DDN, IBM Lead Large HPC Storage Supplier Pack

By John Russell

June 15, 2015

No surprise, storage requirements in HPC keep rising and solid state drives (SSD) continue making inroads at the node level according to Inersect360 Research’s annual HPC User Site Census: Storage survey released last month. Also notable, DataDirect Networks and IBM remain neck-and-neck atop of a long list of suppliers in what is still a fragmented market.

“We are seeing great adoption of SSDs, which is reversing the trend toward diskless nodes in clusters, where now we are seeing SSDs used as those local disks. SSDs were reported in 21% of systems installed since the beginning of 2013,” said Addison Snell, CEO, Intersect360 Research. Very few of the systems with SSDs reported 100% usage, which suggests that most SSDs are being used as an additional tier between memory and traditional hard disks in order to improve storage-to-memory latencies.

Snell noted two other prominent trends: Big Data represents a large and growing opportunity for HPC storage providers to apply their solutions to non-traditional HPC buyers; Complexity still exists in the storage stack and consolidation is necessary to improve productivity and ease of storage management. The latter should open up opportunities for integrated storage solutions.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 3.43.57 PMAmong the report’s key findings:

  • Storage capacity continues its onward and upward trend. Total storage capacity at over 400 sites exceeded three exabytes, triple the total storage capacity reported in 2012. While petabyte storage system installations are increasing, large storage systems only account for 9% of all storage systems reported. 50 TB to 100 TB storage systems account for the largest segment, with 30% share.
  • Parallel file systems account for 44% of the 342 named storage management packages, which is about the same as last year. Most parallel file system usage was found in storage systems with capacities of 200 TB or more and in storage systems last modified in 2013+. Most storage management software in use by the surveyed sites (59%) was provided by the storage system vendor. GPFS and Lustre continue to be most frequently mentioned named storage management packages with 16% and 15% of the systems, respectively.
  • Ethernet, and in particular, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, was the network protocol for almost 60% of storage systems. InfiniBand, however, captured more installations for storage systems installed in 2013+ with 47% share, suggesting successful competition against the higher speeds of Ethernet (10G, 40G, and 100G).

“We’ve seen InfiniBand continuing to grow as a storage interconnect, which is important for the ongoing future of InfiniBand. The pattern is similar to what happened with system interconnects, with InfiniBand replacing interconnects other than Ethernet. Ethernet stays pretty steady, and the market is moving toward the two interconnects covering the bulk of the market,” noted Snell.

Despite increasing storage capacity requirements and the flurry of acquisitions in recent years, no dominant vendor has surfaced.

Storage Suppliers.I360 ReportThe report notes, “Historically, the major enterprise storage vendors — EMC, NetApp, and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) — have all maintained healthy shares of the HPC market based on volume and their overall presence in the market. With each company acquiring high-performance storage technologies (Isilon by EMC, LSI Engenio by NetApp, BlueArc by HDS), Intersect360 Research had expected these players to make gains in high-performance storage markets. This has not occurred, and recently, all three companies appear to be de-emphasizing segments oriented toward scalability and performance. This has created a market opportunity for others to gain share, particularly DataDirect Networks (DDN) and Seagate (which acquired Xyratex), though IBM and Panasas may see some benefit as well.” Released in May, the Intersect360 Research HPC Site Census Storage report is available at www.intersect360.com.

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