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Huawei OceanStor 2800 v3: Converged, Efficient, Reliable

Safe City projects are being rolled out worldwide to reduce crime and make communities safer. As a core component of these projects, the video surveillance solution is changing from SD to HD to offer the clarity needed while the number of monitored video streams and required time of data retention continues to increase exponentially. To address these demanding requirements, most solution providers implement direct or forwarding storage of video streams on customers' IP SANs. However, this practice has its inherited shortcomings: The forwarding storage mode requires a huge number of servers to forward requests while the direct storage mode needs a massive stack of storage devices to record the huge amounts of HD video data.

To shatter the conventional restraints in video surveillance, Huawei launched a revolutionary converged virtualization solution, which adopts a proprietary converged storage virtualization platform based on IP SAN to reduce the number of servers, optimize data storage paths to increase the number of HD video streams processed by each device, and deliver a virtual machine (VM) cluster technology to protect video continuity. With all these leading-edge technologies, the Huawei solution is the best-in-class choice for independent software vendors (ISVs) in provisioning their services for Safe City projects.

Hyper-converged storage virtualization platform

Holding fast to its product design concept of guaranteed data reliability, Huawei constantly ups its investments in full-dimensional reliability assurance technologies. Ground-breaking technologies include:

  • Dual-controller redundancy and power failure protection, eliminating data loss in the event of an unexpected failure
  • Hot-swappable modules, achieving non-disruptive capacity expansion and parts replacement
  • Disk technologies (bad sector repair, pre-copy, anti-corrosion, and shock-proofing), reducing the disk failure rate by more than 50%

As a technology trailblazer, Huawei incorporates the industry's first kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) platform into its converged virtualization solution, which is capable of converging storage and applications as well as storage and computing resources.

 Converged virtualization architecture scenario

Figure 1: Architecture of the converged virtualization solution

As shown in Figure 2, KVM functions as a hypervisor running in the Host OS Kernel. It is a physical simulator for CPU, memory, and I/Os, and monitors the operating status of VMs. Qemu is a process running in the Host OS User. It integrates the features of KVM and kernel, and simulates CPU, memory, and I/O hardware for Guest OS. The storage module also runs in the Host OS Kernel and delivers such functions as RAID creation, LUN creation, and LUN mapping. Guest OS and Host OS exchange data through the internal data paths. The two controllers provide a VM clustering function.

Huawei's converged virtualization solution breaks down the technical barriers in conventional direct storage approaches for video streams, allows video surveillance software from different vendors to centrally operate on the Guest OS, and delivers direct storage for popular stream media protocols like RTSP, ONVIF, PSIA, SIP, GB, and T28181. The solution also physically isolates storage equipment from the virtual platform, thereby eliminating nearly every impact from failure affecting other components while significantly enhancing the reliability in direct storage.

Efficient data paths

Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) is a popular TCP/IP-based protocol used for establishing and managing IP SANs and linking storage devices and front-end hosts. By encapsulating and carrying SCSI commands over IP networks, iSCSI facilitates block-level data transfer among high-speed data storage networks. SCSI adopts a client/server structure that connects adjacent devices with SCSI buses.

This protocol allows for encapsulation and reliable transfer of massive amounts of data between hosts (called initiators) and storage devices (targets) over TCP/IP networks.

iSCSI protocol flowchart

Figure 2: iSCSI protocol flowchart

On the converged virtualization platform, VMs need to exchange data with storage devices. If the protocol flowchart is not optimized for VMs, data is written to VMs after it is captured by front-end cameras. In this scenario, the VMs require four steps to forward the data to storage devices over iSCSI (see Figure 2):

  • iSCSI encapsulates TCP/IP data packets.
  • Physical network ports send data packets.
  • Physical network ports receive data packets.
  • iSCSI decapsulates data packets.

This conventional approach leads to two problems: A time consuming data exchange process and VMs and storage devices occupy many physical network ports and disable them from providing external data services. 

SCSI over memory schematic

Figure 3: Working mechanism of SCSI over memory

To cope with these two issues, Huawei's converged virtualization solution offers a SCSI over Memory (vSCSI) technology for optimizing data paths between VMs (Initiators) and storage devices (Targets). This technology virtualizes one SCSI device for Initiators (front end) and one for Targets (back end). All commands sent to front end are automatically forwarded to back end, which then interconnects with Targets. At the same time, Initiators share the data pages in its memory with Targets, so no physical data needs to be copied. This revised data exchange process relieves the needs to encapsulate TCP/IP data packets and forward data through physical ports, thereby greatly improving the exchange performance between Initiators and Targets.

According to the test data provided by Huawei Storage Lab, under the same test conditions, vSCSI, in comparison with iSCSI, delivers higher network bandwidths, enhanced stability, higher CPU and disk utilization rates, and reduced I/O latency. Summing up the main benefits, the converged virtualization solution employs the vSCSI technology to optimize front-end and back-end data exchange paths, free up physical network ports, and significantly increase the number of HD video surveillance streams that can be processed.

Feature comparisons 

Figures 4-7: Feature comparisons

VM cluster technology

The majority of platform software suites provided by video surveillance ISVs are standalone, and only a few of them can support the cluster mode. This makes front-end servers prone to single points of failures, which may lead to denial of video data recording services for several hours or even days. The converged virtualization solution combines a dual-controller redundancy architecture and a VM cluster technology to realize the cluster function for the video surveillance platform software. Therefore, if one controller encounters an unexpected fault, VMs and LUNs ascribed to this controller will be automatically taken over by the other controller, avoiding impact to continuity of video surveillance services.

LUN and VM controller layout 

Figure 8: LUN 1 and VM 1 on Controller, 1 LUN 2 and VM 2 on Controller 2

As shown in Figure 8, LUN 1 and VM 1 are ascribed to Controller 1 while LUN 2 and VM 2 are ascribed to Controller 2. LUN 1 is mapped to VM 1 while LUN 2 is mapped to VM 2 for video data reads and writes. If Controller 1 encounters a fault, the ascribed controller on LUN 1 is switched to Controller 2, and then the system notifies the virtual platform to restart VM 1 on Controller 2. After the VM startup, video surveillance services are also started and will be restored within two to three minutes. After Controller 1 comes back online, the system notifies the virtual platform to start a VM hot migration process, which switches the ascribed controller of VM 1 and LUN 1 back to Controller 1. The hot migration process does not cause any interruption to video surveillance services.

Core component of converged virtualization solution

Huawei OceanStor 2800 v3 is a next-gen video surveillance storage array designed for end-point surveillance centers. It is built on Huawei's latest v3 storage array architecture that delivers excellent capabilities in IP SAN access, scalability, reliability, and performance.

The OceanStor 2800 v3 further incorporates VMs to make full use of the computing resource of storage controllers and migrate third-party applications that once ran in physical machines to storage controllers, observably reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) and physical footprint.

Huawei's proprietary RAID 2.0+ technology is also employed in the OceanStor 2800 v3. By dynamically balancing workloads among all disks in a disk domain and abandoning the use of hot spare disks, the OceanStor 2800 v3 achieves a low dual-disk failure rate, improved performance, and simplified management.

Working mechanism of OceanStor 2800 v3 native VM technology

The OceanStor 2800 v3 uses a resident VM technology to create an independent domain to accommodate storage software running on controllers and to allow VMs to carry third-party applications. This technology realizes superb isolation between Huawei and third-party software, and fully utilizes the excess computing resources of the storage array. Let's have a detailed look on how the OceanStor 2800 v3 delivers direct storage of video streams:

Applications receive video surveillance data: Third-party video surveillance applications running on VMs receive video data captured by IP cameras over a GE/10 GE IP network. Each network port serves a specific purpose to eliminate service conflicts. Each controller supports a maximum of 12 GE network ports or 8 10 GE network ports.

Writes video surveillance data to storage: The VMs exchange data with the storage software domain through high-speed internal memory channels (using DDR3-1600 memory bars). Compared with conventional IP network-based data exchanges, the memory channels deliver higher performance and avoid the complexities associated with physical connections.

Writes video surveillance data to disks: Compared with its predecessor S2600T that uses 6 Gbit/s SAS connections, the OceanStor 2800 v3 adopts the next-gen 12 Gbit/s SAS interconnects in its back end, which enables higher performance and lower latency in video data reads and writes.

Mirrors video surveillance data: The OceanStor 2800 v3 utilizes a dual-controller architecture to reinforce data reliability, and advanced PCIe 3.0 mirror channels are established between the two controllers, providing a bi-directional bandwidth of up to 8 GB/s.

Furthermore, the virtualization technology offers superior compatibility and isolation capabilities, allowing the storage, forwarding, and indexing services in the video surveillance component to be deployed in storage controllers, reducing TCO.

High-density disk enclosures

In a high-density disk enclosure, the conventional horizontal disk slots are replaced with vertical slots, and the size of its expansion board is reduced to half that of a traditional expansion board, which means more enclosure space is reserved for disks. To improve heat dissipation, the air channel design and fan speed control policies are optimized, which also reduce noise and power consumption. With the revised design, a 4 U high-density disk enclosure can accommodate a maximum of seventy-five 3.5-inch disks.

A high-density disk enclosure has the following advantages over a conventional 4 U 3.5-inch disk enclosure:

  • 3-fold increase in disk density
  • 2-fold improvement in performance for every space unit (1 U)
  • 20% reduction to operating expense (OPEX) for every disk
  • 50% reduction in power consumption for every disk

Conclusion

Direct storage technology for video streams is being widely applied in the video surveillance industry. Holding fast to the "Being Integrated" strategy, Huawei has launched a converged virtualization solution to help video surveillance ISVs enhance their core competence with eliminations to data loss, full-dimensional reliability assurance, improved performance, and reduced power consumption, among the many other benefits in OceanStor 2800 v3.

Huawei OceanStor 2800 v3: video cloud converged storage system

Huawei OceanStor 2800 v3 is a next-gen high-performance virtualization storage device developed for the video surveillance arena. Its storage controllers inherit the IP SAN access capability and also accommodate a virtualization platform to fully utilize the computing resources. In this way, the video applications that were deployed on physical servers can now be migrated to storage controllers for operating. Its outstanding features including open and direct storage of video streams, fast video aggregation, and data protection. It can easily integrate with ISV service platforms to build a large-scale video cloud storage system, significantly reducing users' TCO.

Product exteriors

Front view of OceanStor 2800 v3

Rear view of OceanStor 2800 v3

Onboard interfaces

  • 4 x GE per controller
  • 4 x 8 Gbit/s FC per controller

Interface modules

  • 2 x hot-swappable interface modules
  • Interface types: 8 Gbit/s or 16 Gbit/s FC, GE, 10 GE, TOE, 10 GE FCoE, 12 Gbit/s SAS

Power/BBU/Fan three-in-one modules

  • 1+1 redundancy
  • Conversion efficiency up to 94%
  • -48 V DC and 240 V high-voltage DC

SAS expansion interfaces

  • 2 x SAS expansion ports per controller

System architecture

  • Up-to-date Pangea hardware platform
  • Integration of controllers and disks in a 2 U enclosure
  • Active-active dual controllers

Highlights

High performance and scalability

  • Industry-leading hardware structure
  • Host interfaces supporting multiple protocols
  • PCIe 3.0 high-speed bus and SAS 3.0 high-speed I/O channels
  • Hot-swappable I/O interface modules
  • 4 x hot-swappable interface modules + 2 x onboard interface modules in every 2 U space

Open and virtual converged platform

  • The only proprietary virtual storage platform in the industry
  • Convergence of computing and storage for open and direct storage of video streams
  • Most flexible configuration template

Excellent efficiency and ease of use

  • Optimized data access paths
  • Simple management and maintenance tool

Robust reliability and usability

  • Image and video restoration
  • Fast data recovery
  • Full redundancy design
  • Built-in BBUs and data coffers

Intelligent quality of service (QoS)

  • QoS protection at multiple layers
  • Tailored policy priorities

Energy conservation

  • 16-level fan speed control
  • CPU frequency control

Major specifications

Model

OceanStor 2800 v3

Hardware

Number of controllers

Dual controllers (a 2 U enclosure with integration of disks and controllers)

Cache size

96 GB

Type of disk enclosures

Disk enclosure (3.5-inch disks x 24): 30 high-density

Disk enclosures (3.5-inch disks x 75): 10

Max. number of disks

750

Types of disks

4000 GB 7.2 k rpm NL-SAS disks (3.5-inch)

4000 GB 7.2 k rpm SATA disks (3.5-inch)

RAID levels

0, 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, and 50

Max. number of front-end host ports

16 x 10 GE or 24 x GE

Max. number of back-end I/O ports

12 x 4 x 12 Gbit/s SAS

Software

Video input/output capability

384-lane HD (1080P) recording and 128-lane HD playback

Max. number of VMs

6