You may have read that Qumulo builds a modern, highly scalable file storage system. But what does that really mean?

Let’s break it down:

A file system

You may not know this, but you’re probably already familiar with scalable file storage systems. Every laptop has a file system on its hard drive. The apps you use, like iTunes, Word, and Excel, create files to store their data. Your operating system allows the apps to use commands to read and write files, and it organizes the data into a file system on the hard drive. These file systems provide some important guarantees such as persistent file storage, transactional modifications, and the ability to organize files into a folder hierarchy.

Networked file systems

Sometimes you want to share data with others, or have a central repository for documents and data. To do this, multiple computers need to be able to access the same file system. Luckily, modern operating systems provide a way to connect to file systems over a network. These kinds of file systems are called Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems.

diagram of network-attached storage

The two main protocols for these systems are SMB (Server Message Block, used on Windows) and NFS (Network File System, used on Linux). Both allow users to browse and edit files using normal applications as if the files were local. In fact, if you’ve ever mapped a network drive on Windows before, you’re using SMB. Qumulo supports both of these protocols (and more, like FTP) so it can be used to share files between computers on both Windows and Linux.

A scalable file storage system

Qumulo is a kind of NAS system called Distributed NAS. Rather than having a single server, we create a single file system from a distributed set of nodes.

diagram of scalable file storage system, which uses a single file system with a distributed set of nodes

QF2 creates a file system that combines all the disks on all the nodes in a cluster into one namespace. This means we can create incredibly large file systems with the combined capacity and throughput of hundreds of disks. When your system gets full, new nodes can be added seamlessly to expand and increase performance.

Who uses these huge scalable file storage systems?

Many of our customers are organizations that have huge data needs because data is part of their business. Movie studios require huge amounts of video and animation data to render their films. Scientific researchers have tons of experimental data to process. Autonomous driving systems need to train on thousands of hours of driving footage. All these users need petabyte-scale file systems and incredibly fast file access.

Why Qumulo?

Other enterprise file systems are built using traditional software development practices resulting in a tightly coupled hardware and software solution that produces long, buggy release cycles. QF2 has been built from the ground-up as an agile software project. It runs on commodity hardware platforms and in the public cloud with releases every 2 weeks.

We can do this because of the extreme confidence we get from our exhaustive testing processes and our system architecture which enables top-rate data protection, transactionality, and performance.

This development process has allowed us to create revolutionary new ways to gain insight into file system data through our analytics: Instant visibility of capacity information, breakdowns of performance by client and file, snapshot capacity accounting, and more.

Ted Carpenter is a developer at Qumulo focused on filesystem performance. He enjoys looking at detailed storage profiling data and crushing performance bottlenecks.

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