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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Introducing ActiveStor Ultra

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PanFS 8 – The New Portable Parallel FileSystem

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ActiveStor Product Portfolio Naming Convention

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ActiveStor Ultra Product Configuration

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Product Portfolio Compatibility

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Technology

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Introducing ActiveStor Ultra


What is being announced?

We are announcing ActiveStor® Ultra, the next generation of the Panasas ActiveStor storage system. This represents the most significant product announcement Panasas has made in a decade. ActiveStor Ultra features a completely reengineered, portable filesystem that catapults us back to the top performance levels and offers Enterprise-grade reliability, manageability, and cost efficiency.

What is new about ActiveStor Ultra?

The ActiveStor Ultra platform features a completely reengineered portable file system (PanFS® 8) running on industry standard hardware. ActiveStor Ultra delivers extreme performance and enterprise-grade reliability at a highly competitive price point, is easy to deploy, and easy to scale.

New features in ActiveStor Ultra include:

  • PanFS 8 – the new Panasas portable parallel filesystem
  • Industry standard hardware for the storage nodes
  • Industry standard hardware for the Director nodes
  • InfiniBand (IB) gateway

What is the general availability date for ActiveStor Ultra?

ActiveStor Ultra will be available in early 2H2019.

What are the primary benefits of ActiveStor Ultra?

Fast – With performance levels up to 75 GB/s per rack, ActiveStor Ultra delivers consistently high performance regardless of complexity. Performance and capacity scale linearly without limitations as more racks are added.

Simple – With dock to data in 1 hour, ActiveStor Ultra delivers the industry’s fastest time to first I/O. With the system optimally tuned for 80% of the workloads, users can easily add new workloads without tuning or retuning. Automatic distributed erasure coding-based data protection delivers extreme reliability and eliminates the need for manual intervention.

Flexible – ActiveStor Ultra is exceptional at mixed workloads because it separates data and metadata, and uses advanced techniques to store both. In addition, the new portable file system allows for quickly adopting new features and technologies. As with all Panasas ActiveStor products, ActiveStor Ultra has been designed to be fully backward and forward compatible with the Panasas ActiveStor product portfolio.

Cost-effective – Delivered on industry standard hardware and with only one admin needed to manage at any scale, ActiveStor Ultra delivers exceptional performance at a highly competitive price point.

What new applications is ActiveStor Ultra most suited for?

ActiveStor Ultra is ideally suited for applications that require the processing of large and complex data sets with high precision. New and emerging workloads like AI, precision medicine, autonomous driving, AR and VR. Examples range from running multiple CFD simulations faster, achieving level 5 autonomy in a shorter amount of time, vastly reducing the cost of sequencing a genome, increasing granularity of seismic processing to accelerate time to discovery, and rendering movies in half the time.

How is ActiveStor Ultra different from ActiveStor Prime (formerly ActiveStor Hybrid)?

Configuration: ActiveStor Ultra is delivered on industry standard hardware and designed for extreme performance and extreme scalability configurations. ActiveStor Prime is delivered on a custom hardware platform built with industry standard components and allows for smaller starting configurations that can be scaled with granular increments.

Networking: The ActiveStor Ultra platform supports flexible networking options such as Ethernet, InfiniBand, and Omni-Path. ActiveStor Prime is delivered with integrated dual 10GbE networking and external InfiniBand via InfiniBand router.

Filesystem: ActiveStor Ultra is the first Panasas product to feature the new portable PanFS 8 parallel filesystem. However, PanFS 8 is fully compatible with ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor Classic (formerly ActiveStor 18 and ActiveStor 20) products.

Deployment: Both ActiveStor Ultra and ActiveStor Prime are deployed as a fully integrated appliance consisting of hardware (hybrid storage nodes containing flash and SATA media), the PanFS 8 parallel filesystem, and the Panasas DirectFlow® parallel data access protocol. Industry-standard NFS and SMB client protocols are also supported.

PanFS 8 – The New Portable Parallel Filesystem


What is the PanFS 8 filesystem?

PanFS 8 is a portable network attached storage software implementation intended to support an “appliance” deployment model. It includes the newly reengineered storage node software stack for use on the new ActiveStor Ultra family of storage nodes. It also includes the software stacks for the other currently supported Director and storage node products. Each of those software stacks includes an operating system and drivers appropriate to the hardware it runs on, plus a suite of Panasas software layered on top that represents the actual filesystem implementation.

How is the PanFS 8 filesystem different from the previous PanFS version?

PanFS version 8 includes the newly reengineered storage node software stack for use on the new ActiveStor Ultra family of storage nodes.

Will PanFS 8 work with ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor Classic products?

Yes, PanFS 8 is fully compatible with ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor Classic products. PanFS 8 allows you to mix ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor Classic products in the same realm, but in different blade sets, while managing them all via a single GUI. ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor classic enclosures need to be upgraded to PanFS 8 or later software to support this functionality.

How do you define a portable filesystem?

PanFS 8 is a portable network attached storage software product that can run on any properly configured and qualified storage hardware. In contrast to the term “software defined storage”, PanFS 8 will not be sold separately to run on any storage hardware. Panasas’ is committed to provide its customers with a storage appliance that delivers the highest levels of performance and manageability in the marketplace.

What are the advantages of offering PanFS as a portable filesystem?

Being able to offer an array of storage configurations choices, adopt new hardware innovations as they become available, adapt to new application requirements quickly, and reduce hardware acquisition cost by using industry standard hardware.

ActiveStor Product Portfolio Naming Convention


What are the names of the ActiveStor products in the new Panasas product portfolio?

ActiveStor Ultra – Represents the new ActiveStor generation.
ActiveStor Prime – The new name for the former ActiveStor Hybrid.
ActiveStor Classic – The new name for the generation of ActiveStor products prior to ActiveStor Prime (e.g. ActiveStor 20, ActiveStor 18, etc.).

Has the ActiveStor Director name changed too?

No, the ActiveStor Director name remains the same. ActiveStor Director works with both ActiveStor Ultra and ActiveStor Prime products.

Has the PanFS filesystem name changed?

The PanFS filesystem name has not been changed, but the version number 8 is new to represent the new Panasas portable parallel file system.

ActiveStor Ultra Product Configuration


Does ActiveStor Ultra include Director functionality?

ActiveStor Director functionality is provided through ActiveStor Director hardware that can be purchased separately from ActiveStor Ultra hardware. ActiveStor Ultra together with ActiveStor Director, PanFS 8 and DirectFlow® protocol software delivers the complete ActiveStor Ultra appliance solution.

What is the minimum functional ActiveStor Ultra configuration?

The minimum required configuration for ActiveStor Ultra is 3 Ultra enclosures and 1 ActiveStor Director with 4 nodes. The minimum recommended configuration for faster reconstruction performance in case of drive failures, is 4 Ultra enclosures and 1 ActiveStor Director with 4 nodes.

Why is the minimum supported configuration of ActiveStor Ultra 3 enclosures?

PanFS 8 needs a minimum number of storage nodes to be efficient when striping files across storage nodes. Since each ActiveStor Ultra enclosure comes with 4 storage nodes, the minimum supported realm or blade set size is 3 enclosures consisting of 12 ActiveStor Ultra nodes.

How many and what combinations are supported with the SSD and HDD drives on ActiveStor Ultra?

Each ActiveStor Ultra node can support 0-2 SSDs and 6-8 HDDs. The SSD sizes offered are 1.92TB and 3.84TB. The HDD options offered are 4TB, 8TB, and 12TB. Any combinations of the HDD and SSDs can be chosen.

Product Portfolio Compatibility


Can ActiveStor Ultra enclosures be mixed with ActiveStor Prime or ActiveStor Classic in the same realm?

ActiveStor Ultra is fully backward compatible with ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor Classic enclosures. All three platforms can co-exist in the same realm under different blade sets, while being under a single global name space and managed by a single GUI. ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor classic enclosures need to be upgraded to PanFS 8 or later software to support this functionality.

Is there an easy way to migrate to ActiveStor Ultra from existing ActiveStor Prime or Classic enclosures?

Yes, with the migration tools provided by Panasas such as Pan_snap_replicator and Pan_site_sync, it is easy to migrate from existing ActiveStor enclosures to ActiveStor Ultra. Panasas also offers professional services to assist customers with migrating from third party storage.

Which PanFS versions will support ActiveStor Ultra, ActiveStor Director, ActiveStor Prime and ActiveStor Classic in the same realm?

PanFS 8 or later versions will support ActiveStor Ultra, ActiveStor Director, and ActiveStor Prime in the same realm, under the condition that all are in different blade sets.

Technology


Storage Nodes

How many storage nodes does each ActiveStor Ultra have?

Each ActiveStor Ultra has 4 nodes.

What does each ActiveStor Ultra storage node contain?

Each ActiveStor Ultra storage node has 6 HDD drive slots and 2 SSD drive slots. Each node supports 6-8 HDDs or 0-2 SSDs. Each node has SIOM networking cards that allow for flexibility to support Ethernet, InfiniBand or Omni-Path.

Performance

What is the expected performance of an ActiveStor minimum configuration?

Each ActiveStor Ultra can deliver 6-7.5 GB/s per 4U enclosure, depending on the configuration. With a minimum configuration of 3 ActiveStor Ultra enclosures, the total bandwidth performance is expected to be between 18-22 GB/s.

What is the maximum capacity and performance ActiveStor Ultra can scale up to in a single namespace?

There is no theoretical limit to how much the performance and capacity ActiveStor Ultra can scale in a single namespace.

Networking

Will ActiveStor Ultra include networking switches?

ActiveStor Ultra configurations will provide different networking options. Customers can choose to order ActiveStor Ultra and ActiveStor Director products only and connect to their own networking switches. Panasas will also offer half rack and full rack configurations that come with networking switches and cables fully integrated and tested.

What networking options (direct or via 3rd party) are available for ActiveStor Ultra?

  • Ethernet
  • InfiniBand (IB)
  • Omni-Path (coming soon)

At the time of general availability, ActiveStor Ultra will support Ethernet networking option and direct InfiniBand connectivity. In addition, ActiveStor Ultra is Omni-Path capable.

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