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The Hottest Panels of this Fall!
It’s probably a good idea to state I wrote this blog while employed by Amplidata

It’s probably a good idea to state I wrote this blog while employed by Amplidata, but during my own time. This article reflects my own opinion, not necessarily that of Amplidata or its partners.

As I am writing this,  I am crossing the Atlantic for the seventh time in about two months. I’m on my way to CloudExpo West in Santa Clara, one of the few technology trade shows that are still growing. At the event I will be sitting on the last Object Storage for Big Data panel of the season. Robin Harris – aka StorageMojo – and I have been working hard this fall educating the industry on the benefits, challenges and opportunities of Object Storage. We’ve been trying to explain how the current generation of Object Storage platforms is so much different from the first attempt at it (EMC’s Centera), how it enables companies cope with the massive amounts of unstructured data that we are all generating and how companies can even monetize archived data by re-activating their archives.

Unlike StorageMojo and some other people who I have been working with lately, I don’t have decades of experience in the storage industry. However, being located in Belgium, I’ve had the privilege of working with people who used to be  part of the Filepool team (and spent years at EMC after the acquisition). Those were the earliest object storage days, I had no idea of what was coming. Later, at Sun, I learned a lot about Object Storage when we were working on the Sun Cloud project. The architecture (ZFS) was different of what we are seeing on the market today, but the concept was – as was often the case at Sun – promising. This article is not another take at describing Object Storage and the benefits it brings, it’s more an overview of what we have learned at the past four Object Storage for Big Data panels. The setup for each of the panels was mostly the same: Robin Harris would challenge between 4 and 6 Object Storage specialists (technology vendors or users) and try to have the audience participate with. We did expect the topics of the panels to be different as we were hosted by trade shows with different audiences, but we never expected the discussions to vary as much as they did.

The common thread for each panel was the challenge companies have to store different types of Big Data and more particularly Big Unstructured Data. The latter represents up to 90% of the digital data that we will be generating over the next decades and will put traditional storage technologies under heavy stress as they are hitting their scalability limits. Unstructured data is currently mostly stored in file system based storage infrastructures. File systems will not only be unable to scale as required – try setting up a file structure for 5 petabytes of data – but they will also become obsolete as applications can provide a lot more features to keep your unstructured data organized (structured?), to analyze that information and potentially monetize what is today stored in (dead) tape archives. Rich applications that talk directly to a large and (infinitely) scalable storage pool make a lot more sense than maintenance-intensive files systems. Also, properly designed Object Storage (with erasure coding technology instead of RAID to protect the data) requires a lot less overhead, consumes a lot less power, can easily be implemented over multiple sites and does not require migration to new systems when a system cannot be further scaled. So what else did we discuss at the panels?

The first panel after summer was at Intel’s IDF in San Francisco. Panel members came from Intel and Quanta, who with Amplidata built an Object Storage reference architecture. We also had Michelle Munson of Aspera, who presented a couple of perfect use cases of Object Storage in the media and entertainment industry. Aspera developed a very smart way to transfer large amounts of data over the WAN in a much more efficient way than how it is currently done. Aspera’s bandwidth optimization software practically enables this new generation of Object Storage by taking away the latency issue, e.g. to stream high res movies over a long distance. Once we had explained the drivers for Object Storage, the opportunities and best practices, most of the discussion (questions from the audience) was about why RAID is not the right technology to architect an Object Storage platform with. We discussed the benefits of erasure coding in much detail and spent a lot of time on the differences with RAID. In short: in Erasure Coding based systems, all disks are equal (all parity) and there is no need to rebuild a disk when broken: when codes are lost due to bit errors or hardware failures, new codes can be generated spread over the whole pool, not just one system. A recent and very good independent deepdive in the Amplidata erasure coding technology can be found here.

A lot less RAID and erasure coding at the Createasphere DAM Show in New York a few weeks later. The show focusses on Digital Asset Management and the attendees are more interested in the applications and content than the actual data. That did not make the discussion any less interesting. From Sarah Berndt of Johnson Space Center we learned a *lot* about the importance of metadata, an issue that would be discussed at SNW Europe as well (see further). Interesting newcomer on the panel was Dalet, a DAM vendor who integrate with many Object Storage platforms and see a clear benefit of having their platform interface with a scale-out storage pool directly (REST) rather than through an additional file system. Dalet is the perfect valet in my car analogy that is becoming more and more popular: a file system is like a public parking lot where you have to go find your car yourself (this once took me a few hours in Paris’ CDG airport). Object storage is much more like valet parking, where you get a ticket when you leave your car and use that ticket to get it back later. The application, Dalet, is the valet.

At SNWUSA in Santa Clara in October we had David Chapa of Quantum on board for the firs time. David is an authority to explain the use cases where tape is the better alternative and when it is better to use Object Storage, or Wide Area Storage (WAS) as Quantum calls it. WAS is Quantum’s attempt to take away the confusion caused by the name Object Storage, a term first used by EMC almost a decade ago. I think it’s a good idea of Quantum to try to introduce a new term, I’m not sure WAS is the best choice though. Maybe something new will come up next month at Greg Duplessie’s Object Storage summit, although I doubt it. Once we kind of agreed that this generation of Object Storage, or whatever it will be called later, has very little or nothing to do with EMC’s product line that was most famous for locking-in customers, the conversation took a very sudden change. In an attempt to spice up the discussion, Ranajit Nevatia of Panzura claimed Object Storage provides very bad performance. This was very much true for the first generation of Object Storage platforms we just discussed and might be true of the platforms they currently promote (including Atmos, EMC’s second attempt at Object Storage), but not at all for the technologies that are most successful on the market today. Scality have been promoting their high IOPS (smaller files, IO intensive workloads). Amplidata  focus more on large file storage, which is IMO the more obviouse use case for Object Storage, but I may be biassed. In a recent independent test, Amplidata demonstrated throughout numbers that can only be called “extremely high-performant”. Howard Marks confirmed Amplidata provides 1 GB/s of throughput with a single controller. But it gets better: Amplidatas scale throughput linearly by adding more controllers. So a system with 6 controllers provides 6 GB/s of throughput.

Last week’s panel at SNW Europe, which is traditionally well attended by press and analysts, was again very interactive. Robin Harris set the stage explaining how this generation of Object Storage is different from earlier products. This led to a lengthy discussion about API’s, a call for one standard API (I say let’s just all standardize on Amazon) and complaints about lock-ins by … yes, EMC. Vendors be warned, that trick is getting old and is not getting any respect. The audience included some of the better analysts and bloggers, including the451′s Simon Robinson and Storagebod. The latter, known for being a critic of the Object Storage paradigm (with great arguments), helped us bring the discussion to the next level by bringing up interesting topics such as the importance of metadata for the applications: who/what will enter metadata? The application? People? The panel acknowledged that, while applications already generate quite some metadata, companies will have to make business decisions on how much metadata they need. Adding more metadata comes at a cost as it will require manual work. The day after the panel, it was interesting to see Chris Mellor be critical of Object Storage in his review of the show (how dare the Object Storage vendors doubt the many benefits of tape?). Chris, join us on the panel next time!

Read the original blog entry...

About Tom Leyden
Tom Leyden is VP Product Marketing at Scality. Scality was founded in 2009 by a team of entrepreneurs and technologists. The idea wasn’t storage, per se. When the Scality team talked to the initial base of potential customers, the customers wanted a system that could “route” data to and from individual users in the most scalable, efficient way possible. And so began a non-traditional approach to building a storage system that no one had imagined before. No one thought an object store could have enough performance for all the files and attachments of millions of users. No one thought a system could remain up and running through software upgrades, hardware failures, capacity expansions, and even multiple hardware generations coexisting. And no one believed you could do all this and scale to petabytes of content and billions of objects in pure software.

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The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computing is relatively new by IT's standards, which means it's constantly expanding to encompass new career...
By now, every company in the world is on the lookout for the digital disruption that will threaten their existence. In study after study, executives believe that technology has either already disrupted their industry, is in the process of disrupting it or will disrupt it in the near future. As a result, every organization is taking steps to prepare for or mitigate unforeseen disruptions. Yet in almost every industry, the disruption trend continues unabated.
Many times, sports have been at the leading edge of data analytics. The book “Moneyball” was one of the first popular books to bring the basic concepts behind data analytics and data science to the general audience. Fantasy leagues, sabermetrics and even games like “Strat-O-Matic” baseball and basketball provided an introduction into basic statistical concepts. And it now seems that sports, in this case the National Basketball Association (NBA), are breaking new ground with another data analytics topic: who owns the data? The National Basketball Players Association recently banned NBA teams...
As Enterprise business moves from Monoliths to Microservices, adoption and successful implementations of Microservices become more evident. The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Documenting hurdles and problems for the use of Microservices will help consultants, architects and specialists to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how and when to use (or not use) Microservices at the enterprise level. The circumstance when Microservices is an appropriate solution described in this article and based on the authors' wor...
Lots of cloud technology predictions and analysis are still dealing with future spending and planning, but there are plenty of real-world cloud use cases and implementations happening now. One approach, taken by stalwart GE, is to use SaaS applications for non-differentiated uses. For them, that means moving functions like HR, finance, taxes and scheduling to SaaS, while spending their software development time and resources on the core apps that make GE better, such as inventory, planning and sales. Essentially, as for more and more large enterprises, GE is getting out of the infrastructure b...
George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, once said, "You can't do it unless you can imagine it." Inour latest research on the future state of work in the retail sector, we find many industry executives struggling to imagine where the future is leading them and their organizations, not to mention the role digital technologies will play along the way. Traditional retailers are challenged by rapidly emerging new business models, such as Amazon Go and Facebook's launch of its digital commerce platform, Marketplace. Moreover, pioneering companies in the sharing economy (i.e., Uber) are expanding from...
Information Technology has advanced in different areas at different speeds. This has always been true, as people found workable solutions to the problems that faced them today, most often before there was a market for those solutions. While things like virtualization and eventually cloud computing grew slowly, programming languages sat at the same point for around a decade before the current round of new languages and approaches—Python, Ruby, Node, Swift—came about. These things seem unrelated, but there is a union of the two sets of changes that we are about to see blossom.
When discussing disruptive technologies, the topic of blockchain inevitably enters the conversation. Gartner recently listed blockchain as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ Approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just this year, according to PwC executive Seamus Cushley. IBM announced this week a Blockchain-as-a-Service Enterprise offering at their Interconnect Conference. While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is being taken very seriously across industries and cannot be ignored.
Next month will mark the 47th anniversary of Apollo 13. The film that recounts the story is a favorite of mine, probably because it so masterfully captures the incredible suspense, fear, and hope felt by people everywhere, that I personally recall very well. I also know how an organization’s digital transformation can generate similar reactions! Apollo 13 was likely a casualty of the space program’s incredibly aggressive schedule. NASA, with U.S. political and military leaders, was motivated by competition from the U.S.S.R. and fear of the potential consequences of not being first. Urgency of...
The Big Bang Theory is the pre-eminent explanation for the origins of the universe. It proposes, from an explosion of atoms, the universe rapidly expanded and in doing so created everything we know. But it did so in an erratic, haphazard and unstructured way. For every life form, an infinite amount of inhospitable desolate galaxies, planets and black holes were also created. Big Data is often associated with the birth of what is known as the Third Generation of IT and many are now at a crossroads: Do they continue down the current path, hoping to stumble upon a planet Earth as they navigate a...
Cloud computing is here to stay. The agility and scalability of the cloud model – as well as its ability to transform up-front capital expenditures into flexible operating expenditures – are too compelling to ignore. For CIOs in organizations of all sizes, the question is no longer whether to take advantage of the cloud … but how. Unfortunately, that question isn't as easy to answer as it might sound. Not all cloud providers are created equal. Different vendors offer different features, terms and service levels. And once you engage with one vendor, it can be difficult to change your mind down...
Containerization is popularly viewed as the ‘virtualization of virtualization’ or ‘next generation virtualization.’ However, containers have existed long before virtualization or the advent of modern container technology like Docker and Linux Containers. Similar tech was built into mainframe systems that pervaded the IT landscape for the preceding decades. However, the implication, as the name suggests, is that modern software containerization will have the same seismic impact on the IT industry as shipping containers have had on maritime freight transport. Indeed, it is quite common now for ...
In 2016, blockchain technology came close to hitting its peak on Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle, signaling an imminent shift from an emerging, theoretical technology to widespread adoption. Like cloud, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) before it, blockchain is the tech industry’s latest Next Big Thing. Analysts and industry experts say it holds immense potential for organizations, but many business leaders don’t yet see a practical application for their operations. While a lot of people know blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, what about ent...
In the first article of this three-part series on hybrid cloud security, we discussed the Shared Responsibility Model, and examined how the most common attack strategies persist, are amplified, or are mitigated as assets move from data centers to the cloud. In part two, we talked about the unique security challenges that are introduced by public cloud environments. In this third and final installment, we’ll review why it’s essential to approach hybrid cloud security with different methods, tools and best practices than those used in the data center.
I happened to be in India last November when prime minister Modi announced the demonetization program, where 86% of the currency in the form of two paper bills (Rs. 500 and 1000 denomination) were made defunct. People were given time to deposit their existing currencies in the bank. Those who had unusually high volume of such currencies were supposed to declare the legal source or face stiff penalties such as 60-75% tax. The goal was to catch the money hoarders and black marketers who avoid paying taxes on such undeclared money.
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

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