Increasing our storage provision

During the summer we started getting tight on storage availability. It seems that usage on our home directory areas constantly increases – people never delete stuff (me included!). We were running most of our stuff through our Veritas Cluster from a pair of Sun 3511 arrays and a single 3510 array. Between them (taking mirroring in to account) we had around 3TB of space.

Now, it’s a well known fact with maintenance contracts that the cost goes up over time (parts get more scarce and more costly). So we did the sums on the cost we were paying for the old arrays and realised that over a sensible lifetime period it was cheaper to replace them. So we got a pair of Sun 2540 arrays with a 12TB capacity each.

Since our data is absolutely precious we mirror these arrays and use RAID 6. This gives us just under 10 TB of usable space, which is a fair amount more than we started with.

The next stage was bring this online. Because we use Veritas Volume Manager and the Veritas File System we were able to do this almost transparently. The new arrays were provisioned and added to the relevant diskgroups. The volumes were then mirrored on to them and then the filesystems expanded. Finally the old arrays were disconnected. All of this was done without any downtime or interruption to our users or services.

I said almost transparently though. It seems it’s not possible to change the VCS coordinator disks without taking the diskgroups offline and back online (this might be improved in VCS 5). So I rebooted the whole cluster last weekend and it was all finished.

The problem with all this clever technology? Nobody knows we’ve done it. After weeks of work we grew the filesystems just before they completely filled and without any noticable downtime. We’d probably get more gratitude if we’d let it fill up first 😉

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