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New DDN storage hardware includes hyper-converged system

HPC specialist unveils 14K hyper-converged DDN storage hardware line aimed at midrange enterprise, the first of three planned rollouts under codename 'Wolfcreek.'

Data Direct Networks (DDN) today unveiled its first hyper-converged appliance as part of a portfolio refresh that also includes data protection software for its Web Object Scaler (WOS) object storage platform.

The SFA14Ke hyper-converged DDN storage hardware runs the vendor's Storage Fusion Architecture operating system and supports Fibre Channel and iSCSI storage. It is rated to deliver 60 gigabits per second throughput and 6 million IOPS in 4U of rack space. The SFA14Ke is based on the DDN SFA14K hybrid block storage array technology.

The hyper-converged device embeds compute, networking, storage and virtualization in a single rack-mounted appliance. VMware and applications run locally on the device, which also supports OpenStack Swift cloud storage and Hadoop workloads.

The SFA14Ke is the first of three planned hardware nodes that comprise the DDN14Ke hardware line, formerly codenamed "Wolfcreek." Also expected is an all-flash system and a scale-out NAS upgrade slated for 2016. The all-flash system will be based on DDN's Infinite Memory Engine I/O acceleration software, which began shipping in June.

Although known for its high-performance computing storage, the DDN14Ke rollout marks the vendor's effort to move downstream to serve organizations with roughly 200 TB to petabytes of storage, said Molly Rector, DDN's chief marketing officer and executive vice president for product management and worldwide marketing.

Foray into hyper-convergence emphasizes hardware

Hybrid DDN14K hardware is standardized on Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and provides an upgrade path as NVMe, EDR InfiniBand, 100 GbE and Omni-Path connectors become available. The appliances integrate PCIe fabric to enable applications and storage media to run locally at full performance speed. DDN storage software optimizes hardware components along the data path.

"To solve data growth, companies don't just need higher capacity storage devices or faster networks. They need a way to accelerate data from end to end as it moves through compute into the storage," Rector said.

Rector said the SFA14Ke hyper-converged system scales to 13.72 PB with 1,680 8 TB hard disk drives and 72 3.84 TB solid-state drives. DDN claims its hyper-converged storage is capable of supporting more than 100,000 virtual machines running Citrix, Microsoft or VMware.

Asynchronous replication, inline compression and deduplication, snapshots and thin provisioning are standard features.

"Typically, you think of hyper-converged systems as being for small organizations, whereas we designed the SFA14K for larger organizations that have large-scale data problems. We have early adopters that are taking this system for a Cinder infrastructure and using Swift to get to our object storage," Rector said.

George Crump, president of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said DDN's hyper-convergence presents a different use case than competing vendors.

"The unique thing about the SFA14K is how important the hardware is. With most systems, it's all about the software (running) on commodity white box servers," Crump said. "This really is the first time I've seen a specifically designed piece of hardware to run hyper-converged software. It goes back to the idea that hardware really does matter."

Data protection beefed up for WOS 360

DDN also rolled out WOS Enterprise Protect software to augment native data security in its WOS 360 object storage. Licensed separately from WOS, Enterprise Protect comes with application-aware deduplication, enterprise file sync and share, endpoint backup, data governance, e-discovery/ legal holds and remote data wiping.

Rector said Enterprise Protect was developed in response to customer requests to implement scalable WOS storage for uses beyond unstructured data.

"Most IT organizations don't have enough data to justify using object storage. To get the cost-per-gigabyte ratio, you need at least a couple hundred terabytes. The features in Enterprise Protect enable organizations with smaller data sets to take advantage of shared object storage," Rector said.

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