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« The » cluster

Hi all !

This will be my first post in english, so it can help others in system administration to understand clusters.

At the end of 2010, we were shocked to learn that Apple was discontinuing it’s xServe server product as of january 31st, 2011. Since we were about to refresh our server room that is based on several xServes server and Apple’s xSan shared filesystem, we were faced with the task of finding a replacement solution.

After server days of search and questions asked on different mailing lists, we ended up looking at Red Hat’s cluster suite with GFS for storage filesystem. After a while, we ordered 2 servers from a local supplier, they are Intel Server Plateform 1U rack server with a dual quad-core Xeon and 12 gigs of ram.

After some initial testing, it proved to be the solution to use. So, we ordered 6 more servers. Finaly, after serveral month of waiting, here are the servers inside the rack at the colo facility in Quebec city :

Server in the rack

And a look at the back :

Network and fiber channel connections

Each server has 3 network connections. One is meant to provide the service to the general public (orange cables), another one is more private and is for internal communication of the cluster itself (purple cables). The last one is for accessing the internal console via IP.

There is also a special connection, wich is fibre channel. FC is meant to provide access to remote storage. In our case, a rack enclosure full of harddrives.

That looks neet at the network switchs :

Network switch

In my next article, I will post details on the different type of clusters and what are their usage.

Categories: RedHat cluster