Sunday, April 26, 2009

Data Storage at NAB:

Walking the floor at NAB storage companies were few and far between. However, having said that there was a pervasive presence of digital storage solutions in many of the booths that featured content capture, management, production and delivery solutions. Data Direct were omnipresent with lesser known brands such as Rorke Data, Omneon and Apace having noticeable footprints.

Perhaps my first hand experiences of living through the ugly demise of once proud storage companies such as STK and the StorageWorks Division of Compaq, I have developed a sensitivity to organizational longevity. Hence my delight to discover three storage companies at NAB that can boast 25+/- successful years in the storage business; a strong testimony to their technology and customer service. Congratulations to SpectraLogic, Rorke and JMR.

Some companies I spoke with included;

  • Isilon featured their expanding horizons with the introduction (March) of their S-Series performance and the NL-Series capacity modules. These announcements grow the application reach of the Isilon product portfolio. Couple of interesting factoids; one click and one minute to expand storage capacity; Isilon has a 144 node cluster called the “WOPR” in test, their largest customer has 100 nodes operational; with the march announcement the maximum capacity of their single volume file namespace grew to 3.4PB. Watch for some interesting announcements in the next three to six months that will increase the integration of these building blocks and simplify common data management issues.

  • Data Direct Networks: Featured was the recently announced S2A6620. This 4U entry level module that hosts 60 drives in a highly dense configuration that can deliver 30,000IOPS with a capacity of 60TB. A second expansion cabinet is available doubling the capacity supported to 120TB. A migration path is available to integrate these modules into the larger 9700 and 9900 systems. The booth was dominated by several solution demonstrations such as a half rack (120 drives) delivering 2x4k streams.

  • BlueArc: The news on the BlueArc booth was the announcement (April 20th) of their partnership with Ocarina. Availability of the Ocarina Optimizer for BlueArc is scheduled for mid-May.

  • Rorke Data: While not on the floor they did have a suite in Renaissance Hotel where they hosted training for over 100 resellers, they are now represented in 25 countries. Joe Swanson their CEO proudly presented a demo that displayed two stereoscopic streams from a 24 drive system, priced at less than $2GB. Rorke is one of the few, perhaps only, vendors who offer both 8GBs and/or 20/40GBs Infiniband. At the other end of the spectrum is their Aurora LS, featuring the Nehalem CPU, delivering the performance necessary to target the post production market and at a cost less than 70c/GB.

  • SpectraLogic: While broadcast is a major vertical for SpectraLogic it was the news of their recent win at NASA where two of their T950 libraries replaced 10 STK 9310 silos’s that took center stage at least in my discussions.

  • Atrato: Featured their SSD integration into the Velocity 1000 supported by the Atrato Virtualization Software (AVS), ApplicationSmart™ . This software dynamically learns data access patterns to optimize the movement of data between storage tiers to simplify the exploitation of this expensive Tier 0 SSD layer. See my earlier post.

  • JMR: One of the smaller storage companies exhibiting but also one of the longest established. Founded in 1982 JMR was primary an OEM supplier but is now focusing directly on the media and entertainment business. New at the show was their FibreStream™ FC RAID array and their DAS, PeSAN™ RAID system. The mark of their success is the recent order from Advanced Digital Services for 128TB of storage for their MAC based editing, encoding and restoration services.

  • Apace: An interesting, low end clustered storage solution targeted at real time collaborative editing. What interested me was the way the have successfully wrapped meaningful user applications around their storage technology and their sell is in the language of the targeted user, not a storage administrator. Their WEB site is a bit confusing but they are on the right path. A lesson that data center vendors should learn.