Meet the Devs – Edinburgh

The fourth and final instalment of the 2015 UK Spectrum Scale User Group “Meet the Devs” series recently took place in Edinburgh, and I had the privilege of helping Simon Thompson and Joe Taylor lead the discussions.

Not only was this my first “Meet the Devs” meeting, but it was also my first time spending any real time in Edinburgh (as is the case with most places I have visited lately). Joe and I took the first flight out of Manchester the morning of the event, and after a short taxi ride, we were at the University of Edinburgh.

As Simon mentioned, we had a mixed group of attendees – some new faces and some familiar faces. Some travelled a very short distance and one of the attendees flew in from Germany to meet and share ideas with us.

With the 4.2 release pending, the goal of the day was to show the new and improved features and get feedback about these topics from the group.

Joe started the meeting off by walking through the new Spectrum Scale GUI. Given that the group are all experienced Spectrum Scale users, I was pleased to see how much feedback we received from them. The feedback was focused on usability, and improving the flexibility of the GUI. One important suggestion was to ensure the new advanced features are in the GUI to help promote GUI adoption with our more experienced users. Additionally, they suggested that the GUI should include the ability to run user-defined tasks, which would allow for a more flexible infrastructure. I enjoyed a trip down memory lane when discussing how some of the features we take for granted in pSeries, like the SMIT panels, are still a very important tool for administrating a system. The ability to bring the power of this tool to a more accessible platform like the GUI was of great interest for our group.

The group had many other comments on what we can do to improve the GUI, and I was specifically reminded at the end of the meeting to not forget about the timestamps in the dialog box! Something as simple as the placement of the timestamps in the dialog box generated a 30-minute conversation.

The GUI conversation took us to our lunch break – which was extended due to a mix-up in the lunch order. After a few phone calls, the pizza and soft drinks arrived, and we all were able to recharge for the second half of the meeting.

After lunch I walked through a few of the new Spectrum Scale features from the command line. We started with an introduction to the mmces commands, followed by a quick overview of the protocols, then we moved on to the Quality of Service (QoS) and compression features.

The SMB integration into the protocol nodes was of interest to the group as well as the interaction between NFS and SMB on the same filesets. The group was also interested in hearing about the scalability of the protocol nodes as well as the number of supported connections.

The main discussion around QoS was around how to implement and best use cases for QoS. I demonstrated how to configure the feature, what commands are considered maintenance, and how one would go about determining the amount of IOPs a maintenance task should receive.

We then moved to compression – where we discussed the details surrounding compression and how it would interact with traditional backup and retention policies. The workflows of offloading the data to HSM and other storage media triggered the remainder of the conversation.

I’d like to echo Simon’s appreciation to Orlando for hosting us, and many thanks to Simon for helping to organize the meeting and guiding us through the day. I know Joe and I were able to bring back many useful insights back the development lab, and I hope the attendees were able to gain a quick view into the new features in release 4.2.