A New Paradigm: Core Filers and Edge Filers

Posted by Gretchen Weaver on Fri, Mar 08, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

Part 3 or 7

This is the fourth post in our NAS Optimization for Dummies series where each chapter is examined. Today we're covering Edge filers, how they work with Core filers, and their contribution solving some of IT's most nagging challenges.

When it comes to geographically dispersed networks, IT managers need to be constantly aware of three things: performance, flexibility and efficiency. Classic NAS architecture often struggles with delivering all three. Improvements in one, often sacrifice another. Expanded Edge/Core architecture works differently, addressing each concern:

  • Performance - Along with clustering technology, automatic maintenance of the most active (working set) data on the fastest media reduces latencies
  • Flexibility – Proprietary data migration and mirroring technologies simply storage maintenance through a single global namespace
  • Efficiency – Core storage optimization for data protection, high capacity and low cost, while building an Edge appliance that delivers a faster response to information requests while minimizing traffic

What is an Edge filer?

Avere FXT Edge FilerEdge filers are a new element added to a traditional NAS infrastructure to help boost performance with remaining completely transparent to active applications. As demand for faster access to larger amounts of storage increases, the three latencies become larger problems. Optimizing the NAS infrastructure by placing an Edge filer close to the users and populated with high-performance storage that will always hold the most actively accessed data, addresses these latencies.

An Edge filer is a NAS filer server architected to efficiently harness limited quantities of solid state memory, flash, and SAS disk to handle read and write requests from clients at the “edge” of the network. Reads and writes are processed without incurring high latencies. It also updates the Core filer so that it and other Edge filers remain in sync as processing time permits.

Performance

Because solid state and flash memory are much too expensive per bit to use to hold all of an organization’s data, the Edge filer moves file data blocks between fast storage tiers and slower, more affordable media. Traditional environments never move data after it has been saved, regardless how active the files remain. This leaves data taking up valuable space on high-performance storage, potentially slowing other activity down. Dynamic tiering using an Edge filer assures that every block of file data is located in storage that matches it current level of activity.

Chpt3 EdgeFiler resized 600

The Edge filer can sit close to users separated from the Core filers.

Flexibility

Anyone in data storage can attest that needs are constantly changing. Scalability and availability can allow for protection against network bottlenecks achieved by attaching Edge filers directly to networks of server farms. This way, local NAS traffic stays on the “edge” of the network rather than suffering the delays inherent in transmission over the network.

Many storage architects face operations management of a heterogeneous collection of filers. With Edge/Core architecture and a single global namespace, administrators can avoid manual copy or cache of local replicas of important data sets at each remote site.

Edge filers also allow for the migration and mirroring of data between Core filers without having to shut down or even interrupt clients, making previously painful hardware upgrades transparent.

Efficiency

Consolidating of data centers is a big money saver to organizations. Edge filers sitting at the “edge” of the network close to remote offices can have direct access to centralized storage without deploying remove Core filers or high-speed WAN links.

Edge filer architecture minimizes network traffic, while simultaneously giving clients the fastest access possible for their shared data. Core filers at the data center receive the majority of maintenance operations and can largely be confined to the center, saving travel time and costs for staff between locations.

As you have read, Edge filers directly address the biggest, most troublesome concerns of data storage architects, engineers, and managers. In the next chapter, we’ll dive into core applications and their management inside the data center.

Related Posts:

Part 1: NAS Optimization: Storage Performance is Critical

Part 2.1: Three Types of Storage Latency in a NAS Environment

Part 2.2: Scaling Storage Capacity, Slashing Costs and Simplifying Operations

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NAS Optimization for Dummies

Topics: NAS Optimization, HPC, Data Center Management