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Network attached storage infrastructure

Today we all need storage space and we get it in all kind of flavors: local disks, file servers on the local network, cloud storage, etc. In this post I’ll show you how you can quickly create a basic storage infrastructure that you can use for your data storage.


storage

As you may see in the diagram the topology consists of 2 clients, 2 switches and 2 storage servers. All the components in the diagram are KVM virtual machines running on a single host. You can easily create this setup on your own workstation. Clients need to be able to access the files on the storage servers as they would on their local drives. In order to do that we can export file system paths on the storage servers by protocols such as NFS or SMB/CIFS. NFS is my favorite one so I’ll show how you can use it in this example. The clients will be basic Debian VMs running the NFS clients.

Hardware always fails so in order for our system to be available we need to have redundant components. The first storage server will act as the primary server, all the clients will access directly. Data on the primary server will be replicated on the second one which will act as a slave (standby). For the storage file systems we will use ZFS which is both a file system and logical volume manager. ZFS ensures data integrity checks and automatic repairs, it provides various software RAID levels and many other great features such as snapshots, compression, deduplication and replication. In addition to this ZFS is a 128-bit file system providing lots and lots of storage space. Unfortunately ZFS is licensed under Suns CDDL which is not compatible with the Linux kernel license: GPLv2. Work is currently being done for a port of ZFS for the Linux kernel ( ZFS on Linux ). In our topology the storage servers will run zfs on FreeBSD 9.1.

The network infrastructure is very important when we need redundant systems. Each of the storage servers will have 2 NICs grouped in a bridge connected to 2 different switches. In order to prevent bridge loops we need a loop prevention mechanism such as STP. In our environment we will use STP (802.1d) but be aware that in a production network you need other flavors of STP for reduced convergence time. The switches will run Debian as OS and Open vSwitch for the virtual switch.

We can now proceed and start creating our infrastructure. I will be running Debian jessie which is the current testing release on both the host machine and the virtual machines. For the VMs communications on the hypervisor I will be using Linux bridges. Other tools that we need for the VMs management are libvirt, virt-install or virt-manager which provides a gui.

Installing required packages for VMs management:

[email protected]:~# aptitude install qemu-kvm qemu-utils libvirt-bin virtinst virt-manager bridge-utils

Now let’s create a bridge for each of the vms links plus an additional one used for out of band management. eth0 is my public interface so i will use it for the management bridge.

[email protected]:~# brctl addbr mgmt
[email protected]:~# brctl addif mgmt eth0
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr vm1-sw1
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr vm2-sw2
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr sw1-sw2
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr sw1-st1
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr sw1-st2
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr sw2-st2
[email protected]:~# brctl addbr sw2-st1
[email protected]:~# brctl show

Next thing to do is to create the virtual drives of the vms. I will use qcow2 files as they provide copy-on-write support and snapshots. You can use the qemu-img tools for creating the files. Each of the vms will be assigned one 10GB virtual drive for the OS. The storage servers will have 8 additional 260TB disks used for storage.

[email protected]:/var/lib/libvirt/images# qemu-img create -f qcow2 vm1.qcow2 10G
[email protected]:/var/lib/libvirt/images# qemu-img info vm1.qcow2
image: file
file format: qcow2
virtual size: 10G (10737418240 bytes)
disk size: 136K
cluster_size: 65536
[email protected]:/var/lib/libvirt/images# for i in {1..8}; do qemu-img create -f qcow2 st2.$i.qcow2 260T;done

Now we are ready to shoot the installers. I prefer virt-install which is a CLI tool used for vms installations. You can also use virt-manager which provides a nice GUI. I will do a net install for the Debian VMs and run the installer from an attached cdrom for FreeBSD. You can use different drivers for the I/O devices. For the Linux machines I will use paravirtualized virtio drivers since they offer better performance. I noticed that FreeBSD doesn’t include native virtio support so I will use scsi drives and intel e1000 nics for it. You can even select the cpu model and what cpu features are available to the vm. The extra-args option passes the priority=low to the kernel command line which gets the Debian installer into expert mode.

[email protected]:~# virt-install --name vm1 --disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/vm1.qcow2,bus=virtio,cache=none,format=qcow2 --network bridge=mgmt,model=virtio --network bridge=vm1-sw1,model=virtio --location=ftp://ftp.lug.ro/debian/dists/wheezy/main/installer-amd64/ --ram=512 --cpu=Nehalem --vcpu=1 --extra-args="priority=low" --vnc
[email protected]:~# virt-install --name sw1 --disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/sw1.qcow2,bus=virtio,cache=none,format=qcow2 --network bridge=mgmt,model=virtio --network bridge=vm1-sw1,model=virtio --network bridge=sw1-st1,model=virtio --network bridge=sw1-st2,model=virtio --network bridge=sw1-sw2,model=virtio --location=ftp://ftp.lug.ro/debian/dists/wheezy/main/installer-amd64/ --ram=512 --cpu=Nehalem --vcpu=1 --extra-args="priority=low" --vnc
[email protected]:~# virt-install --name st2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.1.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.2.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.3.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.4.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.5.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.6.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.7.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/st2.8.qcow2,bus=scsi,cache=none,format=qcow2
--network bridge=mgmt,model=e1000 --network bridge=sw2-st2,model=e1000 --network bridge=sw2-st1,model=e1000  --ram=8192 --cpu=Nehalem --vcpu=6 --cdrom=/var/lib/libvirt/images/FreeBSD-9.1-RELEASE-amd64-disc1.iso --vnc

The installer should be pretty straight forward. Once they are complete we can move forward. We’ll first need to set the IP addresses for the network interfaces and install the required packages. Please note that you need to edit /etc/network/interfaces to make the IP addresses persistent. Quick tip: when you debug network connectivity issues always check the link status of the interfaces ( physical, virtual, bridges, etc) and get tcpdump installed on the same line with your favorite text editor.

NFS Clients:

[email protected]:~# ip addr add 192.168.1.1/24 dev eth1
[email protected]:~# ip link set dev eth1 up
[email protected]:~# aptitude install nfs-common portmap

Now lets’s configure the switches/bridges. One important thing we need to take care of is the STP root bridge of our topology. We need to make sure that one of the switches will be the root bridge otherwise all the traffic will be forwarded by the storage servers bridges and it’s not their job to do that.

Open vSwitch:

[email protected]:~# aptitude install openvswitch-switch openvswitch-common
[email protected]:~# ovs-vsctl add-br sw1
[email protected]:~# for i in {1..4};do ovs-vsctl add-port sw1 eth$i;done;
[email protected]:~# ovs-vsctl show
8910e761-e507-4aa7-88b5-4c26e2e2276e
    Bridge "sw1"
        Port "eth4"
            Interface "eth4"
        Port "sw1"
            Interface "sw1"
                type: internal
        Port "eth1"
            Interface "eth1"
        Port "eth2"
            Interface "eth2"
        Port "eth3"
            Interface "eth3"
    ovs_version: "1.4.2"
[email protected]:~# ovs-vsctl set bridge sw1 stp_enable=true
[email protected]:~# ovs-vsctl set bridge sw1 other_config:stp-priority=0x7800
[email protected]:~# ovs-ofctl show sw1
OFPT_FEATURES_REPLY (xid=0x1): ver:0x1, dpid:0000e22d31067b47
n_tables:255, n_buffers:256
features: capabilities:0xc7, actions:0xfff
 1(eth2): addr:52:54:00:b0:d7:e5
     config:     0
     state:      STP_FORWARD
 2(eth2): addr:52:54:00:79:59:68
     config:     0
     state:      STP_FORWARD
 3(eth3): addr:52:54:00:69:dc:5d
     config:     0
     state:      STP_FORWARD
 4(eth4): addr:52:54:00:e1:4d:dd
     config:     0
     state:      STP_FORWARD
 LOCAL(sw1): addr:e2:2d:31:06:7b:47
     config:     PORT_DOWN
     state:      LINK_DOWN
OFPT_GET_CONFIG_REPLY (xid=0x3): frags=normal miss_send_len=0

Storage machines networking:

[email protected]:~# ifconfig bridge create
[email protected]:~# ifconfig bridge0 addm em1 addm em2 up
[email protected]:~# ifconfig bridge0 proto stp
[email protected]:~# ifconfig bridge0 192.168.1.3 netmask 255.255.255.0
[email protected]:~# ifconfig bridge0
bridge0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
	ether 02:d8:a2:2f:a0:00
	inet 192.168.1.3 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.168.1.255
	nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
	id 52:54:00:04:1b:42 priority 32768 hellotime 2 fwddelay 15
	maxage 20 holdcnt 6 proto stp maxaddr 2000 timeout 1200
	root id 56:ff:97:ea:f6:4b priority 30617 ifcost 20019 port 3
	member: em2 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 4 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role root state forwarding
	member: em1 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 3 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role alternate state discarding

We can notice that one of the physical interfaces is in forwarding state and the other one is discarding. The same settings need to be done on the other machines except IP addresses, hostnames and other things that need to be unique. At this point we have the network infrastructure ready with basic connectivity ensured for all the nodes.

We can go ahead and do the storage configuration. As mentioned before storage1 will be the primary storage machine so we’ll start with it.

[email protected]:~# camcontrol devlist
<QEMU QEMU DVD-ROM 1.1.>           at scbus1 target 0 lun 0 (pass0,cd0)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 0 lun 0 (pass1,da0)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 1 lun 0 (pass2,da1)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 2 lun 0 (pass3,da2)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 3 lun 0 (pass4,da3)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 4 lun 0 (pass5,da4)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 5 lun 0 (pass6,da5)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus2 target 6 lun 0 (pass7,da6)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus3 target 0 lun 0 (pass8,da7)
<QEMU QEMU HARDDISK 1.1.>          at scbus3 target 1 lun 0 (pass9,da8)

The list shows us that we have one dvdrom (installer) and 9 drives (1 for the OS and 8 for the storage) attached.

ZFS: Let’s create the ZFS storage pool. The pool will be made up of 4 mirrors of 2 x 260TB drives. ZFS mirrors are similar to RAID1 level. All the mirrors are striped so the resulting pool will have a RAID10 like fault tolerance. The total capacity of the pool will be of 1 Petabyte :)

[email protected]:~# zpool create storage mirror da1 da2 mirror da3 da4 mirror da5 da6 mirror da7 da8
[email protected]:~# zpool list
NAME      SIZE  ALLOC   FREE    CAP  DEDUP  HEALTH  ALTROOT
storage  1.01P   110M  1.01P     0%  1.00x  ONLINE  -
[email protected]:~# zpool status
  pool: storage
 state: ONLINE
  scan: none requested
config:
	NAME        STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
	storage     ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-0  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da1     ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da2     ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-1  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da3     ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da4     ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-2  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da5     ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da6     ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-3  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da7     ONLINE       0     0     0
	    da8     ONLINE       0     0     0
errors: No known data errors
[email protected]:~# zfs get all storage

We can now create a dataset inside the storage pool setting specific attributes. For instance, let’s create a dataset that has compression enabled:

[email protected]:~# zfs create -o compression=on storage/compset
[email protected]:~# zfs get compression storage/compset
NAME             PROPERTY     VALUE     SOURCE
storage/compset  compression  on        local

Now let’s ctually see the benefits:

[email protected]:~# cd /storage/compset/
[email protected]:compset# dd if=/dev/zero of=10M bs=1M count=10
10+0 records in
10+0 records out
10485760 bytes transferred in 0.014196 secs (738633678 bytes/sec
[email protected]:compset# du -h 10M
512B	 10M
[email protected]:compset# dd if=/dev/random of=10Mr bs=1M count=10
10+0 records in
10+0 records out
10485760 bytes transferred in 0.176115 secs (59539266 bytes/sec)
ro[email protected]:compset# du -h 10Mr
 10M	 10Mr

Let’s say we need storage space for users. We can create a dataset for that and assign each user a dataset that has an assigned quota:

[email protected]:storage# zfs create storage/users
[email protected]:storage# zfs create -o quota=10M storage/users/01
[email protected]:storage# cd /storage/users/01
[email protected]:01# dd if=/dev/random of=20M bs=1M count=20
dd: 20M: Disc quota exceeded
[email protected]:01# du -h 20M
 10M	20M

Sanpshots: ZFS provides snapshot functionality which is an image of the file system at the time you snapshot it. Let’s create a new data set called set, create some random files inside it and then snapshot it calling it snap1.

[email protected]:~# zfs create storage/set
[email protected]:~# cd /storage/set/
[email protected]:set# mkfile 1M 1M
[email protected]:set# mkfile 5M 5M
[email protected]:set# zfs snapshot storage/[email protected]
[email protected]:set# ls .zfs/snapshot/snap1/
1M 5M

How can we replicate all the data to the other storage machine ? ZFS enables you to transfer snapshots to another machine by piping zfs send and zfs recive which is pretty awesome. The receiving end will extract the snapshot and recreate the file system.

We have an empty storage pool called storage on storage2 where we’ll transfer snap1 we have just created. We’ll use netcat for raw tcp piping but you can also use ssh.

[email protected]:~# netcat -l -p 9999 | zfs receive storage/set
[email protected]:~# zfs send storage/[email protected] | netcat st2 9999
[email protected]:~# zfs list
NAME          USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
storage      6.14M   508T    32K  /storage
storage/set  6.03M   508T  6.03M  /storage/set
[email protected]:~# ls /storage/set/
1M 5M

You can also send incremental data using zfs send. We’ll create an additional file in /storage/set, create a snapshot and transfer only the differences between the second and the first snapshot. We’ll use ssh this time:

[email protected]:set# mkfile 10M 10M
[email protected]:set# zfs snapshot storage/[email protected]
[email protected]:set# zfs send -i storage/[email protected] storage/[email protected]  | ssh st2 zfs receive storage/set
[email protected]:~# ls /storage/set/
10M 1M  5M

What happens if we delete a file ?

[email protected]:set# rm * && touch Lala
[email protected]:set# zfs snapshot storage/[email protected]
[email protected]:set# zfs send -i storage/[email protected] storage/[email protected]  | ssh st2 zfs receive storage/set
[email protected]:~# ls /storage/set/
Lala

Using the great snapshot and zfs send and receive features we could easily set up a cron job that does periodic incremental transfers thus having all the data on storage1 replicated on storage2. Now that we have all the storage prepared let’s mount it on the clients by NFS. On the storage server prepare the /etc/exports file:

[email protected]:set# cat /etc/exports
/storage/set -maproot=root 192.168.1.1
[email protected]:set# /etc/rc.d/mountd onereload
[email protected]:~# mount st1:/storage/set /mnt -v
[email protected]:~# df -h | grep st1
Filesystem                                              Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
st1:/storage/set                                       1016T     0 1016T   0% /mnt

Now let’s go for a failover test of the bridged interfaces on the storage machine. We’ll start writing a random file using dd in vm1:/mnt, shutdown the forwarding interface on storage1 and wait to see what happens.

[email protected]:~# dd if=/dev/vda of=/root/random bs=1M count=10
[email protected]:~# md5sum /root/random
9662731c837501f21938b04e09aa02b3  random
[email protected]:~# dd if=/root/random of=/mnt/random
[email protected]:set# ifconfig bridge0
bridge0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
	ether 02:d8:a2:2f:a0:00
	inet 192.168.1.3 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.168.1.255
	nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
	id 52:54:00:04:1b:42 priority 32768 hellotime 2 fwddelay 15
	maxage 20 holdcnt 6 proto stp maxaddr 2000 timeout 1200
	root id 56:ff:97:ea:f6:4b priority 30617 ifcost 20000 port 4
	member: em2 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 4 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role root state forwarding
	member: em1 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 3 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role alternate state discarding
[email protected]:set# ifconfig em2 down
[email protected]:set# ifconfig bridge0
bridge0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
	ether 02:d8:a2:2f:a0:00
	inet 192.168.1.3 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.168.1.255
	nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
	id 52:54:00:04:1b:42 priority 32768 hellotime 2 fwddelay 15
	maxage 20 holdcnt 6 proto stp maxaddr 2000 timeout 1200
	root id 56:ff:97:ea:f6:4b priority 30617 ifcost 20019 port 3
	member: em2 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 4 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role disabled state discarding
	member: em1 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 3 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role root state learning
[email protected]:set# ifconfig bridge0
bridge0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
	ether 02:d8:a2:2f:a0:00
	inet 192.168.1.3 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.168.1.255
	nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
	id 52:54:00:04:1b:42 priority 32768 hellotime 2 fwddelay 15
	maxage 20 holdcnt 6 proto stp maxaddr 2000 timeout 1200
	root id 56:ff:97:ea:f6:4b priority 30617 ifcost 20019 port 3
	member: em2 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 4 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role disabled state discarding
	member: em1 flags=1c7<LEARNING,DISCOVER,STP,AUTOEDGE,PTP,AUTOPTP>
	        ifmaxaddr 0 port 3 priority 128 path cost 20000 proto stp
	        role root state forwarding

The result:

[email protected]:~# dd if=/root/random of=/mnt/random
10+0 records in
10+0 records out
10485760 bytes (10 MB) copied, 56.1668 s, 187 kB/s
[email protected]:set# md5 random
MD5 (random) = 9662731c837501f21938b04e09aa02b

Transfer was very slow but your data is uncorrupted on the remote storage. I hope you enjoyed this long tutorial :) Let me know if you any questions or other observations and I’ll be more than happy to answer.