Permabit Technology launches HIOPS Compression for primary storage

Permabit adds HIOPS Compression to its Albireo data deduplication software, which it says can help storage array vendors hold off innovative startups.

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Permabit Technology Corp. added compression for unstructured primary storage to its Albireo Virtual Data Optimizer deduplication suite, promising to deliver performance improvements to storage arrays from legacy vendors facing pressure from disruptive flash upstarts.

Permabit's HIOPS Compression is a drop-in for Albireo, bringing a combination of inline deduplication and inline compression along with thin provisioning to the application. The compression is designed to improve throughput and performance for online transaction processing (OLTP) and other primary storage applications. Most traditional array vendors provide deduplication and compression options now, although it's generally recommended that users turn off the features for OLTP databases to avoid a performance hit.

Permabit CEO Tom Cook said that integrating HIOPS Compression into legacy arrays will "inoculate" legacy vendors against performance degradation.

"I give flash vendors like Pure Storage, Nimble and Nutanix credit for pressing the agenda on data efficiency," Cook said. "They've been disruptive and that's forced Tier-1 vendors to recognize that they must get more data-efficient themselves. We have a lot of OEM partners trying to fill a hole in their portfolio."

Cook said Permabit has 13 OEM design wins, although only Hitachi Data Services (HDS) has identified Permabit as a partner. HDS uses Permabit technology in the HNAS product it acquired from Blue Arc in 2011. Cook did throw a hint when he hailed Hewlett-Packard's addition of inline deduplication to its 3PAR StoreServ 7450 all-flash array as a "significant move that will have a ripple effect on other Tier-1 vendors."

HIOPS is offered inside VDO for Linux-based storage and Albireo embeddable VDO (eVDO) for proprietary storage platforms. HIOPs can be used with all-flash array and hybrid storage systems.

Permabit is also planning a SANblox appliance with dedupe and compression for Fibre Channel SANs later this year, but isn't yet providing details on that product.

Permabit claims VDO can deliver 650,000 IOPS, 5 gigabytes per second (GBps) sequential read bandwidth and 2.7 GBps sequential write bandwidth.

HIOPS is a more integrated and improved version of the Albireo Compress application released last year. VDO with HIOPS compression will first attempt to deduplicate new data. If the new block matches a block already written, no data needs to be written. If the new block is unique, it is added to the index, compressed and stored in an available space. HIOPS can store up to 14 compressed blocks in a space at once and converts random writes to sequential writes to accelerate underlying I/O.

If a block is overwritten with unique data, Albireo finds new space. If no other copies exist of the old block, its space becomes immediately available with no garbage collection required. A read request receives a full 4 KB compressed block into cache, which also accelerates future reads.

The HIOPS dedupe and compression is designed to run together for maximum performance, but OEM partners can turn either feature off.

Eric Burgener, a storage research director at IDC, said Permabit's technology can greatly improve storage vendors' time to market with data reduction.

"If vendors haven't already built some form of data reduction into their primary storage arrays, they're in the process of doing so, either by creating it in-house or forging OEM relationships. Their only options are to spend 12 to 18 months developing it, or buy from a vendor like Permabit and take six to nine months to integrate it," Burgener said.

Burgener added that data reduction will be a "baseline functionality of every storage array going forward."

Dave Russell, a vice president of storage technologies at Gartner, said Permabit's "secret sauce" is its technique for splitting out I/O streams in a highly parallel way.

"It's highly evasive, specialized work to rip apart an incoming data stream, farm it out to multiple processing cores and recombine it in real time at high speed and with complete data fidelity. That's not trivial," Russell said.

"There aren't a lot of companies that even try to specialize in this area," he noted. "Permabit's got an advantage in that it already has production-deployed capability and major OEMs lining up."

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