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Storwize claims updated data compression app improves throughput performance

Primary storage data compression startup StorWize claims updates to its software algorithms make its appliance faster and boosts its data reduction ratio.

Storwize Inc. claims its STN-6000 data compression appliances for primary network attached storage (NAS) will offer up to a 15:1 data reduction ratio and 600 MB/sec of throughput performance with version 3.5.1 of its software.

The company is also enhancing high-availability management for its active-passive dual-node configurations that will allow users to change configurations on the fly without requiring a restart.

The increase in data reduction ratio -- from 5:1 in previous releases of the STN-6000 -- was achieved through the improvement of proprietary software algorithms, said Peter Smails, Storwize vice president of marketing. "It's due to tweaks and modifications to our compression algorithm, which is based on standard compression methods like LZ," Smails said. "It's not so much building it up as it is stripping things out and making it more efficient in how quickly it deals with compression."

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The STN-6000 is an in-band device that sits between hosts and primary storage, and compresses data on the fly. Performance is a critical selling point for Storwize. Previously, the vendor claimed the appliance performed at 400 Mbps. With this release, Storwize said the STN-6000 has achieved 600 MB/sec in an internal test using Oracle database data that was attached to NFS. Specifics of the test are not available and have not been verified by a third-party lab.

The boosted reduction ratio still falls below the ratios claimed by secondary storage data deduplication products, but StorageIO Group analyst Greg Schulz said performance is the most important factor.

Storwize is the only primary storage data reduction vendor that even comes close to line speeds for a software-based inline data reduction process. Its closest competitor, Ocarina, targets data that requires higher compression and less performance, including JPEGs and other precompressed file formats.

"For nondatabase data that seldom changes, but needs to remain online, Ocarina would be a better fit; they trade off a higher compression ratio for less performance," Schulz said. Storwize makes the opposite tradeoff.

Storwize claims approximately 100 customers in the market currently, though none were available for an interview on this announcement. Other users told last week that the recent economic downturn has them thinking about ways to reduce online storage capacity and costs, but the products on the market from startups, like Storwize and Ocarina, and NetApp's primary storage data deduplication, are not yet seen as mature enough to deploy in production.

IDC research manager Noemi Greyzdorf said that while not in the majority, there are a significant number of users running up against power, cooling and space thresholds separate from a need for storage capacity reduction. "Some users might not have a choice but to reduce their data footprint; they're not just running out of disk space, but they're running out of power," she said.

Both analysts said they'd also like to see Storwize branch out by supporting block storage in addition to the CIFS and NFS systems it's compatible with today. "With its ability to handle active data it could be suited to capacity-optimized primary block storage," which is a largely untapped market, Schulz said.

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