Solid Resources Regarding RAID Technology and Performance

Posted on 2014-08-11
Last Modified: 2014-08-13
Hi All,

I am attempting to gain much more than a cursory understanding of the features, benefits, and drawbacks of all standard forms of RAID technology (hardware and software) with respect to performance, availability, and integrity.  I would include in this an interest in the latest technologies available that provide innovations that look beyond traditional RAID.

I have done quite a bit of basic reading via Google (and some introductory storage text books), but with respect to online blogs in particular, it seems that some engineer will write a specific article stating one thing about RAID (RAID 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, or 60 for instance) and then the flame wars begin on the blog comments with one person claiming that the article is completely wrong, and another claiming that the first two people are completely wrong, and on and on.  There seems to be somewhat of a lack of solid and consistent knowledge regarding this important topic in the blogosphere.  

So I was hoping some of the experts here might be able to point me toward some excellent free online resources that delve into this topic in depth, even to the point of explaining concepts with mathematical formulas and equations if necessary.  I would prefer to have as much information as possible available and then be able to sort out the most critical items and commit them to my knowledge and understanding.  I am hoping to shatter some of the uninformed and even ignorant opinions I might have based on misinformation or misunderstandings on my part.

I am not asking for basic articles that explain what RAID is or how it helps by providing fault tolerance and increased performance.  I was really hoping there might be some detailed white papers (or even a library of such information) available that dig in deep at a conceptual and technical level and demand the full attention and comprehension on the part of the reader.

I am by no means a storage engineer, but even in more generalized IT, I believe that this is too significant and important a topic for IT professionals to base their decisions on rules of thumb they might have developed 15-20 years ago.

Thanks in advance for any information.

Best regards,

Question by:KPI1
    LVL 46

    Accepted Solution

    We'll I've got over 20 years designing RAID controllers, firmware, appliances and such and there is a lot there.  Biggest advice is that all the really good information is under non-disclosure.   (But you're not ready for that anyway)

    But here are some sneaky places to learn internals w/o getting a NDA

    1.  - View RAID and storage-related patents.   Great, great site.   You may even find my patent there ;)

    2. examine internals of  solaris ZFS software RAID, LINUX software RAID (md driver system).

    Both will give you an excellent perspective.   Then choose various controllers and look for controller configuration manuals.

    Author Comment

    Hi Dlethe,

    Thank you for your informative response.  Your explanation about the NDAs makes sense and certainly helps me to understand why there is an inconsistent level of understanding of these technologies among various engineers.

    Based on your recommendations, I definitely intend to peruse the controller configuration manuals for the vendors my company uses to supply clients with DAS, NAS, and SAN storage.  I am also highly intrigued by Solaris software RAID and Linux software RAID and will see what I can dig up there.  I expect I will need to sure up the foundational knowledge concerning RAID in general before moving on to these more advanced solutions.

    I will add to my links and see what I find there as well.

    If you don't mind, I would like to leave this ticket open a few more days before assigning a solution just to see what other information I may be able to collect in terms of resources and white papers.

    Thank you again for your time!

    LVL 46

    Expert Comment

    Great - final words, everything matters.  HDD vs SSD, if you are single path or multi path (load balancing), reads vs. writes, I/O sizes, performance and redundancy levels when healthy and degraded.

    So when you see speeds and feeds, be sure to look at qualifiers.  Think  outside the box, one can do a RAID10 with 3 drives, for example, and it could very well be the best solution for some corner cases.

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