Raid Levels

The basics
RAID combines two or more physical hard disks into a single logical unit by using either special hardware or software. Hardware solutions often are designed to present themselves to the attached system as a single hard drive, and the operating system is unaware of the technical workings. Software solutions are typically implemented in the operating system, and again would present the RAID drive as a single drive to applications.

There are three key concepts in RAID: mirroring, the copying of data to more than one disk; striping, the splitting of data across more than one disk; and error correction, where redundant data is stored to allow problems to be detected and possibly fixed (known as fault tolerance). Different RAID levels use one or more of these techniques, depending on the system requirements. The main aims of using RAID are to improve reliability, important for protecting information that is critical to a business, for example a database of customer orders; or to improve speed, for example a system that delivers video on demand TV programs to many viewers.

The configuration affects reliability and performance in different ways. The problem with using more disks is that it is more likely that one will go wrong, but by using error checking the total system can be made more reliable by being able to survive and repair the failure. Basic mirroring can speed up reading data as a system can read different data from both the disks, but it may be slow for writing if the configuration requires that both disks must confirm that the data is correctly written. Striping is often used for performance, where it allows sequences of data to be read from multiple disks at the same time. Error checking typically will slow the system down as data needs to be read from several places and compared. The design of RAID systems is therefore a compromise and understanding the requirements of a system is important. Modern disk arrays typically provide the facility to select the appropriate RAID configuration. PC Format Magazine claims that “in all our real-world tests, the difference between the single drive performance and the dual-drive RAID 0 striped setup was virtually non-existent. And in fact, the single drive was ever-so-slightly faster than the other setups, including the RAID 5 system that we’d hoped would offer the perfect combination of performance and data redundancy”.

Continue reading “Raid Levels”

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OpenSource Storage Management

I came across OpenFiler a while ago and was intriged by it. Now I’ve taken the liberty to testing it in my lab, and I must say that I’m impressed by the features. It’s something every sysadmin should check out to see if it isn’t a viable solution for their overpriced storage solution… 😉

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Openfiler is a powerful, intuitive browser-based network storage software distribution. Openfiler delivers file-based Network Attached Storage and block-based Storage Area Networking in a single framework. Its uses the rPath Linux metadistribution and is distributed as a stand-alone Linux distribution. The entire software stack interfaces with third-party software that is all open source.

File-based networking protocols supported by Openfiler include: NFS, SMB/CIFS, HTTP/WebDAV and FTP. Network directories supported by Openfiler include NIS, LDAP (with support for SMB/CIFS encrypted passwords), Active Directory (in native and mixed modes) and Hesiod. Authentication protocols include Kerberos 5.

Openfiler includes support for volume-based partitioning, iSCSI (target and initiator), scheduled snapshots, resource quota, and a single unified interface for share management which makes allocating shares for various network file-system protocols a breeze.

Scrum & XP from the Trenches

Henrik Kniberg and InfoQ.com offer a free version for download of the book “Scrum & XP from the Trenches“.

This book includes:

  • Practical tips and tricks for most Scrum and XP practices
  • Typical pitfalls and how they were addressed
  • Diagrams and photos illustrating day-to-day work
  • Testing and test-driven development
  • Scaling and coordinating multiple teams
  • Dealing with resistance from inside and outside the team
  • Planning and time estimation techniques
  • Forwards by Jeff Sutherland and Mike Cohn

I’ve enjoyed reading the book and must say that I can recommended it to anyone interested in Scrum!