Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Friday, February 28, 2020
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DDN Launches High-Performance NAS Solution for Enterprise Data Life Cycle Management 

DataDirect Networks (DDN), the advanced scale storage market leader, this morning announced a high-performance network attached storage (NAS) solution designed to keep pace with the data onslaught in the financial services, life sciences, web/cloud services and manufacturing industries. The GS14K is part of DDN’s GRIDScaler product line and delivers the industry’s fastest NAS performance, according to the company, replacing in a single rack the capacity of up to 4.5 previous-generation NAS racks.

DDN said the GS14K supports accelerated analytics and integrates into Hadoop, OpenStack and scale-out NAS environment workflows. It’s offered as an all-flash array or hybrid storage platform, combining NAS data access with the high performance of parallel files systems while leveraging embedded PCI-e low latency fabric.

Laura Shepard, DDN’s director of HPC markets, told EntepriseTech that a single GS14K controller delivers the performance of 30 traditional scale-out NAS nodes. “So you have to ask yourself, would I rather manage one device or 30? From a space standpoint, I’ve got to ask how much datacenter space I want to spend on my storage infrastructure? How am I going to grow it, how much is it going to cost to power and cool it?”

By DDN’s reckoning, the advanced scale enterprise market is primed for new scale-out NAS technologies that support big data workflows. This is because existing NAS solutions were not architected to manage the wide variety of file types or storage tiers of today’s workflows, resulting in equipment sprawl and increased cost and complexity.

GS14K supports traditional NAS protocols (CIFS, NFS) plus high performance NAS client and optional burst buffer, making large data sets simultaneously available to multiple systems and users. DDN said the product’s life-cycle management capabilities include a unified view to users, administrators and applications across storage tiers, including high performance, active archive, tape and cloud. Its open architecture means new technologies, such as EDR InfiniBand, Omni-Connect, and NVMe SSDs, can be incorporated faster.

The GS14K is available now and offers a range of configurations, including all flash, hybrid or standard high-capacity hard drives models. The GS7K, GS12K and custom configurations that preceded the GS14K have various performance and capacity characteristics that support smaller workloads.

“We offer a variety of requests in terms of leveraging SSD in different ways within the storage appliance platforms so people can control the price/performance spectrum of what they’re trying to do,” said Shepard.

“To be competitive in today’s world of massive data, organizations need to be able to access data from a variety of sources and leverage their data using the highest storage and retrieval performance, efficiency and scalability,” said George Crump, chief steward for industry analyst firm Storage Switzerland. “DDN’s GS14K is a solid example of how organizations can keep many of the appliance qualities that led them to choose scale-out NAS in the past, but with the ability to serve today’s commercial Big Data requirements.”

Shepard said DDN increasingly sells all-SSD implementations in scale-out NAS appliances for customers with workflows that are latency-sensitive, such as content distribution or anomaly detection or digital assistance. The most prevalent configuration is an SSD-accelerated hard-drive environment in which metadata is “pinned” across the file system.

“By pinning metadata into an SSD tier, which we can do automatically, this really accelerates the overall system performance and maximizes the performance of the spinning media as well,” she said.

In financial services, DDN sees the need for enhanced NAS technology supporting firms’ need to store and analyze TIC (Treasury International Capital) data, which shows money flows into and out of the U.S. for stock and financial instruments transactions, for lengthening periods of time. Shepard said when companies purchased the previous generation of NAS products, algorithms for back-testing TIC data might go back three to 12 months.

“Now they have to test those algorithms against something like five years of TIC data. Or, in the case of risk management scenarios, up to 30 years of compliance data, and you need to be doing it a lot faster than they were.”

In the commercial life sciences sector, a common need is handling data generated by the latest instruments and microscopes. “Some of them today produce almost a petabyte of data per day,” Shepard said. “It would have taken a sizeable chunk of scale-out NAS from five to seven years ago to capture the data from one of the new microscopes. Now we can support multiple instruments across single and multiple departments and have the headroom needed to do processing of that data as well as just capturing and storing it.”

In cloud and web services, one of the most time-sensitive requirements is transcoding media assets for content distribution. In the past, enterprises would transcode about 100 TB of assets per day in two different formats. “Now they’re trying to transcode something like 5 PB of media assets a day to something over seven different formats, so this is one of those multidimensional data growth problems.”

Shepard said a workload of this kind can require more than 20 traditional NAS nodes “plus allowing for additional nodes to guarantee performance in case there is a degradation, like a drive rebuild.” She said a single GS14K can handle this workload "plus the minimum expansion for just the capacity.

“These are the kind of deltas we’re seeing.”

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