VersaStack unified storage is a single, integrated storage infrastructure with unified central management that simultaneously supports Fibre Channel, and network-attached storage (NAS) data formats and is centrally managed.
VersaStack solution for file and block is an infrastructure consisting of network, compute, and storage designed for quick deployment and rapid time to value. The solution includes Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure together with IBM® software-defined storage (SDS) solutions to deliver extraordinary levels of agility and efficiency.
Why VersaStack Unified (Block and File Storage Services)?
Enterprises need both block and file access on a single infrastructure platform to reduce their IT costs and at the same time, effectively and easily manage their massively growing data, and reduce the waste of their data center resources to increase their total cost of ownership (TCO).
VersaStack brings Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure (that includes: Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) servers, Cisco Nexus switches, and Cisco UCS Director management and orchestration software), installed and configured with IBM Spectrum Scale™ SDS for file services and IBM System Storage®. VersaStack unified storage forms integrated infrastructure building blocks to host file services [such as Network File System (NFS), Server Message Block (SMB) and Common Internet File System (CIFS)] workloads. It provides faster delivery of solution applications, greater reliability, easier management, simplified installation, and lower IT infrastructure costs.
High-level overview of VersaStack unified storage
To serve logical volumes and files, the hardware and software to provide block and file services are integrated into one product. Viewed from its clients, one part of VersaStack unified storage is a storage server and the other part is a file server; and therefore, it is called Unified.
VersaStack uses internal storage to generate and provide logical volumes to storage clients. Using IBM Spectrum Virtualize, it can also manage the virtualization of external storage systems.
In addition to providing logical volumes, VersaStack facilitates the unified storage features to access file system space and files in those file systems. It uses file sharing protocols, file access protocols, and file transfer or file copy protocols, and so it acts as a file server. The file server subsystem of the VersaStack unified storage solution typically consists of two IBM Spectrum Scale powered file modules. These file modules perform the functions of the IBM Spectrum Scale software, initially running version 4.2.3 (at the time of writing this paper). The file modules of the VersaStack unified storage solution are the internal storage clients of the system. They use the logical volumes that are provided by the system to save files and share files to file clients. The base operating system (OS) of the file modules is Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.8 or later. They use a distributed file system, the IBM Spectrum Scale, to store and retrieve files. To make the content of the IBM Spectrum Scale accessible to file clients, the file modules use the following file sharing and file access protocols:
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
- Network File System (NFS)
- Secure Copy Protocol (SCP)
- Secure FTP (SFTP)
- Server Message Block (SMB)
Physical hardware configuration of VersaStack unified storage
In this configuration, the IBM Spectrum Scale version 4.2.3 is installed on Cisco UCS 5108 blade servers. The Cisco UCS blade servers are connected over 40 GB Ethernet to Cisco UCS 6248 series fabric interconnect switch modules. The IBM Storwize® V5030 storage controller is direct-attached to Cisco MDS 9148S 16G multilayer fabric switch modules with 16 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) connectivity. Using a Cisco Nexus 93180YC Extender switch module, the 16 Gbps FC connectivity is extended to Cisco UCS 6248 series fabric interconnect switch modules. All the switch modules are configured with cluster-link to ensure maximum availability.
An alternate solution is the direct-attached storage area network (SAN) storage design, which provides a high redundancy, high-performance solution for the deployment of SDS solution. This solution design uses direct-attached Fibre Channel storage connectivity for compute enabling a simple, flexible, and cost-effective solution. This minimal configuration does not require the Cisco MDS 9148 Fibre Channel switches or the Cisco UCS 6248UP Fabric Interconnect switches, and the Cisco Nexus 93180YC-EX network switches are optional. Instead, it uses direct Fibre Channel connection between the Storwize V5030 and Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect modules. This removes the requirement to have a dedicated FC switching environment, as all SAN switching and zoning functions are performed by the Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect module and managed through the Cisco UCS Manager.
This published whitepaper provides additional technical and best practices about configuring file services (NFS, SMB, and CIFS) on VersaStack unified storage system.
VersaStack is a converged infrastructure solution from IBM and Cisco, delivering faster deployment and provisioning, consolidated management, simplicity, efficiency, and high availability. VersaStack is built with IBM storage solutions with best-in-class SDS technologies and Cisco UCS integrated infrastructure, Cisco servers, fabric interconnects, and switches (all managed using Cisco UCS Director). These are some of the most well-respected data center products available, built by two industry giants.
VersaStack unified storage facilitates network-attached storage file services using IBM Spectrum Scale software
By combining an industry leading server, network, and storage components with consolidated management, VersaStack can shrink deployment time, reduce your costs, and increase resource utilization. Built-in intelligence makes it easy for users and for IT and enables IT to offload management tasks without adding risk.