Server clustering made simple
HP bundles ProLiant servers with PolyServe’s robust clustered apps for maximum flexibilityFollow @infoworld
Getting top performance from a storage system and making applications faster and more resilient are two critical and challenging aspects of computing. Unfortunately, many vendors’ solutions focus on just one side of the problem or require massive, costly infrastructure changes.
If that scenario sounds all too familiar, consider PolyServe Matrix Server, which combines a robust cluster file system with a virtual server architecture that enables fail-over and flexible allocation of computing resources. Matrix Server doesn’t require proprietary hardware and it runs on almost any Linux or Windows-compatible server or storage device, so it’s easy to see why PolyServe captures the attention of partners such as HP, Microsoft, and Novell.
HP recently began bundling PolyServe Matrix Server with its StorageWorks Enterprise File Services Clustered Gateway . I looked at Matrix Server bundled with HP’s minimum configuration of two ProLiant DL380 servers running Windows Storage Server 2003. It’s a natural fit; HP’s servers are a solid foundation for clustering, and the PolyServe software is the star of the show.
Squaring Off with the SAN
Imagine a grid of applications and virtual servers that an administrator can easily and dynamically interconnect from a management console to provide fail-proof or load-balancing configurations. That’s PolyServe Matrix Server in a nutshell.
Explaining how Matrix Server works, however, is much easier than installing it, so purchasing the HP StorageWorks bundle with the applications already loaded gives you the benefit of having the product preinstalled on HP’s servers and the option of ordering installation services.
Using Matrix Server, you can create a cluster of as many as 16 Linux or Windows servers and dynamically assign multiple nodes to support your application. To allocate resources from those nodes to your apps, you define virtual servers and assign one or more to each application.
Another key component of Matrix Server is PSFS (PolyServe File System), which allows all the nodes in a cluster to safely share access to the same SAN volumes. Therefore, you can summon multiple servers to speed up your application and to provide immediate fail-over.
Activating these capabilities requires a rather complicated setup that touches just about every device in your datacenter, including servers and SAN devices. For example, to monitor the status of the virtual servers, you need to connect each managed node to a service network over which the Matrix Server will constantly poll the status of each machine.
You control servers’ access to your SAN via usual zoning techniques, but Matrix Server will automatically discover which LUNs (logical unit numbers) are available and monitor their status by following the IP address of your FC (Fibre Channel) switches. Also, your SAN volumes need to be imported into the Matrix Server managed pool and equipped with PSFS.
Many settings are human-driven, so errors are possible, but PolyServe includes very good documentation as well as an application to check that the major installation requirements are met. In the process, it creates a handy status report of errors and successful settings.