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The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Storage Infrastructure

6

SEPTEMBER, 2019

Disaggregated infrastructure enables data center owners to replace the fixed hardware model with a flexible, easily scalable, and redundant hardware configuration. With disaggregation, IT administrators can easily add storage and performance individually and dynamically.

We recently added the innovative disaggregated infrastructure to all of our enterprise data storage and backup and disaster recovery appliances.

In this article, we take a closer at disaggregated infrastructure, StoneFly’s disaggregated solutions, and before concluding the article we also briefly go over the benefits of disaggregated storage and backup and disaster recovery solutions.

Let’s start by developing a clear understanding of disaggregated infrastructure.

What is Disaggregated Infrastructure?

Disaggregated infrastructure is the opposite of integrated infrastructure.

In an integrated infrastructure, a single hardware chassis houses all components: storage controller (or HCI controller for hyperconverged appliances), RAID controller, and storage drives.

Disaggregated infrastructure comprises of hardware independent key components such as storage controllers and RAID expansion arrays with integrated RAID controllers and storage drives.

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Infrastructure 1

StoneFly Composable Disaggregated Infrastructure Product Overview

We recently introduced disaggregated infrastructure for all of our enterprise data storage and data backup and disaster recovery solutions.

You can configure the disaggregated infrastructure for the following StoneFly solutions:

  • iSCSI (and Fiber Channel) SAN Appliances: Voyager DX & Voyager FC
  • Unified Scale Out High Availability (USO-HA™/USO-FC™) Converged Storage Appliance
  • Unified Storage & Server High Availability (USS-HA™) Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery High Availability (DR365-HA™) Appliance
  • Veeam-Ready Backup and Replication High Availability (DR365V-HA™) Appliance

Voyager DX & Voyager FC Disaggregated SAN Appliances

The Voyager DX (iSCSI) and Voyager FC (Fibre Channel) are our disaggregated SAN appliances. The hardware configuration of a Voyager SAN comprises of:

  • Dual 1U or 2U Storage Controllers (SCs)
  • RAID Expansion Array

The operating system, StoneFusion™ with the SAN license, is installed on the storage controllers and runs on NVMe. The SCs provide multipath access to the RAID array delivering redundancy, removing single point-of-failure and reducing the possibility of bottlenecks.

Voyager DX supports 12Gb SAS-attached RAID expansion arrays ranging from 12-bay to 24-bay with support for 7200RPM, 10k, and 15k enterprise SAS drives and 12Gbs SSDs (flash drives).

Voyager FC supports 16Gb Fibre Channel-attached RAID expansion arrays ranging from 12-bay to 24-bay with support for 7200RPM, 10k, and 15k enterprise SAS drives and 12Gbs SSDs (flash drives).

Each RAID expansion array chassis has built-in dual active/active RAID controller along with the storage drives.

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Infrastructure 2

USO-HA / USO-FC Disaggregated Unified Storage Platform (NAS | SAN | Object)

Our unified storage platform (USO™) combines NAS, SAN, and object storage in one easy-to-manage and simple-to-use solution. By adding disaggregation to the unified storage solution, we amplify the storage solution’s ability to scale.

The disaggregated infrastructure for our USO appliance (USO-HA/USO-FC) comprises of the following hardware chassis:

  • Dual 1U or 2U Storage Controllers
  • RAID Expansion Array

Similar to the Voyager SAN appliances, the storage controllers of the disaggregated unified storage, come in iSCSI and Fiber Channel configurations and have the operating system, StoneFusion, running on dedicated NVMe. And the redundant SCs provide multi-path access to the RAID arrays in a similar fashion to the Voyager SAN appliances.

The RAID expansion arrays are available from 12-bay to 24-bay with integrated dual active/active RAID controller and storage drives. The RAID expansion arrays for the USO-HA / USO-FC appliances also support 7200RPM, 10k, and 15k enterprise SAS, 12Gbs SSDs and combinations of both. 

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Infrastructure 3

USS-HA Disaggregated Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)

The USS-HA, similar to the USO-HA and USO-FC, is capable of supporting NAS, SAN and object data with the addition of support for Hyper-V, VMware, and Citrix hypervisors.

The disaggregated infrastructure for the USS HCI comprises of the following hardware chassis:

  • Dual 1U or 2U HCI Controllers
  • RAID Expansion Array

In addition to the StoneFusion operating system running on the built-in NVMe, the HCI controllers are also the physical hardware where the hypervisors are deployed. This is the reason why they’re called HCI controllers and not storage controllers.

The supported RAID expansion arrays are similar to the ones supported by the unified storage appliances. They are available in 12-bay to 24-bay Rackmount with support for 7200RPM, 10k, and 15k SAS, 12Gbs SSDs, and combinations of both with integrated dual active/active RAID controllers for redundancy, fault tolerance and high availability.

The USS family is available in a standard iSCSI configuration but also supports optional Fiber Channel upgrade.

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Disaggregated Backup and Disaster Recovery Infrastructure (DR365-HA™ & DR365V-HA™)

The disaggregated infrastructure works in a similar manner for StoneFly backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) appliances.

We added the disaggregated infrastructure for our DR365™, DR365V™ and DR365Z™ backup and DR appliances.

Our backup & DR disaggregated infrastructure comprises of the following hardware chassis:

  • Dual 1U or 2U HCI Controllers
  • RAID Expansion Array

The HCI controllers are available in iSCSI configured as a standard but they also support optional Fiber Channel upgrades.

Each HCI controller has StoneFusion operating system running on dedicated NVMe, and the hypervisor and backup software are also run on these hardware chassis. The dual controllers offer multi-patch access to the RAID array reducing bottlenecks, making the system redundant, and removing single point-of-failure from the data protection solution.

The RAID expansion arrays for our backup and DR systems are similar to the ones we have for our USS-HA appliances. They have built-in dual active/active RAID controllers and are capable of supporting 7200RPM, 10k, and 15k enterprise SAS, 12Gbs SSDs, and combinations of both.

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Infrastructure 5

Why is StoneFly Disaggregated Infrastructure Called Composable Disaggregated Infrastructure?

Our disaggregated infrastructure is called composable disaggregated infrastructure because when used with our patented storage virtualization software, StoneFusion, enterprise users get the software-defined storage experience.

By leveraging StoneFusion, our customers can fully utilize the storage hardware and maintain control of their data at all times.

With enterprise data services such as deduplication, automated tiering, thin provisioning and compression, StoneFly customers are capable of reducing the cost of their data storage as well.

Another reason why we call our disaggregated infrastructure composable is that we offer our customers the ability to choose the hardware make-up of the infrastructure. As a recognized leader in data storage and backup and disaster recovery solutions, our expertise enable us to build and deliver purpose-built appliances as per our customer’s requirements. Therefore, our customers “compose” the hardware.

This makes our disaggregated infrastructure a composable disaggregated infrastructure that works exactly as the enterprise IT environment needs it to.

Together, disaggregated infrastructure and StoneFusion deliver a powerful, efficient, and cost effective data storage experience for enterprise-grade workloads.  

If you’re an enterprise looking for a reliable and highly scalable storage or backup and disaster recovery solution, then you cannot overlook the utility that StoneFly disaggregated infrastructure delivers.

Speaking of utilities, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of StoneFly disaggregated infrastructure for data center owners.

Benefits of StoneFly Composable Disaggregated Infrastructure  

StoneFly products are constantly developed and updated to improve and simplify the enterprise user’s experience. And the composable disaggregated infrastructure is no exception to this.

Our composable disaggregated infrastructure makes a number of practices simpler and easier for data center owners, IT administrators and system administrators.

Here’s a brief list of these benefits:

Easier to Scale – Add Performance and Storage Capacity Dynamically

Unlike integrated infrastructure, disaggregated infrastructure delivers the flexibility to scale performance and storage capacity individually and dynamically.

In order to add more performance, or compute capabilities, users can choose to add only the storage controller (or HCI controller) chassis. As each SC has its own processors and memory, it acts as an add-on to the overall compute capabilities of the storage or backup system.

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Infrastructure 6

Similarly, the addition of storage capacity is an equally easy process. To add more storage, users can add more expansion units.

StoneFly 1U SCs (and HCIs) are capable of supporting a maximum of 1776 drives while the 2U SCs (and HCIs) are capable of supporting a maximum of 4440 drives with expansion units. This implies that each StoneFly solution can be configured to have petabytes of storage capacity.

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Disaggregated Infrastructure 7

Simpler & Quicker Maintenance Without Disruption

In a traditional storage infrastructure where everything is put inside a single storage box, when a storage controller fails, the entire system is shutdown. In order to fix that, users have to send their appliance for maintenance or call someone to fix it and endure the downtime while it’s fixed.

Conversely, there are far less chances of a complete downtime with the disaggregated infrastructure because of redundant storage controllers. And the process of maintenance and hardware replacement is as simple as “plug and play”.

If an SC (or HCI Controller) fails, then while the other continues to provide access to the RAID array, the data center owner can get the replacement and plug it back in.

The entire process is a seamless experience for the system administrators and the end users don’t feel a thing. In other words, zero disruption or downtime.

No More Fixed Hardware Model – Flexible Storage or Backup System

Legacy infrastructures are difficult to upgrade. If your IT staff only needs performance to increase or they’re looking simply to add storage capacity, they cannot do that without purchasing yet another appliance.

Unlike the traditionally aggregated and fixed hardware model, the disaggregated hardware delivers a flexible storage infrastructure.

As mentioned earlier, users can add performance or storage capacities individually and dynamically. This ability to scale flexibly enables data center owners to be in control of their infrastructure and effectively keep the cost of their IT systems in check.

Conclusion

Disaggregated infrastructure delivers flexibility, easier scalability, and redundant hardware for enterprise storage and backup and DR applications.

With the disaggregated infrastructure, data center owners ensure minimum downtime by removing single point-of-failure, and enhance the end user experience with the ability to scale dynamically and replace / add hardware components seamlessly.

Looking to Learn More about Disaggregation & Disaggregated Infrastructure?

We did a podcast about it with the CEO and Founder of StoneFly Inc. Mo Tahmasebi as a special guest. To listen to the podcast about disaggregated infrastructure click here.

If you have any questions, we’d love to put an end to your confusion. So contact us.

You can call us at +1 510 265 1616 or you can send us an email at sales@stonefly.com

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