Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Stefan Bernbo, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Cloud Security, SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Data Efficiency at Scale

Overcoming limitations in data efficiency features

The initial wave of data efficiency features for primary storage focus on silos of information organized in terms of individual file systems. Deduplication and compression features provided by some vendors are limited by the scalability of those underlying file systems, essentially the file systems have become silos of optimized data. For example, NetApp deduplication can't scale beyond a 100 TB limit, because that's the limit in size of its WAFL file system. But ask anyone who's ever used NetApp deduplication if they've done it on a 100 TB file system, and you're likely to hear "are you crazy?" It's one thing to claim that data efficiency features can scale, quite a different one to actually use them with performance at scale.

Challenges around scalability generally center on two areas: scalability of random IO and memory overhead. Older solutions, like the one from NetApp, face the first challenge while newer flash-based storage systems are struggling with the second. I'll review both here:

The IO Challenge
Primary data-oriented storage devices handle both streaming and random throughput and therefore are sensitive to latency effects. Data efficiency requirements for primary storage must have fast hashing techniques to reduce the impact of latency. Fast hashes are non-cryptographic in nature and so require data comparison when used to do deduplication. It works like this:

  1. When a new chunk of data is read in it is first given a name using the hash algorithm.
  2. The system then checks a deduplication index to see if a chunk with that name has been seen before (note that this can consume disk IO and tremendous amounts of memory if done wrong).
  3. If the name has been seen we need to take extra steps. Because fast hashes are non-cryptographic, it is possible to have a name match while the data content differs. This is known in computer science as a hash-collision. To account for this, the existing copy of the chunk must be read in and compared bit-by-bit to the new. If they match, only a reference to the chunk is created. If not, then the new chunk must be written.

Essentially, this form of deduplication means trading a write of a duplicate chunk for a read. Depending on the design of the underlying block virtualization layer, duplicate chunks may be widely dispersed throughout the system. In that case, the bigger the system gets, the more expensive reads get - so processing of duplicate data becomes slower and slower as the storage system fills - this is why you won't find many 100 TB NetApp file systems with deduplication turned on. Certainly not for primary storage applications, the system would be flooded with random read requests and NetApp's deduplication process can end up taking months, years or even never complete.

A number of techniques have been used to reduce the impact of IO in other products. For example, the Hitachi NAS (HNAS) and Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) solutions from HDS make use of hardware-acceleration to generate cryptographically secure hashes that do not require a data compare at all - this allows for linear scaling of deduplication performance on volumes up to 256 TB in size. Data is also written out before it is deduplicated to avoid introducing any latency through the hash computation process itself.

Permabit's own Albireo Virtual Data Optimizer (VDO) product, a plug-in module for Linux-based storage solutions, takes a different approach but with a similar result. VDO works inline to provide immediate data reduction. When data is written out, the VDO process intelligently lays it out in a sequential pattern, so that subsequent read compares of duplicates are more likely to be sequential as well. Both solutions do a fine job at solving the problem in real world scenarios, they just take different approaches.

The Memory Challenge
Many of today's flash array vendors are providing deduplication using similar fast hashing techniques to what I outlined above. With flash, the cost of doing random reads for read compares is a non-issue (random seeks on flash are much less expensive than for hard drive environments) so the use of the fast hash alone is enough to minimize latency. These systems (such as EMC's recently launched XtremIO product) are focused on delivering performance and the big challenge to performance at scale is available memory (DRAM). As above, after chunks are read in, they are named using a fast hashing algorithm. After that, the flash system must determine whether or not a chunk has been seen before. To get at this information as quickly as possible, flash-based storage systems have tended to use huge amounts of DRAM to cache chunk names in memory. It's not uncommon to see flash storage systems that allocate 16 GB of working cache per TB of storage. To support a 256 TB storage volume, such a system would require a TBs of DRAM. The increased hard costs in terms of more expensive (denser) DIMMS, as well as the increased cost of the server board required to support this many DIMMs combine to make this an extremely costly and unpopular proposition. Combine this with the fact that DRAM prices are not falling at the same rate as flash prices, and you can see why no vendor today makes a 256TB flash storage array with global deduplication capabilities.

The solution to the memory challenge is coming, in the form of a next generation of flash storage products that utilize Albireo indexing and Albireo VDO. Unlike the flash arrays described above, flash-optimized arrays with VDO takes advantage of advanced caching techniques to operate with 128 MB of working cache per TB of storage and deliver excellent performance. With VDO, a 256 TB system can be delivered with as little as 32 GB of RAM while delivering 1M IOPS performance. The net result is a cost effective and easily deployed data efficiency solution for flash arrays.

Conclusion

Deduplication Scalability by Vendor

As you can see in the table above, forward thinking vendors like HDS have done a good job at overcoming limitations in their data efficiency features and have products on the market today that can scale to meet the requirements of the large enterprise. Many other vendors are lagging behind, because of their inability to address IO and/or memory requirements, a serious downfall since data efficiency is at the core of distinguishing storage solutions, a critical end user requirement, and a ‘must have' component for 2014. Permabit's VDO product overcomes both of these limitations through the use of advanced memory-efficient caching techniques.

More Stories By Louis Imershein

As Senior Director of Product Strategy at Permabit Technology Corporation, Louis Imershein is responsible for product evolution and strategic planning for the Albireo family of products. He has 22 years of technical leadership experience in product management, software development and support. Prior to joining Permabit, Imershein was a Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Sun Microsystems Data Management Group. He has a Bachelor's degree in Biological Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at Cloud Expo, Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, provideed economic scenarios that describe how the rapid adoption of software-defined everything including cloud services, SDDC and open networking will change GDP, industry growth, productivity and jobs. This session also included a drill down for several industries such as finance, social media, cloud service providers and pharmaceuticals.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
"Qosmos has launched L7Viewer, a network traffic analysis tool, so it analyzes all the traffic between the virtual machine and the data center and the virtual machine and the external world," stated Sebastien Synold, Product Line Manager at Qosmos, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.