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File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
File Virtualization White Paper
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File Virtualization White Paper

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  • 1. Acopia White Paper File Virtualization with the Acopia ARXTM Many enterprises today face the challenge of managing and storing an ever-increasing amount of information. Not only is information being created at an unprecedented pace, but regulatory and business needs are requiring the preservation of information for longer periods of time. At the same time Information Technology (IT) departments are being forced to do more with less – as storage capacity requirements have grown, IT budgets have shrunk or remained flat. This poses a paradox: while new storage devices are added to meet capacity demands, the 2 ......File Storage Challenges addition of each new device brings additional complexity and a 2 ......Acopia’s ARX File corresponding escalation in operational costs. Each new piece of Virtualization Products storage is a discrete element that has to be managed, and its addition 4 ......Large Workspace is often a disruptive and time-consuming process. In short, scaling 4 ......Increased Performance capacity results in escalating complexity which stresses the already stretched resources of most IT departments. Acopia’s file virtualization 5 ......Data Migration resolves this dilemma in a simple and effective manner. This white 5 ......Tiered Storage paper introduces Acopia’s innovative file virtualization technology, and 6 ......Disaster Recovery discusses the applications and benefits of this solution. 7 ......Centralized Backup 7 ......Summary
  • 2. File Virtualization with the Acopia ARX FILE STORAGE CHALLENGES Today's enterprises face a number of file storage challenges: Device-centric management. NAS devices and file servers are managed as discrete entities, resulting in "islands of storage". There is no unified view of storage, making management com- plex. Clients and applications are forced to access multiple storage islands explicitly and any modifications, for example storage provisioning or data migration, cause downtime and reconfig- uration of clients and applications. In addition, today's typical enterprise storage infrastructure is a heterogeneous assortment of storage platforms, file systems and operating systems. Many enterprises see unified management of, and access to, such an environment as unattainable today. Limited scalability. Device-centric islands of storage are limited in their ability to scale in the dimensions of performance and capacity. Even the most scalable devices are subject to device- level limitations – they may be large islands, but they remain islands nonetheless. Enterprises are encountering these device-level bottlenecks as the amount of data continues to multiply, and the processing and throughput requirements of applications and business processes continue to increase. Inefficient utilization. There is little visibility into file storage usage across the enterprise today because no unified view of storage exists. Typically excess capacity (in terms of storage, process- ing and throughput) may exist across several islands of storage, but little to no ability to share this excess capacity across islands exists today. In order to realize the simplified management, scalability and utilization gains that storage man- agers are seeking, the device-centric file storage infrastructure of today must evolve to an infra- structure-centric one. Acopia's file virtualization devices offer an effective way to unify the many disparate device-centric islands of storage into a scalable, flexible and manageable file storage infrastructure. ACOPIA’S ARX FILE VIRTUALIZATION PRODUCTS Acopia's ARX products add a "file-awareness" to the network which transforms the current device-centric storage infrastructure into a unified infrastructure that is able to adapt to the dynamic demands of users and applications. This enables enterprises to more efficiently access, manage, and optimize file storage resources. Acopia’s ARX devices logically reside in the data path between clients and application servers and their associated file storage resources as shown in figure 1. From this unique vantage point, Acopia’s ARX switches present a unified view of file storage – the Acopia Virtual Namespace. Using NFS and CIFS industry standard protocols, the ARX is able to virtualize multiple shares or exports from heterogeneous file servers and NAS devices. Instead of accessing file storage resources through inflexible device-centric mount points, clients simply access file storage resources through the unified virtual namespace presented by the ARX devices.
  • 3. The Acopia Virtual Namespace decouples file storage clients from the physical devices housing the data. This decoupling of clients from the physical locality of their data means that clients are no longer affected by changes to the storage devices they access. Common storage manage- ment tasks such as provisioning, consolidation and migration can be performed online without requiring client reconfiguration. Acopia's ARX products are purpose-built to be in-line devices, providing unprecedented levels of scale as well as low latency and high speed switching operations. As a network device, the Figure 1: Logical View of Acopia ARX File Virtualization ARX does not require software agents or the implementation of an additional proprietary file system. This allows organizations to realize the benefits of file virtualization without the cost and complexity of modifying all their servers and/or clients, and without having to undergo a forklift upgrade to a new system. Furthermore, as network devices Acopia's ARX switches leverage the IP network to implement distributed data management policies that are file-aware across the enterprise. Acopia’s ARX products have several key applications and benefits: • Overcoming the capacity and performance constraints of individual NAS devices • Improved utilization of file storage resources • Eliminating the disruption of data migration and storage consolidation • Enabling tiered storage for efficient, cost-effective resource utilization • Cost effective protection of data in regional sites and disaster recovery for central sites © 2005 Acopia Networks, Inc. All rights reserved 3
  • 4. File Virtualization with the Acopia ARX LARGE WORKSPACE Many enterprises struggle with demanding business applications which have capacity require- ments that exceed the size of individual file systems. In order to provision additional capacity, storage mangers have to stop the application, add capacity and update the application to access the new storage. The process is complex, time consuming, and disruptive. The Acopia ARX enables customers to create large workspaces comprised of multiple physical file systems (potentially distributed across multiple devices) to meet their application require- ments. Storage administrators have the flexibility to configure policies that dynamically balance capacity across backend file systems in a large Figure 2: Large Workspace & Load Distribution workspace. This is done transparently to clients and applications. In addition, as extra capacity is needed it can be non-disruptively added to the storage pool without incurring application downtime or client reconfigura- tion. The ARX’s ability to create a large workspace that exceeds the capacity of individual file sys- tems can increase business process throughput and reduce operational overhead by eliminat- ing time-consuming storage provisioning tasks and associated application downtime. INCREASED PERFORMANCE A number of enterprises today are experiencing per- formance issues associated with the entire workload of “Immediately after deploying Acopia’s critical business applications accessing a single NAS switches, we experienced remarkable improvements in operational efficien- device or file server. This often causes a bottleneck cies. Acopia’s in-band adaptive and slows down the business workflow. resource switch provided real-time balancing of load across our BlueArc The Acopia ARX alleviates this bottleneck by distrib- file servers, greatly increasing storage uting application load across multiple physical file stor- scalability, while effectively utilizing all age devices. This can significantly increase the of our available file storage capacity.” throughput of the application, because the I/O can be – Cliff Dutton, Executive Vice load balanced across multiple physical devices. President and CTO, Ibis Consulting The net benefit to customers is increased throughput of critical business processes, which in many cases translates into real business value like increased revenues, better customer service or faster time to market.
  • 5. DATA MIGRATION Many IT departments are confronted with data migration tasks and server consolidation proj- ects that are disruptive, time consuming and require downtime. The Acopia ARX is able to move data without affecting user access. Administrators can use powerful policies for a range of data migration tasks – from moving entire file systems to indi- vidual files. Data migration can take place between heterogeneous storage devices, and does not require client reconfiguration. In addition, migra- tions can be scheduled to avoid peak traffic times or backup windows. "As a result of the Acopia implementation, we have reduced overhead associated with The ARX's automated data migration policies storage management by 20%. Had the enable storage administrators to rebalance storage problem not been resolved, we also would without incurring downtime or reconfiguring have been forced to outsource this func- clients. In addition, the ARX’s ability to seamlessly tion.” migrate data between heterogeneous devices allows enterprises to introduce new alternate file - IT Executive, Media & Entertainment storage solutions, migrating data off old systems Company while maintaining client access to the data. TIERED STORAGE Today many enterprises are seeking to introduce alternative technologies into their file storage infrastructures. Some organizations wish to augment their high-end, high-cost storage with more cost effective disk-based storage technologies like Serial ATA (S-ATA). These enterprises can realize significant capital expenditure savings by moving non-critical business data off of expensive storage resources (tier 1) to lower cost alternatives. Other organizations want to introduce new high performance, high capacity file storage solutions that are better suited to their applications or business processes. While the motivation is often compelling, the introduc- tion of new file storage solutions is difficult to manage. Migrating data between systems is manually intensive and disruptive – even between devices from the same vendor. Furthermore, managing the data lifecycle over time has a high operational overhead associated with it. The Acopia ARX addresses these challenges by automating the migration of data between dif- ferent tiers of storage (potentially comprising devices from multiple vendors) in a non-disrup- tive manner. Acopia's ARX products seamlessly migrate data based on age, type, and usage between storage tiers. Administrators can schedule data migration to take place at appropriate times. Not only does the ARX place data on the appropriate storage tier, but also manages this rela- tionship over time. For example, a customer may choose to migrate data that hasn't been accessed in the last 60 days off of high performance storage to a lower cost storage tier, or to © 2005 Acopia Networks, Inc. All rights reserved 5
  • 6. File Virtualization with the Acopia ARX migrate a specific type of data requiring high performance to a storage tier comprised of high- speed NAS devices. These capabilities give enterprises the flexibility to use best of breed storage from multiple ven- dors in deploying a tiered storage environment. Figure 3: Tiered Storage with the ARX DISASTER RECOVERY Acopia's file virtualization technology provides the capability to create disk-based replicas of file data to support data availability and disaster recovery. Administrators can define file sets to be asynchronously replicated either locally or remotely across an IP network of Acopia switch- es. Replication can occur at regularly scheduled intervals with full or only incremental copies (file changes) being transmitted. Off-site replicas can be presented and accessed by the user in a read-only fashion to ensure the availability of data, but these replicas can be quickly promoted to a read/write state in the event of a data center failure. Acopia's replication technology can greatly reduce the cost associated with file-based replication solutions. Typically these solutions require storage from the same vendor at the source and des- tination. In addition, these solutions often have high licensing fees associated with them. However, because the Acopia replication technology is "vendor agnostic" enterprises are no longer required to purchase high-priced homogeneous devices for secondary storage, or costly software licenses. Acopia's replication technology also provides very specific classification of data so that enterprises are not forced to replicate entire volumes or file systems. The Acopia switch allows administrators to define explicit criteria about the types of data included in the replication.
  • 7. CENTRALIZED BACKUP In order to reduce the cost and risk associated with decentralized backup approaches, many enterprises today are consolidating their backup operations into central locations. In this way a centralized backup infrastructure may be shared amongst multiple remote locations and tightly administered by trained professionals. The Acopia ARX's replication technology can play a significant role in centralized backup envi- ronments. Acopia devices are able to replicate administrator-defined data sets back to a central location for backup purposes as shown in figure 4. Advanced policies allow scheduling and rate limiting of these replication tasks, as well as the ability to transfer only file changes thereby pre- serving expensive WAN (Wide Area Network) bandwidth. Figure 4: Centralized Backup with the Acopia ARX With the Acopia ARX replication technology, enterprises can reduce capital expenditure by selecting best-in-class storage devices and eliminating costly licensing fees. Administrators also have the flexibility to greatly reduce the size of replications and backups by specifying at the file-level the types of data that need to be backed up. SUMMARY The file virtualization technology provided by Acopia's Adaptive Resource Switch (ARX) prod- ucts offers a unique opportunity to solve the paradox of scaling capacity while reducing man- agement complexity. By leveraging purpose-built switching hardware, the ARX transforms today’s device-centric file storage environment into a scalable and manageable infrastructure that can be manipulated without disruption to users and applications. In addition, Acopia's ARX products enable new opportunities to reduce capital and operational expenditure through non-disruptive storage management and tiering, as well as cost effective ways to protect data in remote sites and provide disaster recovery solutions for central sites. © 2005 Acopia Networks, Inc. All rights reserved 7
  • 8. Acopia White Paper For more information about Acopia Networks, please visit us on the Web at www.acopia.com or email us at info@acopia.com Corporate Headquarters 41 Wellman Street Lowell, MA 01851 Voice: 978.513.2900 Fax: 978.513.2990 Acopia is a trademark of Acopia Networks. Other products and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. © 2005 Acopia Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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