Parallel File System OrangeFS Starts to Build a Following

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 18, 2011

If you thought Lustre and GPFS were your only two choices for a high performance, scalable parallel file system, then you’ve probably never heard of OrangeFS. Described as a branch of the open source Parallel Virtual File System (PVFS), OrangeFS has been taken under the wing of Omnibond LLC, which is now providing commercial support for the software.

At SC11, there was a BoF session that discussed recent developments in OrangeFS and its future direction. We caught up with two of the session leaders, Walt Ligon, founding PVFS/OrangeFS Architect and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Boyd Wilson executive director at Omnibond, as well as Jim Bottum, CIO and vice provost for Computing & Information Technology at Clemson University, to talk about the file system’s unique attributes and some of its real-world use cases.

HPCwire: What is OrangeFS and what problem is it trying to solve that is not being addressed by other parallel file systems like Lustre and GPFS?

Walt Ligon: OrangeFS is a next-generation parallel file system based on PVFS for compute and storage clusters of the future. Its original charter — to complement high-performance computing for cutting-edge research in academic and government initiatives — is fast expanding into a versatile array of real-world applications.

The big benefit of OrangeFS over many similar parallel file systems comes down to two issues. First, it is one of the best performing parallel file systems available. It is based on the PVFS architecture, which is powerful and modular. This has allowed the design to evolve to incorporate distributed directories, optimized requests, a wide variety of interfaces and features. It is well designed.

Second, it is an extremely easy file system to build, install, get and keep running. This is hard to quantify, so we encourage anyone to download the tarball and try it. As another point of reference, PVFS has been used in dozens of educational, experimental, and research settings and formed the basis of many graduate theses. It is a very usable file system.

PVFS went through two generations as an experimental-turned-production file system. OrangeFS has been hardened through several years of development, testing, and support by a professional development team. Now it is being deployed for a range of applications with commercial support, though it is still open source.

A detailed list of features that are unique to OrangeFS is:

  • Unique object-based file data transfer, allowing clients to work on objects without the need to handle underlying storage details, such as data blocks
  • Unified data/metadata servers
  • Distribution of metadata across storage servers
  • Distribution of directory entries
  • Diverse Client Access Methods: Posix, MPI, Linux VFS, FUSE, Windows, WebDAV, S3, and REST interfaces.
  • Ability to configure storage parameters by directory or file, including stripe size, number of servers, replication, security
  • Virtualized storage over any Linux file system as underlying local storage on each connected server

HPCwire: What is the precise relationship between PVFS and OrangeFS?

Ligon: OrangeFS is the next evolution of PVFS, adding commercial grade services in addition to new features and future development. For many years PVFS development focused primarily on a few large scientific workloads. At the same time members of the community used PVFS as a research tool to experiment with different aspects of parallel file system design and implementation. OrangeFS is broadening that scope to include production quality service for a wider range of data intensive application areas. This has led to re-evaluating a number of assumptions that were valid for PVFS but may, or may not, be appropriate for these other workloads. Thus a new generation of development is under way to address these new scenarios.

Boyd Wilson: PVFS was supported by a small group of exceptional developers that were closely associated with the scientific applications that it was intended for. OrangeFS, in contrast is looking to attract a wide range of users, thus Omnibond has stepped up to provide commercial grade support and development practices. Just the same, OrangeFS is still 100% open-source, there are no commercial versions of the code, we intend to support the PVFS community as we always have. We continue to support the PVFS mailing lists and interact with people using OrangeFS as a development platform. The benefit to those customers who do pay for support is priority access to a professional support staff with experience and resources for supporting the software as well as access to the developers in order to guide improvements and new features. Omnibond sees this latter point as a major opportunity to partner with its customers in developing vertical product lines using OrangeFS as a base. No other parallel file system is offered with this philosophy.

HPCwire: How does OrangeFS differ from other parallel file systems? What do you see as its main advantages?

Wilson: OrangeFS was designed with a unified server that supports both distributed metadata and distributed file data. The PVFS architecture is modular, making it easy to develop and support new networks and new storage devices, to implement new requests to optimize specific operations, and to add new features. OrangeFS is 100 percent open source, it was developed by a diverse community of government, academic, and industry. There are no commercial or “pro” versions, every new development is returned to the community. The community is still encouraged to participate in the development.

Configurable features at the system, directory and file levels including striping parameters, distribution methods, replication support, security, etc. The PVFS protocol provides a rich set of operations that support distributed operations and is easily extendable. OrangeFS provides diverse client access methods including MPI-IO, Posix-like methods, Linux VFS, FUSE and Windows support, coming soon will be WebDAV, S3, REST.

OrangeFS supports standard out-of-the-box Linux kernels. Server and client code are implemented at the user level. The Linux kernel module used for VFS support is very simple and does not require kernel patches. OrangeFS is very easy to build, install, and begin operating, and very easy to keep operating.

HPCwire: What types of users would be most interested in the technology? Are there use cases out there in the wild?

Jim Bottum: HPC users on all size parallel systems can make use of OrangeFS. PVFS was initially rolled out to the very high-end computing community and generally very large I/O. Clemson University adopted PVFS, which was initially developed by Clemson faculty and students, as it was beginning to roll out HPC campus wide in 2007.

As the Clemson staff tuned PVFS for its user community both on campus and around the state, it was tuned work equally as well on smaller I/O workloads. Users with rendering and video server farms, would be ideal, as would financial and other data analytics firms. We have been working with users in the oil and gas industry and a broad range of science and engineering.

We have a large corporate client that uses OrangeFS extensively for data mining. They have over 700 distinct OrangeFS file systems they are operating. Here at Clemson we have a diverse range of users including bioinformatics, digital production, astrophysics, several humanities areas and cloud computing.

Other Universities and Research labs are migrating to OrangeFS from PVFS2 and have commented on how it has solved several of their problems in the past. The PVFS2 users list and community has over 260 members and file system research around the globe is accomplished with PVFS2, now OrangeFS as its base.

HPCwire: What types of support and services does Omnibond are offer for OrangeFS and what’s the pricing model?

Wilson: Commercial grade services provide what customers would expect from commercial software but better. When you pay for a typical software license you get access to the software, and support may be extra. With OrangeFS and Omnibond you have the software; when you buy a subscription you get access to support but it also pays for future development. With your subscription you have a say in what features you would like worked on in the future.

For commercial customers a 5-storage-server bundle starts at $25,000 and as quantities increase the price per storage server decreases. We also offer custom pricing for cloud customers who need more scalable options

HPCwire: What does the roadmap for OrangeFS look like for the next couple of years?

Wilson: We have just released several new client interfaces and a new distributed directories implementation. Distributed directories allows directory entries for a single directory to be spread across multiple servers so that multiple client processes can be accessing a very large directory in parallel.

For the last few years we have been developing a new access control implementation based on signed capabilities that will improve the security of OrangeFS significantly with capability based security, which will be the basis of future federated file system access. We hope to be releasing this sometime in the coming months. We have a new Posix-like user interface, and it will include a user-level configurable data cache in the works that should be released soon as well.

Much of our development right now is focused on redundancy, particularly redundant metadata. Today users rely on RAID systems at each server to manage disk failure. In future systems we plan to allow the servers to automatically replicate data and metadata across multiple servers. As part of this we are moving to a more flexible architecture for managing servers in a distributed environment, including not only replication but tiered migration and a much more dynamic object model.

Similar efforts are under way within many research groups; OrangeFS will hopefully contribute to and benefit from these efforts. Finally, on the long-range radar, there is a project under way including LSU, Indiana, and Clemson, to develop a new object-oriented IO model called PXFS, using OrangeFS as a platform and targeting Exascale systems.

HPCwire: If someone wanted to give OrangeFS a try, how would they go about it?

Ligon: They can download a tarball from the website or download our latest changes from our CVS repository. Instructions on how to install the system are found in the documentation tab of our site.

OrangeFS builds using autoconf, make, and gcc from GNU. Most of the code will build and run on any UNIX-based system, except the VFS module, which is Linux-specific. An experimental FUSE module is included. The main dependencies are BerkeleyDB and the proper kernel headers (if the VFS module is to be built). Some operating systems use an old version of BerkeleyDB. In that case, make sure you install and build a newer OrangeFS version — version 4.8.30 or higher.

OrangeFS can be built for a regular user in virtually any location and tested on one or more machines. Access to the “root” account is required to install and start the VFS module. The file system can be operated without the VFS module, but most users will want to install it.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Cray Introduces All Flash Lustre Storage Solution Targeting HPC

June 19, 2018

Citing the rise of IOPS-intensive workflows and more affordable flash technology, Cray today introduced the L300F, a scalable all-flash storage solution whose primary use case is to support high IOPS rates to/from a scra Read more…

By John Russell

Lenovo to Debut ‘Neptune’ Cooling Technologies at ISC

June 19, 2018

Lenovo today announced a set of cooling technologies, dubbed Neptune, that include direct to node (DTN) warm water cooling, rear door heat exchanger (RDHX), and hybrid solutions that combine air and liquid cooling. Lenov Read more…

By John Russell

World Cup is Lame Compared to This Competition

June 18, 2018

So you think World Cup soccer is a big deal? While I’m sure it’s very compelling to watch a bunch of athletes kick a ball around, World Cup misses the boat because it doesn’t include teams putting together their ow Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Banks Boost Infrastructure to Tackle GDPR

As banks become more digital and data-driven, their IT managers are challenged with fast growing data volumes and lines-of-businesses’ (LoBs’) seemingly limitless appetite for analytics. Read more…

IBM Demonstrates Deep Neural Network Training with Analog Memory Devices

June 18, 2018

From smarter, more personalized apps to seemingly-ubiquitous Google Assistant and Alexa devices, AI adoption is showing no signs of slowing down – and yet, the hardware used for AI is far from perfect. Currently, GPUs Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray Introduces All Flash Lustre Storage Solution Targeting HPC

June 19, 2018

Citing the rise of IOPS-intensive workflows and more affordable flash technology, Cray today introduced the L300F, a scalable all-flash storage solution whose p Read more…

By John Russell

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Machine Learning Hype Cycle and HPC

June 14, 2018

Like many other HPC professionals I’m following the hype cycle around machine learning/deep learning with interest. I subscribe to the view that we’re probably approaching the ‘peak of inflated expectation’ but not quite yet starting the descent into the ‘trough of disillusionment. This still raises the probability that... Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Xiaoxiang Zhu Receives the 2018 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC

June 13, 2018

Xiaoxiang Zhu, who works for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Technical University of Munich (TUM), was awarded the 2018 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC for her outstanding contributions in the field of high performance computing (HPC) in Europe. Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

U.S Considering Launch of National Quantum Initiative

June 11, 2018

Sometime this month the U.S. House Science Committee will introduce legislation to launch a 10-year National Quantum Initiative, according to a recent report by Read more…

By John Russell

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale USA – Continuing to Move Forward

June 6, 2018

The end of May 2018, saw several important events that continue to advance the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) for the United Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Exascale for the Rest of Us: Exaflops Systems Capable for Industry

June 6, 2018

Enterprise advanced scale computing – or HPC in the enterprise – is an entity unto itself, situated between (and with characteristics of) conventional enter Read more…

By Doug Black

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Sympo Read more…

By Staff

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google I/O 2018: AI Everywhere; TPU 3.0 Delivers 100+ Petaflops but Requires Liquid Cooling

May 9, 2018

All things AI dominated discussion at yesterday’s opening of Google’s I/O 2018 developers meeting covering much of Google's near-term product roadmap. The e Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HP Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Part One: Deep Dive into 2018 Trends in Life Sciences HPC

March 1, 2018

Life sciences is an interesting lens through which to see HPC. It is perhaps not an obvious choice, given life sciences’ relative newness as a heavy user of H Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Pledges First Commercial Nervana Product ‘Spring Crest’ in 2019

May 24, 2018

At its AI developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Intel embraced a holistic approach to AI and showed off a broad AI portfolio that includes Xeon processors, Movidius technologies, FPGAs and Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processors (NNPs), based on the technology it acquired in 2016. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Charts Two-Dimensional Quantum Course

April 26, 2018

Quantum error correction, essential for achieving universal fault-tolerant quantum computation, is one of the main challenges of the quantum computing field and it’s top of mind for Google’s John Martinis. At a presentation last week at the HPC User Forum in Tucson, Martinis, one of the world's foremost experts in quantum computing, emphasized... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This