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Quobyte storage brings satellite imagery down to Earth

Quobyte storage customer 3vGeomatics produces analytical data on ground deformities that are potential environmental hazards. The distributed file storage replaces NFS.

3vGeomatics needed storage that handled data from space to assess foundations here on Earth. After considering NAS arrays and object storage, the company chose Quobyte storage for its ability to handle massive file workloads.

The company, based in Vancouver, B.C., deploys special radar equipment to detect millimeter-level ground movements. The goal is to preserve structural integrity and forestall environmental disasters. The firm's customers include companies in construction, energy exploration, earth science and transportation.

3vGeomatics uses technology known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to capture satellite images and overlay them one over another to map deformities on a given area.

"We measure the ground from space, which I think is really cool. We take a stack of satellite radar images of an area over time, and then we compare them," 3vGeomatics IT manager Joe Chapman said.

Distributed storage to replace NFS

Shortly after Chapman joined 3vGeomatics, he deployed the Quobyte storage file system in 2018. He was hired with a mandate to upgrade outmoded NFS storage.

Joe Chapman, IT manager of 3vGeomaticsJoe Chapman

"I needed storage that is POSIX-compliant. And I needed it to be fast," Chapman said.

At the time, 3vGeomatics had been planning to expand its compute farm but was already experiencing NFS bottlenecks. The company had a "giant[Oracle] ZFS node" and storage frequently locked up when sending data to its NFS server.

"That was due to the way we manipulate data. It's very hard on storage," Chapman said.

He broke his options into three distinct categories to better evaluate the individual technologies: legacy array vendors, object storage and software-defined storage on commodity servers, which includes Quobyte storage and several other vendors.

I needed storage that is POSIX-compliant. And I needed it to be fast.
Joe ChapmanIT manager, 3vGeomatics

He looked at Dell EMC Isilon NAS arrays, but the "storage under the hood is based on NFS." Object storage didn't enable 3vGeomatics' need for high parallelization of data.

Chapman said Quobyte storage proved to be the best fit for his company and its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery. Quobyte natively supports Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) protocols and, while it supports standard file protocols like NFS, the scale-out file system has its own client to avoid performance lags.

Quobyte founders Felix Hupfeld and Björn Kolbeck are former Google engineers who compare their file system to "Google-like storage." Quobyte policies bind its file system volumes to storage hardware for data placement across devices. The Quobyte file system also includes built-in analytics and monitoring.

"I wanted to be able to put all our storage on one system and manage it from there," Chapman said.

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What are the drawbacks of using scale-out storage like Qumulo?
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