Metadata is often described as “data about data.” It is used to identify where files are, when they were created and by whom, how big they are and everything else about them. It is what a file system uses to find and organize data. If you have a global enterprise, you need global metadata.
The Problem With Legacy File Systems
Within an office or data center, a traditional NAS typically handles file metadata and keeps it consistent across a cluster of controllers. But what happens if a file needs to be shared with users in another office?
With a legacy file system, a file is usually copied. But now there are are two copies of the file, each with their own distinct metadata. Once that occurs you have to worry about different versions and have to reconcile differences manually to avoid losing data.
How Panzura CloudFS Uses Global Metadata
Panzura CloudFS™ consolidates enterprise data in the cloud. Every Panzura Freedom Filer in the file system has the metadata for the entire file system locally. Since every Filer has all of the metadata, every location can read any data from any location. With Panzura CloudFS there is no need to duplicate or mirror files between sites — there’s only one file system and one copy of the files.
Keep Metadata in Flash
When users browse folders and files on a PC, they are accessing file metadata. If accessing a network folder, it’s often slightly slower – but not necessarily because the network is slow. Metadata operations on a file server are a stream of random requests from different users, so the end-user’s experience depends on the system’s ability to respond to thousands of small random read requests.
In an enterprise-grade distributed cloud file system, there are two aspects to performance — local access speed and global synchronization speed.
Fast Local Access
For fast metadata access, the system has to be able to handle random IOPS workloads extremely quickly. It also needs to respond efficiently to sequential read requests when users try to open files. High IOPS and low latency are essential to file system performance.
Flash storage is about 100 times faster than legacy disk drives, and provides up to 400 times more IOPS. So even on a traditional array, it makes sense to put metadata on flash where user requests will be served quickly. Every major enterprise storage solution uses flash for metadata and caching.
Fast Global Synchronization
Flash storage makes sharing global metadata updates faster. If a user changes a file in one office, the metadata needs to update immediately in every other location so all users see the changes. Panzura patented technology keeps metadata synchronized in real time, in every Filer, in every location.