But Calxeda isn’t waiting and in storage

2013-01-06 16:55:10

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MTS to provide IP, Ethernet services to SSC
Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) has announced it has signed a multi-year contract to provide business IP and switched Ethernet services to Shared Services Canada (SSC), the Government of Canada department responsible for providing telecommunication services, email and data centres to SSC partners. The implementation of a Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) managed service will help SSC deliver on its mandate to improve the efficiency, reliability and security of the government's IT infrastructure.It will connect up to 850 sites across the country, with the flexibility and intelligence of IP routing and the transport quality of a single, high-performance network. By implementing an IP-based service, voice, data and multimedia applications can be converged onto a single private network, simplifying the ability for network development and providing a higher overall return on infrastructure investment. This, combined with the benefits of a switched Ethernet service, will allow smooth and dependable sharing of information and applications across multiple LANs, further increasing SSC productivity.
But Calxeda isn’t waiting and in storage
Calxeda, the Austin, Texas-based startup that is building out highly dense, low power ARM-based servers has a new market in the storage world. During a visit last week to the company’s headquarters, company executives shared that in addition to web hosting and big data applications it sees a near-term opportunity in the storage world and that is has fielded more than 20 requests for proposals for systems using ARM-based processors.Karl Freund, the VP of marketing for Calxeda, says the company has shipped about 3,000 nodes and 130 systems although none are deployed in production environments yet. He expects the first production deployments to occur at the end of the second quarter of 2013. But most of the conversation was about how ARM-based systems could be used today in the storage market. Not just for cold storage such as Amazon’s Glacier or Facebook’s photo storage effort, but even for the big storage systems for scale out storage and enterprise class storage appliances. Named customers who are evaluating the systems include Scale.io, Gluster and Inktank, the storage startup backed by Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu fame that is commercializing Ceph.There are more, notes Freund, (pictured) who says that when Calxeda servers make it into production environments, they will likely be deployed first in a storage capacity, as storage customers don’t care if the chips are 64-bit compatible. For now, ARM-based systems are stuck only able to address less memory because ARM only has a 32-bit capable core design. Next year ARM will have a 64-bit capable design and systems will be built around them in 2014 (maybe even late 2013). Calxeda plans its 64-bit capable SoC for 2014.But Calxeda isn’t waiting and in storage, it’s also not focusing on power consumption — the initial draw for ARM-based servers in the scale out data center. For the storage world, where spinning hard drives tends to suck huge quantities of electricity, adding a low-power has a negligable affect on the consumption of an overall system. However, Calxeda boasts that popping in more of its systems on a chip (SoC) are both cheaper and make for faster information transfer and retrieval.Its tests show roughly a 4X improvement in IOPs for a rack of Calxeda SoCs versus x86-based systems. Adding Calexeda’s SoCs also cuts complexity because the entire system of processing and networking components are integrated on the SoC, and the terabit-plus fabric between cores also offers more network capacity between cores in a system –the so-called east-west networking traffic.As the market for scale out computing, storage and networking changes the demands made on IT equipment, Calxeda and others are seeing an opportunity that may have begun in servers and the cloud computing environment, but certainly isn’t stopping there. No wonder Intel is trying to catch up with chips of its own. So far, it’s recently announced new Atom-based chips haven’t made the cut for most customers I’ve spoken with (the lack of integration of the entworking and processing hardware is a problem), but in 2014 it will have a new, integrated SoC as well. Then, the competition will really get interesting.
Nirvanix Improves Cloud Performance with Flash Storage
Cloud storage service provider Nirvanix recently updated its 10 global data centers that make up the backbone of its Cloud Storage Network to include flash memory arrays from Violin Memory. According to Nirvanix, the addition of flash memory at the meta-data level has improved the performance of its public cloud by 10 to 15 times.Nirvanix is positioning itself as a trendsetter with the usage of flash memory. Steve Zivanic, Nirvanix's vice president of Marketing, told Talkin' Cloud that with the performance gains on the meta-data level, other cloud providers will likely begin deploying flash memory in their data centers in time."I think that's something you're going to see in the industry. As people are moving to flash, you can say, 'Wait, I can change the software and increase the performance,'" Zivanic said.Of course, that's the trick currently—that global file systems and file structures are written to use more traditional physical drives. Although HDDs won't be disappearing from data centers any time soon, Zivanic said he expects flash to play an increasingly important role in public clouds—and, in time, private clouds. Although Nirvanix implemented Violin's flash memory arrays into its public cloud, the company is also working with select customers of its private cloud services that want to get the better response times flash makes possible.Nirvanix has been trying to make cloud storage as simple as possible in recent months. The company, along with fellow cloud storage service provider TwinStrata, unveiled a cloud storage starter kit at the end of August in part to compete with the Amazon Glacier. The company also added a Las Vegas-based Switch SuperNAP data center to its network of worldwide data centers.In respect to flash memory in the cloud, Nirvanix said data backups have been reduced from months to weeks—at least with customers that back up hundreds of terabytes of data per week.There's a big question mark over whether this will become a trend embraced by the cloud provider industry as a whole, but the performance gains aren't something to ignore. The implementation of software that uses flash memory instead of traditional physical HDDs, though, is something that will almost certainly make many providers skeptical.
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