Pioneering Efficient File Management: PowerFlex 4.5 Global Name Space Setup and Walkthrough

In August 2022, PowerFlex introduced file services with the launch of PowerFlex 4.0 software, now a full-fledged unified storage solution that is software-defined at its heart. It has come a long way since PowerFlex was first introduced in the market in 2012 as ScaleIO, offering a software-defined storage (block) solution.

To summarize, these are the file features that were delivered in PowerFlex 4.0 providing the typical features that are sufficient for most customers to begin deploying file services using their existing PowerFlex systems. For further information, please refer to my previous post on the following features on PowerFlex 4.0. here


PowerFlex 4.5, Whats new ?

  • Itzik Reich has already outlined in excellent detail and overview of PowerFlex 4.5 new feature and enhancements here .
  • Read the Dell solution brief here and the official blog announcement here
  • Read the technicial overview here 

This blog outlines in detail the implementation and walkthrough of the Global Namespace (Single Name Space, whatever you wat to call it!) introduced in PowerFlex 4.5


While not a novel concept, this feature brings renewed significance by addressing a challenge that’s been quickly recognized, propelling file management into a new era of efficiency.

The Challenge: Breaking Free from Flat File Structures

In its first iteration, PowerFlex 4.0 file architecture was organized as a flat structure, identified by unique yet often complex identifiers such as inode numbers or file handles. While this approach worked adequately for small-scale operations, it does however not scale for larger organizations grappling with extensive file collections and numerous users.

To illustrate, prior to the consolidation of file system namespaces, consider a scenario where two servers operated independently, each representing its isolated namespace. For instance, there were \serverA\share1 and \serverB\share2, each containing various files. Users were required to access each of these namespaces separately, leading to growing challenges as the organization’s number of namespaces increased. (two separate mount points to be managed, and so on………)

Global namespaces are essential for simplifying storage management and identifying multiple network-based file systems. A global namespace (GNS) helps in managing distributed file storage and allows users to access and file data from anywhere, regardless of physical location. It can be used with file systems from various sources, like NFS or SMB.

Introducing the Single Name Space (SNS)

The release of PowerFlex 4.5 marks a pivotal moment for file management through the introduction of the Single Name Space (SNS). Driven by the feedback and needs of customers, PowerFlex recognized the potential of this innovation to redefine how files are organized and accessed.

Reaping the Benefits:

  • Streamlined File Management: The SNS feature ushers in an era of simplicity. Managing extensive collections of files becomes remarkably easier as all files fall neatly into a unified directory structure. The previous  flat structure is replaced with an organized system.
  • Elevated Accessibility: SNS dramatically simplifies the task of locating and accessing files. A standardized naming and organizational system streamlines the process of finding and retrieving files, saving both time and effort.
  • Consistent Naming Conventions: SNS enforces uniform naming conventions for files and directories, eradicating confusion and enhancing overall organization and readability. This fosters a coherent and user-friendly file environment.
  • Centralized Management: The introduction of SNS empowers organizations with centralized file management. Administrators gain oversight of the entire file system from a central standpoint, mitigating the risks associated with duplication and data loss.
  • Seamless Collaboration: Collaboration takes a significant leap forward with SNS. The unified namespace provides a consistent platform for multiple users to collaborate seamlessly, regardless of where files are physically located. Sharing files and collaborative work become more efficient and frictionless.

Unleashing Scalability and Accessibility:

PowerFlex 4.5 doesn’t stop at just a unified namespace. It introduces a groundbreaking enhancement: the ability to create and virtualize a single namespace. This innovation means that multiple NAS Servers or NAS systems can be created, all accessible through a single namespace. This leap in scalability translates to a capacity increase of up to 8 times compared to traditional single namespace setups. This scalability empowers organizations to handle larger workloads, accommodate future growth, and effortlessly adapt to evolving data demands.

Embracing SNS: A Glimpse of PowerFlex 4.5

For those keen on embracing the transformative power of the Single Name Space in PowerFlex 4.5, outlined are screenshots guiding you through the process of creating SNS or Global Name Space (GNS).

1. Create NAS Servers


2. For the purpose of illustration, we will create 3 difference NAS servers on 3 different NAS nodes.

3. Next, create a global name space

4. Select Namespace for NFS follow by Next

5. Choose any NAS server follow by Next

6. With 4.5, the same pool used for Block can be used for file as well. So, proceed to choose the same storage pool, SP-01. Give a name for File system and indicate the size of the file system require. Next.

7. Provide a name for Namespace

8. Verify the summary and proceed to create Namespace.

9. Namespace created and displayed. Similarly, file system and export will be created as part of the Global namespace creation process.

10. At this point, create a mount point and the Global namespace can be mounted as shown.

11. Create 2 more File systems and exports

12. Will proceed to link these 2 new file systems to the earlier created Global namespace demo.

13. Once the 2 file systems are linked to the Global namespace demo, the end user client will automatically be updated with the new directory structure showing the 2 new file systems without the end user doing any update to end user client.

14. If there is any changes, the storage admin can always modify the link to the global namespace by clicking on modify.

15. Similarly, the link can be removed by clicking Remove.

16. Once it is removed from the PowerFlex cluster, it will automatically be removed from the end user client as shown.

17. Last but not least, the Global namespace can be removed once it is no longer in use.

In conclusion, the introduction of the Single Name Space feature in PowerFlex 4.5 signifies a significant leap forward in the realm of file management. By tackling a challenge recognized in a relatively short period and offering a comprehensive solution, PowerFlex empowers organizations to navigate the intricacies of data organization, access, and collaboration with newfound efficiency and clarity. As industries continue to evolve, PowerFlex’s commitment to innovation charts a course toward a future of enhanced file management.

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