and its fully redundant and hot-swappable design make this storage device a highly available system. It offers multiple paths and load balancing features such as MPIO, MC/S, Trunking, and LACP to better ensure the reliability.

Accelerated Application Performance & Plenty Of Cold Storage

The SAN storage solution comes with SSD caching that leverages the strengths of both SSDs and SAS/SATA hard drives to meet both high speed and large capacity requirements. This is a cost-effectively way to accelerate application performance by utilizing SSD drive as extended RAID controller cache for hot data. At the same time the cold data (or most of it) are stored on SATA or SAS HDDs.

N-1 Failover & Thin Provisioning

During the SAN’s setup one could use either a web browser or Qsan’s QCentral utility, which is designed to manage multiple appliances from a single interface. One of the first thing to do is to create RAID Groups that comprise any or all available SSDs/HDDs. The QSAN provides wizards that grabs all the drives and offers the administrator options to create the most appropriate redundant array of independent disks. Array options include stripes, mirrors, RAID5 and 6 as well as QSAN’s N-way mirroring, where the array can contain multiple mirrors for N-1 failover.

QSAN support Thin provisioning (TP) through its QThin feature, which is applied only to RAID Groups. An administrator can set different policies for TP volumes to provide alerts when they are running out of storage space. An administrator can set up to six capacity thresholds, and actions include sending an email, reclaiming space, deleting snapshots or taking the RAID Groups offline.

Virtual Disks & RAID Group

For iSCSI targets, an administrator can create Virtual Disks within an RAID Group, where one would decide on a size and set parameters such as the block size. If the setup runs low on space, more disks can be added to the RAID Group and Virtual Disks expanded into them. Each Virtual Disk is assigned a LUN and during attachment the administrator can decide which host initiators may access it. For global access a wild card could be used. One can also set the LUN to read only or read/write.

Snapshots can be run manually or at scheduled 15 minute periods, hourly, daily, weekly or monthly intervals on selected Virtual Disks. All snapshots for each Virtual Disk can be viewed from either QCentral or the web interface, where the system administrator can expose them as read-only or read-write targets for selected hosts. Snapshot rollback is a simple process. After taking the primary Virtual Disk offline, the admin selects this option from the snapshot’s dropdown menu and it will restore the Virtual Disk.

Data Replication

QSAN offers for replication over the LAN or WAN. Both options are available with QSAN’s QReplica. It requires the last Ethernet port on each appliance to be dedicated to this task - which, in the case of the Q500, is the second Gigabit port. Cloning, is a standard feature, which can be used for simple Virtual Disk backup or to create a replica - possibly for testing and development. The system administrator has to create a Virtual Disk that’s the same size as the source and select a backup option. After associating the source with the backup Virtual Disk, manual cloning can be run and released so you have a duplicate. One can also apply a schedule for it to run a full copy and update it regularly using snapshots.

QSAN also comes with Fast Rebuild, which only rebuilds the partitions with data. It features embedded hardware RAID engine, that greatly reduces the system loading, minimizes the performance impact, and reduces rebuilding time as well.

What else a QSAN based Storage solution has offer?

- Optimized for high traffic, intensive computing storage operations. The entry-level SAN delivers 6 Gbps
(6,000MB/s) for throughput requirements.
- Offer flexible configurations for various storage plans.
- Feature increased application availability.
- SAN’s array built-in data protection technology protect data under any circumstances without extra cost and without performance impact.
- Feature reduced impact risk of disk failures.
- Automate data synchronization to avoid traffic jam.
- Protect data stored on the SAN against disasters.
- Offer up to 60% saving on power compared to standard storage servers.
- Feature Multi-path and failover.
- Feature instant rollback if theres is a virus attack or an accident delete.

The QSAN solutions are manageable through Web UI (HTTP, HTTPS), API, Console, Secure Telnet, LCD or any Central management software. They also features an innovated patent filing USB LCM which avoids data leakage in data centers and lowers IT management effort.

Host Color offers various Fault-Tolerant storage solutions and custom Cloud configurations based on the above presented QSAN appliances. Please contact us to discuss any Virtual Private Cloud, Public Clouds & Hybrid Clouds or Dedicated Cloud setups.

Consider using QSAN storage product to build a Dedicated Cloud for your organization. There are different scenarios, so contact Host Color and we will be happy to discuss all options and to choose the one that would work for you.