pureScale on Linux
Purescale delivers a high availability, scalable database clustering solution on commodity hardware. PureScale is mainly aimed at OLTP workloads and I believe it delivers on the promise that Oracle RAC has been making for several years and not quite delivering on. It delivers these benefits without the need for applications to be made cluster aware.
I think a lot of companies are looking to their IT to be scalable and flexible these days. Imagine you could buy a small number of commodity servers to run your application(s) on. Then simply add more when you need more resources. Swap servers in easily to help out with the processing load of end of financial year number crunching or the holiday rush on your online store. Pay the licenses fees and running costs when you use extra servers and then easily shut them down and not pay when they are not needed.
I guess this kind of flexibility is (arguably) available as follows:
1) Mainframe with virtualization. This is a great solution for those who have the skill set and budget for it. In my experience many companies are not ready for this. It's also difficult to shut down part of a mainframe!
2) Cloud computing. A great solution if you can "cloud enable" your applications and you trust the cloud service provider (a lot). Again many are not ready for this.
PureScale (especially on Linux / system x as it is available now) can give this kind of flexibility in a much more accessible package.
As part of my job here in Dublin with IBM I'm currently building a 6 node pureScale cluster on systems x with SLES 10. Watch this space for more on this...
...oh yes and please comment if you want to see more.
The question of preventing split brain scenario comes up again and again with regard to pureScale (PS).
The scenario is as follows:
In a standard PS setup we have a primary and a standby CF. If the connection between these two machines fails but both keep going then the secondary node would "think" that the primary has failed and perform a failover. Now both CFs would take control of the shared data (the database) and the database would end up in a big mess. This would happen if the networking between the two machines broke down or if one got really busy and couldn't respond to the other fast enough.
Of course if this was true the we would be in big trouble but fortunately it is not. A technology called I/O fencing is used to ensure the above scenario can't happen.
I/O fencing is implemented via SCSI-3 Persistent Reserve technology. The core of the technology involves “registration” and “reservation” rights to disk partitions. Registration allows access to data. Many nodes (members and Cfs) can have “registration” access but only one can hold ”reservation” on a partition. Registered nodes can eject others. Ejection is a final and atomic action. An ejected node cannot eject another node.
Cluster services software on each node
manages various failover scenarios in the cluster. There are
numerous failover scenarios and these things are worked out to the
nth degree. In outline if any failures are detected then all nodes work out what to do in a similar way. First of all to say what a quorum is. A quorum is a group of nodes in a cluster that can communicate with each other, the number of nodes in a quorum must be more than half of the total in the cluster or if exactly half must have "reserve" on the tie break partition. If I am part of a "quorum" I can continue and take part in a failover and recovery, the first part of which is to eject or fence any nodes that are not part of the quorum. This prevents the "bad" nodes from updating the shared data. If I am a "bad" node i.e. not part of a quorum I wait to regain access to the other nodes and when I regain access I must undo anything I have done locally since the problem started (tidy up). I can then rejoin the cluster.
A quick word on what circumstances pureScale is best suited to.
First to say what it is not not suited to i.e. data warehouse type applications. It is a shared disk solution and as such not really suitable for data warehousing. This is because of tendency of large transactions being the main workload in such an environment.
It is suited to OLTP loads.
Do you need to come up with a database solution for your application? This could be a new build or replacing old hardware and software.
Do you have an application that generates a lot of small of smallish transactions?
Do you need continuous availability and built in resilience?
Do you need to be able to ramp up the capacity of your system easily in the future rather than buying all of the hardware and licenses you might need over the next 2 - 5 years now?
If the answer if yes to most of these questions then pureScale is for you.
I guess you might ask "why is this relevant?". Well 10 microseconds is approximately the time taken for a purescale member to communicate with the central cache to look for a piece of data. Let's call this a "pureScale communication" for the sake of simplicity. More on the technicalities of purescale communication, Remote Direct Memory Access (which facilitates this communication) etc in the next blog entry but for now...
...have you every stopped to think what length of time 10 microseconds represents?
A microsecond is 10 to the minus 6 seconds or one second divided by a million. I think this is so small a number that it is hard for us to understand. I looked for some examples to illustrate just how fast this is and there are some here on wikipedia but nothing that is intuitively understandable (at least not to me).
I though I could find something to explain this and here's a couple of things that are quite quick:
I give up, all I can say is 10 microseconds - that's fast, very fast!
Just a brief look at the architecture of a pureScale cluster at a very high level. Questions welcome.
A DB2 pureScale cluster is made up of number of servers which are connected together, a shared area of disk and some software that all work together to provide a high performance and resilient database.
The cluster is made up of a number of "controllers" or Coupling facilities (CF) and a number of members.
There are normally 2 or more members. The number of members can be increased to add more processing power to the cluster.