OneFS File Pool Policies

A OneFS file pool policy can be easily generated from either the CLI or WebUI. For example, the following CLI syntax creates a policy which archives older files to a lower storage tier.

# isi filepool policies modify ARCHIVE_OLD --description "Move older files to archive storage" --data-storage-target TIER_A --data-ssd-strategy metadata-write --begin-filter --file-type=file --and --birth-time=2021-01-01 --operator=lt --and --accessed-time= 2021-09-01 --operator=lt --end-filter

After a file match with a File Pool policy occurs, the SmartPools job uses the settings in the matching policy to store and protect the file. However, a matching policy might not specify all settings for the match file. In this case, the default policy is used for those settings not specified in the custom policy. For each file stored on a cluster, the system needs to determine the following:

·         Requested protection level

·         Data storage target for local data cache

·         SSD strategy for metadata and data

·         Protection level for local data cache

·         Configuration for snapshots

·         SmartCache setting

·         L3 cache setting

·         Data access pattern

·         CloudPools actions (if any)

If no File Pool policy matches a file, the default policy specifies all storage settings for the file. The default policy, in effect, matches all files not matched by any other SmartPools policy. For this reason, the default policy is the last in the file pool policy list, and, as such, always the last policy that SmartPools applies.

Next, SmartPools checks the file’s current settings against those the policy would assign to identify those which do not match.  Once SmartPools has the complete list of settings that it needs to apply to that file, it sets them all simultaneously, and moves to restripe that file to reflect any and all changes to Node Pool, protection, SmartCache use, layout, etc.

Custom File Attributes, or user attributes, can be used when more granular control is needed than can be achieved using the standard file attributes options (File Name, Path, File Type, File Size, Modified Time, Create Time, Metadata Change Time, Access Time).  User Attributes use key value pairs to tag files with additional identifying criteria which SmartPools can then use to apply File Pool policies. While SmartPools has no utility to set file attributes, this can be done easily by using the ‘setextattr’ command.

Custom File Attributes are generally used to designate ownership or create project affinities. Once set, they are leveraged by SmartPools just as File Name, File Type or any other file attribute to specify location, protection and performance access for a matching group of files.

For example, the following CLI commands can be used to set and verify the existence of the attribute ‘key1’ with value ‘val1’ on a file ‘attrib.txt’:

# setextattr user key1 val1 attrib.txt

# getextattr user key1 attrib.txt

file    val1

A File Pool policy can be crafted to match and act upon a specific custom attribute and/or value.

For example, the File Policy below, created via the OneFS WebUI, will match files with the custom attribute ‘key1=val1’ and move them to the ‘Archive_1’ tier:

Once a subset of a cluster’s files have been marked with a custom attribute, either manually or as part of a custom application or workflow, they will then be moved to the Archive_1 tier upon the next successful run of the SmartPools job.

The file system explorer (and ‘isi get –D’ CLI command) provides a detailed view of where SmartPools-managed data is at any time by both the actual Node Pool location and the File Pool policy-dictated location (i.e. where that file will move after the next successful completion of the SmartPools job).

When data is written to the cluster, SmartPools writes it to a single Node Pool only.  This means that, in almost all cases, a file exists in its entirety within a Node Pool, and not across Node Pools.  SmartPools determines which pool to write to based on one of two situations:

  • If a file matches a file pool policy based on directory path, that file will be written into the Node Pool dictated by the File Pool policy immediately.
  • If a file matches a file pool policy which is based on any other criteria besides path name, SmartPools will write that file to the Node Pool with the most available capacity.

If the file matches a file pool policy that places it on a different Node Pool than the highest capacity Node Pool, it will be moved when the next scheduled SmartPools job runs.

For performance, charge back, ownership or security purposes it is sometimes important to know exactly where a specific file or group of files is on disk at any given time.  While any file in a SmartPools environment typically exists entirely in one Storage Pool, there are exceptions when a single file may be split (usually only on a temporary basis) across two or more Node Pools at one time.

SmartPools generally only allows a file to reside in one Node Pool. A file may temporarily span several Node Pools in some situations.  When a file Pool policy dictates a file move from one Node Pool to another, that file will exist partially on the source Node Pool and partially on the Destination Node Pool until the move is complete.  If the Node Pool configuration is changed (for example, when splitting a Node Pool into two Node Pools) a file may be split across those two new pools until the next scheduled SmartPools job runs.  If a Node Pool fills up and data spills over to another Node Pool so the cluster can continue accepting writes, a file may be split over the intended Node Pool and the default Spillover Node Pool.  The last circumstance under which a file may span more than One Node Pool is for typical restriping activities like cross-Node Pool rebalances or rebuilds.

OneFS File Pools

File Pools is the SmartPools logic layer, where user-configurable policies govern where data is placed, protected, accessed, and how it moves among the Node Pools and Tiers.

File Pools allow data to be automatically moved from one type of storage to another within a single cluster to meet performance, space, cost or other requirements, while retaining its data protection settings.  For example a File Pool policy may dictate anything written to path /ifs/data/hpc/ lands on an F600 node pool, then moves to an A200 node pool when it becomes older than four weeks.

To simplify management, there are defaults in place for Node Pool and File Pool settings which handle basic data placement, movement, protection and performance.  Also provided are customizable template policies which are optimized for archiving, extra protection, performance, etc.

When a SmartPools job runs, the data may be moved, undergo a protection or layout change, etc. Within a File Pool, SSD Strategies can be configured to place either one copy or all of that pool’s metadata – or even some of its data – on SSDs in that pool.  Alternatively, a pool’s SSDs can be turned over for use by L3 cache instead.

Overall system performance impact can be configured to suit the peaks and lulls of an environment’s workload.  Change the time or frequency of any SmartPools job and the amount of resources allocated to SmartPools.  For extremely high-utilization environments, a sample File Pool policy template can be used to match SmartPools run times to non-peak computing hours.

File pool policies can be used to broadly control the three principal attributes of a file, namely:

  1. Where a file resides.
  • Tier
  • Node Pool
  1. The file performance profile (I/O optimization setting).
  • Sequential
  • Concurrent
  • Random
  • SmartCache write caching
  1. The protection level of a file.
  • Parity protected (+1n to +4n, +2d:1n, etc)
  • Mirrored (2x – 8x)

A file pool policy is built on a file attribute the policy can match on.  The attributes a file Pool policy can use are any of: File Name, Path, File Type, File Size, Modified Time, Create Time, Metadata Change Time, Access Time or User Attributes.

Once the file attribute is set to select the appropriate files, the action to be taken on those files can be added – for example: if the attribute is File Size, additional settings are available to dictate thresholds (all files bigger than… smaller than…). Next, actions are applied: move to Node Pool ‘x’, set to protection level ‘y’, and lay out for access setting ‘z’.

File Attribute Description
File Name Specifies file criteria based on the file name
Path Specifies file criteria based on where the file is stored
File Type Specifies file criteria based on the file-system object type
File Size Specifies file criteria based on the file size
Modified Time Specifies file criteria based on when the file was last modified
Create Time Specifies file criteria based on when the file was created
Metadata Change Time Specifies file criteria based on when the file metadata was last modified
Access Time Specifies file criteria based on when the file was last accessed
User Attributes Specifies file criteria based on custom  attributes – see below

‘And’ and ‘Or’ operators allow for the combination of criteria within a single policy for extremely granular data manipulation.

File Pool Policies that dictate placement of data based on its path force data to the correct disk on write directly to that Node Pool without a SmartPools job running.  File Pool Policies that dictate placement of data on other attributes besides path name get written to Disk Pool with the highest available capacity and then moved, if necessary to match a File Pool policy, when the next SmartPools job runs.  This ensures that write performance is not sacrificed for initial data placement.

Any data not covered by a File Pool policy is moved to a tier that can be selected as a default for exactly this purpose.  If no pool has been selected for this purpose, SmartPools will default to the Node Pool with the most available capacity.

When a SmartPools job runs, it runs all the policies in order.  If a file matches multiple policies, SmartPools will apply only the first rule it fits.  So, for example if there is a rule that moves all jpg files to a nearline Node Pool, and another that moves all files under 2 MB to a performance tier, if the jpg rule appears first in the list, then jpg files under 2 MB will go to nearline, NOT the performance tier.  As mentioned above, criteria can be combined within a single policy using ‘And’ or ‘Or’ so that data can be classified very granularly.  Using this example, if the desired behavior is to have all jpg files over 2 MB to be moved to nearline, the File Pool policy can be simply constructed with an ‘And’ operator to cover precisely that condition.

Policy order, and policies themselves, can be easily changed at any time. Specifically, policies can be added, deleted, edited, copied and re-ordered.

Say, for example, an organization wants their active data on performance nodes in Tier_1, and to move any data unchanged for 6 months to Tier_2. So as not to contend with production workloads, the SmartPools job needs to be scheduled to run daily during off-hours (12am – 6pm).

The following CLI syntax will create a file pool policy ‘archive_old’, which finds any files that haven’t been change for six months or more, and moves them to the ‘Archive_1’ tier:

# isi filepool policies create archive_old --data-storage-target Tier_2 --data-ssd-strategy avoid --begin-filter --file-type=file --and --changed-time=6M --operator=lt --end-filter

Or from the WebUI:

The ‘archive_old’ policy is shown in the file pool policies list as enabled:

The SmartPools job that executes the policy can be scheduled from the WebUI as follows – in this case to run during the workflow quiet hours of 12am to 6am each day:

Note: The default schedule for the SmartPools job is every day at 10pm, and with a low impact policy.

File Pool policies can be created, copied, modified, prioritized or removed at any time.  Sample policy templates are also provided that can be used as is or as templates for customization. These include:

SmartPools currently supports up to 128 file pool policies, and as this list of policies grows, it becomes less practical to manually walk through all of them to see how a file will behave when policies are applied.

When the SmartPools file pool policy engine finds a match between a file and a policy, it stops processing policies for that file, since the first policy match determines what will happen to that file.  Next, SmartPools checks the file’s current settings against those the policy would assign to identify those which do not match.  Once SmartPools has the complete list of settings that need to apply to that file, it sets them all simultaneously, and moves to restripe that file to reflect any and all changes to Node Pool, protection, SmartCache use, layout, etc.

OneFS Protection Overhead

There have been a number of questions from the field recently around how to calculate the OneFS storage protection overhead for different cluster sizes and protection levels. But first, a quick overview of the fundamentals…

OneFS supports several protection schemes. These include the ubiquitous +2d:1n, which protects against two drive failures or one node failure. The best practice is to use the recommended protection level for a particular cluster configuration. This recommended level of protection is clearly marked as ‘suggested’ in the OneFS WebUI storage pools configuration pages and is typically configured by default. For all current Gen6 hardware configurations, the recommended protection level is “+2d:1n’.

The hybrid protection schemes are particularly useful for Gen6 chassis high-density node configurations, where the probability of multiple drives failing far surpasses that of an entire node failure. In the unlikely event that multiple devices have simultaneously failed, such that the file is “beyond its protection level”, OneFS will re-protect everything possible and report errors on the individual files affected to the cluster’s logs.

OneFS also provides a variety of mirroring options ranging from 2x to 8x, allowing from two to eight mirrors of the specified content. Metadata, for example, is mirrored at one level above FEC by default. For example, if a file is protected at +2n, its associated metadata object will be 3x mirrored.

The full range of OneFS protection levels are as follows:

Protection Level Description
+1n Tolerate failure of 1 drive OR 1 node
+2d:1n Tolerate failure of 2 drives OR 1 node
+2n Tolerate failure of 2 drives OR 2 nodes
+3d:1n Tolerate failure of 3 drives OR 1 node
+3d:1n1d Tolerate failure of 3 drives OR 1 node AND 1 drive
+3n Tolerate failure of 3 drives or 3 nodes
+4d:1n Tolerate failure of 4 drives or 1 node
+4d:2n Tolerate failure of 4 drives or 2 nodes
+4n Tolerate failure of 4 nodes
2x to 8x Mirrored over 2 to 8 nodes, depending on configuration

The charts below show the ‘ideal’ protection overhead across the range of OneFS protection levels and node counts. For each field in this chart, the overhead percentage is calculated by dividing the sum of the two numbers by the number on the right.

x+y => y/(x+y)

So, for a five node cluster protected at +2d:1n, OneFS uses an 8+2 layout – hence an ‘ideal’ overhead of 20%.

8+2 => 2/(8+2) = 20%

Number of nodes [+1n] [+2d:1n] [+2n] [+3d:1n] [+3d:1n1d] [+3n] [+4d:1n] [+4d:2n] [+4n]
3 2 +1 (33%) 4 + 2 (33%) 6 + 3 (33%) 3 + 3 (50%) 8 + 4 (33%)
4 3 +1 (25%) 6 + 2 (25%) 9 + 3 (25%) 5 + 3 (38%) 12 + 4 (25%) 4 + 4 (50%)
5 4 +1 (20%) 8+ 2 (20%) 3 + 2 (40%) 12 + 3 (20%) 7 + 3 (30%) 16 + 4 (20%) 6 + 4 (40%)
6 5 +1 (17%) 10 + 2 (17%) 4 + 2 (33%) 15 + 3 (17%) 9 + 3 (25%) 16 + 4 (20%) 8 + 4 (33%)

The ‘x+y’ numbers in each field in the table also represent how files are striped across a cluster for each node count and protection level.

Take for example, with +2n protection on a 6-node cluster, OneFS will write a stripe across all 6 nodes, and use two of the stripe units for parity/ECC and four for data.

In general, for FEC protected data the OneFS protection overhead will look something like below.

Note that the protection overhead % (in brackets) is a very rough guide and will vary across different datasets, depending on quantities of small files, etc.

Number of nodes [+1n] [+2d:1n] [+2n] [+3d:1n] [+3d:1n1d] [+3n] [+4d:1n] [+4d:2n] [+4n]
3 2 +1 (33%) 4 + 2 (33%) 6 + 3 (33%) 3 + 3 (50%) 8 + 4 (33%)
4 3 +1 (25%) 6 + 2 (25%) 9 + 3 (25%) 5 + 3 (38%) 12 + 4 (25%) 4 + 4 (50%)
5 4 +1 (20%) 8 + 2 (20%) 3 + 2 (40%) 12 + 3 (20%) 7 + 3 (30%) 16 + 4 (20%) 6 + 4 (40%)
6 5 +1 (17%) 10 + 2 (17%) 4 + 2 (33%) 15 + 3 (17%) 9 + 3 (25%) 16 + 4 (20%) 8 + 4 (33%)
7 6 +1 (14%) 12 + 2 (14%) 5 + 2 (29%) 15 + 3 (17%) 11 + 3 (21%) 4 + 3 (43%) 16 + 4 (20%) 10 + 4 (29%)
8 7 +1 (13%) 14 + 2 (12.5%) 6 + 2 (25%) 15 + 3 (17%) 13 + 3 (19%) 5 + 3 (38%) 16 + 4 (20%) 12 + 4 (25%)
9 8 +1 (11%) 16 + 2 (11%) 7 + 2 (22%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 6 + 3 (33%) 16 + 4 (20%) 14 + 4 (22%) 5 + 4 (44%)
10 9 +1 (10%) 16 + 2 (11%) 8 + 2 (20%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 7 + 3 (30%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 6 + 4 (40%)
12 11 +1 (8%) 16 + 2 (11%) 10 + 2 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 9 + 3 (25%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 6 + 4 (40%)
14 13 +1 (7%) 16 + 2 (11%) 12 + 2 (14%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 11 + 3 (21%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 10 + 4 (29%)
16 15 +1 (6%) 16 + 2 (11%) 14 + 2 (13%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 13 + 3 (19%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 12 + 4 (25%)
18 16 +1 (6%) 16 + 2 (11%) 16 + 2 (11%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 15 + 3 (17%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 14 + 4 (22%)
20 16 +1 (6%) 16 + 2 (11%) 16 + 2 (11%) 16 + 3 (16%) 16 + 3 (16%) 16 + 3 (16%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 14 + 4 (22%)
30 16 +1 (6%) 16 + 2 (11%) 16 + 2 (11%) 16 + 3 (16%) 16 + 3 (16%) 16 + 3 (16%) 16 + 4 (20%) 16 + 4 (20%) 14 + 4 (22%)

The protection level of the file is how the system decides to layout the file. A file may have multiple protection levels temporarily (because the file is being restriped) or permanently (because of a heterogeneous cluster). The protection level is specified as “n + m/b@r” in its full form. In the case where b, r, or both equal 1, it may be elided to get “n + m/b”, “n + m@r”, or “n + m”.

Layout Attribute Description
N Number of data drives in a stripe.
+m Number of FEC drives in a stripe.
/b Number of drives per stripe allowed on one node.
@r Number of drives per node to include in a file.

The OneFS protection definition in terms of node and/or drive failures has the advantage of configuration simplicity. However, it does mask some of the subtlety of the interaction between stripe width and drive spread, as represented by the n+m/b notation displayed by the ‘isi get’ CLI command. For example:

# isi get README.txt


default   6+2/2 concurrency on    README.txt

In particular, both +3/3 and +3/2 allow for a single node failure or three drive failures and appear the same according to the web terminology. Despite this, they do in fact have different characteristics. +3/2 allows for the failure of any one node in combination with the failure of a single drive on any other node, which +3/3 does not. +3/3, on the other hand, allows for potentially better space efficiency and performance because up to three drives per node can be used, rather than the 2 allowed under +3/2.

Another factor to keep in mind is OneFS neighborhoods. A neighborhood is a fault domains within a node pool, and their purpose is to improve reliability in general – and guard against data unavailability from the accidental removal of Gen6 drive sleds. For self-contained nodes like the PowerScale F200, OneFS has an ideal size of 20 nodes per node pool, and a maximum size of 39 nodes. On the addition of the 40th node, the nodes split into two neighborhoods of twenty nodes.

With the Gen6 platform, the ideal size of a neighborhood changes from 20 to 10 nodes. It also means that a Gen6 nodes pool will never reach the large stripe width (eg. 16+3) since the pool will have already split.

This 10-node ideal neighborhood size helps protect the Gen6 architecture against simultaneous node-pair journal failures and full chassis failures. Partner nodes are nodes whose journals are mirrored. Rather than each node storing its journal in NVRAM as in the PowerScale platforms, the Gen6 nodes’ journals are stored on SSDs – and every journal has a mirror copy on another node. The node that contains the mirrored journal is referred to as the partner node. There are several reliability benefits gained from the changes to the journal. For example, SSDs are more persistent and reliable than NVRAM, which requires a charged battery to retain state. Also, with the mirrored journal, both journal drives have to die before a journal is considered lost. As such, unless both of the mirrored journal drives fail, both of the partner nodes can function as normal.

With partner node protection, where possible, nodes will be placed in different neighborhoods – and hence different failure domains. Partner node protection is possible once the cluster reaches five full chassis (20 nodes) when, after the first neighborhood split, OneFS places partner nodes in different neighborhoods:

Partner node protection increases reliability because if both nodes go down, they are in different failure domains, so their failure domains only suffer the loss of a single node.

With chassis protection, when possible, each of the four nodes within a chassis will be placed in a separate neighborhood. Chassis protection becomes possible at 40 nodes, as the neighborhood split at 40 nodes enables every node in a chassis to be placed in a different neighborhood. As such, when a 38 node Gen6 cluster is expanded to 40 nodes, the two existing neighborhoods will be split into four 10-node neighborhoods:

Chassis protection ensures that if an entire chassis failed, each failure domain would only lose one node.



OneFS and SMB Encryption

Received a couple of recent questions around SMB encryption, which is supported in addition to the other components of the SMB3 protocol dialect that OneFS supports, including multi-channel, continuous availability (CA), and witness.

OneFS allows encryption for SMB3 clients to be configured on a per share, zone, or cluster-wide basis. When configuring encryption at the cluster-wide level, OneFS provides the option to also allow unencrypted connections for older, non-SMB3 clients.

The following CLI command will indicate whether SMB3 encryption has already been configured globally on the cluster:

# isi smb settings global view | grep -i encryption

    Support Smb3 Encryption: No

The following table lists what behavior a variety of Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS versions will support with respect to SMB3 encryption:

Operating System Description
Windows Vista/Server 2008 Can only access non-encrypted shares if cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections
Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Can only access non-encrypted shares if cluster is configured to

allow non-encrypted connections

Windows 8/Server 2012 Can access encrypted share (and non-encrypted shares if cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections)
Windows 8.1/Server 2012 R2 Can access encrypted share (and non-encrypted shares if cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections)
Windows 10/Server 2016 Can access encrypted share (and non-encrypted shares if cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections)
OSX10.12 Can access encrypted share (and non-encrypted shares if cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections)

Note that only operating systems which support SMB3 encryption can work with encrypted shares. These operating systems can also work with unencrypted shares, but only if the cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections. Other operating systems can access non-encrypted shares only if the cluster is configured to allow non-encrypted connections.

If encryption is enabled for an existing share or zone, and if the cluster is set to only allow encrypted connections, only Windows 8/Server 2012 and later and OSX 10.12 will be able to access that share or zone. Encryption cannot be turned on or off at the client level.

The following CLI procedures will configure SMB3 encryption on a specific share, rather than globally across the cluster:

As a prerequisite, ensure that the cluster and clients are bound and connected to the desired Active Directory domain (for example in this case,

To create a share with SMB3 encryption enabled from the CLI:

# mkdir -p /ifs/smb/data_encrypt
# chmod +a group "AD1\\Domain Users" allow generic_all /ifs/smb/data_encrypt
# isi smb shares create DataEncrypt /ifs/smb/data_encrypt --smb3-encryption-enabled true
# isi smb shares permission modify DataEncrypt --wellknown Everyone -d allow -p full

To verify that an SMB3 client session is actually being encrypted, launch a remote desktop protocol (RDP) session to the Windows client, log in as administrator, and perform the following:

  1. Ensure a packet capture and analysis tool such as Wireshark is installed.
  2. Start Wireshark capture using the capture filter “port 445
  3. Map the DataEncrypt share from the second node in the cluster
  4. Create a file on the desktop on the client (eg. README-W10.txt).
  5. Copy the README-W10.txt file from the Desktop on the client to the DataEncrypt shares using Windows explorer.exe
  6. Stop the Wireshark capture
  7. Set the Wireshark the display filter to “smb2 and ip.addr for node 1
    1. Examine the SMB2_NEGOTIATE packet exchange to verify the capabilities, negotiated contexts and protocol dialect (3.1.1)
    2. Examine the SMB2_TREE_CONNECT to verify the that encryption support has not been enabled for this share
    3. Examine the SMB2_WRITE requests to ensure that the file contents are readable.
  8. Set the Wireshark the display filter to “smb2 and ip.addr for node 2
    1. Examine the SMB2_NEGOTIATE packet exchange to verify the capabilities, negotiated contexts and protocol dialect (3.1.1)
    2. Examine the SMB2_TREE_CONNECT to verify the that encryption support has been enabled for this share
    3. Examine the communication following the successful SMB2_TREE_CONNECT response that the packets are encrypted
  9. : Save the Wireshark Capture to the DataEncrypt share using the name Win10-SMB3EncryptionDemo.pcap.

SMB3 encryption can also be applied globally to a cluster. This will mean that all the SMB communication with the cluster will be encrypted, not just with individual shares. SMB clients that don’t support SMB3 encryption will only be able to connect to the cluster so long as it is configured to allow non-encrypted connections. The following table presents the available global SMB3 encryption config options:

Setting Description
Disabled Encryption for SMBv3 clients in not enabled on this cluster.
Enable SMB3 encryption Permits encrypted SMBv3 client connections to Isilon clusters, but does not make encryption mandatory. Unencrypted SMBv3 clients can still connect to the cluster when this option is enabled. Note that this setting does not actively enable SMBv3 encryption: To encrypt SMBv3 client connections to the cluster, you must first select this option and then activate encryption on the client side. This setting applies to all shares in the cluster.


Reject unencrypted SMB3 client connections Makes encryption mandatory for all SMBv3 client connections to the cluster. When this setting is active, only encrypted SMBv3 clients can connect to the cluster. SMBv3 clients that do not have encryption enabled are denied access. This setting applies to all shares in the cluster.

The following CLI syntax will configure global SMB3 encryption:

# isi smb settings global modify --support-smb3-encryption=yes

Verify the global encryption settings on a cluster by running:

# isi smb settings global view | grep -i encrypt

  Reject Unencrypted Access: Yes

    Support Smb3 Encryption: Yes

Global SMB3 encryption can also be enabled from the WebUI by browsing to Protocols > Windows Sharing (SMB) > SMB Server Settings:


OneFS Quota Accounting

Had a couple of recent enquiries from the field regarding SmartQuotas performance. So in this article we’ll explore one of the more obscure tuning parameters of OneFS SmartQuotas. But first, a quick refresher on the OneFS quotas architecture:

From the file system point of view, there are three main elements to SmartQuotas:

Element Description
Domains Define which files and directories belong to a quota.
Resources The quantity being limited
Enforcements Specify the limits and what actions are taken when those thresholds are exceeded

Each OneFS Quota Domain includes a set of usage levels, limits, and configuration options. Most of this information is organized and managed by the file system and stored in the Quota Database. This database is represented in a B-tree structure, known as the Quota Tree, and provides both scalability and fast random access. Because of its importance, the Quota Database is protected at highest level for metadata in OneFS. The Quota Accounting Blocks (QABs) within individual records are protected at the same level as the associated directory.

A Quota Domain is made up of the following principle parts:

Component Description
Quota database Data structure that stores the QDR
Quota domain record (QDR) Stores all configuration and state associated with a domain
Quota domain key Where the unique identifier for the domain is stored
Quota domain header (QDH) Contains various state and configuration information that affects the domain as a whole
Quota domain enforcements Manages quota limits, including whether they have been hit or exceeded, notification information, and the quota grace period
Quota domain account (QDA) Handles tracking of usage levels for the domain. Tracks physical, logical, and file resource types for each domain

Resource allocation and governance changes are recorded in the quota operation associated with a transaction, totaled and applied persistently to the QDRs.

The Quota Domain Record can be broken down into three elements:

Element Description
Configuration Fields within quota config, such as whether the domain is a container. Despite the name, this includes some state fields like the Ready flag
Enforcements A list of quota enforcements, which include the limit, grace period, and notification state. Although the structure is flexible, only three enforcements are allowed, and only for a single resource
Account The quota account for the domain

The on-disk format of the QDR is shown in the following diagram. The structure is dynamic, based on the configured enforcements and state of the account, so the on-disk structures look much different than the in-memory structures.

Quota domain locks synchronize access to quota domain records in the QDB. The main challenge for quota domain locks is that the need to lock quota domains exclusively is not known until the accounting is fully determined. In fact, it may not be until responses from transaction deltas are received before this is reported to the initiator. To address this, Quota Domain Locks use optimistic restarts.

Within the SmartQuotas database, quota data is maintained in Quota Accounting Blocks (QABs). Each QAB contains a large number of Quota Accounting records, which need to be updated whenever a particular user adds or removes data from the quota domain, the area of the filesystem on which quotas are enabled.  If a large quantity of clients are simultaneously accessing the quota domain, these blocks can become highly contended and a potential bottleneck. Similarly, if a single client (or small number of clients) consistently makes a large number of small writes to files within a single quota, write performance could again be impacted

To address this, quota accounts have a mechanism to help avoid hot spots on those nodes which are storing QABs. This can be addressed using Quota Account Constituents, or QACs, which help parallelize the accounting. QACs can boost the performance of quota accounting by creating additional QAB mirrors, which are distributed across the cluster.

QAC configuration is via the sysctl ‘efs.quota.reorganize.qac_ratio’, which increases the number of accounting constituents, which are in turn spread across a much larger number of nodes and drives. This provides better scalability by increasing aggregate throughput and reduces latencies on heavy create/delete activities when quotas are configured.

Using this parameter, the internally calculated QAC count for each quota is multiplied by the specified value. If a workflow experiences write performance issues, and it has many writes to files or directories governed by a single quota, then increasing the QAC ratio may significantly improve write performance.

The qac_ratio can be reconfigured to from its default value of none up to the maximum value of 8 via the following CLI command:

# isi_sysctl_cluster efs.quota.reorganize.qac_ratio=8

To verify the persistent change, run:

# cat /etc/mcp/override/sysctl.conf | grep qac_ratio

Although increasing the QAC count via this sysctl can improve performance on write heavy quota domains, some amount of experimentation may be required until the ideal QAC ratio value is found.

Adjusting the ‘qac_ratio’ sysctl parameter can adversely affect write performance if you apply a value that is too high, or if you apply the parameter in an environment that does not have diminished write performance due to quota contention.

To help assess write performance while tuning the QAC ration, write latency (TimeAvg) for the NFSv3 protocol, for example, can continuously be monitored by running the following CLI command:

# isi statistics protocol --protocols nfs3 --classes write --output TimeAvg --format top

OneFS Hardware Fault Tolerance

There have been several inquiries recently around PowerScale clusters and hardware fault tolerance, above and beyond file level data protection via erasure coding. So it seemed like a useful topic for a blog article, and here are some of the techniques which OneFS employs to help protect data against the threat of hardware errors:

File system journal

Every PowerScale node is equipped with a battery backed NVRAM file system journal. Each journal is used by OneFS as stable storage, and guards write transactions against sudden power loss or other catastrophic events. The journal protects the consistency of the file system and the battery charge lasts up to three days. Since each member node of a cluster contains an NVRAM controller, the entire OneFS file system is therefore fully journaled.

Proactive device failure

OneFS will proactively remove, or SmartFail, any drive that reaches a particular threshold of detected Error Correction Code (ECC) errors, and automatically reconstruct the data from that drive and locate it elsewhere on the cluster. Both SmartFail and the subsequent repair process are fully automated and hence require no administrator intervention.

Data integrity

ISI Data Integrity (IDI) is the OneFS process that protects file system structures against corruption via 32-bit CRC checksums. All OneFS blocks, both for file and metadata, utilize checksum verification. Metadata checksums are housed in the metadata blocks themselves, whereas file data checksums are stored as metadata, thereby providing referential integrity. All checksums are recomputed by the initiator, the node servicing a particular read, on every request.

In the event that the recomputed checksum does not match the stored checksum, OneFS will generate a system alert, log the event, retrieve and return the corresponding error correcting code (ECC) block to the client and attempt to repair the suspect data block.

Protocol checksums

In addition to blocks and metadata, OneFS also provides checksum verification for Remote Block Management (RBM) protocol data. As mentioned above, the RBM is a unicast, RPC-based protocol used over the back-end cluster interconnect. Checksums on the RBM protocol are in addition to the InfiniBand hardware checksums provided at the network layer, and are used to detect and isolate machines with certain faulty hardware components and exhibiting other failure states.

Dynamic sector repair

OneFS includes a Dynamic Sector Repair (DSR) feature whereby bad disk sectors can be forced by the file system to be rewritten elsewhere. When OneFS fails to read a block during normal operation, DSR is invoked to reconstruct the missing data and write it to either a different location on the drive or to another drive on the node. This is done to ensure that subsequent reads of the block do not fail. DSR is fully automated and completely transparent to the end-user. Disk sector errors and Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) mismatches use almost the same mechanism as the drive rebuild process.


MediaScan’s role within OneFS is to check disk sectors and deploy the above DSR mechanism in order to force disk drives to fix any sector ECC errors they may encounter. Implemented as one of the phases of the OneFS job engine, MediaScan is run automatically based on a predefined schedule. Designed as a low-impact, background process, MediaScan is fully distributed and can thereby leverage the benefits of a cluster’s parallel architecture.


IntegrityScan, another component of the OneFS job engine, is responsible for examining the entire file system for inconsistencies. It does this by systematically reading every block and verifying its associated checksum. Unlike traditional ‘fsck’ style file system integrity checking tools, IntegrityScan is designed to run while the cluster is fully operational, thereby removing the need for any downtime. In the event that IntegrityScan detects a checksum mismatch, a system alert is generated and written to the syslog and OneFS automatically attempts to repair the suspect block.

The IntegrityScan phase is run manually if the integrity of the file system is ever in doubt. Although this process may take several days to complete, the file system is online and completely available during this time. Additionally, like all phases of the OneFS job engine, IntegrityScan can be prioritized, paused or stopped, depending on the impact to cluster operations and other jobs.

Fault isolation

Because OneFS protects its data at the file-level, any inconsistencies or data loss is isolated to the unavailable or failing device—the rest of the file system remains intact and available.

For example, a ten node, S210 cluster, protected at +2d:1n, sustains three simultaneous drive failures—one in each of three nodes. Even in this degraded state, I/O errors would only occur on the very small subset of data housed on all three of these drives. The remainder of the data striped across the other two hundred and thirty-seven drives would be totally unaffected. Contrast this behavior with a traditional RAID6 system, where losing more than two drives in a RAID-set will render it unusable and necessitate a full restore from backups.

Similarly, in the unlikely event that a portion of the file system does become corrupt (whether as a result of a software or firmware bug, etc) or a media error occurs where a section of the disk has failed, only the portion of the file system associated with this area on disk will be affected. All healthy areas will still be available and protected.

As mentioned above, referential checksums of both data and meta-data are used to catch silent data corruption (data corruption not associated with hardware failures).The checksums for file data blocks are stored as metadata, outside the actual blocks they reference, and thus provide referential integrity.

Accelerated drive rebuilds

The time that it takes a storage system to rebuild data from a failed disk drive is crucial to the data reliability of that system. With the advent of four terabyte drives, and the creation of increasingly larger single volumes and file systems, typical recovery times for multi-terabyte drive failures are becoming multiple days or even weeks. During this MTTDL period, storage systems are vulnerable to additional drive failures and the resulting data loss and downtime.

Since OneFS is built upon a highly distributed architecture, it’s able to leverage the CPU, memory and spindles from multiple nodes to reconstruct data from failed drives in a highly parallel and efficient manner. Because a PowerScale cluster is not bound by the speed of any particular drive, OneFS is able to recover from drive failures extremely quickly and this efficiency grows relative to cluster size. As such, a failed drive within a cluster will be rebuilt an order of magnitude faster than hardware RAID-based storage devices. Additionally, OneFS has no requirement for dedicated ‘hot-spare’ drives.

Automatic drive firmware updates

Clusters support automatic drive firmware updates for new and replacement drives, as part of the non-disruptive firmware update process. Firmware updates are delivered via drive support packages, which both simplify and streamline the management of existing and new drives across the cluster. This ensures that drive firmware is up to date and mitigates the likelihood of failures due to known drive issues. As such, automatic drive firmware updates are an important component of OneFS’ high availability and non-disruptive operations strategy.

OneFS Protocol Auditing

Auditing can detect potential sources of data loss, fraud, inappropriate entitlements, access attempts that should not occur, and a range of other anomalies that are indicators of risk. This can be especially useful when the audit associates data access with specific user identities.

In the interests of data security, OneFS provides ‘chain of custody’ auditing by logging specific activity on the cluster. This includes OneFS configuration changes plus NFS, SMB, and HDFS client protocol activity, which are required for organizational IT security compliance, as mandated by regulatory bodies like HIPAA, SOX, FISMA, MPAA, etc.

OneFS auditing uses Dell EMC’s Common Event Enabler (CEE) to provide compatibility with external audit applications. A cluster can write audit events across up to five CEE servers per node in a parallel, load-balanced configuration. This allows OneFS to deliver an end to end, enterprise grade audit solution which efficiently integrates with third party solutions like Varonis DatAdvantage.

OneFS auditing provides control over exactly what protocol activity is audited. For example:

  • Stops collection of unneeded audit events that 3rd party applications do not register for
  • Reduces the number of audit events collected to only what is needed. Less unneeded events are stored on ifs and sent off cluster.

OneFS protocol auditing events are configurable at CEE granularity, with each OneFS event mapping directly to a CEE event. This allows customers to configure protocol auditing to collect only what their auditing application requests, reducing both the number of events discarded by CEE and stored on /ifs.

The ‘isi audit settings’ command syntax and corresponding platformAPI are used to specify the desired events for the audit filter to collect.

A ‘detail_type’ field within OneFS internal protocol audit events allows a direct mapping to CEE audit events. For example:








"fileName":"\\ifs\\test\\New folder",




Old audit events are processed and mapped to the same CEE audit events as in previous releases. Backwards compatibility is maintained with previous audit events such that old versions ignore the new field. There are no changes to external audit events sent to CEE or syslog.

  • New default audit events when creating an access zone

Here are the protocol audit events:

New OneFS Audit Event Pre-8.2 Audit Event
create_file create
create_directory create
open_file_write create
open_file_read create
open_file_noaccess create
open_directory create
close_file_unmodified close
close_file_modified close
close_directory close
delete_file delete
delete_directory delete
rename_file rename
rename_directory rename
set_security_file set_security
set_security_directory set_security
get_security_file, get_security
get_security_directory get_security
write_file write
read_file read


Audit Event

The ‘isi audit settings’ CLI command syntax is a follows:


    isi audit <subcommand>


    settings    Manage settings related to audit configuration.

    topics      Manage audit topics.

    logs        Delete out of date audit logs manually & monitor process.

    progress    Get the audit event time.

All options that take <events> use the protocol audit events:

# isi audit settings view –zone=<zone>

# isi audit settings modify --audit-success=<events> --zone=<zone>

# isi audit settings modify --audit-failure=<events> --zone=<zone>

# isi audit settings modify --syslog-audit-events=<events> --zone=<zone>

When it comes to troubleshooting audit on a cluster, the ‘isi_audit_viewer’ utility can be used to list protocol audit events collected.

# isi_audit_viewer -h

Usage: isi_audit_viewer [ -n <nodeid> | -t <topic> | -s <starttime>|

         -e <endtime> | -v ]

         -n <nodeid> : Specify node id to browse (default: local node)

         -t <topic>  : Choose topic to browse.

            Topics are "config" and "protocol" (default: "config")

         -s <start>  : Browse audit logs starting at <starttime>

         -e <end>    : Browse audit logs ending at <endtime>

         -v verbose  : Prints out start / end time range before printing


The new audit event type is in the ‘detail_type’ field. Additionally, any errors that are encountered while processing audit events, and when delivering them to an external CEE server, are written to the log file/var/log/isi_audit_cee.log’. Additionally, the protocol specific logs will contain any issues the audit filter has collecting while auditing events.

These protocol log files are:

Protocol Log file
HDFS /var/log/hdfs.log
NFS /var/log/nfs.log
SMB /var/log/lwiod.log
S3 /var/log/s3.log


OneFS NFS Netgroups

A OneFS network group, or netgroup, defines a network-wide group of hosts and users. As such, they can be used to restrict access to shared NFS filesystems, etc. Network groups are stored in a network information services, such as LDAP, NIS, or NIS+, rather than in a local file. Netgroups help to simplify the identification and management of people and machines for access control.

The isi_netgroup_d service provides netgroup lookups and caching for consumers of the ‘isi_nfs’ library.  Only mountd and the ‘isi nfs’ command-line interface use this service.  The isi_netgroup_d daemon maintains a fast, persistent cluster-coherent cache containing netgroups and netgroup members.  isi_netgroup_d enforces netgroup TTLs and netgroup retries.  A persistent cache database (SQLite) exists to store and recover cache data across reboots.  Communication with isi_netgroup_d is via RPC and it will register its service and port with the local rpcbind.

Within OneFS, the netgroup cache possesses the following gconfig configuration parameters:

# isi_gconfig -t nfs-config | grep cache

shared_config.bypass_netgroup_cache_daemon (bool) = false

netcache_config.nc_ng_expiration (uint32) = 3600000

netcache_config.nc_ng_lifetime (uint32) = 604800

netcache_config.nc_ng_retry_wait (uint32) = 30000

netcache_config.ncdb_busy_timeout (uint32) = 900000

netcache_config.ncdb_write (uint32) = 43200000

netcache_config.nc_max_hosts (uint32) = 200000

Similarly, the following files are used by the isi_netgroup_d daemon:

File Purpose
     /var/run/ The pid of the currently running isi_netgroup_d
     /ifs/.ifs/modules/nfs/nfs_config.gc Server configuration file
     /ifs/.ifs/modules/nfs/netcache.db Persistent cache database
     /var/log/isi_netgroup_d.log Log output file

In general, using IP addresses works better than hostnames for netgroups. This is because hostnames require a DNS lookup and resolution from FQDN to IP address. Using IP addresses directly saves this overhead.

Resolving a large set of hosts in the allow/deny list is significantly faster when using netgroups. Entering a large host list in the NFS export means OneFS has to look up the hosts for each individual NFS export. In Netgroups, once looked up, it is cached by netgroups, so it doesn’t have to be looked up again if there are overlap between exports. It is also better to use an LDAP (or NIS) server when using Netgroups instead of the flat file. If you have a large list of hosts in the netgroups file, it can take a while to resolve as it is single threaded and sequential. LDAP/NIS provider based netgroups lookup is parallelized.

The OneFS netgroup cache has a default limit in gconfig of 200,000 host entries.

# isi_gconfig -t nfs-config | grep max

netcache_config.nc_max_hosts (uint32) = 200000

So what is the waiting period between when /etc/netgroup is updated to when the NFS export realizes the change? OneFS uses a netgroup cache and both its expiration and lifetime are both tunable. The netgroup expiration and lifetime can be configured with this following CLI command:

# isi nfs netgroup modify

--expiration or -e <duration>

Set the netgroup expiration time.

--lifetime or -l <duration>

Set the netgroup lifetime.

OneFS also provides the ‘isi nfs netgroups flush’ CLI command, which can be used to force a reload of the file.

# isi nfs netgroup flush

        [--host <string>]

        [{--verbose | -v}]

        [{--help | -h}]


    --host <string>

        IP address of the node to flush. Defaults is all nodes.

  Display Options:

    --verbose | -v

        Display more detailed information.

    --help | -h

        Display help for this command.

However, it is not recommended to flush the cache as a part of normal cluster operation. Refresh will walk the file and update the cache as needed.

Another area of caution is applying a netgroup with unresolved hostname(s). This will also slow down resolution of the hosts in the file when a refresh or startup of node happens. The best practice is to ensure that each host in the netgroups file is resolvable in DNS, or to just use IP addresses rather than names in the netgroup.

When it come to switching to a netgroup for clients already on an export, a netgroup can be added and clients removed in one step (#1 –add-client netgroup –remove-clients 1,2,3,etc). The cluster allows a mix of netgroup and host entries, so duplicates are tolerated. However, it’s worth noting that if there are unresolvable hosts in both areas, the startup resolution time will take that much longer.

OneFS & Files Per Directory

Had several recent enquiries from the field recently asking about the low impact methods to count the number of files in large directories containing hundreds of thousands to millions of files).

Unfortunately, there’s no ‘silver bullet’ command or data source available that will provide that count instantaneously: Something will have to perform a treewalk to gather these stats.  That said, there are a couple of approaches to this, each with its pros and cons:

  • If the customer has a SmartQuotas license, they can configure an advisory directory quota on the directories they want to check. As mentioned, the first job run will require working the directory tree, but they can get fast, low impact reports moving forward.
  • Another approach is using traditional UNIX commands, either from the OneFS CLI or, less desirably, from a UNIX client. The two following commands will both take time to run: “
# ls -f /path/to/directory | wc –l
# find /path/to/directory -type f | wc -l

It’s worth noting that when counting files with ls, you’ll probably get faster results by omitting the ‘-l’ flag and using ‘-f’ flag instead. This is because ‘-l’ resolves UID & GIDs to display users/groups, which creates more work thereby slowing the listing. In contrast,  ‘-f’ allows the ‘ls’ command to avoid sorting the output. This should be faster, and reduce memory consumption when listing extremely large numbers of files.

Ultimately, there really is no quick way to walk a file system and count the files – especially since both ls and find are single threaded commands.  Running either of these in the background with output redirected to a file is probably the best approach.

Depending on your arguments for the ls or find command, you can gather a comprehensive set of context info and metadata on a single pass.

# find /path/to/scan -ls > output.file

It will take quite a while for the command to complete, but once you have the output stashed in a file you can pull all sorts of useful data from it.

Assuming a latency of 10ms per file it would take 33 minutes for 200,000 files. While this estimate may be conservative, there are typically multiple protocol ops that need to be done to each file, and they do add up. Plus, as mentioned before, ‘ls’ is a single threaded command.

  • If possible, ensure the directories of interest are stored on a file pool that has at least one of the metadata mirrors on SSD (metadata-read).
  • Windows Explorer can also enumerate the files in a directory tree surprisingly quickly. All you get is a file count, but it can work pretty well.
  • If the directory you wish to know the file count for just happens to be /ifs, you can run the LinCount job, which will tell you how many LINs there are in the file system.

Lincount (relatively) quickly scans the filesystem and returns the total count of LINs (logical inodes). The LIN count is essentially equivalent to the total file and directory count on a cluster. The job itself runs by default at the LOW priority, and is the fastest method of determining object count on OneFS, assuming no other job has run to completion.

The following syntax can be used to kick off the Lincount job from the OneFS CLI:

# isi job start lincount

The output from this will be along the lines of “Added job [52]”.

Note: The number in square brackets is the job ID.

To view results, run the following command from the CLI:

# isi job reports view [job ID]

For example:
# isi job reports view 52

LinCount[52] phase 1 (2021-07-06T09:33:33)


Elapsed time   1 seconds

Errors         0

Job mode       LinCount

LINs traversed 1722

SINs traversed 0

The "LINs traversed" metric indicates that 1722 files and directories were found.

Note: The Lincount job will also include snapshot revisions of LINs in its count.

Alternatively, if another treewalk job has run against the directory you wish to know the count for, you might be in luck.

At any rate, hundreds of thousands of files is a large number to store in one directory. To reduce the directory enumeration time, where possible divide the files up into multiple subdirectories.

When it comes to NFS, the behavior is going to partially depend on whether the client is doing READDIRPLUS operations vs READDIR. READDIRPLUS is useful if the client is going to need the metadata. However, ff all you’re trying to do is list the filenames, it actually makes that operation much slower.

If you only read the filenames in the directory, and you don’t attempt to stat any associated metadata, then this requires a relatively small amount of I/O to pull the names from the meta-tree, and should be fairly fast.

If this has already been done recently, some or all of the blocks are likely to already be in L2 cache. As such, a subsequent operation won’t need to read from hard disk and will be substantially faster.

NFS is more complicated regarding what it will and won’t cache on the client side, particularly with the attribute cache and the timeouts that are associated with it.

Here are some options from fastest to slowest:

  • If NFS is using READDIR, as opposed to READDIRPLUS, and the ‘ls’ command is invoked with the appropriate arguments to prevent it polling metadata or sorting the output, execution will be relatively swift.
  • If ‘ls’ polls the metadata (or if NFS uses READDIRPLUS) but doesn’t sort the results, output will be fairly immediately, but will take longer to complete overall.
  • If ‘ls’ sorts the output, nothing will be displayed until ls has read everything and sorted it, then you’ll get the output in a deluge at the end.


Affectionately named after TRON’s  ‘Master Control Program’, MCP is OneFS’ main utility for distributed service control across a cluster. MCP is responsible for starting, monitoring, and restarting failed services on a cluster. It also monitors configuration files and acts upon configuration changes, propagating local file changes to the rest of the cluster. As such, it performs a similar function to the Windows ‘service control manager’ (SCM) or MacOS ‘launchd’.

MCP is actually comprised of three different processes, one for each of its modes:

  • Master
  • Failsafe
  • Forker

These can be seen when viewing the running processes on a healthy node:

# ps -auxw | grep -i mcp | grep -v grep

root    5400    0.4  0.0  60760  19928  -  Ss   11Jun21    170:08.18 isi_mcp: master (isi_mcp)

root    5179    0.0  0.0  32760  13632  -  Is   11Jun21      0:00.01 isi_mcp: failsafe (isi_mcp)

root    5181    0.0  0.0  31476  12572  -  Is   11Jun21      0:00.36 isi_mcp: forker (isi_mcp)

The ‘Master’ is the central MCP process and does the bulk of the work. It monitors files and services, including the failsafe process, and delegates actions to the forker process.

The role of the ‘Forker’ is to receive command-line actions from the master, execute them, and return the resulting exit codes. It receives actions from the master process over a UNIX domain socket. If the forker is inadvertently or intentionally killed, it’s automatically restarted by the master process. If necessary, MCP will continue trying to restart the forker at an increasing interval. If, after around ten minutes of unsuccessfully attempting to restart the forker, MCP will fire off a CELOG alert, and continue trying. A second alert would then be sent after thirty minutes.

The ‘Failsafe’ process is responsible for starting, monitoring, restarting, and stopping both the Master and Forker. It’s a single threaded process that, if killed, will shut down all three MCP services. If this occurs, the three services will stay down until they are restarted with the ‘isi_mcp’ CLI command. If the master fails and can’t be restarted, MCP will continue attempting to restart it and fire alerts in the same manner as described above for the forker service.

MCP monitors the following files:

File Type Function
/etc/mcp/sys/files/* Configuration files monitored by MCP.
/etc/mcp/sys/services/* Services that MCP starts and monitors.
/etc/ifs/array.xml Cluster configuration file.
/etc/mcp/override/* All files in override directory propagated to all nodes and entered in global mlist.
/etc/mcp/mlist.xml Local mlist (mlists are used to manage and track the above files)
/ifs/.ifsvar/etc/mcp/mlist.xml Master mlist

The following command will list the open files that MCP is currently monitoring on a node:

# for i in `sysctl efs.bam.busy_vnodes | grep -i mcp | awk '{print $4}' | sed -E 's/)//'`; do isi get -L $i | awk '{print $8}'; done

MCP monitors the configuration files in /etc/mcp/sys/files. While monitoring the configuration files MCP does two things:

  • Performs the file change action
  • Propagates config file changes to other nodes

Consider the XML configuration file for the ndmpd service, for example:

# cat /etc/mcp/sys/services/ndmpd

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<service name="ndmpd" enable="0" display="1" options="require-quorum,kill-on-sigquorum,require-post-ifs">

      <isi-meta-tag id="ndmp_service">



      <description>Network Data Management Protocol Daemon</description>

      <process name="isi_ndmp_d" pidfile="/var/run/"

               startaction="start" stopaction="stop"/>

      <actionlist name="start">



      <actionlist name="stop">

        <action>/usr/bin/killall isi_ndmp_d</action>



Much of what MCP does in response to an event notification is defined by the ‘actionlist’ in a config file. This is simply a list of commands to be executed, with action lists for starting and stopping services, and also for specific configuration files changes (for example, importing a product license).

Many of the local configuration files need to be uniform across the cluster so, unless the ‘notify =0’ flag is set, the master process also copies changed files to /ifs for MCP on other nodes to use.

MCP starts and watches already running services in accordance with their service description files, stored under /etc/mcp/sys/services. These are XML files which describe how a service is to be started when enabled or stopped when disabled.

The XML file also lists under ‘options’ the conditions of the node and/or cluster that must be met before the service can be started (for example above, ‘require-quorum’ or ‘require-post-ifs’, etc).

When a service is monitored, MCP ensures the correct state of the service on a node. If a service is marked ‘enable’, MCP will run the start action until the PID confirms it as running. When a service is marked ‘disable’, MCP will kill the service via its PID. The full list of services and their current state can be viewed with the following CLI command:

# isi services -a

MCP monitors services by observing their PID files (under /var/run), plus the process table itself, to determine if a process is already running or not. It compares this state against the ‘enabled/disabled’ state for the service and determines whether any start or stop actions are required. Services may also be configured to terminate if the cluster loses quorum with the option ‘kill-on-sigquorum’ in their XML file.

Another type of configuration file that MCP monitors is also known as a service override file, which live under /etc/mcp/override. These override files are used to store any current settings for options which have been changed from the defaults. The override files are always shared across the cluster via MCP’s configuration propagation mechanism.

The Master MCP process creates merged lists, or mlists, that are used to track and coordinate the process of managing the XML config and service description files. There are two types of mlist: Local and Master. The master process will automatically create the local mlist at startup if it doesn’t already exist. However, the master mlist is created later since MCP starts and begins operations before /ifs is mounted.

Here’s the mlist entry for the cluster’s NTP service, for example:








The local mlist has an entry for every file identified in the MCP file configuration files (/etc/mcp/sys/files), an entry for every configuration file (/etc/mcp/sys/files & procs), an entry for an override file for each service (may or may not exist), an entry for /etc/ifs/array.xml. It also contains an entry for the master mlist (/ifs/.ifsvar/etc/mcp/mlist.xml).

# grep mlist.xml mlist.xml


The mlist has an entry for every local file that’s shared across the cluster and the override service files. A coordinator lock file prevents different nodes from making changes to /ifs at the same time.

If MCP attempts to start a service and fails, as long as the service is enabled, it will wait for an interval before attempting to start the service again. This interval doubles in size each time, until it reaches 256 seconds then remains at this frequency.