Storage UPDATE, April 7, 2003
Storage UPDATE--brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network http://www.storageadmin.com
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* THE CHALLENGE OF MANAGING PETABYTES OF STORAGE The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), a national research facility with headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, and managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) under primary sponsorship by the National Science Foundation (NSF), conducts wide-ranging research in chemistry, climate and weather, and solar-terrestrial interactions. NCAR also provides UCAR's 66 member universities and other affiliates with instrumentation, aircraft, and computer technology to study the earth's atmosphere.
NCAR is a data-generation superpower. Established in 1986, NCAR's storage facility recently surpassed the 1 petabyte (PB) mark. Within a year or so, NCAR will have generated and stored another petabyte of data. And by 2005, NCAR anticipates it will have around 6PB of archived data. NCAR currently averages about 70,000 robotic mounts a month. By 2005, that number will reach 900,000 a month. NCAR currently has 5 data silos made up of 5 high-performance StorageTek PowderHorn automated tape systems and plans to add 12 more automated tape systems over the next 2 to 3 years.
The root cause of data generation at NCAR lies with its computing infrastructure. The facility has the 10th and 33rd most powerful supercomputers in the world: Each is a large cluster IBM supercomputer with more than 1200 processors and is devoted to weather and climate research. Scientists run simulations on the supercomputers that look at climate change over vast stretches of time. The 10th largest supercomputer has an aggregate output of 2Gbps. NCAR streams the data through a high-speed data fabric--currently High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI), although Al Kellie, the director of the NCAR Scientific Computing Division, is considering a move to Fibre Channel in the future--onto drives, and then to the data silos.
To better understand why NCAR is producing and storing data at such an accelerated rate, how NCAR manages its data storage infrastructure, and the impact the rate of growth has had on NCAR's IT operations, I talked to Kellie. According to Kellie, the speed of access to the data and drive and tape capacities aren't a problem. The primary problem is managing storage, which, according to Kellie, isn't well understood. NCAR has greatly increased its sustained compute capability in the last 4 years. For example, in 1999, NCAR was accumulating a net of 15TB of data per month. Today NCAR accumulates data at a rate of 30TB to 50TB per month. Kellie's team is using data mining techniques to better understand data patterns at the facility. Simulations have produced 80 percent of the 17.2 million files currently in the system. But the increased number of simulations isn't the only storage problem NCAR faces. The other 20 percent of NCAR's archived information represents observation data collections. Users who are involved with these collections generate an enormous number of files. One user, for example, has 1 million files.
According to Kellie, managing files is the most pressing concern facing all of the national laboratories. Kellie said NCAR uses the High Performance Storage System (HPSS) archival data storage system that the Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center developed. HPSS has a storage capacity of 1.3PB and is managed by IBM servers. But, according to Kellie, maintaining his homegrown data storage system, which is in its fourth release, is less expensive.
Data growth has caused NCAR to involve its users in the development of policies for storing and expunging data. Kellie knows that 64 percent of the data NCAR generates has never been read, but that doesn't mean the data isn't valuable. Determining when a particular data file might become useful is often difficult, and user input about the relative value of data files is an important part of policy decision making.
NCAR is now factoring storage cost into its overall budget. In the past, the cost of storage was insignificant for NCAR; now, however, that cost is as important as the cost of compute resources. At some point, storage costs could exceed compute costs. As Kellie sees it, containing storage costs requires new tools to enable users to manage their data holdings more efficiently. According to Kellie, you can't change your storage policies without providing better tools.
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* UPDATE: ADAPTEC ACQUIRES EUROLOGIC Last week, Adaptec announced a plan to acquire Eurologic, a provider of external and networked storage solutions. Adaptec expects the acquisition to be complete by the end of April. The deal won't include Eurologic's Storage Area Network (SAN) software business, which will be divested into a separate entity to operate independently and will be called Elipsan.
Adaptec will purchase Eurologic for approximately $30 million in cash. Eurologic will be integrated into Adaptec's Storage Solutions Group. According to Adaptec, the deal will let Adaptec offer complete, end-to-end block- and file-based networked storage solutions. The deal will also open new sales channel in key industries such as medical imaging and digital media. The company expects Eurologic to contribute between $60 million and $70 million in revenue during Adaptec's next fiscal year and positively affect Adaptec's bottom line results by midyear. http://www.adaptec.com http://www.eurologic.com http://www.elipsan.com
* BROCADE INTRODUCES UPDATED SAN OS Storage networking switch manufacturer Brocade has released updated products for Storage Area Networks (SANs). Brocade released to its OEM partners the Brocade Fabric Operating Environment, which includes significant new features and capabilities for the Brocade Fabric OS and fabric management tools. According to the company, the software release offers the industry's first fabric-based SAN security, enhanced SAN-management tools, and new high-availability and connectivity features. Brocade's partners will offer the Brocade Fabric OS to its customers worldwide. Brocade partners include Dell, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, Network Appliance (NetApp), StorageTek, and Sun Microsystems.
One feature of the new environment is Secure Fabric OS, which integrates the security features of IP networking with the security requirements of SANs. The Secure Fabric OS lets you centrally manage SAN security policies for management and device access. Secure Fabric OS provides security by using digital certificates and digital signatures, multiple levels of password protection, encryption of management information, public key infrastructure (PKI)-based authentication, and 1024-bit encryption of the switch's private key for digital signatures. Brocade has also updated and enhanced many of the management features in its OS and software management tools. http://www.brocade.com
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* RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLL: IS RSS FOR YOUR COMPANY? The voting has closed in the Windows & .NET Magazine Network's Storage Admin Channel nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Would you consider deploying Microsoft RSS for your company?" Here are the results from the 25 votes. 20%--Yes 56%--Maybe, I'd like to know more about it 24%--No
* NEW INSTANT POLL: DO YOU USE A SAN? The current Instant Poll question is, "Do you use a Storage Area Network (SAN) in your environment?" Go to the Storage Admin Channel home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, or b) No. http://www.storageadmin.com
* NT BACKUP APPLICATION ERROR Forum member "Dazed" can't recover files from a Hewlett-Packard (HP) tape drive when using an old profile. A new profile works until the PC is rebooted a couple of times, then that profile can no longer perform a tape recovery and Dazed receives an error. He ran a file monitor, and the only process that appears when the recovery fails is the CSRSS.EXE process, which looks for the SYSTEMHAND.WAV file and fails. To lend a helping hand, go to the following URL: http://www.winnetmag.com/forums/rd.cfm?cid=46&tid=56639
* BECOME A SPINPARTNER Spinnaker Networks, a developer of Network Attached Storage (NAS) storage solutions, announced a reseller program to provide Value Added Resellers (VARs) an opportunity to capitalize on storage technology in the SpinServer 3300 line. The SpinPartner reseller program gives storage resellers access to demonstration, training, and loaner equipment; comarketing activities, including trade show support; and VAR solution briefs and white papers. Resellers interested in becoming a SpinPartner can call 412-968-7746 extension 7100. http://www.spinnakernet.com
* GROW THE TAPE LIBRARY WITH YOUR DATA Advanced Digital Information Corporation (ADIC) announced Scalar i2000, a next-generation tape library built around ADIC's iPlatform architecture. The new library eliminates external library control servers and increases overall data protection. The Scalar i2000's scalability capacity-—from 100 to more than 2200 cartridges--and storage density provide data protection that grows economically with expanding IT requirements. For pricing, contact ADIC at 425-881-8004 or 800-336-1233. http://www.adic.com
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