Open Storage and Open Source Backup - A Perfect Combination

Today Sun announced release of X4540 Open Storage server (a.k.a Thor). We were fortunate to get early access to Thor to certify Amanda Enterprise and Zmanda Recovery Manager (ZRM) for MySQL. Both solutions are optimized for backing up to disk, are already certified with Solaris 10, and leverage capabilities of ZFS. So it made perfect sense to certify them on Thor, effectively creating a high-performance and yet relatively inexpensive backup appliance.

The unit we were using is powered by 8 CPUs operating at 2300 MHz and provides 48 SATA drives with total capacity close to 50TB in 4U enclosure. That is good packing; a typical EMC unit with so much capacity will take the whole rack.

The two boot drives configured as a mirror were running UFS. To get capacity for backups, we easily created Zpool with 12 drives and 2 spares in RAIDZ2 configuration. That gave us 7 TB of capacity for backups with very high level of protection against drive failure:

bash-3.00# zfs list
NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT
zmanda 203K 7.13T 49.0K /zmanda
zmanda/vtapes 49.0K 7.13T 49.0K /var/lib/amanda/vtapes

While installing ZRM and Amanda Enterprise on Thor, we found that a couple of Solaris packages that we require were missing, and our coverage of dependencies in documentation was not perfect. Luckily, that was the only hiccup. After fixing the dependencies, the rest of installation and configuration went smoothly.

Zmanda Thor backup appliance testing

This screenshot shows part of a summary report about backup of five Solaris clients to Thor over 1 Gb network. Each client had about 100 MB of data. In that test we forced full backup on each run, with each client pushing data at 60 MB/s. That is not bad at all considering that you can get only 20-25 MB/s for a typical LTO-2 tape drive.

The X4540 Open Storage server is an excellent choice for creating your own backup to disk appliance. It provides high performance and very large capacity. One key feature is how easy it is to manage all that capacity with ZFS.

Special thanks to Sun’s Menlo Park and Colorado interoperability teams who helped us to get started and advised on considerations in configuring ZFS for backup to disk.
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Dmitri Joukovski

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