[Linux-cluster] GFS, iSCSI, multipaths and RAID

Michael O'Sullivan michael.osullivan at auckland.ac.nz
Sun May 11 11:04:49 UTC 2008

Hi everyone,

I have set up a small experimental network with a linux cluster and SAN 
that I want to have high data availability. There are 2 servers that I 
have put into a cluster using conga (thank you luci and ricci). There 
are 2 storage devices, each consisting of a basic server with 2 x 1TB 
disks. The cluster servers and the storage devices each have 2 NICs and 
are connected using 2 gigabit ethernet switches.

I have created a single striped logical volume on each storage device 
using the 2 disks (to try and speed up I/O on the volume). These volumes 
(one on each storage device) are presented to the cluster servers using 
iSCSI (on the cluster servers) and iSCSI target (on the storage 
devices). Since there are multiple NICs on the storage devices I have 
set up two iSCSI portals to each logical volume. I have then used mdadm 
to ensure the volumes are accessible via multipath.

Finally, since I want the storage devices to present the data in a 
highly available way I have used mdadm to create a software raid-5 
across the two multipathed volumes (I realise this is essentially 
mirroring on the 2 storage devices but I am trying to set this up to be 
extensible to extra storage devices). My next step is to present the 
raid array (of the two multipathed volumes - one on each storage device) 
as a GFS to the cluster servers to ensure that locking of access to the 
data is handled properly.

I have recently read that multipathing is possible within GFS, but raid 
is not (yet). Since I want the two storage devices in a raid-5 array and 
I am using iSCSI I'm not sure if I should try and use GFS to do the 
multipathing. Also, being a linux/storage/clustering newbie I'm not sure 
if my approach is the best thing to do. I want to make sure that my 
system has no single point of failure that will make any of the data 
inaccessible. I'm pretty sure our network design supports this. I assume 
(if I configure it right) the cluster will ensure services will keep 
going if one of the cluster servers goes down. Thus the only weak point 
was the storage devices which I hope I have now strengthened by 
essentially implementing network raid across iSCSI and then presented as 
a single GFS.

I would really appreciate comments/advice/constructive criticism as I 
have really been learning much of this as I go.

Cheers, Mike

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