Reliable and scalable cloud storage was the topic du jour when TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) got to sit down with Wim De Wispelaere, CEO and founder of Amplidata, at the recent Cloud Expo 2011 in New York City. Amplidata's unique BitSpread technology is geared toward offering maximum uptime and scalability for storing anywhere from terabytes to zettabytes of data.
De Wispelaere explained how the company's system goes beyond traditional RAID storage solutions as well as other cloud hosted storage solutions. “When you want to store a massive amount of data, traditional storage systems limit you in scalability,” he said. He explained that a lot of storage systems fail in not being able to easily add storage capacity on the fly. When customers use high-capacity drives to store their data, traditional disk protection mechanisms (i.e. RAID and replication) don't work well, particularly if the amount of data is great than two terabytes.
De Wispelaere said that Amplidata has solved this problem through its BitSpread technology. When disk failure occurs, disk rebuilding is done “out of band” so that the primary data load is not impacted by the rebuilding work, which is done in the background. He explained that every object being stored in Amplidata's system is cut into chunks and stored across separate nodes. Users may define the availability policies of those nodes, and in a typical scenario, data is spread across 60 nodes.
“Any policy you like can be implemented within our storage system,” said De Wispelaere. The technology generates a series of redundant chunks and spreads them across the storage nodes, enabling data to be accessed at all times, even if a node fails. This enables more flexibility in choosing an availability policy, as well as working with massive amounts of data.
Amplidata refers to this as Optimized Object Storage, and claims it is ten thousand times more reliable than current RAID-based technologies. Amplidata's solution requires 50 to 70 percent less storage and power and is 90 percent less expensive than current storage solutions, with reduced floor space and maintenance costs.
“It sounds to me like you're taking RAID and you're evolving it,” noted Tehrani, adding that the Amplidata solution could be categorized as RAID 2.0. “RAID is at the end of its lifecycle now and we've built BitSpread to overcome that,” said De Wispelaere.
He added that if one disk fails within a RAID group, the whole group needs to be rebuilt. That can take up to five days, during which time data may be unprotected or at a low protection level. Performance also declines while the RAID group is rebuilding.
Tehrani asked why the performance with Amplidata's solution is preferable, adding that it might be perceived as slower since it is a cloud-based system. De Wispelaere said that BitSpread implementation has been optimized for high performance and throughput. The system operates on the nodes used for storage, and on controllers, which govern availability and accessibility. Multiple controllers may be added to scale out performance, while data is dispersed across multiple storage nodes to form a grid.
He explained that BitDynamics agents then perform maintenance tasks like scrubbing, rebalancing, healing and verification on the stored data. Unlike a RAID system in which a single controller is responsible for the repair of the system, all of their controllers work in tandem. And multiple controllers and multiple nodes yield highly redundant data.
De Wispelaere said the company has been focused on scaling its business within the U.S. Amplidata recently announced the AS20 Storage Node, a pre-configured appliance capable of storing up to 20 TB of data in a 1U, 19-inch rackmount configuration. The product features an integrated low-power processor as well as preinstalled BitDynamics AmpliStor software agents for integrated monitoring, integrity verification and self healing. The appliance offers energy-efficient power consumption of 65 to 140 watts utilization as well as two one-GB Ethernet interfaces for network connectivity to AmpliStor controllers.
Additional features of the new node include integrated temperature and power management that can power off disks or the entire appliance when data is not being access, resulting in 90 percent power savings for archive solutions. It also features integrated disk drive thermal monitoring and fan-speed monitoring, and integrated remote management capabilities eliminate the need for a KVM switch.
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