Western Digital – The A Is For Active, The S Is For Scale

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 15.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

   

Western Digital recently presented at Storage Field Day 15. You might recall there are a few different brands under the WD umbrella, including Tegile and HGST and folks from both Tegile and HGST presented during Storage Field Day 15. I’d like to talk about the ActiveScale session however, mainly because I’m interested in object solutions. I’ve written about Tegile previously, although obviously a fair bit has changed for them too. You can see their videos from Storage Field Day 15 here, and download a PDF copy of my rough notes from here.

 

ActiveScale, Probably Not What You Thought It Was

ActiveScale isn’t some kind of weight measurement tool for exercise fanatics, but rather the brand of scalable object system that HGST sells. It comes in two flavours: the P100 and X100. Apparently the letters in product names sometimes do mean things, with the “P” standing for Petabyte, and the “X” for Exabyte (possibly in the same way that X stands for Excellent). From a speeds and feeds perspective, the typical specs are as follows:

  • P100 – starts as low as 720TB, goes to 18PB. 17x 9s data durability, 4.6KVA typical power consumption; and
  • X100 – 5.4PB in a rack, 840TB – 52PB, 17x 9s data durability, 6.5KVA typical power consumption.

You can scale out to 9 expansion racks, with 52PB of scale out object storage goodness per namespace. Some of the key capabilities of the ActiveScale platform include:

  • Archive and Backup;
  • Active Data for Analytics;
  • Data Forever Architecture;
  • Versioning;
  • Encryption;
  • Replication;
  • Single Pane Management;
  • S3 Compatible APIs;
  • Multi-Geo Availability Zones; and
  • Scale Up and Scale Out.

They use “BitSpread” for dynamic data placement and you can read a little about their erasure coding mechanism here. “BitDynamics” assures continuous data integrity, offering the following features:

  • Background – verification process always running
  • Performance – not impacted by verification or repair
  • Automatic – all repairs happen with no intervention

There’s also a feature called “GeoSpread” for geographical availability.

  • Single – Distributed erasure coded copy;
  • Available – Can sustain the loss of an entire site; and
  • Efficient – Better than 2 or 3 copy replication.

 

What Do I Use It For Again?

Like a number of other object storage systems in the market, ActiveScale is being positioned as a very suitable platform for:

  • Media & Entertainment
    • Media Archive
    • Tape replacement and augmentation
    • Transcoding
    • Playout
  • Life Sciences
    • Bio imaging
    • Genomic Sequencing
  • Analytics

 

Thoughts And Further Reading

Unlike a lot of people, I find technical sessions discussing object storage at extremely large scale to be really interesting. It’s weird, I know, but there’s something that I really like about the idea of petabytes of storage servicing media and entertainment workloads. Maybe it’s because I don’t frequently come across these types of platforms in my day job. If I’m lucky I get to talk to folks about using object as a scalable archive platform. Occasionally I’ll bump into someone doing stuff with life sciences stuff in a higher education setting, but they’ve invariably built something that’s a little more home-brew than HGST’s offering. Every now and then I’m lucky enough to spend some time with media types who regale me with tales of things that go terribly wrong when the wrong bit of storage infrastructure is put in the path of a particular editing workflow or transcode process. Oh how we laugh. I can certainly see these types of scalable platforms being a good fit for archive and tape replacement. I’m not entirely convinced they make for a great transcode or playout platform, but I’m relatively naive when it comes to those kinds of workloads. If there are folks reading this who are familiar with that kind of stuff, I’d love to have a chat.

But enough with my fascination with the media and entertainment industry’s infrastructure requirements. From what I’ve seen of ActiveScale, it looks to be a solid platform with a lot of very useful features. Coupled with the cloud management feature it seems like they’re worth a look. Western Digital aren’t just making hard drives for your NAS (and other devices), they’re doing a whole lot more, and a lot of it is really cool. You can read El Reg’s article on the X100 here.

Storage Field Day 6 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 6.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day and their sponsors. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

This is a quick post to say thanks once again to the organisers and sponsors of Storage Field Day 6. I had a great time, learnt a lot, and didn’t get much sleep. For easy reference, here’s a list of the posts I did covering the event (not necessarily in chronological order).

Storage Field Day 6 – Day 0
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 1 – Avere
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 1 – StorMagic
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 1 – Tegile
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 2 – Coho Data
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 2 – Nexenta
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 2 – Pure Storage
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 3 – Nimble Storage
Storage Field Day 6 – Day 3 – NEC
Storage Field Day 6 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Also, here’s a number of links to posts by my fellow delegates. They’re all really smart folks, and you’d do well to check out what they’re writing about. I’ll update this list as more posts are published.

 

Eric Shanks
Storage Field Day 6
Local Premises Storage for EC2 Provided by Avere Systems
Nimble Storage Data Analytics – InfoSight

Will All New Storage Arrays be Hybrid?

 

John Obeto
Today at Storage Field Day 6

Day 2 at Storage Field Day 6: Coho Data

Day 2 at Storage Field Day 6: Nexenta Systems

 

Arjan Timmerman
Storage Field Day Starts Today :D

 

Nigel Poulton

Nexenta – Back in da house…

 

Enrico Signoretti
Avere Systems, great technology but…

 

Chin-Fah Heoh

MASSive, Impressive, Agile, TEGILE

 

Jon Klaus
Storage Field Day 6 Day 0 – Sightseeing and Yankee swap
SFD6 Day 1 – Avere, StorMagic, Tegile

 

Finally, thanks again to Stephen, Claire and Tom, it was a great few days and I really valued the opportunity I was given to attend.

Storage Field Day 6 – Day 1 – Tegile

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 6.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day and their sponsors. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

For each of the presentations I attended at SFD6, there are a few things I want to include in the post. Firstly, you can see video footage of the Tegile presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Tegile website that covers some of what they presented.

Before the session we took a quick tour of the lab. Here’s a blurry phone snap of shiny, shiny machines.

SFD6_Tegile

Tegile spent a fair bit of time taking us through their system architecture which I found interesting as I wasn’t overly familiar with their story. You can read about their system hardware in my presentation notes. I thought for this post I’d highlight some of the features in the data services layer.

SFD6_Tegile_IntelliFlash

Data Reduction is offered via:

  • In-line deduplication
    • block level
    • dedupe across media
    • performance multiplier
  • In-line compression
    • block level
    • turn on/off at LUN / share level
    • alogrithm – LZ4, LZJB, GZIP
    • perf multiplier
  • Thin provisioning
    • array-level thin
    • for LUNs and shares
    • supports VMware VAAI “STUN”
    • JIT storage provisioning

Interestingly, Tegile chooses to compress then dedupe, which seems at odds with a few other offerings out there.

 

From a data protection perspective, Tegile offers:

  • Instantaneous thin snapshots
    • point-in-time copies of data
    • space allocated only for changed blocks
    • no reserve space for snapshots
    • unlimited number of snapshots
    • VM-consistent and application-consistent
  • Instantaneous thin clones
    • mountable copies
    • R/W-able copies
    • point-in-time copies
    • Space allocated only for deltas
  • Detect and correct silent corruption
    • checksums all data blocks
    • data and checksum in separate locations
    • match data/checksum for integrity
    • corrupt / mismatched data fixed using blocks from mirrored copy

From a data recovery perspective, the Tegile solution offers:

  • Instantaneous stable Recovery
    • data-consistent VM snapshots
    • hypervisor integrated
    • MSFT VSS co-ordinated data-consistent snapshots
    • VM-consistent and application-consistent snapshots
  • Intelligent data reconstruction
    • no need to rebuild entire drive
    • only portion of data rebuilt
    • accelerated metadata accelerates rebuilds
  • WAN-optimized replication
    • snapshot-based site-to-site replication
    • no need to replicate multiple updates to a block within the replication interval
    • minimizes bandwidth usage
    • one to many / many to one replication

Overall, I found Tegile’s presentation pretty interesting, and will be looking for opportunities to examine their products in more depth in the future. I also recommend checking out Scott D. Lowe’s article that looks into the overall theme of simplicity presented by a number of the vendors at SFD6.