Oracle offers file management package for cloud

The Oracle Cloud File System repackages two Oracle technologies, a cluster file system and storage management software

Hoping to service the growing market for cloud computing systems, Oracle has packaged two file management software programs into a single integrated offering, called the Oracle Cloud File System, the company announced Monday.

The package "allows you to have a clustered file system built on automatic storage foundation," said Bob Thome, an Oracle director of product management. Such a clustered file system could be useful for organizations building internal clouds, or for testing cloud applications before dispatching them to an external hosting service, Thome said.

The programs included in the package are the ASM (Automatic Storage Management) Dynamic Volume Manager and the ASM Cluster File System. "Cloud FS is a new name for these technologies that are built on ASM," Thome said.

The ASM Cluster File System is a peer-to-peer-based file system that allows users to save material across a range of servers and to access that material from any one of those servers. In addition to being accessed directly through any node on the cluster, data can also be accessed by network file system protocols such as the NFS (Network File System) or Microsoft's CIFS (Common Internet File System).

The file system offers a number of advanced features possibly helpful for the administrator. An advanced permissions system allows administrators to specify when a file can be accessed and with what applications it can be accessed.

Files can also be tagged with attributes, such as the name of the application they are associated with. A user can, for instance, tag all the files that belong to one application and then perform some action against all those files, such as backing them up. "It's almost like a virtual directory, allowing you to perform some type of operation on a set of files that span multiple directories," Thome said.

While the Cluster File System can work as a standalone file system, it can also be overlaid with another file system, such as EXT3, NTFS (Network File System) or ZFS (Zetabyte File System), in order to get the benefits of those file systems as well. Users lose the ability to cluster data across servers with this approach, but still can enjoy other features offered by the Cluster File System.

The ASM Dynamic Volume Manager offers some helpful features as well. It also allows users to add more disks to a system without the need to rebalance data across all the available resources.

"You can grow the file system, shrink it, migrate it from one underlying storage pool to another without any sort of downtime," Thome said. The ASM also produces read-only snapshots of the file system.

Cloud FS is not the first cluster-file-system-based offering from Oracle. The company also manages the open-source Lustre project. Lustre, however, is more suitable for large HPC (high-performance computing) deployments consisting of 1,000 servers or more, Thome said. Cloud FS is better suited to smaller deployments, those around 25 nodes or so, though it has been tested to work with up to 100 nodes.

With Lustre, "you can do a lot of the same things, but it is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of configuration and setup. It's not the kind of thing you would do on a small scale," Thome said.

The Oracle Cloud FS can run on Sparc- and x86-based servers running Solaris or Linux, on PowerPC-based servers running IBM's AIX operating system, and on x86-based Windows servers.

The price for the Cloud FS package is US$5,000 per Oracle processor, Oracle's pricing mechanism for multicore processors.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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