Permabit Albireo VDO Test Drive

Permabit was making a strong presence at the Flash Memory Summit and based on their meeting schedule Flash vendors are listening. From what we have learned in our testing of the Albireo VDO solution there should be a long line of vendors waiting for their chance to talk to Permabit.

In May, Storage Switzerland delivered its product analysis of the latest release of Permabit Albireo VDO (Virtual Data Optimizer) and declared that the company’s software was moving beyond just deduplication and entering the realm of software defined storage. This new release adds compression (Albireo COMPRESS) and replication (Albireo REPLICA) products to the existing deduplication and thin provisioning capabilities. Permabit is only a “snapshot” away from delivering a full storage software feature set.

The next obvious step for Storage Switzerland was to upgrade our current lab installation of Albireo VDO so that it could take advantage of these capabilities as well as report on their function. We also took advantage of the upgrade time to improve the capabilities of our virtual server that was running the previous code. In that first test, our goal was to prove that we could get the software to run in our labs; after all it was designed for storage vendors. Since that test was so successful we wanted to use the software in production.

Our system is now a quad-core CentOS virtual machine configured with 4GB of memory and a 128GB PCIe SSD. It is fast. We also wanted to see if having Albireo running over the SSD would impact storage performance. The system is set up to be our primary NFS server storing production documents. I’m pleased to report that performance is excellent and from a user perspective I can tell no difference in performance after installing Albireo except that our 128GB NFS drive now acts like a 500GB drive thanks to deduplication and compression.

Our production environment, as are many file sharing use cases, is tailor made for deduplication. When there is a document workflow where a document is reviewed by several parties, the saving of each version of a file after modification seems to be a common practice. A deduplication product with the capabilities of Albireo VDO will pick up these nuances and eliminate the redundancy. Add to this compression, which provides space savings within the file, and you have the ultimate 1-2 punch and in our case leaving us a 128GB SSD that is acting like a 1TB SSD. Compression slows data consumption from the first document created, deduplication reduces data growth as new versions are generated.

This storage efficiency that Albireo VDO provides also allows us to use our SSD NFS server to do something that you would not normally do with a standard SSD based NFS server, use it for backups! Yes, that’s right, we actually are sending backups from five production systems to our SSD NFS server. In fairness, because of the nature of our business where we have workflow based document editing, there is a lot of similarity between these systems, but that’s the point of data efficiency software such as Albireo.

While backing up to SSD is not exactly a best practice, and in a future update we’ll add a hard disk based volume to store these backups, those backups do go very fast. Also in a future test we will enable the Albireo REPLICA product to test how well the software performance WAN optimized replication.

Storage Swiss Take

The results are impressive. We are seeing a stunning 83% space savings with Albireo meaning that the PCIe SSD should have already been filled to capacity and in need of replacement. Its accuracy in deduplication as well as the efficiency of the compression seems to be rock solid. Again, performance of this system has been excellent with no discernible latency. For well under $1,000 we configured an All-SSD NAS.

As we have mentioned in the past Permabit Albireo VDO is designed for storage system builders who are starting with an Intel based Linux core. We have used the software successfully now on Debian and CentOS. While you need to know your Linux, as any system builder would, we have found the system to be relatively easy to install and configure. This product is a perfect match for the Linux storage system builder looking to keep pace in the feature race with larger storage vendors.

Permabit is a client of Storage Switzerland

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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