Monday, May 08, 2006

You spin me right round, like a record baby, right round....

Okay, so maybe that song lyric from Dead or Alive absolutely dates me, but what the hey.... If they can play it at Studio54 last week I must not be that old yet :-)

The reason that song has stuck in my head lately is that I was talking over the weekend to a friend of mine that works at a closed-source networking company and debating the merits of the OFR software on various hardware platforms. One of the issues that he brought up is the refrain of "you can't have spinning media in a router - the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is far too low!" Since he and I were indoctrinated into this religious philosophy together in our past, by default I tend to agree with him. I think some folks that produce spinning media would argue otherwise, let's take the MTBF concerns at face value for now.

We've been looking at spinning media (disk drive) alternatives for the OFR software and think that compact flash could serve as an interesting storage device. The MTBF specifications for most compact flash drives appears to be millions of hours based on information I read on the SanDisk site. And, this media appears pretty cheap (under $100 per GB). So, imagine an OFR using compact flash to hold our binary image (or multiple give the size of the compact flash cards available) that loads into memory at startup. For extensive logging, if the OFR software could write to a traditional hard disk, but not rely on this spinning media for operation, this might be ideal.

Your thoughts on compact flash for holding our boot image? Seems like a natural choice and one being used by others in the industry.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Joel said...

How many production severs run spinning media? Don't database systems run off spinning media?

What's so special about a router?
Aren't most router infrastructures setup to be redundant?

With hot swap RAID 0 showing up on desktop-class systems, and using fancier RAID 5 on server class ahrdware etc, the spinning media arguement holds less and less water.

I believe the root complaint has always been -- avoid single points of failure.. And I believe that can be met with quality server-class hardware.

All that said, it's nice that Vyatta's OFR image is small and can fit on a sub $100 compact flash.

Is it a router running unix or a unix server performing routing fuctions?

The "router heads" are still having the same discussions that they had 5-10 years ago. The "unix server heads" have meanwhile taken over.



At 10:47 PM, Blogger Allan Leinwand said...

I absolutely agree! Still, networking folks seems to be convinced that disks in network devices = bad. That's why the OFR supports a compact flash file system for images and configurations. Let's see what happens :)


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