Portfolio Analysis: DDN Delivers a Powerful Portfolio for the Data Intensive Enterprise

General Motors and General Electric, both in business for over a century, now employ more IT professionals than most IT vendors. Both companies have described themselves as software firms. At the heart of any IT company is data and most of the Fortune 500 are using that data to shape their product offerings. IT departments in these organizations have evolved from a back-office function to a strategic weapon. IT’s number one challenge in living up to this new expectation while still using legacy storage infrastructures. To compensate they have been augmenting it with a hodgepodge of point specific solutions from a variety of vendors, which increases costs and waste administrator’s time.

Driving to a Standardized Storage Infrastructure

For decades Fortune 500 data centers have tried to standardize on a single storage platform that would handle all their various needs. When all that these data centers had to worry about was back office applications a single storage system could often meet those demands. The modern data center as well as the data centers operated by cloud and managed service providers, however, have a wide variety of data sources and data users. IT professionals at these organizations also have to make sure that the selected storage system can ingest data from a variety of sources, analyze that data and make decisions based on that analysis.

In addition to dealing with a variety of data sources, organizations also have to deal with scale and distribution. Few large enterprises have a single location; they need to be able to distribute their data to locations worldwide as well as to customers and partners. Finally, the amount of data and its level of detail are increasing dramatically. Meeting this increase requires scale; the modern storage system needs to be able to scale well beyond the traditional five-year lifecycle, instead scaling capacity to hold decades worth of information.

While standardizing on a single storage system may be a challenge, standardizing on a single vendor may not. But that vendor has to be able to provide uniformity of data management and control across their storage portfolio. The value of this approach is that storage hardware is task specific instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

DataDirect Networks’ (DDN) integrated end-to-end data management storage portfolio looks to do just that, provide the software-defined data center with the storage hardware it needs for the specific task at hand. The portfolio includes storage systems from all-flash arrays to long term storage and the cloud that are designed to meet the compute and memory demands of the enterprise, its high-performance data analysis needs, its need for persistent data storage as well as the ability to distribute and archive that data, either privately or via the public cloud.

Who is DataDirect Networks?

In business since 1998, DDN is the largest privately held storage company in the world with 600+ employees in more than 20 countries. They have shown repeated year on year growth, including a 14% revenue growth while maintaining profitability, in a business climate that saw most large storage companies struggle to be flat. DDN is well known in the high-performance computing (HPC), medical research and University markets but is now seeing success in the traditional enterprise. As Storage Switzerland discussed in its recent article “Can HPC Storage Solve Enterprise Data Management Issues?”, part of this success is that the traditional data center is looking more like an HPC environment and part of it is because of DDN’s specific focus on the market. The combination is leading to unprecedented customer attainment.

The DDN Portfolio

Infinite Memory Engine (IME) – Burst Buffer, I/O and Application Accelerator

The speed delivered by general purpose flash arrays is nothing short of impressive but user satisfaction with these devices will be short lived. They will soon want faster results while comparing more data points, delivering a more personalized customer experience in real-time. To meet this demand, DDN is about to unleash IME that will set new standards in latency reduction and IOPS performance. IME can enable a whole new generation of big data analytic applications while offering greater economic and operational efficiency than today’s disk-based and flash array approaches.

Storage Fusion Architecture

For persistent data, DDN has its Storage Fusion Architecture. Available in flash, hard disk and hybrid configurations it can meet both the most demanding performance expectations of the enterprise with IOPS in excess of 4 million, and capacity expectations of more than 10 petabytes (PB).

Scaler Appliances

It comes as no surprise to any IT professional that unstructured data is growing. What may be a surprise is the rate at which this data set continues to grow thanks not only to user created data but also to machine generated data used in big data analytics processing. The GRIDScaler and EXAScaler appliance families offer a massively parallel file system with traditional NAS connectivity. This helps overcome the limitations traditional scale-out NAS solutions encounter as data set size balloons. The Scaler appliance solutions enable massive concurrent access to data, are designed to scale without performance compromise well into the petabytes per file system, and deliver the uptime and performance needed to host a wide variety of data intensive Enterprise applications concurrently.

WOS – Object Storage for the Enterprise

Web Object Scaler (WOS) addresses both the massive scalability requirements of the modern data center and the need to provide secure collaboration across sites and partners. Available in both performance and capacity configurations, a WOS cluster can expand to 46 Petabytes per cluster and 1.4 Exabytes per namespace. It can store 1 trillion objects per cluster and over 32 trillion per namespace. It provides non-distributive scaling, erasure coding, replication and continuous data integrity checking. It supports cloud (S3, Swift WOSLib, WOSREST) and NAS (NFS v3, v4 and CIFS, SMB 2.1, 2.2) protocol access and can tier data from DDN’s more traditional storage systems. Massive adoption of WOS has led to it now hosting well over 200 billion objects globally (2nd only to AWS in size).

DirectMon – Manage Multiple Systems From A Single Point

The only value in a substantial portfolio like DDNs is that the colors all match, unless there is a management platform that provides a single view into all the systems. DDN’s DirectMon does exactly that. DirectMon is available as a management appliance or software application. It is the glue that pulls the portfolio together. With it a customer can manage a complete data center of DDN products with custom dashboard capabilities while overlaying and simultaneously comparing multiple systems attributes.

New for 2015

In 2015, DDN will announce its fill in a missing piece to its portfolio puzzle; a hyper-converged platform. Code named Wolfcreek; it will be a platform that can host OpenStack, Hadoop as well as provide VM storage for VMware, Citrix and Microsoft’s Hyper-v. It will also make for an ideal SSD, NVMe platform setting a new bar for low-latency through its application-aware cache. The result will be a platform that can deliver 5+ million IOPS in a 4U pack and that can scale to over 100,000 virtual machines. The Wolfcreek platform will also be amongst the first in the industry to have the new Intel interconnect, OmniPath, designed in. DDN has worked closely with Intel, Mellanox and Ethernet vendors to provide fully integrated, high-performance interconnects to accelerate Enterprises, Web, Cloud and HPC environments.

In addition to hyper-converged systems, DDN will also enhance it WOS platform with WOS 360 v2.0. The new system, shipping Q3 2015, will provide improved accessibility with OpenStack Support and software-defined storage options. It will improve data center efficiency by requiring 20% less storage footprint and a 50% lower cost storage option. Data durability needs will be addressed with an integrated data integrity verification process. The performance will improve thanks to reduced latency and improved ability to handle multiple streams and finally scalability will improve by supporting 768TB of storage in a 4U node.

StorageSwiss Take

Watch On Demand

Watch On Demand

Most data centers will count on a variety of storage systems to meet the expectations of their users and customers. These systems need to provide compute, high performance, high capacity, long term data retention and global collaboration. There are a few vendors that can meet the various storage demands, but most of them offer a collection of barely compatible products where the only integration is that the logo matches. Also, the storage systems are rarely best in class in any particular category. DDN, on the other hand, has delivered a wide range of solutions, purpose-built for each task. They are often at the top of the class in each category and are easily managed through their DirectMon software.

Twelve 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 a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 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 of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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Posted in Product Analysis

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