When it comes to intensive computer applications, two concerns generally become paramount: computing power itself, used to generate usable data; and storage space so that data can be maintained for as long as needed. These two concerns are often interrelated, with advanced programs needing vast amounts of disk space in order to do their work; such space is needed to swap data sets in and out of ongoing calculations.
The University of Minnesota has recently faced the challenge of finding IT solutions for the storage space needs at their Supercomputing Institute. The eventual solution they settled on was the Dell Terascala HPC Storage Solution. In all, the university added more than 500 TB of usable storage area. The Terascala storage solution they chose consists of several hundred disk drives, each with a 2 TB capacity as well as equipment such as data movers and meta-data storage.
The system produces speeds that are five times as fast as before, even when applications are heavily using I/O functions. "Terascala has intelligently and effectively streamlined the formidable tasks of Lustre installation, deployment and management," announced Jeff McDonald, who serves as the Assistant Director of Operations at the facility. "Terascala has turned Lustre into an appliance that just works once you plug it in. The system was fully deployed in two racks when it arrived on 24 September. After unpacking, the system was powered and connected and minutes later we were writing to the filesystem."
With so many separate disk drives making up the storage solution, a good way to approach maintenance would be with an ongoing managed program model.