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Stateless Server Storage from Alliance Systems and Astute Networks

A “stateless” server treats each request as an independent transaction that is unrelated to any previous request. It literally has no “memory” or session variables that one finds in application software to store data for each transaction session. An example of a stateless server is a World Wide Web server, which takes in requests (URLs) which completely specify the required document and doesn’t require any context or memory of previous requests. Stateless servers thus have no disk or flash drive to hold the “state” (OS, applications, data) of the server and are very simple. Upon boot up the state of the server is loaded on the server from a centralized and/or remote source. The server can be dynamically allocated without having to re-build applications, install operating systems or migrate data. Since there is no storage to be dynamically allocated to deal with conversations in progress, there is no concern about freeing any memory if a client fails in mid-transaction.

An example of a stateless server is a World Wide Web server, which receives a request (URL) that completely specifies the desired document and doesn’t require any context or memory of previous requests. Stateless servers require careful design of protocols so that client software can send all necessary information along with a request.




As it happens, Alliance Systems (http://www.alliancesystems.com), a Network Engines company, is major player in building stateless servers in the AdvancedTCA (ATCA) form factor and incorporating Intel technology. They’ve even partnered with Astute Networks (http://www.astutenetworks.com) to build a stateless ATCA server solution using Astute Networks’ Caspian 10 Gbps iSCSI Storage Blades with remote iSCSI boot. Remote Boot over iSCSI, also known as iBoot, is perfect for stateless servers, since it enables even a diskless computer to boot up by connecting to a hard drive over a network.

Astute Network’s Caspian Storage Blade, based on Intel embedded processors, is said to be the first 10 Gbps iSCSI storage solution for AdvancedTCA, capable of providing iSCSI boot services for diskless and stateless server environments. NEPs and Telcos can now centralize their storage across all servers, since they now need store only a single set of OS boot images and applications files that can be shared over all servers in a chassis or across chassis. Such a centralization of storage reduces management overhead, capital cost, power consumption and improves recovery time, server deployment time and systems availability compared to Direct Attached Storage (DAS) on CPU blades. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

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