IBRIX at EMC World

I’ve known about IBRIX for a while, but it was refreshing to talk to a decent techie that knew the product. They have improved it a lot over the past year.

For the uninitiated, IBRIX can be either

  1. A network-based filesystem using the IBRIX client and protocol
  2. Also accessible using NFS or CIFS
  3. SAN-based parallel filesystem

The product’s claim to fame is it’s scalability and performance (realized by adding extra nodes “hot”). Their most famous client is probably Pixar, they replaced a ton of NetApp boxes with an IBRIX cluster and realized huge performance benefits and vastly reduced costs. I always liked cool filesystem technologies and this definitely falls under the realm of “cool”. Some highlights based on notes I took on my Blackberry during the session and questions I asked:

  • No limits on filesystem size (they have deployed single namespace filesystems several PB in size).
  • 300mb/s read, 200mb/s write on small box per node. Bigger boxes can do 1.2GB/s per node, of course your storage needs to be able to keep up.
  • No limit on the number of nodes.
  • Automatic rebalancing of data over time. When you add new disk you rebalance to keep things humming.
  • Dedicated ibrix backup node, works with 3rd party backup SW, can have many backup servers for backup speed.
  • Has snaps now (global), this was a failing of the product before since it was lacking snapshots.
  • No real limit on the number of files per FS.
  • Biggest file size they have tested on production is an 8TB file, no software limit.
  • Nodes use FC to access storage, clients use Ethernet.
  • Client on Windows or Linux, otherwise general NFS and CIFS. Client is fastest.
  • Your prod servers can be the ibrix nodes but very compute-intensive. They recommend the client (IP-based, bonded). or get an 8-core box.
  • There is no single lock manager – this is the coolest thing. There is global metadata and global locking, all nodes participate equally.
  • How are node failures handled? All nodes interchangeable. All see same storage. Storage allocated to remaining servers if you lose a node.
    Can lose all but 1 server.
  • Back-end storage size per node? Unlimited.
  • Multipathing per node? Powerpath works. Can do bonded GigE up to 8 ports per.
  • How are files allocated? The file inode contains the info concerning which node it needs to go to. Round-robin allocation or preferred servers per file type. Also if server over 50% full then it’s skipped.
  • All volumes accessible by all nodes.
  • Can stripe huge files across many nodes.

I’m stoked! I can think of so many uses for this product:

  1. Data mining
  2. Digital media
  3. Oil and gas
  4. Backups


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