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WD ActiveScale P100 joins HGST Active Archive System

Western Digital introduced an entry-level ActiveScale P100 object storage system for users with lower scalability needs than its Active Archive System addresses.

Western Digital Corp. next month will start shipping an entry-level object storage system for customers with more...

modest scalability needs than its HGST Active Archive System targets.

The new ActiveScale P100 scales from 720 TB in 12 rack units (RU) to 19.4 PB in full 216RU scale-out mode. HGST Active Archive System, which Western Digital (WD) launched in 2015, starts at 672 TB, but offers a higher maximum tested raw capacity of 35.4 PB in full scale-out mode.

The ActiveScale P100 is the more economical option for customers who need only terabytes of object storage. The list price starts at 22 cents per gigabyte, compared with 49 cents per gigabyte for the structurally different HGST Active Archive System, according to Erik Ottem, director of product marketing at WD, based in Irvine, Calif.

Dave Tang, senior vice president and general manager of WD's data center systems business unit, said the low-capacity options of the HGST Active Archive System are meant for customers who "will scale quickly, because there is a certain amount of overhead to the overall system separate from the capacity trays that get added."

Tang recommended the new ActiveScale P100 for environments of 2 PB or less, where data is growing at a lower rate or a customer is just starting to move their applications from file to object storage. Use cases include large content repositories, media streaming, data analytics, data protection and archiving.

ActiveScale P100 specs

The ActiveScale P100's six trays each hold 12 WD HGST Ultrastar HelioSeal 10 TB hard disk drives. The P100 scales up in increments of 720 TB to 1.4 PB, or 2.2 PB per rack. The system has a maximum raw capacity of 19.4 PB.

The modular ActiveScale P100 separates system nodes supporting data ingest and egress from the storage nodes. That allows customers to scale performance and capacity almost independently from each other, according to Tang.

"For higher-performance environments, you want to keep a lower ratio of ingest servers to storage capacity. For lower workloads, you can obviously add a lot more capacity behind the ingest servers," Tang said.

The ActiveScale P100's raw capacity of 720 TB translates to between 480 TB and 508 TB of usable capacity, depending on the level of erasure coding the customer chooses for data protection. Tang said customers have data durability options of 11 nines or 15 nines. The ActiveScale P100 does not support replication.

Everyone's trying to get off of the replication or triplication schemes that were being used previously because the efficiencies are worse.
Dave Tangsenior vice president and general manager, WD's data center systems business unit

"That's really where the industry is going," Tang said. "Everyone's trying to get off of the replication or triplication schemes that were being used previously because the efficiencies are worse."

The level of erasure coding required for 11 nines or greater of availability will affect performance, but Tang said customers must weigh the cost benefits of scale-out object storage compared to performance.

Those who need higher performance would probably use other forms of storage, he said.

"Customers have to decide what their priorities are," Tang said.

Tang said the minimum configuration of the ActiveScale P100 lists at about $150,000. He estimated street pricing at $100,000 or less.

WD a 'player to watch'

Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at Taneja Group Inc., in Hopkinton, Mass., said the ActiveScale P100 makes WD a "player to watch" in object storage.

"The need for object storage is no longer in question," Taneja wrote in an email. "What is important today is how well does it scale, how easily does it go in, how effective is its capacity optimization algorithms, how easy is it to manage, and how easy is it to integrate into the existing infrastructure?

"WD does well on all these fronts, but needs a more integrated, scale-out version for file protocols. Gateways are too restrictive and become a bottleneck for serious applications. This is an area I would expect WD to attack next. But the P100 was the right product to deliver first."

The fiercely competitive object storage space includes major vendors, such as Dell EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, Huawei, IBM and NetApp. Other players include Caringo, Cloudian, DataDirect Networks, Red Hat, Scality and SwiftStack.

"Often with object storage, the initial thought was going after multipetabyte environments, and there are some challenges to that," said Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass. "Even though data continues to grow, there's only a limited number of customers [who] are looking to do a multipetabyte implementation."

Sinclair said it takes a considerable amount of time for an organization with a multipetabyte implementation to evaluate competing products and vendors, elongating the sales cycle.

"Western Digital allowed Active Archive to be delivered as a modular solution to really ease configuration, speed up deployment and, ultimately, speed up time to value, taking out a lot of the guesswork in deploying a massive unstructured storage archive in your data center," Sinclair said.

Original HGST Active Archive System

The original HGST Active Archive System is a fully integrated system that began shipping last year at a minimum raw capacity of 4.7 PB per rack, with 8 TB helium-filled drives, and a scale-out capacity of 28.2 PB. WD has since added an option for 10 TB drives to raise the maximum raw capacity to 35.4 PB.

In April, WD introduced a lower-capacity SA1000 model for the HGST Active Archive System family. The SA1000 offered an entry capacity of 672 TB, with WD's 8 TB Ultrastar HelioSeal HDDs, and it used the same 42U rack as the original SA7000.

The HGST Active Archive System and the new ActiveScale P100 use object storage software that Western Digital's HGST division acquired through its 2015 purchase of Amplidata. The software supports Amazon's Simple Storage Service object storage interface and erasure coding.

The ActiveScale P100 and Active Archive System store content on WD's HDDs and use WD's SanDisk solid-state drives to store metadata, as well as accelerate lookup and data access.

Tang said the ActiveScale P100 and Active Archive System are interoperable, enabling a customer to start with one system and scale to a larger system in the future. Customers have the option to use WD's 3-Geo technology to deploy the object storage across three sites for high availability.

Next Steps

Object storage offers NAS alternative

Scale-out NAS can challenge object storage

Object storage is suited to large data sets

Dig Deeper on Object storage

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