[Beowulf] Parallel File system as a storage Solution

Brian R Smith brian at cypher.acomp.usf.edu
Thu Aug 11 08:04:33 PDT 2005

Hi all,

I just wanted to get everyone's thoughts on an idea we've been floating
around here at our shop.

Lately, we've been investigating the possibility of using a centralized
storage solution for our clusters.  We've looked at the high-priced
SANs, iSCSI arrays, and a myriad of other solutions.  The problem is
that given our funding, most of these options are not feasible.  We'd
like to provide a common /home area for the users across all of our
resources so that multiple copies of data are no longer scattered about
multiple storage locations, wasting valuable disk space.

We've been running PVFS2 as a system wide scratch space on a couple of
our clusters and the stability has been rather surprising.  In the 8
months since we've set up the system it has only gone down once because
we had to take the system down for maintenance.  As well, we've had a
number of people utilize this scratch area for running their jobs and
there have been no issues so far.  

Each I/O node on the PVFS2 setup has a mirrored 300GB volume for
redundancy and I've written a number of utilities and scripts to ease
management and to detect any problems that come up.  These have made for
a fairly robust environment for our temporary storage needs but now we
are wondering if this could be used on a more permanent basis.

Provided we have a reliable back-up system and hardware redundancy on
our I/O servers, do you think it would be a "good idea" to investigate
this further or am I just begging for trouble?

Best Regards,


Brian R. Smith
HPC Systems Administrator
Research Computing Core Facility, USF
Phone: 1(813)974-1467   Cell: 1(813)230-3441
Address: 4202 E Fowler Ave LIB 608
         Tampa, FL 33620
Web: http://rccf.acomp.usf.edu

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