Living in a Connected World: Centralized Storage with VLANs

Posted January 27, 2017 by Ben Gitenstein — Vice President of Product Management. Filed under Company, Engineering.

Large universities have very complex networking environments. And the larger the university, the more complex the network becomes. Most departments within a university are on their own VLAN, as are all administrative organizations. If that is already sounding complicated, many universities also have research centers with networks dedicated strictly to their work.

This poses a challenge for universities wanting to use a centralized storage system to house not only research data, but also departmental shares and user home directories. Further, any research data that is stored needs to be accessible outside of the dedicated research network. Because of this, the storage must be able to service multiple networks.

Bringing Data to the People: VLANs and Centralized Storage

We recently installed a Qumulo systems at one of these large universities. The HPC research environment there has over 5000 compute cores that sit on an isolated network. This was set up like this by design, as they didn’t want any external threats or disruptions in the environment. The problem though, is that the data generated in this environment needs to be consumed by other department. To be successful in this environment, their Qumulo system needed to be able to talk on the university’s intranet where all of the other departments, home directories and business units have access.

The data collected from researchers also needed to be shared outwardly to other research facilities via websites or FTP servers. In order to do this, the storage system needed to be able to talk to their webzone. Qumulo’s implementation allows the cluster to be on three different networks, some of which are routable and some that are not. By supporting Layer 2 VLANs, Qumulo can support a large scale environment and be a central repository for research, clinical, home directory, departmental and student data, extending the reach of users that can leverage Qumulo Core for their data storage. In Qumulo Core version 2.5.2, we’ve introduced support for multiple virtual networks. A Qumulo cluster now can have multiple sets of IP addresses with VLAN tagging so that users in different virtual networks can access the cluster without having to route between the networks. This isn’t an isolated ask from universities, but one that we have heard across industries.

New Builds Bring New Users

At the University of Utah, both the Marriott Library and the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (SCI) rely on Qumulo to help them manage and store their large, unstructured data sets. In these environments, they trust us to store large amounts of newspaper archives and large digital images and simulations respectively.

However, as Qumulo continues to mature through new bi-weekly releases of Qumulo Core, our users continue to consolidate more workloads and projects onto their clusters. This is of course a great thing, as the goal of Qumulo is to let organizations store and manage all of their unstructured data in a single, scalable location. And over the last two years (yes, it has almost been an entire two years since we came out of stealth mode) we have been doing just that for a variety of companies across industries.

One of the biggest take-aways from our recent experience working to provide a large university with a centralized storage system was this: we grow through our users. Whether it is finding ways to help universities centralize their storage, or giving studios the throughput they need to finish a movie, we always find a way to make our customers successful. By working with large universities to develop and implement VLANs into Qumulo Core, we are also paving the way for other organizations to develop successful storage strategies.

For more details about how Qumulo partners with each of our customers, listen to [this short talk] from SCI about the benefits they have experienced with Qumulo.

Ben Gitenstein
Vice President of Product Management
Qumulo is the only product that offers file at the scale of object, on the hardware you want to use, and with analytics that save customers time and money. But maybe most excitingly, Qumulo runs in the cloud and on-premises, because we believe that the cloud is a platform for innovation not just a dumping ground for old data.

Ben Gitenstein runs Product at Qumulo. He and his team of product managers and data scientists have conducted nearly 1,000 interviews with storage users and analyzed millions of data points to understand customer needs and the direction of the storage market. Prior to working at Qumulo, Ben spent five years at Microsoft, where he split his time between Corporate Strategy and Product Planning.

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