Understanding IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems (Express Edition)

IBM Redbooks Solution Guide

Abstract

New IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems is an extremely powerful file system that is based on the IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™) technology, which is a proven, scalable, high-performance data and file management solution, and it is also enabled for technical computing, Big Data & Analytics, and Cloud.

IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems is being used extensively across multiple industries worldwide to provide simplified data management and integrated information lifecycle tools capable of managing petabytes of data and billions of files, in order to arrest the growing cost of managing ever growing amounts of data. This IBM Redbooks® Solution Guide describes the benefits of IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems.

Contents


IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on IBM® z Systems® is an extremely powerful file system. It is based on the IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™) technology, which is a proven, scalable, high-performance data and file management solution, and also enabled for technical computing, Big Data & Analytics, and Cloud. IBM Spectrum Scale is being used extensively across multiple industries worldwide. This IBM Redbooks® Solution Guide describes the benefits of IBM Spectrum Scale.


Did you know?

IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems supports extended count key data (IBM ECKD™) direct access storage device (DASD) disks and Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) attached Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) disks.
IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems nodes can communicate with each other through HiperSockets devices within one z Systems server, which provides high-speed IP network communication. Therefore, it can have better file system performance, especially in Network Shared Node (NSD) mode. The HiperSockets devices in two z Systems servers can be connected through a HiperSockets Bridge.
Each clustered file system has metadata. Some clustered file systems require a centralized metadata server, which can become a performance bottleneck for metadata-intensive operations and can represent a single point of failure. IBM Spectrum Scale solves this problem by managing metadata at the node that is using the file or, in the case of concurrent access to the file, at a dynamically selected node that is using the file.

Business value

Today’s data growth is challenging traditional storage and data management solutions. Limited data access, good performance, and reliability are required for IT environments. Also, application performance is affected by data access bottlenecks that delay schedules and waste expensive resources. Workloads are scaled up to large numbers of application nodes and disks, and because not all components are working correctly at all times, IT environments are required to handle component failures and continue the operation.

IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems will enable enterprise clients to use a highly available clustered file system with Linux in a logical partition (LPAR) or as a Linux guest on IBM z/VM®.

IBM and independent software vendor (ISV) solutions will provide higher value for Linux on z Systems clients by exploiting IBM Spectrum Scale functionality:
    • A highly available cluster architecture: IBM Spectrum Scale improves data availability through data access even when the cluster experiences storage or node malfunctions.
    • Capabilities for high-performance parallel workloads: Concurrent high-speed, reliable file access from multiple nodes in the cluster environment.
    • Smooth, nondisruptive capacity expansion and reduction are possible.
    • Services are available to effectively manage large and growing quantities of data.

IBM Spectrum is designed to provide high availability through advanced clustering technologies, dynamic file system management, and data replication. IBM Spectrum can continue to provide data access even when the cluster experiences storage or node malfunctions. IBM Spectrum Scale scalability and performance are designed to meet the needs of data-intensive applications.


Solution overview

The first version of IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems is based on IBM Spectrum Scale 4.1 Express Edition, which includes most base level features. IBM intends to offer additional functionality that is in the Standard and Advanced Editions in future versions of IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems. The functions in the Express Edition include, but are not limited to the following functions:

    • Snapshots
    • NSD client/server capability
    • Server failover
    • Online or nondisruptive file system management, for example, adding and removing nodes and disks
    • Logging

The Linux instances or nodes can be either Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and they can run in LPARs or under z/VM as guest machines. The nodes also can be running on the same or different z Systems servers.

The IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems is a clustered file system defined over one or more nodes. On each node in the cluster, it contains three basic components:
    • GPFS administration commands
    • Portability layer (kernel modules)
    • Multithreaded daemon

IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems uses a portability layer (kernel modules) that enables the GPFS daemon to interact with the Linux kernel. During the installation, you build the portability layer on your Linux instance, which fits in a wide variety of Linux Kernel versions and configurations. Figure 1 shows the basic IBM Spectrum Scale structure.

Elastic storage basic structure
Figure 1. IBM Spectrum Scale basic structure

IBM Spectrum Scale depends on the correct operation of an IP network to communicate with other nodes. In z Systems, if the nodes are in the same z Systems server, the communication can use HiperSockets devices, which can provide higher network speed and more secure and better connectivity performance. It is particularly suitable for Network Shared Disk (NSD) model (NSD server/client structure) because it generates large amounts of data traffic between nodes.

The current version of IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems can support up to 32 nodes and a heterogeneous cluster in Network Shared Disk (NSD) mode. In a heterogeneous cluster, the NSD server must be Linux on z Systems and the NSD clients (without direct storage access) can be also based on AIX®, Red Hat and SUSE Linux distributions on IBM Power® Systems and x86 Linux.

Solution architecture

IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems can work in two modes:
    • Shared Disk (SAN) model
    • Network Shared Disk (NSD) model
Shared Disk (SAN) model
In this type of configuration, all of the nodes in the IBM Spectrum Scale cluster are connected to a common set of disks, as shown in Figure 2. In this model, the disk I/O can perform better because all the nodes connect to the storage servers directly. This configuration does not support heterogeneous platforms.


Figure 2. IBM Spectrum Scale Shared Disk (SAN) mode


Network Shared Disk (NSD) model
You can configure an an IBM Spectrum Scale cluster in which some nodes attach directly to the disks and other nodes access the disks through the an IBM Spectrum Scale server nodes. This configuration is often used in large clusters or to provide a cost-effective, potential high-performance solution.

When an an IBM Spectrum Scale node provides access to a disk for anotheran IBM Spectrum Scale node, it is called an NSD server. Thean IBM Spectrum Scale node accessing the data through an NSD server is called an NSD client. In Figure 3, the NSD servers connect to storage servers directly, and the NSD client accesses the file system through a high-speed network connecting to NSD servers.


Figure 3. Network Shared Disk (NSD) model

Note: For nodes without direct attachment to the shared storage, NDS (block/disk data traffic) access is done over the network.

Usage scenarios

This guide describes IBM Spectrum Scale use cases that you can use on the IBM z Systems platform to help you achieve better reliability and performance. IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems is supported in many more scenarios than the scenarios described here.

High availability with IBM WebSphere MQ Multi-Instance Queue Manager (MIQM)
For business continuity, high availability solutions need to be employed. There are multiple high availability solutions for IBM WebSphere® MQ from both hardware and middleware perspectives. WebSphere MQ Multi-Instance Queue Manager (MIQM) is one of the predominant high availability solutions. MIQM is a software-based high availability (active-standby) solution. It defines an active instance of the queue manager on one server and a standby instance on another server. The active instance processes messages and accepts connections from applications and from other queue managers. It holds a lock on the queue manager data to ensure that there is only one active instance of the queue manager at a specific time accessing the data. Message input queues and logs for Multi-Instance Queue Managers are held on network storage, such as NFS (Figure 4) and the and IBM Spectrum Scale clustered file system (Figure 5) and are shared by the two servers.


MIQM HA solution with NFS
Figure 4. MIQM HA solution with NFS


Figure 5. MIQM HA Solution with IBM Spectrum Scale

As seen in Figure 4 and Figure 5, if the high availability solution uses NFS as its shared network storage, it requires an NFS server to hold the shared data on its disks. If we adopt IBM Spectrum Scale in this solution, it does not need a separate server to hold the shared data. The data is across all the IBM Spectrum Scale nodes. According to the configurations of theIBM Spectrum Scale file system, the MIQM High Availability (HA) solution can be defined in two different modes - Shared Disk (SAN) model or Network Shared Disk (NSD) model.

Shared Disk (SAN) model
On the left side of Figure 5, both servers attach to the shared data disks physically. In this model, both nodes act as primary or secondary Network Shared Disk (NSD) servers. All the nodes in this configuration have good disk I/O performance. The network communications between the two nodes are through a private network, for example, it can be configured with HiperSockets devices or Shared Open Systems Adapter (OSA).

Network Shared Disk (NSD) model
On the right side of Figure 5, we defined the active Queue Manager server as an NSD server, where the shared disks are attached, and we defined the standby instance as the NSD client. The NSD nodes in the same z Systems server can use the high-speed HiperSockets devices for better performance. There are other nodes acting as NSD servers in a customer’s installation to help avoid a single NSD server failure. This model is suitable when IBM Spectrum Scale nodes already exist and you need to add another node to access the shared disks (for example, creating a MIQM cluster). In that case, a user can add a standby Queue Manager instance without any configuration changes related to the shared disks' access.

High Availability with a WebSphere Application Server cluster
In certain circumstances, you might require the WebSphere Application Server High Availability solution to provide workload management and failover for applications that reside on the application server cluster. IBM WebSphere Application Server offers a built-in application server clustering function and the HAManager for protecting WebSphere singleton services. The HAManager enhances the high availability of WebSphere singleton services, such as transaction or messaging services. It provides a peer recovery mechanism for in-flight transaction logs or messages among clustered WebSphere application servers. The WebSphere Application Server Transaction Manager writes to its transaction recovery logs when it handles global transactions that involve two or more resources. Transaction recovery logs are stored on disks and are used for recovering in-flight transactions from system crashes or process failures. To enable WebSphere Application Server transaction peer recovery, it is necessary to place the recovery logs on a highly available file system, such as an IBM SAN file system or network-attached storage (NAS), for all the application servers within the same cluster to access. All application servers must be able to read from and write to the logs. Before IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems became available, customers used a solution with a Network File System (NFS), for example, such as the solution in Figure 6.

WebSphere Application Server Transaction Manager Failover Solution with NFS
Figure 6. WebSphere Application Server Transaction Manager Failover Solution with NFS

With the IBM Spectrum Scale clustered file system, you do not need NFS involved, as shown in Figure 7. In Figure 7, we use IBM Spectrum Scale Storage Shared Disk (SAN) mode, for example.The NSD mode is similar, as shown on the right side of Figure 5.


Figure 7. WebSphere Application Server Transaction Manager Failover Solution with IBM Spectrum Scale clustered file system

IBM Spectrum Scale file system compared to NFS
Compared to the high availability solutions with NFS, the IBM Spectrum Scale clustered file system solution offers the following advantages:
    • No single point of failure in the shared file system: In a solution with NFS, the whole solution is jeopardized when the NFS server malfunctions, because both WebSphere MQ instances or WebSphere Application Server cannot access the shared data. Even if you can configure a clustered NFS with multiple NFS servers manually or with tools, it is still not reliable enough and adds additional resource overhead. However, IBM Spectrum Scale doesn’t have a single point of failure because both nodes can access the shared data concurrently.
    • Nondisruptive file system scale-out: Whenever there are changes in NFS, for example, the file system size, all the clients need to remount the file system to refresh the changes, which means that the business is disrupted. However, with IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems, the file system can be scaled out without stopping your business.
    • No performance bottleneck in data and metadata: In NFS solutions, data and metadata performance are often the bottlenecks. The IBM Spectrum Scale file system is designed to support more files than NFS with high performance data and metadata access as part of the original design. The underlying NFS protocol does not support several of the features that are available in the IBM Spectrum Scale file system, for example, the capability to list enormous files. In terms of file open and creation performance, the IBM Spectrum Scale file system is superior to NFS. The NFS protocol was not designed for the type of performance that is required by large environments.
    • No request I/O size restriction: In the NFS environment, you have to configure the rsize and wsize parameters from the performance perspective. However, with IBM Spectrum Scale, the I/O size requests made to the file system servers are generally the size of the I/O requests from the queue managers. So, the IBM Spectrum Scale clustered file system allows larger requests if the application can be configured or already makes larger requests than NFS supports.
    • Synchronize write without data loss: NFS is always configured as asynchronized data writing to disk. It is part of the NFS design. Although you can configure the NFS in synchronized write, there is a performance cost. When NFS is working in async mode, it will experience data loss due to an NFS malfunction. Synchronization I/O is part of the design of the IBM Spectrum Scale file system, which means that it can avoid data loss. It also can reduce the CPU overhead to deal with the cache operations.
Integration

IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems can be integrated with other IBM products and solutions as the base clustered file system, such as Business Analytics, Cloud, and storage HA solutions.

Supported platforms

The following platforms are supported by IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems Express Edition (Version 4.1). Table 1 shows the supported Linux distributions.

Table 1. Supported Linux distributions
DistributionMinimum levelKernel
SUSE Enterprise Server 11SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3 + Maintweb Update or later maintenance update or Service Pack3.0.101-0.15-default
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 6Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 + Errata Update RHSA-2014-0328, or later minor update2.6.32-431.11.2.el6
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 73.10.0-123.6.3.el7.s390x

Table 2 shows the supported storage systems.

Table 2. Supported storage systems
Storage systemSCSI deviceECKD device
IBM DS8000® seriesNSD or PRNSD
IBM Storwize V7000NSD or PRN/A
IBM XIV®NSD or PRN/A
IBM FlashSystem™NSD or PRN/A
IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) NSD or PR N/A
Notes:
    NSD: Network Shared Disk Leasing
    PR: Persistent Reserve

Ordering information

The ordering information for IBM Spectrum Scale for Linux on z Systems is shown in the Table 3.

Table 3. Ordering part numbers and feature codes
Program namePID number
IBM GPFS for Linux on System z5725-S28


Related information

For more information, see the following documents:

Special Notices

This material has not been submitted to any formal IBM test and is published AS IS. It has not been the subject of rigorous review. IBM assumes no responsibility for its accuracy or completeness. The use of this information or the implementation of any of these techniques is a client responsibility and depends upon the client's ability to evaluate and integrate them into the client's operational environment.

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Publish Date
06 October 2014

Last Update
16 February 2015


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