[Beowulf] distributed file storage solution?

Buccaneer for Hire. buccaneer at rocketmail.com
Tue Dec 12 11:35:14 PST 2006

>>> have you had success with this approach? 
>>Absolutely it does.  They promise they can do something better than anyone 
>>else can, let them prove it.
> what I'm skeptical about is the cost of doing such a demo.

Cost?  What cost?   You can spend the time testing or spend the time do fixes and
work-arounds.  Consider the cost of procuring something you can't use or will have 
to spend the next few years working around.  Or just let it sit around heating up the 
room.   We already use >500KVA and have no real need for a heater in there.  We 
had just that issue with a couple NAS vendors. 

In fact, had we accepted that solution without testing, we would have purchased
tons of terabytes of storage with a 100% failure rate.  It took 80 nodes and 3.5 days,
but it failed 100% of the time.   Ooooh, I would not have liked my name attached to 
that 'cause it would have cast doubt on my abilities.

We have found that any reputable vendors will work with you to get an eval unit-
he/she wants you to test their product 'cause that means you are really interested
and not kicking the tires.

> interesting; I'd enjoy hearing more about it.  obviously, IB _is_ capable of 
> working, so what appear to be the sticking points?

The fs vendor came in with the IB guys and swore it all worked together-but a year
later we don't have it working the way it was represented.  I make sure I use that
stick when the powers-that-be starting thinking about things they should not be.

> I think you mentioned EMC in an earlier message, and I suspect that pretty
> much equates to what I'd call high-margin.  this is NOT to criticize your 
> decision or EMC, just that it's probably a lot more than $1/GB.
> in fact, I'd love to hear your comments about EMC as well.

Rule #1 is that you build your alliances carefully.  These are relationships you are building
for the long haul.  If a vendor can not take care of you-take it as a sign that they will not 
be able to support you when it all hits the fan.

We have had good luck with EMC.  EMC produces a solid product.  We beat the snot
out of it every single day and it keeps ticking.  But, it is all about our EMC reseller. If
you have built the right kind of relationship with your vendor, when something falls apart 
(and it will) they will be there to help you pick up the pieces.

Some 3 years ago or so, we had an issue where at 5:30 Xmas (Wed) eve we lost an array. 
Not a large one (~TB) but one that would be needed I in a couple of days for a precondition
job (everything halts until this one is done.)  I called our vendor (our sales gal was on the
road heading to dinner with the folks and her husband.)  I told her what my problem and 
she told me straight out, "Darlin' I can't get you one until after the 1st!"  We talked a little
bit more and found they had something we could use to hold us off.  She agreed to be sure
it was delievered Friday AM (we had to get going too.)  At 8AM Friday, it was delivered and
the job ran so when the guys came back, nothing wrong was noticed.

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