Instant Deduplication and Compression for Tier-1 Storage

Tier-1 vendors are falling behind startups in offering a complete data efficiency solution. As we discussed the reasons why they are so far behind in our recent article, “The Tier-1 Storage vendor Deduplication and Compression challenge“, integrating a new technology into an existing storage stack is challenging and time consuming. Permabit is ready to provide a simple shortcut for tier-1 vendors that want to offer deduplication and compression right now.

Permabit’s new solution, Albireo SANblox™ is a storage gateway appliance that sits in front of an existing or new storage array. In the below video we discuss the importance of SANblox to the market with Permabit’s CEO, Tom Cook.

What is SANblox?

SANblox is a 1U appliance that allows for the discrete assignment of storage efficiency features like deduplication and compression. Once installed, users assign LUNs from their storage system to the SANblox appliance. All deduplication and compression are performed inline so that the volumes are always optimized. In most cases that efficiently delivers a 6 to 1 improvement of capacity use. This means that 25TB of storage now can store as much as 150TB worth of data. The solution works with any fibre channel SAN storage hardware and Permabit has an impressive list of storage arrays they have tested with.

The Importance of SANblox

SANblox has come along at a very critical time for tier-1 storage vendors. These vendors are under assault by dozens of much smaller storage startup companies. For the most part, these startups are leading with flash based storage solutions that take advantage of deduplication and compression to offer flash storage at hard disk prices.

Tier-1 vendors are finding it hard to compete with this very compelling message. While no single startup is impacting their business, the combined weight of the dozen or so vendors is starting to leave a mark. Most of the major tier-1 vendors have reported flat or decreasing storage revenues over the last few quarters. Tier-1 vendors need to stop the bleeding, but their current efforts around deduplication and compression are taking too long to get to market. SANblox gives these vendors the ability to provide data efficiency instantly and address the competitive pressures posed by more agile startups.

Proven Deduplication and Compression

While many vendors are implementing deduplication and/or compression software for the first time, Permabit offers a field tested alternative. Permabit’s deduplication and compression software is the most tested form of the technology available today. Dozens of storage vendors have had Permabit’s Albireo SDK and VDO solutions in their labs for stress testing, and none have been able to break it. Several of the vendors have decided to integrate the data efficiency solutions as part of their storage strategy. As a result, the Permabit code has been implemented at thousands of customer facilities.

No Performance Impact

A concern when adding features like deduplication and compression of a tier-1 storage system is the impact on performance that those capabilities might have. For production, storage capacity utilization is important, but storage performance is critical. Data efficiency can’t be added at the expense of performance. Permabit’s SANblox solution delivers up to 180k IOPS (70/30 RW) per cluster pair. As long as no single volume or LUN requires more than 180k IOPS (a rarity even by today’s standards), then deduplication and compression should be able to operate without noticeably impacting application response time. If more performance is needed, it can be scaled as more nodes are added to the cluster.

In addition the separate appliance acts as an “offload engine” so that the disk array does not get bogged down managing deduplication tables. This means that even an under-powered array won’t have to be exposed to a performance impact by deduplication processing.

Availability and Reliability

Potentially more important than performance impact is data access. Permabit provides the solution in a Highly Available (HA) pair. Data is not cached on the appliance. Writes are optimized and written to the attached block storage before an acknowledgement is sent to the application. If one of the appliances suffers an outage, the failover is quick and seamless.

A Data Efficiency Strategy

A key value of the SANblox approach is that it provides a single point of deduplication and compression. Volumes from multiple systems can be assigned to the same appliance and benefit from the same features. More importantly, those features are all derived from the same software code.

Tier-1 Friendly

Permabit for its part has taken a very non-competitive approach to delivering this product. Almost every tier-1 storage vendor has a program by which it can offer complementary products. Essentially the tier-1 storage vendor creates a resell relationship with these complementary vendors so that they can offer a more complete solution. Permabit has chosen this non-threatening method to bring SANblox to market.

Storage Swiss Take

Tier-1 vendors need to quickly respond to the storage startups with a data optimization strategy of their own. They need to drive down the cost per GB of flash and HDD storage, and data efficiency is the way to get there. But this data efficiency solution can’t be confusing, nor can it be different for each platform that they sell. While some tier-1’s have deduplication and compression under development most are years away from delivering a consistent data efficiency strategy that is the same across every storage platform that they offer. SANblox allows them to get there now and quell the impact of the startups on their installed accounts.

Sponsored by Permabit Technology

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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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