John Kim is Director of Storage Marketing at Mellanox Technologies, where he helps storage customers and vendors benefit from high performance interconnects and RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access). After starting his high tech career in an IT helpdesk, John worked in enterprise software and networked storage, with many years of solution marketing, product management, and alliances at enterprise software companies, followed by 12 years working at NetApp and EMC. Follow him on Twitter: @Tier1Storage
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Early May is a time of celebrations. May 1 is the traditional start of summer, as well as International Workers Day. Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French in 1862. In the United States, it’s time for Mother’s Day.
Figure 1: A traditional Maypole celebration in England
Most importantly for IT, it’s time for EMC World. EMC is Mother Storage to many enterprise customers gathered in Las Vegas this week.
Figure 2: EMC CEO Joe Tucci says “Live Long and Prosper” to mothers (and storage users) across the galaxy.
This week is EMC World, a huge event with tens of thousands of customers, partners, resellers and EMC employees talking about cloud, storage, and virtualization. EMC sells many storage solutions but most of the excitement and recent growth (per the latest EMC earnings announcement) are about scale-out storage, including EMC’s Isilon, XtremIO, and ScaleIO solutions.
As mentioned in my blog on the four big changes in storage, traditional scale-out storage connects many storage controllers together, while the new scale-out server storage links the storage on many servers. In both designs the disk or flash on all the nodes in each node is viewed and managed as one large pool of storage. Instead of having to manually partition and assign workloads to different storage systems, workloads can be either shifted seamlessly from node to node (no downtime) or distributed across the nodes.
Clients connect to (scale-out storage) or run on (scale-out server storage) different nodes but must be able to access storage on other nodes as if it were local. If I’m connecting to node A, I need rapid access to the storage on node A, B, C, D, and all the other nodes in the cluster. The system may also migrate data from one node to another, and rapidly exchange metadata or control traffic to keep track of who has which data.
This week, Las Vegas hosts the National Association of Broadcasters conference, or NAB Show. A big focus is the technology needed to deliver movies and TV shows using 4K video.
Standard DVD video resolution is 720×480. Blue-ray resolution is 1920×1080. But, thanks to digital projection in movie theatres and huge flat-screen TVs at home, more video today is being shot in 4K (4096×2160) resolutions. The video is stored compressed but must be streamed uncompressed for many editing, rendering, and other post-production workflows. Each frame has over 8 million pixels and requires 24x greater bandwidth than DVD (4x greater bandwidth than Blue-ray).
People often ask me why Mellanox is interested in storage, since we make high-speed InfiniBand and Ethernet infrastructure, but don’t sell disks or file systems. It is important to understand the four biggest changes going on in storage today: Flash, Scale-Out, Appliances, and Cloud/Big Data. Each of these really deserves its own blog but it’s always good to start with an overview.
Flash is a hot topic, with IDC forecasting it will consume 17% of enterprise storage spending within three years. It’s 10x to 1000x faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) with both higher throughput and lower latency. It can be deployed in storage arrays or in the servers. If in the storage, you need faster server-to-storage connections. If in the servers, you need faster server-to-server connections. Either way, traditional Fibre Channel and iSCSI are not fast enough to keep up. Even though Flash is cheaper than HDDs on a cost/performance basis, it’s still 5x to 10x more expensive on a cost/capacity basis. Customers want to get the most out of their Flash and not “waste” its higher performance on a slow network.
Flash can be 10x faster in throughput, 300-4000x faster in IOPS per GB (slide courtesy of EMC Corporation)