Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: James Carlini, Ferhat Hatay, Pat Romanski, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Cloud Security, SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Data Efficiency at Scale

Overcoming limitations in data efficiency features

The initial wave of data efficiency features for primary storage focus on silos of information organized in terms of individual file systems. Deduplication and compression features provided by some vendors are limited by the scalability of those underlying file systems, essentially the file systems have become silos of optimized data. For example, NetApp deduplication can't scale beyond a 100 TB limit, because that's the limit in size of its WAFL file system. But ask anyone who's ever used NetApp deduplication if they've done it on a 100 TB file system, and you're likely to hear "are you crazy?" It's one thing to claim that data efficiency features can scale, quite a different one to actually use them with performance at scale.

Challenges around scalability generally center on two areas: scalability of random IO and memory overhead. Older solutions, like the one from NetApp, face the first challenge while newer flash-based storage systems are struggling with the second. I'll review both here:

The IO Challenge
Primary data-oriented storage devices handle both streaming and random throughput and therefore are sensitive to latency effects. Data efficiency requirements for primary storage must have fast hashing techniques to reduce the impact of latency. Fast hashes are non-cryptographic in nature and so require data comparison when used to do deduplication. It works like this:

  1. When a new chunk of data is read in it is first given a name using the hash algorithm.
  2. The system then checks a deduplication index to see if a chunk with that name has been seen before (note that this can consume disk IO and tremendous amounts of memory if done wrong).
  3. If the name has been seen we need to take extra steps. Because fast hashes are non-cryptographic, it is possible to have a name match while the data content differs. This is known in computer science as a hash-collision. To account for this, the existing copy of the chunk must be read in and compared bit-by-bit to the new. If they match, only a reference to the chunk is created. If not, then the new chunk must be written.

Essentially, this form of deduplication means trading a write of a duplicate chunk for a read. Depending on the design of the underlying block virtualization layer, duplicate chunks may be widely dispersed throughout the system. In that case, the bigger the system gets, the more expensive reads get - so processing of duplicate data becomes slower and slower as the storage system fills - this is why you won't find many 100 TB NetApp file systems with deduplication turned on. Certainly not for primary storage applications, the system would be flooded with random read requests and NetApp's deduplication process can end up taking months, years or even never complete.

A number of techniques have been used to reduce the impact of IO in other products. For example, the Hitachi NAS (HNAS) and Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) solutions from HDS make use of hardware-acceleration to generate cryptographically secure hashes that do not require a data compare at all - this allows for linear scaling of deduplication performance on volumes up to 256 TB in size. Data is also written out before it is deduplicated to avoid introducing any latency through the hash computation process itself.

Permabit's own Albireo Virtual Data Optimizer (VDO) product, a plug-in module for Linux-based storage solutions, takes a different approach but with a similar result. VDO works inline to provide immediate data reduction. When data is written out, the VDO process intelligently lays it out in a sequential pattern, so that subsequent read compares of duplicates are more likely to be sequential as well. Both solutions do a fine job at solving the problem in real world scenarios, they just take different approaches.

The Memory Challenge
Many of today's flash array vendors are providing deduplication using similar fast hashing techniques to what I outlined above. With flash, the cost of doing random reads for read compares is a non-issue (random seeks on flash are much less expensive than for hard drive environments) so the use of the fast hash alone is enough to minimize latency. These systems (such as EMC's recently launched XtremIO product) are focused on delivering performance and the big challenge to performance at scale is available memory (DRAM). As above, after chunks are read in, they are named using a fast hashing algorithm. After that, the flash system must determine whether or not a chunk has been seen before. To get at this information as quickly as possible, flash-based storage systems have tended to use huge amounts of DRAM to cache chunk names in memory. It's not uncommon to see flash storage systems that allocate 16 GB of working cache per TB of storage. To support a 256 TB storage volume, such a system would require a TBs of DRAM. The increased hard costs in terms of more expensive (denser) DIMMS, as well as the increased cost of the server board required to support this many DIMMs combine to make this an extremely costly and unpopular proposition. Combine this with the fact that DRAM prices are not falling at the same rate as flash prices, and you can see why no vendor today makes a 256TB flash storage array with global deduplication capabilities.

The solution to the memory challenge is coming, in the form of a next generation of flash storage products that utilize Albireo indexing and Albireo VDO. Unlike the flash arrays described above, flash-optimized arrays with VDO takes advantage of advanced caching techniques to operate with 128 MB of working cache per TB of storage and deliver excellent performance. With VDO, a 256 TB system can be delivered with as little as 32 GB of RAM while delivering 1M IOPS performance. The net result is a cost effective and easily deployed data efficiency solution for flash arrays.

Conclusion

Deduplication Scalability by Vendor

As you can see in the table above, forward thinking vendors like HDS have done a good job at overcoming limitations in their data efficiency features and have products on the market today that can scale to meet the requirements of the large enterprise. Many other vendors are lagging behind, because of their inability to address IO and/or memory requirements, a serious downfall since data efficiency is at the core of distinguishing storage solutions, a critical end user requirement, and a ‘must have' component for 2014. Permabit's VDO product overcomes both of these limitations through the use of advanced memory-efficient caching techniques.

More Stories By Louis Imershein

As Senior Director of Product Strategy at Permabit Technology Corporation, Louis Imershein is responsible for product evolution and strategic planning for the Albireo family of products. He has 22 years of technical leadership experience in product management, software development and support. Prior to joining Permabit, Imershein was a Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Sun Microsystems Data Management Group. He has a Bachelor's degree in Biological Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...