Storage Scalability a Big Deal in Today’s Web

By Derrick Harris

May 12, 2008

Scalability is a word thrown around often when talking about Web 2.0 and cloud computing, but most references are about scaling CPUs to handle increased traffic or increased transactions on a particular application. Rarely, in this publication, at least, do we talk about scalability as it relates to storage both in and for the cloud. Last week, however, brought us announcements about both, with Mosso shining a light on its CloudFS storage platform, and HP unveiling its StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100).

The Mosso service, which is detailed in a feature article by Dennis Barker, is designed to be as easy to use and reliable as one can expect from a cloud-based storage service, and Mosso is making no secret of its goal to compete with Amazon’s popular Simple Storage Service (S3). Cloud-based storage services are something that I have to presume will continue to gain traction, as businesses running their applications in the cloud are going to need more storage (just like everyone else), and if you’re already comfortable with the delivery model for computing, it only makes sense to give it a try for storage. Also, if cloud users are experiencing the unpredictable spikes in demand that make cloud computing so appealing in the first place, having storage that can scale accordingly with little to no intervention seems perfectly natural.

But what about the companies making these cloud services possible? How can Snapfish possibly handle the millions of photos users store on its infrastructure, and how can the various sites trying to become the next YouTube possibly manage and deliver all those videos? Until its ExDS9100 officially starts shipping, HP would have you believe the answer to those questions is “With much difficulty and cost.” That may or may not be the case, but HP’s new petabyte-scale, BladeSystem-based solution, which also handles the performance tier, should at least make life easier, possibly by orders of magnitude.

After speaking with both HP and storage analyst Mark Peters of Enterprise Strategy Group, I have to believe the system might be as groundbreaking as advertised. At less than one-fifth that per-gigabyte cost of current petabyte-class storage solutions, and with HP’s PolyServe software making file management user-friendly, I’m sure most everyone needing massive amounts of file storage will at least give the ExDS9100 a look. And did I mention it includes the performance tier, with additional CPU power coming as easy as plugging in another blade?

But while the new solution will be a major advancement if it performs as advertised, Peters said he is surprised that it comes from HP. Especially in new or emerging markets, Peters says HP has a habit of turning up “after the race has been run” — in the storage space, especially. However, he noted, the new management team in Palo Alto seems to have awoken the company’s innovative spirit, and talking about markets and customers instead of talking about products is a small change that seems to be reaping big rewards for HP. (Something we’ve noted is important in the grid computing world, as well.)

Speaking specifically of HP’s new ExDS9100, Peters said it still has to deliver in the datacenter, but HP’s resources and reputation don’t give him any reason to doubt its touted attributes are real. “It sounds great on paper,” he said. “Let’s hope it does what it says.”

Last week also brought news that Platform Computing is furthering its financial services strategy by creating an entire business unit to focus entirely on the market, and that IBM finally has a user, the Vietnamese government, up and running on an IBM cloud. We’ll have insights on the financial market from Platform CEO Songnian Zhou next week, as well as a conversation with IBM about what has been going with its Blue Cloud initiative.

In other news of note, be sure to check out: “GemStone, Synechron Team on Market Data Management”; “Sun Delivers OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2”; “TIBCO Demos High-Performance SCA on ActiveMatrix Service Grid”; “Dell Rolls Out Dedicated Virtualization Solutions”; “Voltaire Supporting OFED on Any InfiniBand Fabric”; “Fujitsu Shipping Egenera PAN Manager with PRIMERGY Servers”; “Univa UD Receives Series B Financing”; and “EGEE-III Project Kicks Off.”

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Comments about GRIDtoday are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Derrick Harris, at [email protected].

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