Rethink Storage Gets a New Home in 2015

Posted by Jamie Doherty | Author Info

Jan 14, 2015 9:00:00 AM

As the strategist, coordinator, and executor of this blog from inception, it is bittersweet that I write this entry with some big news to share.  One year ago this week we launched Rethink Storage.  The idea of this blog was to give the members of the Advanced Software team at EMC a voice so they could share their product and industry expertise with our customers, partners, brand advocates, potential customers, and everyone in-between.  As you know things change quickly in the technology industry, bringing me to the point of this blog.

Our engineers have created advanced software products so cutting edge that they are considered emerging technologies here at EMC and to the industry.  Starting today, Rethink Storage will have a new look, name, and web home.  The new name is the Emerging Technologies Blog and it will transform into this futuristic look:

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, third platform, VMware, ViPR, Object Storage, OpenStack, storage management, Service Assurance, EMC, Elastic Cloud Storage

What You Need to Know to Build an Enterprise Class Object Storage Hardware Layer

Posted by Hui Liu | Author Info

Apr 14, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Hardware Matters
When many people talk about object storage implementation, they focus on the software pieces like consistent hash, partitioning, replication, scale horizontally etc. But another critical component of a total object storage solution is the hardware. The operative word for object storage is still data and data lives on hard disk drives, but the hardware layer is also important for data availability in a total object storage solution.
There are two choices for the object store hardware layer: commodity hardware or storage array with built-in reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS). Commodity hardware is attractive for economic reasons, but storage array based solutions still matter.

Hard Disk Failures
Take hard disk drive failure as an example for challenges we face in the hardware layer. A typical object storage use case may have hundreds of petabytes (PB) of object data and hundreds of thousands of hard disk drives. Monitoring the health of such a great number of hard disk drives is a big challenge. Especially when the hard disk drive is the most error-prone component in modern computers. According to a hard drive failure analysis report from Google's own data center, Annual Failure Rate (AFR) is ranging from 2% to 10% depending on the age of disk drives (see figure below). For more information, please see Google’s research paper titled "Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population.

                              Figure 1. Google Research: Annualized failure rates broken down by disk age groups

Take for example a scenario where you are building a 100PB object store with three replicas for each object. This would mean you would have at least 300,000 1T SATA drives. If AFR is 2%, it means you’ll have 6,000 failed disk drives per year and 16 failed drives per day. The number increases four to five times after disk age is greater than two years old!

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Topics: ViPR, Object Storage

What is Object?

Posted by Mark A. O'Connell | Author Info

Apr 7, 2014 9:00:00 AM

In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of asking “why” we do things the way we do, and of re-examining designs if the answer is “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way.” Following this line of examination can often lead to some unexpected but quite innovative new designs.

What if we throw out all our old assumptions and rethink storage based on today’s technology and today’s usage patterns? Where would that lead us?

First off, what are the usage patterns which either predominate now or are expected to predominate? The first would be connected to the rise of mobile devices, tablets, web access, and the like – the expectation that information should be globally available, at any time, across multiple end-user devices. The information is expected to be personalized, tailored to the individual viewing it – like my Facebook page, my Netflix preferences, my yahoo newsfeed, etc. However, from a storage point of view, the storage must be able to deliver thousands to millions, or perhaps billions, of personalized Facebook pages, Netflix preferences, and the like, simultaneously, all over the globe.
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Topics: Object Storage

In it for the Long Run: EMC's Object Storage Leadership

Posted by George Hamilton | Author Info

Mar 3, 2014 8:56:00 AM

EMC’s Hopkinton, MA headquarters is right down the street from the Boston Marathon starting line. With the 2014 race fast approaching, I often think of inspirational quotes to get me out the door into the darkness, single digit temperatures, and icy streets and sidewalks. One of my favorites is from international track star and running legend, Steve Prefontaine who said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. It’s more than just saying “don’t rest on your laurels”; it makes the point that our success, talent or list of accomplishments should be respected. And we respect them by continuing to work hard and giving our best. Failing to do so is to “sacrifice the gift”. Of course, we can apply this sentiment to more than running. As individuals we should always seek to maximize our talents. Companies should too. Good companies have their share of successes. Great companies, however, recognize what made them successful and put just as much effort, if not more, into the next innovation. EMC’s leadership in object storage is a great example.

Gartner Research recently rated EMC Atmos for overall product viability for object storage platform in their report, “Critical Capabilities for Object Storage.1” EMC Atmos achieved the highest possible rating given based on capabilities as well as by use case. EMC is proud of this accomplishment and believes it reflects years of hard work and innovation. EMC pioneered object storage with the introduction of EMC Centera in 2002. Not content to be a leader in on-premise compliance archiving, EMC took object storage to the next level with EMC Atmos. Today, Atmos boasts over 1.5 exabytes sold and over 300 customers, including more than 60 global service providers and some of the largest Web-based companies in the world. We believe that EMC is a leader in object storage platforms but, once again, EMC is pushing the pace to not just maintain, but extend its leadership in object storage with EMC ViPR and the ViPR object data service. 

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Topics: ViPR, Object Storage

Why Object Storage?

Posted by Mark A. O'Connell | Author Info

Feb 17, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sometimes the simplest questions are also the most profound.

"Why object storage?  

Why?" As any parent knows, or as anyone who spends time with children knows, answering a child's "Why?  Why? Why?" questions can be frustrating but also insightful.  Sometimes the answer is clear and the child truly doesn't understand or doesn't want to understand, "You need to go to bed because if you don't, you'll be tired and cranky in the morning for school."

The insights come when the answers reveal that the true reason is "You need to do this because this is the way I did it, and I haven't realized that times and technologies have changed."  I fell into this trap recently with my high school-aged son, who demanded to know why I insisted that he lug his textbooks with him on a trip last weekend to study for his midterms.  After I calmed down and began to listen, he explained how all the practice problems were online, as well as the study guides, which he would access from his iPad.  To his credit, he studied very effectively the whole weekend without one single textbook along.

As we move to rethink storage, we need to ask ourselves the same question - why are we doing things the way we are?  Are there truly good reasons which still apply, or do we need a fresh perspective --untainted by legacy technologies -- to realize that there is a better way?
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Topics: Object Storage