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NetApp solution for silly rename issue for NFS to Kafka workloads

Contributors banum-netapp

Kafka is built with the assumption that the underlying filesystem is POSIX compliant: for example, XFS or Ext4. Kafka resource rebalancing removes files while the application is still using them. A POSIX-compliant file system allows unlink to proceed. However, it only removes the file after all references to the file are gone. If the underlying filesystem is network attached, then the NFS client intercepts the unlink calls and manages the workflow. Because there are pending opens on the file being unlinked, the NFS client sends a rename request to the NFS server and, on the last close of the unlinked file, issues a remove operation on the renamed file. This behavior is commonly referred to as NFS silly rename, and it is orchestrated by the NFS client.

Any Kafka broker using storage from an NFSv3 server runs into issues because of this behavior. However, the NFSv4.x protocol has features to address this issue by allowing the server to take responsibility for the opened, unlinked files. NFS servers supporting this optional feature communicate the ownership capability to the NFS client at the time of file opening. The NFS client then ceases the unlink management when there are opens pending and allows the server to manage the flow. Although the NFSv4 specification provides guidelines for implementation, until now, there were not any known NFS server implementations that supported this optional feature.

The following changes are required for the NFS server and the NFS client to address the silly rename issue:

  • Changes to NFS client (Linux). At the time of file opening, the NFS server responds with a flag, indicating the capability to handle the unlinking of opened files. NFS client-side changes allow the NFS server to handle the unlinking in the presence of the flag. NetApp has updated the open-source Linux NFS client with these changes. The updated NFS client is now generally available in RHEL8.7 and RHEL9.1.

  • Changes to NFS server. The NFS server keeps track of opens. Unlinking on an existing open file is now managed by the server to match POSIX semantics. When the last open is closed, The NFS server then initiates the actual removal of the file and thus avoids the silly rename process. The ONTAP NFS server has implemented this capability in its latest release, ONTAP 9.12.1.

With the above changes to the NFS client and server, Kafka can safely reap all the benefits of network-attached NFS storage.