Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Data Direct Networks takes on EMC Atmos with Web Object Scalar (WOS)

Data Direct Networks (DDN) announced their entry into the cloud with the introduction of Web Object Scalar (WOS), a clustered storage system based on an object based file system that has been three years in the making.

WOS is targeting the web content and storage market with a particular focus on Internet and Web 2.0 sites, healthcare, document imaging, online game development and geospatial information services. DDN have clearly identified the content distribution network (CDN) space with its cost and ownership issues as a prime opportunity and despite the EMC Atmos claim that they are not in this space it is obvious that DDN have Atmos in their sights.

Some key features.

· The object-based WOS file system intelligence and the is delivered on DDN-engineered storage appliances allowing for tight integrated. The strong claim from DDN is that this will enable optimal performance of the system eliminating any compatibility compromises. Atmos is similarly configured with Atmos hardware being the only storage platform currently supported by Atmos. The difference being that all the storage services are resident in the DDN hardware but are in the cloud in an Atmos environment.

· Performance claims are impressive with a single WOS cluster capable of storing over 200Billion files in a single global object repository and access performance scaling to millions of file reads per second.

· WOS has outstanding scalability with a 2-node, 14.4TB cluster as a starting point scaling up to 6PB in a 200 node system. Atmos takes a different approach starting at 120TB but with the claim of scaling to much larger configurations. DDN says however that they will be supporting even larger configurations over time.

· WOS uses policy based replication to distribute content. A single WOS cluster can have nodes that are geographically dispersed but operate and are managed as a single system. Replication is synchronous.

· Redundant copies of information provide both data protection and enables the distribution of content close to the network edge where it can be served with low latency.

· A single web-based GUI delivers the ease of use of a cluster that could span multiple data centers in multiple geographies.

· DDN claim that there is no bottleneck or single point of failure.

· WOS implements the notion of zones. These zones are a collection of nodes that can be used to define geographically distinct portions of the cluster or to define distinct functional areas such as a zone for high performance or one for archive.

· Any system that wants to access the information resident in a WOS cloud must be running a software component called a WOS-LIB. This is what communicates with the cloud and maintains knowledge of where content lives within the cloud facilitating direct in-memory lookups of content location information.

· As expected in an enterprise class clustered solution WOS has self healing capabilities.

· An API is available to simplify integration with user’s applications. Current languages supported are, C++, Java and Python.

· WOS is not designed for compliance and archiving but for global content distribution.

To describe how WOS works I will now unashamedly plagiaries DDN documentation.

“WOS clusters are made up of multiple nodes in communication with each other through standard Ethernet/Internet Protocol (IP) networks. New objects are automatically load balanced across available nodes and the WOS cluster automatically rebalances when new nodes are added. As objects are stored, WOS ensures that they replicated according to their policy settings. When objects are retrieved, WOS ensures that they are serviced locally if possible, facilitating the best page load times. If content is unavailable locally, WOS automatically retrieves it from a remote node in the cluster. WOS uses a simple API to interface to your applications to provide functions such as GET a file, PUT a file, and DELETE a file. WOS is easy to use whether you have a small cluster or a global network.”

This is one of the more exciting announcements I have heard in the cloud space which to be honest I find very cloudy - PUN intended. As described by Josh Goldstein, VP Product Marketing, when DDN embarked on this development they engaged with customers on what proved to be an ongoing dialog to understand what the users really needed to compete in the evolving WEB 2.0 world. Listening to Josh present WOS, I think they listened very well.

My one gripe is the acronym DDN is introducing, HGLT². To the uninitiated this is a description of data that is high growth, low turns and long tail. PLEASE………….

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