Ocarina upgrades its ECO System compression appliance

Storage startup Ocarina expands its primary data reduction software to include file compression, data migration and snapshot features.

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NEW YORK -- Primary data reduction startup Ocarina Networks disclosed plans at Storage Decisions this week to add data migration features, snapshots, support for virtual global namespace and file compression by industry type to its compression appliance.

The product upgrade is the first major enhancement to the Ocarina ECO System compression appliance since the startup emerged from stealth in April. Ocarina's initial launch was aimed mainly at photo-sharing websites, and now it is expanding into the entertainment, oil and gas, and medical imaging markets.

  • ECOmove is a new utility designed to help users migrate data from primary storage to nearline compressed archives. "Generally, data is left on Tier 2 storage only 30 to 90 days," said Carter George, vice president of products for Ocarina. "But it takes 18 months to make a movie, and some movie studios that have our product want to be able to keep all files associated with a project online for the duration of that project." Ocarina claims to be able to further compress even already compressed file formats, such as JPEGs, allowing for the retention of more multimedia data on disk.

  • ECOsnap creates what George called "archive-appropriate snapshots." That means "it's not copy-on-write or snapshots for backup. This reads a file and shrinks it, and then instead of storing a new shrunk file, consolidates it together with existing versions in the archive." The feature is similar to NetApp's space-efficient snapshots, but for photos. "It creates a time-sequenced archive with a time-slider user interface so that, for example, movie artists can say, 'show me this scene as it looked three months ago,'" George said.

  • ECO System now supports virtual global namespaces based on its ability to put pointers to compressed data in "suitcases" within a file system. The new virtual global namespace allows customers to create a "suitcase of suitcases" so they can store and manage pointers to all files in a large file system.

  • As Ocarina looks to branch out into new market segments, it's adding compression support for new types of files used in different industries, including AVI, Maya and RenderMan files for the entertainment industry, online seismic data applications for the oil and gas industry, and X-Ray, MRI and PET scan images for the healthcare market.

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Currently, Ocarina reduces only still images with video support planned for the next release in early 2009.

Ocarina adds new storage partners

Ocarina hasn't named any customers yet, but George said the vendor is making headway adding storage partners in the NAS space, including Hewlett-Packard, Isilon and Ibrix. HP will integrate Ocarina's compression with its ExDS9100 clustered NAS system when it's released later this year. "We currently have two systems installed with Isilon and four with HP," George said.

Gartner analyst David Russell predicts Ocarina's compression won't be a standalone product for long. "[Primary storage data reduction] is a feature that over time might become like compression in tapes," he said. "Starts as a standalone product, then becomes a feature and now even the cheapest autoloader has compression – you'd probably have to look up how to turn it off."

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