Raytheon Company is a leading aerospace and defense company. The Missile Systems business unit is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon that designs, manufactures, and sells missile products. According to the company’s web site,
Missile Systems designs, develops, and produces missile systems for U.S. and allied forces, including air-to-air, strike, naval weapon systems, land combat missiles, guided projectiles, exoatmospheric kill vehicles, and directed energy weapons. (“Raytheon Company: Missile Systems,” 2010)
Over the last several years, Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) customers have begun to contractually require extensive simulations of products. The expanded simulation requirements provide Raytheon’s customers with improved assurance that products meet the parameters of the missions for which the missiles are designed. The expanded use of simulations has necessarily impacted Missile Systems’ storage environments and driven a change in storage strategies. Prior to the simulation requirements, RMS had a single vendor, NAS strategy. An examination of the existing storage environment at Missile Systems and the ways that the storage environments are being adapted to meet the new simulation requirements provides an instructive example of adapting storage strategies to meet new requirements.
The existing storage environment at RMS consists of a mixture of direct attached storage (DAS) and network attached storage (NAS). The DAS is typically mirrored or RAID5 disk attached to servers and used for operating system and application binaries. The NAS is utilized for storing data for users, groups, and applications (for example, database data files). The NAS data is mirrored to a remote site for disaster recovery purposes. All storage systems are backed up to tape, which is stored at an offsite facility. The NAS devices are connected to RMS’ servers and clients by 1 Gbps Ethernet network connections. The RMS data environment stores approximately 200 TB of information and increases roughly 40% per year. The data growth slightly exceeds the average annual information growth of 30% as reported by Lyman in 2003. (Lyman, et al., 2003)
Beginning in 2009, RMS Information Technology began adding thousands of cores of high performance compute capability per quarter to meet the increasing simulation requirements. The compute capability is deployed in Linux clusters with Infiniband networks connecting the cluster nodes. A head node connects to the cluster nodes via Infiniband and to the RMS network. Simulations are scheduled on the cluster through software running on the head node. The Linux clusters utilize the NAS solution to read and write simulation code and data. The addition of thousands of cores writing to the NAS in the first quarter of 2009, followed by additional cores in following quarters, presented a serious challenge to the scalability of the existing storage solution. The existing NAS products consist of two head units configured in a high availability cluster and attached to shelves of disks. Growth and scalability of the solution is limited to the expandability of the head unit chasses.
Meeting the challenges of the expanding simulation environment has required RMS to adapt their storage strategy to include next generation NAS solutions. As Apicella describes in his 2006 article, next generation NAS solutions leverage the same Infiniband networking and commodity scaling technologies as Linux clusters to deliver, “file systems 20 to 50 times larger and 15 to 20 times faster than most NAS solutions.” (Apicella, 2006) Unlike the head node plus disk shelf model, next generations NAS solutions provide expansion units that include storage, I/O, and CPU in a single chassis. The design allows for nearly linear scaling of performance and capacity.
The expanded simulation requirement imposed by RMS’ customers has driven the company to analyze next generation NAS solutions for the organization’s high performance computing environments. Before the simulation requirements, the RMS storage strategy emphasized a single vendor NAS solution. The challenges presented by adding thousands of cores of high performance compute capability per quarter has caused the company to adapt the storage strategy to include a next generation NAS solutions that provide more scalable performance.
Apicella, M. (2006). The New NAS: Fast, Cheap, & Scalable. InfoWorld, 28, 31-34.
Lyman, P., Varian, H. R., Good, C., Good, N., Jordan, L. L., & Pal, J. (2003). How Much Information? 2003. Berkeley, CA: University of California at Berkeley.
Raytheon Company: Missile Systems. (2010). Retrieved 2/27, 2010, from http://www.raytheon.com/businesses/rms/