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Monday morning present – Rainfinity FMA Virtual Edition

Ottobre 26, 2009Nat0 Comments

Here’s another Storage Virtual Appliance (joining the Celerra, Avamar, Atmos and many many others) – this time, EMC Rainfinity File Management Appliance – Virtual Edition (FMA/VE).  A big thank you to the EMC Rainfinity team for doing the right thing and opening this up, in particular Scott Hall.  Thanks Scott!

What is Rainfinity File Management Appliance?   It’s an appliance that can move files between filesystems transparently, enabling automated policy-driven tiering.  

For example, you can move files on a Celerra between Flash based tiers, FC based tiers, SATA based tiers, and in and out of deduped filesystems.    On the real product (not the current Virtual Edition – this is one difference between the virtual and physical versions…) you can also use it between Celerra and NetApp systems, and to and from NAS devices to Centera (gee – I wonder what could be the next cloudy tier? :-).

Why would you do it?   Most filesystems are mostly old stale data.  They consume all the storage costs as if they were actively used.   They are backed up every time a full filesystem backup is done.   For most customers – this can save a whackload of money, and make backups of any NAS environment work better.

If you’re interested, read on for details, downloads and documentation!

Filesystems studies (whether academic, or the assessments we do for our customers) almost always show that the overwhelming volume of content is VERY stale.   Simply archiving (if it can be done easily and transparently) is one of the easiest ways to drive efficiency both into the production and backup sides of the equation.


How Rainfinity FMA reclaim this stale storage?   Well, you can read here for more on  You can get more detail on Powerlink if you are a customer, partner, or EMCer/VMware employee – follow the breadcrumb trail: Home > Products > Software P-R > Rainfinity Family > Rainfinity File Management Appliance

But – in a  nutshell, as shown in the diagram below it’s an out-of-band device, scans the filesystem for files that meet policies, moves them to the other tier, and leaves a stub in the filesystem.


What does a stub look like to a user?   Like the screenshot below, it’s pretty transparent.   The file metadata (date/size) stay as they were before (though the attributes are marked as offline – which makes most backups skip the file – a side benefit) , the icon has a little offline note. 


What happens if someone deletes the stub?  Rainfinity FMA reports on deleted stubs and can recreate them.

In the words of a customer:


If you want to play, all you need is a VMware environment.  

Download the Rainfinity FMA/VE OVA here.  

Download the document (still draft, but has the core stuff) on how to set it up here.

Remember – THIS IS NOT SUPPORTED IN GENERAL, AND CERTAINLY NOT IN PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENTS.  That the quid pro-quo for a tool that we’re making freely and openly available, with no time-out.

You can use it with real Celerras, or just use the virtual Celerra Appliance – which you can download here.  Remember that the Celerra VSA thrives when you are using vSphere 4 with a CPU which supports Intel VT or AMD-V (follow the instructions here)

HOWTO 101: Installing and Basic EMC Rainfinity FMA/VE Configuration:


Download the high-rez video here.

HOWTO 201: Configuring Networks and VLANs with the EMC Rainfinity FMA/VE:

Download the high-rez video here.

HOWTO 301: Configuring the EMC Rainfinity FMA/VE with a Celerra for Fully Automated Storage Tiering on NAS

Download the high-rez video here.

BTW – if you’re reading this far…    Pause and think about this for a second.  Every EMC capability is now based on x86.  Our storage platforms are leveraging the Intel cost/performance curve, and some of them even can scale out horizontally out of those consistent “storage engine” x86 building blocks we use on all the main current platforms.   We’re taking all that stuff that either came on CDs or as physical generic 2U servers into virtual appliances.   Wouldn’t it be great if we used this to do mass-integration of our capabilities? :-)   Don’t get too excited – there’s a long, long way to go, but we’re getting there.