Monday, July 13, 2009

June, a busy month for Data Direct Networks.

Last month Data Direct Networks (DDN) made two major announcements, one on June 22nd and the second on June 23rd. The strategy of two major announcements on consecutive days is a bit questionable, not to mention the joint BlueArc/DDN announcement also on the 23rd. I think DDN did themselves a great disservice by making these two announcements on consecutive days. But no one asked for my opinion.

However before talking about the announcements how about some interesting factoids DDN offered at the pre-announcement briefings.

  • Over 300% CAGR over the past five years.
  • Seven straight profitable years with current annual revenues exceeding $130M.
  • Over 90PB Shipped in 2008.
  • They are installed on eight of the world’s top ten high performance computing systems.
  • Claim over 450 post production and broadcast customers.
  • Their customer Microsoft, Xbox Live Community supports 10,000,000 online users and Shutterfly manages 3Billion individual photographs with 15PBs of DDN storage.

Ok, back to the announcements. The first was on 6/22 and established their presence in the Cloud with their WOS (Web Object Server). I covered this announcement in an earlier post. The second announcement on 6/23 presented their next generation platform architecture called the Storage Fusion Architecture (SFA) with the incumbent architecture the S2A is still available on the 9900 and 9700 product lines. The SFA announcement did not appear to enjoy as much fanfare so for those who missed it let me share some detail.

The SFA is a highly dense, high performance scale-up storage architecture. It targets the evolving storage requirements for large scale, multi-thread simultaneous file access that is characteristic of today’s WEB 2.0 and Internet workloads. These workloads are unpredictable, with queries of variable complexity, have access patterns that are increasingly random, have a high data access requirement, which means a high IOPS, and with a need to deliver large as well as small files, high bandwidth is a requisite.

The active /active architecture can sustain 300k of random disk IOPS and can achieve a burst (cache) performance number of 1M IOPS. Bandwidth is quoted at 10GB/s, read and write. Each system supports a maximum of 1200 drives in two standard racks and assuming 2TB drives, that is a system capacity of 2.4PB or 146.88GB/sq ft, the highest density configuration for online storage in the market. Even when using 1TB drives DDN beats out most other online mass storage options with their unique, dense packaging.

Connectivity options are either 16x8Gb/s Fibre Channel ports or 8x40Gb/s Infiniband ports. Internally, a 480Gb/s SAS data network has been implemented to supply sufficient headroom to meet all the array housekeeping requirements without impacting the performance of an application.

Unique to SFA is its support SAS and SATA hard drives (2TB now supported, SFA only) and SSD all within a single system. Again SSD is supported on SFA only. Obviously the intent is to provide the physical storage tiering hierarchy but what I find surprising is the lack of any integrated tools to enable users to employ tiering; a bit like a cell phone without the SIM card. There are many storage companies who have the physical storage tiers available in their solutions but very few who have a meaningful automation of the feature. Simple to use, meaningful automation is what delivers the benefit of tiering to the user. This shortcoming is probably the biggest weakness I perceive in this otherwise impressive announcement.

No comments: