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Software-defined storage specialist DataCore has launched vFilO, which allows sharing of data in file or object storage modes – in NFS, SMB or S3 – in pools built from specified volumes that can include off-site and cloud storage.
“VFilO can be deployed on a physical server or a virtual machine and creates mount points that can encompass local nodes or those at other sites. These nodes can be servers with disk shelves or existing NAS,” said DataCore system engineer, Laurent Ibars.
“You just need to tell vFilO their address and password to access them. The system then indexes everything on them in a metadata catalogue and the admin only has to create views, for example, of a NAS for which capacity is extended with disk from another server or a share that is built from the same type of files across different servers,” he added.
While not saying it directly, a big benefit that enterprises can gain from vFilO is to extend NAS from, for example, Dell EMC Isilon or NetApp FAS to cheaper storage nodes than those usually offered by those suppliers.
Another advantage is that an enterprise with several sites doesn’t need VPN connections opened for every occasion that a user from one site wants to access storage on another. With vFilO, it’s possible to set up a virtual NAS on a permanent basis between several sites.
The vFilO system comes with advanced storage services, such as load balancing and automatic tiering that can help optimise performance and cost per storage pool.
“The system has telemetry and machine learning that determines the performance of the various nodes present in the pool. It puts the data in the best place according to rules defined by the admin. In this way, it will put the hottest data, for example, on nodes with flash drives and the coldest data in the cloud,” said Ibars.
Rules defined by the customer can also help manage files according to their age, size or by frequency of access.
“VFilO can automatically move data from one node to another, as well as deduplicate, compress or encrypt it, and all on-the-fly. There is also automatic snapshots which keep a copy of data at any given moment,” said Ibars.
The vFilO system also offers the ability to attach a view to each virtual volume shared, from which users can recover files deleted in error without intervention from the IT team.
The system is deployed on the network without adding complexity. It functions as a Linux appliance, in this case CentOS. It accesses storage nodes via Parallel NFS, in part to accelerate I/O but also to take into account in real time the addition and removal of nodes, giving the system some elasticity.
Three nodes is the minimum that can be deployed. The first two are redundant nodes that keep the metadata catalogue up to date to serve as an index for all the virtual shares. This metadata comprises file attributes: name, size, rules and dates of creation and modification. Because this metadata provides the basis for execution of policies and for thematic sharing of virtual volumes, the administrator can set further attributes. “In a hospital, for example, you could add ‘radio’ to all Jpegs that come from radiography,” said Ibars.
The remaining vFilO appliances are those that present the shares on the network. There has to be at least one and the system can support up to 40 across 16 different sites.
For now, S3 is only supported at the back end. In other words, vFilO can use storage accessible via that protocol but it doesn’t allow sharing of data held on S3 stores. It is expected that this function will arrive at the beginning of 2020, however.
The vFilO system is charged according to the terabytes used.
“So, if you have a pool of storage in a NAS that is 1PB in capacity, for example, but no more than 300TB is used, then you only pay for that amount. That’s a big difference to SANsymphony, where we charge for the useable capacity,” said Ibars.
VFilO completes DataCore’s virtual storage offer. SANsymphony is DataCore’s block storage and the two products are independent of each other.
Read more about software-defined storage
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