Sunday, July 11, 2010

Constructing an Enterprise Data Base on the Cloud

The ultimate objective of cloud computing is to separate the CPUs, memory, storage and communication technologies from their respective applications.  The objective is to allow the creation of shared pools that can be re-organized for achieving high levels of utilization.
Diagram from VMware.com

When each application owns its own technologies the customer will acquire excess capacity for peak loads. With separate virtualization of technologies that is not necessary. Sharing of resources will deliver reductions in capital costs as well as cuts in operating expenses. Such pools can support thousands of applications and can be managed with fewer people.

The greatest cost advantages will be derived from the creation of storage pools. The need for added disk capacity is rising faster than for other assets while disk capacity utilization is declining.  The technical means for creating a storage pool is accomplished by means of virtual disks.  These are stored as files on the hypervisor.

One of the key features of Type 1 hypervisors is the encapsulation of legacy applications. This means that the complete legacy files can be migrated, copied, moved, de-duplicated and accessed quickly. Since an entire disk partition is saved as a file, virtual disks are easy to back up, move, and copy.
The bare-metal hypervisor architecture for managing storage pools permits near-native virtual machine performance as well as reliability and scalability without the need for a host operating system. Virtual machine disk files offer access to data while giving to administrators the flexibility to create, manage and migrate virtual machine storage as separate, self-contained files. Redundant virtual disks eliminate single points of failure and balance storage resources. This allows the clustering of files and enables accessing several files concurrently.

Many of the available hypervisors are certified with storage such as systems from Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, NEC, Network Appliance, StorageTek, Sun Microsystems and 3PAR. Internal SATA drives, Direct Attached Storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS).  Both fibre channel SAN and iSCSI SAN are supported. This provides the means for providing infrastructure services such storage migration, distributed resource scheduling, consolidated backup and automated disaster recovery.

 All files that make a virtual environment consolidate data in a single logical directory managed by means of a meta-data directory. With automated handling of virtual machine files, the management system provides encapsulation so that it can easily become part of a disaster recovery solution.

 Conventional file systems allow only one server to have read-write access to the same file at a given time. By contrast, enterprise storage allows multiple instances of virtual servers to have concurrent read and write access to the same resources. Virtual enterprise files also utilize the journaling of meta-data changes to allow fast recovery across these multi-server resource pools. Snapshot features are available for disaster recovery and backups.

SUMMARY

The migration of data files from individual applications into the virtual disk environment should be seen as a way to deliver storage pools into a cloud environment. Initially, the linking between applications and corresponding data will be closely coupled. However, through conversion software (such as provided by firms comparable to Informatica and AbInitio), a clean separation of data from applications can be achieved ultimately.

The consolidation of all business applications data files into a DoD business repository, controlled by a single meta directory, will materially reduce the costs of DoD business systems operations. Over $20 billion/year is spent in DoD running applications that consume machine cycles in exchanging each other’s data files.  A consolidated data file will eliminate much of that and make a SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) possible.

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