Question: What do the
F22 Raptor and the ZFS Storage Appliance have in common?
Answer: They bend time. They compress distance. And they both come with their own simulator.
We recently published some articles about really cool ways to use the ZFS Storage Appliance (see below), so I spent a little time looking into the darned thing. It's easy to find out what the ZFS Storage Appliance does, but more difficult to find out what its components are. What can I yank out and replace? What can I connect it to? And what buttons and levers can I push? Or pull.
So I put together this crib sheet. If you didn't grow up in The Bronx, see wikipedia's definition of crib sheet.
It is Oracle's main NAS system for enterprise environments. In case you don't already know, NAS (Network Attached Storage) is simply a storage system designed to be shared by several servers on a network. Instead of each server having its own storage, which would make sharing files wicked slow, you put all your storage on your NAS system, and let all the servers access it fast. Plus, it's much easier to manage. Shoot, you can even store your boot environments on your NAS system so that if one of your servers dumps core, you can reboot it from the NAS system.
It comes in three variations:
When I asked, I got the usual "Well, I could tell you what's in the box, but then I'd have to shoot you." Turns out they don't want me messing with it. Or you messing with it. The darn thing is built from off-the-shelf components, but the value-add comes from the way they're tuned to work together. So if you, Mister Curiosity, decide to pop open a terminal and run
ssh into Solaris, you'll see a message notifying you that if you continue with your wayward ways you'll void your warranty. Ack! Like the good ol' boys from the Georgia Satellites like to put it...
She said, "No huggee, no kissee
Until you make me a wife."
Oh, my honey, my baby
Don't put my love upon no shelf
She said, "Don't hand me no lines
And keep your hands to yourself."
Here's what you really need to know: It's a specialized server with a processor, memory, and disk drives. Loaded with a highly tuned version of Oracle Solaris and other software goodies. But don't think of it that way. Think of it as remote storage. That's all. A box with:
For starters, you can connect it to the other servers on the network, through the stock Infiniband HCA's. That's part of what makes it wicked fast. But you can also connect it to other devices through industry-standard network protocols, including:
Details vary by model and your needs, but basic administration consists of:
Turns out you can do lots of cool things with the ZFS Storage Appliance. A partial listing:
Is it the best? That's debatable. But it's certainly one of my favorite renditions of a country song, from one of my favorite movies of all time.
- Rick Ramsey (with special thanks to Andrew Ness)