Panasas Advances Parallel File System

Mike Vizard

Usage of parallel file systems was confined to mainframes and high-performance computing (HOC) environments. But as more advanced analytics applications are built, more enterprise IT organizations are finding they need to access more data in near real time to drive these applications. To help meet that requirement, Panasas developed a scale-out ActiveStor network attached system for x86 environments based on a parallel file system. Now Panasas has extended ActiveStor to provide access to up to 57 petabytes of data at speeds of up to 360 Gigabytes per second.

Curtis Anderson, senior software architect for Panasas, attributes these capabilities to a new method of processing metadata that cuts access times in half and has been coupled with an ability to increase storage capacity that allows additional solid-state or magnetic disk nodes to be scale independently of the storage controller. Hard disk drives of up to 12TB and solid-state disk (SSD) drives of up to 1.9TB can be configured in the storage nodes. The result is a more flexible NAS platform that allows IT organizations to deploy any mix of solid state or magnetic disk storage they see fit, says Anderson.

“IT organizations need to be able to build hybrid storage networks,” says Anderson.

Anderson says Panasas has achieved that goal by being able to disaggregate the Director Blade (ASD-100), the controller node of Panasas storage system, from the storage nodes. Each ASD-100 now has double the raw CPU power and RAM capacity of the previous generation of Director Blades.

As data center environments become denser and more distributed, there’s more contention for storage resources than ever. Not every IT environment is going to require access to a parallel file system. But for those IT organizations at the cutting edge of scale-out IT, it’s now only a matter of time before they discover that traditional approaches to NAS will soon not be able to keep pace.


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