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EMC adds awesome to Atmos

Bigger drives, faster cores, and better protection

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EMC has upgraded the hardware and protection attributes of its cloud storage Atmos product so it can store, process and protect more data faster.

Atmos is EMC's storage array product that is designed to combine in massively scalable cloud structures that span the globe and deliver data automatically to where it is needed so that access requirements can be met.

Version 1.3 has Nehalem Xeon 5500 processor support added, giving half as much performance again as the previous processor, according to EMC. It also has support for 2TB drives, doubling capacity to 720TB per Atmos product.

EMC has also added a GeoProtect feature to slice stored objects into many segments or components using a technique called erasure coding. These are stored across a customer's set of Atmos boxes using policies set by the customer. If one or more Atmos nodes in the cloud go down, then the object can be recreated from the components stored on the remaining nodes.

Erasure coding adds additional information to a stored object such that it can be ressurected from a subset of the total information in the extended object. It's called a forward error correction (FEC) technique. Multiple encoded fragments are distributed across Atmos nodes - components in the cloud - for increased content durability. Generally, increasing the amount of added code increases the number of components of an FEC-coded object that can be lost and the original data still recovered.

EMC says this provides greater storage resilience with less overhead than replicating entire objects, aynchronously or synchronously, to multiple locations.

EMC added similar technology to Centera in December last year, calling it RAIN or Redundant Array of Independent Nodes. Permabit added FEC technology to its archive product earlier that same year, in May, as did Zetta in April.

Both FEC and replication have their roles in an Atmos cloud and it's a case of trading off storage capacity needed, data movement time across the cloud of Atmos nodes, bandwidth availability and cost, and Atmos control processor cycles to recover FEC-coded objects if part of the information is lost, to decide which is the best technique to use for particular stored objects.

GeoProtect also includes replication functionality so that stored objects can be replicated and sent to the right location if needed. Replication could be used to distribute objects with high access needs. FEC could be used to store archive content which doesn't need such fast access. EMC suggests that with FEC you could retain two object copies with the same content protection as seven replicas at a fraction of the storage overhead.

A policy-driven tiering engine in Atmos can automatically take content whose access needs has fallen, delete excess copies and ship the objects to a long-term store location. EMC says this provides a framework for object lifecycle management in the cloud.

The new version of Atmos will be available later this quarter. ®

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