May 12, 2014

Dynamic Disk Pools Optimize Data Protection for Big Data Environments

In high-performance computing (HPC) and other big-data environments, success depends on the speed at which data is acquired, processed, and distributed. These environments use staggering amounts of data that can cripple most storage systems and break traditional architectures. For these sites, the ability to keep a system up and running at a consistently high level has displaced maximum raw performance as the most critical storage requirement.

The Challenge

Big-data repositories often have thousands of drives supporting a parallel file system, and with that many drives, failures are inevitable. However, as drive capacities have increased, the limitations of traditional RAID technologies have begun to impact the availability and responsiveness of these big data environments. RAID rebuild times on large-capacity drives can range from 18 hours for a completely idle system to multiple days or even a week for an active system. And because idle time is often rare to non-existent, drive failures and the subsequent rebuild process can negatively affect every application that needs access to the data repository for an extended period of time, with performance decreases of up to 40%.

NetApp SANtricity Dynamic Disk Pools (DDP) provides enormous value to sites with vast amounts of data supporting complex application processing. Its next generation technology minimizes the performance impact of drive failures and can return the system to optimal condition up to 8 times faster than traditional RAID with protection restoration up to 72 times faster. This powerful combination helps E-Series storage systems deliver consistently high performance and maximum productivity for big data user communities that rely on 24/7 data access.

Dynamic Disk Pools distribute data, parity information, and spare capacity across a pool of drives. Its intelligent algorithm defines which drives are used for segment placement, making sure data is fully protected. And its flexible disk pool sizing provides optimal utilization of any configuration for maximum performance, protection, and efficiency.

Consistent Performance

Large-scale compute environments demand multiple gigabytes per second of bandwidth. For these sites, a drop in performance means that jobs run long or don’t complete in their allotted window. Dynamic Disk Pools deliver and maintain exceptional performance under all conditions, whether optimal or under the stress of a drive failure.

DDP minimizes the performance impact in multiple dimensions. By distributing parity information and spare capacity throughout the disk pool, DDP is able to use every drive in the pool for the intensive process of rebuilding a failed drive. This dynamic rebuild process is the reason that DDP can return the system to an optimal condition up to eight times faster than traditional RAID. What’s more, the ability to distribute the rebuild workload across hundreds of drives means that the performance impact of drive reconstruction for big data applications can be minimized.

Extreme Versatility

Maximum performance is often at odds with efficiency. High-performance applications require an optimized stripe size that typically doesn’t align with the number of drives in the storage system. The result is either unused spindles, non-optimized stripe sizes, or the elimination of hot spare drives. Because of its extreme versatility, Dynamic Disk Pools are able to address wide-ranging application requirements without sacrificing efficiency. Drives can be configured into one large disk pool to maximize simplicity and protection, or into multiple smaller pools to maximize performance for clustered file systems. Different drive types, including SSDs, can be used to create storage tiers, such as performance pools and capacity pools. Disk pools can also reside in the same system with traditional RAID groups. And flexible disk pool sizing—ranging from just 11 drives up to a full configuration— means an optimized fit for any configuration.


The time is right for a new generation of data protection to support the massive data sets and round-the-clock processing demands of big-data environments. Backed by NetApp’s 20+ years of storage experience and with more than 750,000 systems in the field, E-Series storage systems with Dynamic Disk Pools technology deliver the combination of high performance, high reliability, and data availability required in today’s big data environments.

For more information, view this short video overview of NetApp Dynamic Disk Pools.


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