December 20, 2014

Storage News Roundup: Storage is Getting Sexy

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Go ahead, admit it. You never used to much care about storage. It was mundane, stodgy, boring technology compared to the wild world of networks, all abuzz with fiber optics, and blazing fast computers. It’s easy to have a new-found appreciation for storage given all the stuff we now have to store – even at home we’ve got terabyte external disks to back up all the music, videos and photos. And the types of storage solutions being called for in the enterprise environment – and that the market is delivering – definitely demand that we sit up and take notice. Consider these tidbits:

IBM Breaks New Ground with Flash Memory Storage

First, from Network World:

With an eye toward helping tomorrow’s data-deluged organizations, IBMresearchers have created a super-fast storage system capable of scanning in 10 billion files in 43 minutes.

This system handily bested their previous system, demonstrated at Supercomputing 2007, which scanned 1 billion files in three hours.

Key to the increased performance was the use of speedy flash memory to store the metadata that the storage system uses to locate requested information. Traditionally, metadata repositories reside on disk, access to which slows operations.

The story goes on to say the system can read files at a rate of almost 5Gigabytes per second. So of course you’re probably thinking, “how long it would take to read my iTunes library”. If your library is 52G, it comes to a little more than 10 seconds. Think back to the last time you transfered that beast, and the process was most likely measured in hours. So put us down as “for” flash memory.

Automated Tiered Storage, Meet Solid State Drives

Here’s another storage trend that can really help companies: automated tiered storage. Tiered storage is nothing new – you try to keep the data you need most on the fastest (and most expensive) storage tier while relegating the rest to lower-cost platforms. The trick has always been figuring out which data is used most often and taking the time to shift things around accordingly. That’s where automated tiered storage comes in. As this piece from Tech Target says:

Like caching, automated tiered storage improves data storage system performance as much as it attacks the cost of capacity. By moving “hot” data to faster storage devices (10K or 15K rpm disks or SSD), tiered storage systems can perform faster than similar devices without the expense of widely deploying these faster devices. Conversely, automated tiering can be more energy- and space-efficient because it moves “bulk” data to slower but larger-capacity drives.

SSD stands for solid state drives, which are also all the rage, with companies like eBay installing it in a big way, according to StorageBytes Now:

Solid state storage system manufacturer Nimbus announced Tuesday a deployment of more than 100 TB of solid state storage at eBay. The installation uses that latest version of the Nimbus Sustainable Storage system that provides a very close integration with VMware and provides 10Gb/sec. iSCSI Ethernet connectivity and reduces VM provisioning time from 40 minutes to just three minutes

There’s Big Money in Virtualization-optimized Storage

Which brings us to yet another storage trend: virtualization-optimized storage. Virtualization apparently can wreak havoc with storage systems, given all the storage I/O that can develop when you’ve got lots of virtual machines sharing the same physical server. As TechTarget reports, help is on the way:

Virtual server environments are an opportunity for innovation and new ideas, and startups are jumping into the fray. One such company, Tintri Inc., has developed a “VM-aware” storage system that combines SATA HDDs, NAND flash and inline data deduplication to meet the performance and flexibility needs of virtual servers. “Traditional storage systems manage LUNs, volumes or tiers, which have no intrinsic meaning for VMs,” said Tintri CEO Kieran Harty. “Tintri VMstore is managed in terms of VMs and virtual disks, and we were built from scratch to meet the demands of a VM environment.”

It seems the virtualization-optimized storage vendors are on to something, at least judging by the fate of one startup called IOTurbine. As StorageBytes Now reported last week:

The surprise of the day was the announcement that Fusion-io is acquiring VMware storage virtualization and caching software supplier IOTurbine, just weeks after coming out of stealth, for $95 million in cash and stock.

Acquired for $95 million just a few weeks after hitting the market. That is by no means mundane, stodgy or boring.

To learn more about how to take full advantage of modern storage trends and capabilities in your environment, contact Carousel today to arrange an assessment with one of our industry-leading storage engineers.

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