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DDN EXAScaler brings PB HPC storage to midrange

DDN EXAScaler 7000 midrange HPC storage scales to nearly 5 PB in 42U of rack space and includes an embedded Lustre file system

DataDirect Networks Inc. is expanding its line of EXAScaler scale-up NAS with an array that targets midsized enterprises and can hold petabytes of data.

The EXAScaler 7000 (ES7K) is an 8U appliance that scales from 248 TB to 992 TB of storage and runs Intel Enterprise Edition for Lustre software. Up to five ES7K boxes could fit in an industry-standard 42U rack, scaling storage to 4.96 PB.

DataDirect Networks' (DDN) EXAScaler file storage platform combines its StorageScaler hardware, Storage Fusion Architecture block array technology and open source Lustre distributed file system. DDN also sells GRIDScaler High Performance Computing (HPC) storage, which embeds IBM General Parallel File System.

The ES7K's 4U head unit stores from 80 TB to 320 TB with two controllers and 60 drive slots, including approximately 20 drives to handle metadata. Customers scale performance and capacity by adding 8U units that support up to 124 SAS drives and 12 Gbps throughput per unit. Hybrid storage is enabled by adding solid-state drives.

It's as if they've shown they can jump over a 10-foot fence, and ES7K fits a need in the market if you only need to jump over a three-foot fence.
Steve Conwayanalyst at IDC

"This is a scale-out concept applied to a parallel file system," said Laura Shepard, director of HPC at DDN. "It's quite appealing if you're trying to solve performance problems [associated] with a killer application or mixed I/Os for multiple applications. We let you achieve it with fewer moving parts, because we have embedded the Lustre parallel file system in our hardware."

DDN storage is used mostly for big data analytics, supercomputing and other high-performance workloads. IDC analyst Steve Conway said the ES7K zeroes in on companies that typically could not afford HPC storage.

"What DDN is doing is downscaling storage for customers at the lower-priced portion of the market," he said. "It's as if they've shown they can jump over a 10-foot fence, and ES7K fits a need in the market if you only need to jump over a three-foot fence."

The ES7K is expected to be generally available later this year. DDN did not disclose pricing.

Revenues from HPC topped $21 billion in 2014, according to research firm IDC, with storage accounting for $4.5 billion. DDN's competitors include Seagate's Lustre-based Xyratex ClusterStor and Panasas ActiveStor, which uses its proprietary PanFS file system.

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