I have awarded the 2009 Wikibon CTO Award for the best storage technology innovation to three companies:
- Cleversafe 2009 Introduction of Dispersed Storage
- Storwize* 2009 Introduction of Inline (now IBM) Real-time Compression of file-based data
- Unisys 2009 introduction of Stealth for securing cloud networks and data.
Cleversafe Dispersed Storage
The traditional way of storing data is to store files and volumes together. If a backup is needed a copy is taken and stored in another location, or the data is replicated over a network. Many copies of data result. That is fine for transactional data, but a large overhead (~300%) for files like media files and archives, which are large and rarely accessed.
In 2009, Cleversafe introduced the concept of dispersed storage using a derivative of Reed Solomon encoding. The data is broken up into slices (say 16) that are spread across multiple arrays in multiple locations. The Cleversafe algorithms then allow the data to be located and reassembled as required. If up to six of those sites are down or destroyed, 100% of the data is still reassembled. In addition, if data from a site is stolen, no data can be reconstructed.
Wikibon believes that this type of technology is a good strategic fit for cloud storage, especially for archive and media data. The overhead for splitting it up in to 16 slices is 25%, making it half the price of a traditional protected storage. The alternative is no backup at all for cloud storage, an approach being more popular but harder to detect.
Storewize (now IBM)Real-time Compression of Data
In 2009 Storwize (now IBM) Real-time Compression began ramping appliances for inline real-time compression of file-based data. Wikibon member Burzin Engineer reviewed his Storwize (now IBM) Real-time Compression implementation in June 2009. Burzin's organization implemented real time compression (see Shopzilla NAS Compression Architecture) and achieved a 50% or more reduction of his primary file-based storage, and the compression had improved the performance of the storage array caches and the storage network. The compression also complemented and significantly decreased the elapsed time of down-stream off-line processes such as backup and de-duplication. The business case for implementation is strong, as shown in a Wikibon professional alert “The business case for in-line compression”. It improves storage ROA (return on assets) by improving all installed and incremental storage assets from any vendor. The availability of decompression software eliminates the risk of losing data or vendor lock-in.
Wikibon believes that in-line compression will become a standard feature of storage arrays in the next two years for both for file-based and block-based storage arrays.
Unisys Stealth Technology
The enterprise cloud is built on virtualization of shared resources that can be spread over many locations and connected by shared communication resources. Security between all the components of cloud architectures is a major challenge as recently discussed by Dave Vellante. Security of the interfaces between the components (e.g., HBA to buffer) relies to a large extent on hardware separation, which either disappears or is un-auditable in a virtual environment.
Unisys has introduced a technology called Stealth as part of its enterprise cloud offerings and is planning to extend this to other platforms. Rather than securing the data center, Stealth secures the link, data in motion, and data at rest between the user and the application. Wikibon has used the term “end-to-end” to classify this type of approach. As discussed by Michael Versace Stealth is a set of data protection technologies developed originally for the United States Department of Defense. It provides a method of separating devices and data into communities of interest (CoI) on a single network and storage network that allows data from different communities of information to co-habituate across a network and in storage without being “visible” to users, applications, or processes outside the authorized community of interest.
Wikibon believes that this type of integrated approach will become essential for secure cloud computing, and has the potential of making cloud computing more secure than today’s best of breed installations.
Congratulations to Cleversafe, Storwize (now IBM) and Unisys for introducing three great storage innovations in 2009. Wikibon believes that these technology types will become ubiquitous over the next few years and will significantly affect the quality and cost of computing services.
Action Item: Congratulate Cleversafe, Storewize and Unisys for introducing three leading-edge storage and security innovations in 2009, and review these technologies. Wikibon believes that these technology capabilities will grow in importance over the next few years and will significantly affect the quality and cost of virtual computing services.
Footnotes: * In 2010 Storwize was acquired IBM, and the technology has been renamed IBM Real-time Compression