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IBM Elastic Storage Server: Three keys to successful implementation

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How often have you had an implementation go south on you and later found out that it was something you would have discovered in a planning session? Maybe it was a network switch setting? Or did you find out that you did not have sufficient knowledge or training to complete the implementation?

We’ve all had this happen at some point in our career, and it is likely to happen again. So, in this post, I’m going to talk about the three keys that I believe make a successful IBM Elastic Storage Server implementation in customer environments.

What is the Elastic Storage Server?

Some of you might be asking, “just what is an Elastic Storage Server?”

IBM Elastic Storage Server (ESS) is a massively scalable storage and data management platform for unstructured data. IBM Elastic Storage servers support both file (POSIX, NFS, SMB) and object (Swift, S3) protocols while providing native connectors for Hadoop Distributed File System, allowing for in-place data analytics. Global organizations can increase collaboration across locations with ESS’s built-in global sharing capabilities. Its built-in tiering capabilities optimize data placement between flash, HDD and tape but also to the cloud for archiving or running workloads in the cloud.

Keys to a successful Elastic Storage Server implementation

I could make a large list of implementation tips for Elastic Storage Server; however, in my experience the most successful implementations are those that invest in pre-planning, network analysis and professional services.

1. Pre-planning

Pre-planning is a crucial factor. During this phase, teams from the client and professional service providers come together to discuss the project. During pre-planning, we talk about the network, how to set up your file system(s), what needs to be completed before hardware installation, during the installation, during implementation and post install/implementation.

To see what pre-planning is required, please visit the IBM Knowledge Center.

One of my most successful installs was at a university that was installing a high-performance computing cluster and an ESS as the back-end storage. The university networking, storage, systems administration, operations and development teams met with teams from IBM and the IBM Business Partner to review and discuss everything that was going to take place. Because of the complexity, the pre-planning meetings took place over a two-and-a-half-day period. We identified the networking changes that needed to take place, decided on a file system layout and a block size for the type of workload the client was going to use, and we identified dependencies for this project. At the end of the meetings, everyone knew what was going to happen and what the final implementation would look like. The entire ESS implementation and configuration activities, including preliminary testing, was completed in an additional three days.

Make the investment of time in pre-planning. It will help you mitigate risks and is a key to the success of your ESS implementation.

2. Network analysis

IBM ESS and Spectrum Scale are clustered storage systems and rely heavily on a properly functioning network. They require a high-speed network interface (10/40GbE or Infiniband) for cluster communications and data handling, a management network (the top-of-rack switch) to deploy and manage the cluster, a service network for hardware updates and connections to the campus network.

The network must be a solidly functioning component of the ESS implementation to ensure you get the most out of your investment.

You can read about the network and VLAN requirements in chapter 4, “Installing the ESS software,” in the “Deploying ESS 5.0 for Power” guide, which is on the IBM Knowledge Center website.

Network analysis is the second key to a successful implementation of ESS and should not be overlooked in the pre-planning stage of the project.

3. Professional services

The third implementation tip is to work with people who have experience in working with the Elastic Storage Server. Their experiences are invaluable! Many times, they have run across challenging situations, conquered them and gained additional skills from them.

IBM Systems Lab Services is tasked with providing services to implement ESS in customer environments. This team of professionals has been trained by development to provide clients and IBM Business Partners with the skilled personnel that are needed for successful ESS engagements. By utilizing our skills, education and experience, you are increasing your success in integrating Elastic Storage Server into your environment.

So now do you feel better prepared to implement ESS in your environment?

By following these three keys — planning ahead, performing a thorough network analysis and taking advantage of skilled service professionals — you can minimize the risks and almost certainly have a very successful ESS implementation.

Don’t hesitate to contact Lab Services if we can support your project!

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