Making Storage Access Application-Centric

By By Derrick Harris, Editor

March 3, 2008

In the world of high-performance enterprise computing, it is generally understood that mission-critical applications need on-demand access to the database. The higher the latency, the less effective the solution. Not as much is said, however, about the storage layer residing below the database. Isn’t it important that applications have as-needed access to the underlying storage, as well?

Pillar Data Systems is trying to remedy this situation with its Axiom family of hardware and software products, which allow users to dynamically provision storage to meet the service levels required by specific applications — something Pillar calls “application-aware storage.” Essentially, according to Pillar’s director of product management, Rob Commins, the company is creating a way for the storage platform to get allocated to applications the same way virtualization software allocates server space or grid middleware allocates computing resources. “All applications are not created equal,” said Commins. “Therefore, not all storage should be created equal.”

Using a method called “statistical short stroking,” as well as thin provisioning, Axiom allows more-important applications to access the outer portion of the disk (which results in faster access) more of the time, while still allowing the application to access lower-priority, lower-speed stored data on the inner portions of the disk the rest of the time. These levels can be changed as needed when new applications enter into the Axiom storage environment. Traditional storage platforms, explained Commins, do not allow users to allocate a disproportionate amount of resources to particular applications, thus negating any “elasticity” that customers might be trying to drive. Additionally, added Commins, Axiom’s methods lead to maximum utilization rates: Axiom users average between 60 and 80-plus percent utilization, whereas traditional systems average between 30 and 40 percent. These improvements in performance and utilization are necessary, says Commins, because while the storage industry has done a good job of figuring out how to handle data growth and scalability, “We’re seeing application proliferation as one of the biggest headaches on the storage side.”

Another big headache, however, is less obvious — and even less foreseen by companies thinking they’re solving all of their problems by embracing server virtualization. Virtualization solutions like VMware, says Commins, bring back a whole host of problems in terms of performance, which ends up having a negative effect on ROI. Virtualized environments cause spindle contention is disk drives, which, when addressed using traditional techniques, requires either a huge sacrifice in performance or a significantly larger amount of storage — typically 20 to 200 percent more than needed. “So,” Commins explained, “the guys holding the wallets … are sitting there surprised, going, ‘Wait a second, I thought this virtualization thing is supposed to save me economic and operational costs, but all that’s really happened is we’ve shifted server dollars back into storage dollars.'” Pillar has addressed this problem by creating profiles for use in virtual environments — including VMware and Oracle VM — thus bringing Axiom’s ability to carve out separate volumes with separate storage services to each VM.

Cost-wise, said Commins, Axiom really starts delivering savings when customers combine applications on the platform. Because most storage platforms essentially utilize the same components, Axiom probably costs about the same as others when used with only one application, “but as customers leverage the architecture for what it’s built for, we see anywhere from 20 to 80 percent advantages in dollars per gigabyte and dollars per IOPS versus traditional methods.” Axiom also saves customers money when compared to traditional separate database and storage layers — which generally consist of two systems from two different vendors, and where resources can’t be allocated between the two — because you can allocate performance and capacity when necessary, said Commins.

Axiom’s application-aware storage is a “necessary” and “very smart” technology, believes Deni Connor, principal analyst with Storage Strategies Now, because users are constantly tying storage to applications, database administrators are always asking for more capacity, and users are always complaining about performance. Outside of the mainframe space, she said, “For a company to actually go in and affect how those storage resources are used, how performance is built into it, how cache memory and disk are built into it, is something that hasn’t really been done before.”

As a result, said Connor, customers with applications and databases that need fast access to the storage layer, as well as those running HPC environments, will likely be clamoring for solutions like Axiom. “Everyone talks in terms of the application and what they need and when they need it and what type of service level is attached to it,” she noted. In the two years Pillar has been marketing and selling Axiom, the company has accumulated more than 350 customers running a total of more than 550 Axiom systems, with most of the uptake coming from the financial services, medical, education, government and, as of late, legal markets.

Whereas other vendors have tried to do some of what Axiom does by adding optimizers or additional layers to their offerings, Commins believes Pillar has attracted so many customers because its approach of working the concept of application-aware storage into the every aspect of the Axiom architecture makes it so effective and so unique, not to mention cost-effective. You can derive some significant ROI, he said, “from investing in a platform versus yet another mutually exclusive storage system in the bone pile of gear on the datacenter floor.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Hyperion: AI-driven HPC Industry Continues to Push Growth Projections

November 21, 2019

Three major forces – AI, cloud and exascale – are combining to raise the HPC industry to heights exceeding expectations. According to market study results released this week by Hyperion Research at SC19 in Denver, Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Bespoke Supercomputing for Climate and Weather

November 20, 2019

Weather and climate applications are some of the most important uses of HPC – a good model can save lives, as well as billions of dollars. But many weather and climate models struggle to run efficiently in their HPC en Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Microsoft, Nvidia Launch Cloud HPC Service

November 20, 2019

Nvidia and Microsoft have joined forces to offer a cloud HPC capability based on the GPU vendor’s V100 Tensor Core chips linked via an InfiniBand network scaling up to 800 graphics processors. The partners announced Read more…

By George Leopold

Hazra Retiring from Intel Data Center Group, Successor Not Known

November 20, 2019

Rajeeb Hazra, corporate VP of Intel’s Data Center Group and GM for the Enterprise and Government Group, is retiring after more than 24 years at the company. At this writing, his successor is unknown. An earlier story on... Read more…

By Doug Black

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU-accelerated computing. In recent years, AI has joined the s Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data Management – The Key to a Successful AI Project

 

Five characteristics of an awesome AI data infrastructure

[Attend the IBM LSF & HPC User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

AI is powered by data

While neural networks seem to get all the glory, data is the unsung hero of AI projects – data lies at the heart of everything from model training to tuning to selection to validation. Read more…

SC19 Student Cluster Competition: Know Your Teams

November 19, 2019

I’m typing this live from Denver, the location of the 2019 Student Cluster Competition… and, oh yeah, the annual SC conference too. The attendance this year should be north of 13,000 people, with the majority attende Read more…

By Dan Olds

Hyperion: AI-driven HPC Industry Continues to Push Growth Projections

November 21, 2019

Three major forces – AI, cloud and exascale – are combining to raise the HPC industry to heights exceeding expectations. According to market study results r Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Bespoke Supercomputing for Climate and Weather

November 20, 2019

Weather and climate applications are some of the most important uses of HPC – a good model can save lives, as well as billions of dollars. But many weather an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hazra Retiring from Intel Data Center Group, Successor Not Known

November 20, 2019

Rajeeb Hazra, corporate VP of Intel’s Data Center Group and GM for the Enterprise and Government Group, is retiring after more than 24 years at the company. At this writing, his successor is unknown. An earlier story on... Read more…

By Doug Black

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This