Tape, Disk or SSD, the Name of the Game Is Density

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    Software-Defined Storage: Driving a New Era of the Cloud

    All this talk about hyperscale infrastructure and the need for massively dense solutions tends to focus on server and networking needs. But storage needs some lovin’ too when it comes to handling burgeoning data loads, and some of the latest solutions to hit the channel are clearly eye-popping.

    First up, we have DataDirect Networks (DDN), which recently unveiled the new SS8460 enclosure as part of the SFA 12K and SFA7700 storage platforms. The 4U unit can be stuffed with 84 drives that, when loaded with industry-leading 6 TB solutions, can place more than 5 PBs in a single rack. That’s nearly double the density of DDN’s current platform, a move that the company says can halve the operational expense that the enterprise faces when building the infrastructure needed to accommodate Big Data and the Internet of Things.

    Coming in second is an 80-bay solution from OEM provider Echostreams aimed at high-end media streaming and archival applications. The 4U eDrawer4072 system comes with an Adaptect 12 Gbps SAS adapter and 72 hot-swappable 2.3-inch top-load bays, plus another eight SSD slots to deliver more than 4 PB of raw storage with an 80 TB Flash component. In this way, the company says it can deliver both the capacity and high performance required of rich media or large-volume data applications.

    Then we have the FlashDisk PetaStore FX-4U60 from Winchester Systems, which holds upwards of 600 6TB disks in a 4U footprint, driving capacity to 3.6 PB in a single cabinet. As well, the system features 16 Gb Fibre Channel and 10 Gb iSCSI Ethernet to support automated tiering and hybrid storage configuration. The design also features active-active controller support for up to 12 host ports and can be field-upgraded to, say, jump from 1 Gb iSCSI to 10 GbE or 16 G FC when desired.

    And before we think that hyper-dense storage solutions are only geared toward hard disk or solid state, note that IBM and Fujifilm have teamed up on a new tape system that pushes capacity to 154 TB per cartridge, a 62x increase over current LTO offerings. The boost is made possible by a new tape technology that increases areal density to 85.9 billion bits per square inch. In conjunction, IBM developed a new write head capable of addressing the finer barium ferrite (BaFe) particles on the tape, as well as advanced servo and head-positioning technology capable of operating at nano-scale.

    All of these developments are a strong indication that, when it comes to meeting the needs of the coming data ecosystem, no one medium has all the answers. Whether it’s capacity, performance, resiliency or a combination of multiple factors, the enterprise will continue to see a variety of solutions in the channel.

    Some of these may be more “cutting edge” than others, but at the end of the day, it’s solutions that matter, not technology. A mixed media strategy in the storage farm, then, allows the enterprise to keep all options in play when dealing with diverse, and increasingly chaotic, data environments.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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