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Scality shows off its mighty RING

'Our ring is resilient and self-healing'

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French supplier Scality has updated its RING software with a major release which proves, it claims, that object-based storage can be faster than SAN or NAS for unstructured data operations.

Scality employs a ring structure of X86 server nodes that store objects, not files or blocks, and can operate in parallel. The company says a ring of 100 nodes using SAS disks can deliver hundreds of thousands of objects per second, with a predictable latency below 40ms at a cost of less than $1/GB. If large SATA disks are used instead, for long-term storage such as cloud backup for example, the TCO (total cost of operation) is only a few cents per GB per month. A ring can use InfiniBand or Ethernet connectivity, and nodes support solid state drives (SSD) as well as disk drives.

The new software release features:-

- Virtually unlimited number of objects, with millions of namespaces per cluster, and tens of billions of files per namespace
- Objects of virtually unlimited size; a 3D HD feature-length movie can be handled as one object
- ;Mixing servers with different CPU, disk size and type in the same RING, simplifying the technology refresh cycle
- Support for the storage of unstructured content for existing applications with a FUSE (File system emulation in User Space) connector
- Automatic tiering based on the actual usage patterns of given objects, with effective inline compression
- Additional strategies for snapshots and for synchronous and asynchronous offsite data replication
- An updated management platform providing health statistics, enabling software and hardware upgrades without any downtime, including the ability to mark servers for retirement.

Background

CEO Jerome Lecat filled in the background for some of these features, saying that although the Scality ring "always could handle billions of objects. But when it was deployed with the Amazon S3 API we were limited to 50,000 objects per bucket. We can now handle millions of buckets and tens of millions of objects per bucket. It's a huge modification." The distributed database used by Scality to track in which bucket every object exists may be offered as a separate product in the future.

Also: "Amazon has a 5GB limit per object. We used to be limited to 1GB but have taken that limit off. An object could take up 100GB and a Blu-ray 3D movie could be considered as a single object, making it easier to manipulate."

Lecat said: "We now have our own proprietary erasure technology for tier 2 and we used to require three copies of data in tier 2. Now we require less. It's not as good as CleverSafe but we have made the choice to ensure tier 2 offers nearline performance."

"We can mimic the snapshot process by keeping older variants of objects; object versioning, which is equivalent to snapshots."

Scality says its ring is resilient and self healing and implements technology refresh with zero downtime and no data migration, asserting that: "The use case scenario for Scality is beyond that for Atmos and Caringo."

Objects, unstructured data and the cloud

Lecat thinks that object storage is probably the best technology to use for storing unstructured data, and unstructured data will probably be best stored in the cloud. He says that the performance data above "is better than anyone else" and Scality's value for money is terrific too, being; "less than a dollar per GB for a high performance system and pennies per GB per month for a lower performance system … This is the price at which people like Zettar operate. I suspect Amazon S3 has a higher cost point and they can get away with it because they are the market leader."

Object storage has seemed to be a technology waiting for a reason to have its used boosted from the levels achieved by Centera, Caringo, NetApp's Bycast and others, and Lecat said: "We're trying to capture market share from Isilon and 3PAR, not Centera." He hopes that Scality's Ring scalability, flexibility, reliability and performance will bring it to the attention of cloud storage service suppliers who will prefer it over HP's 3PAR, EMC's Atmos, Caringo, Dell's DX6000, and EMC's Isilon. Ideally, as cloud storage takes off, Scality will take off with it. ®

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