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Cleversafe said it could deliver on its 10 exabyte vision within a few years. Its design includes portable, self-contained data centers dispersed across 16 sites. Each site would hold 35 data centers for a total of 560 portable data centers and 4.7 million disk drives. Each portable data center would hold 21 racks of 189 storage nodes, while each node would contain 45 3 TB SATA drives. The data centers would have an ingest rate of almost one TB per second.
The 10 exabytes of data would be geographically dispersed via Cleversafe’s object storage software that uses algorithms with encryption to slice and disperse objects across a network of nodes. If a site or node goes down, data can be rebuilt as long as the system has access to a pre-defined number of sliced objects.
Cleversafe has built and tested at least eight portable data centers located in eight sites, including Dallas, Denver, San Francisco and Tampa.
The company’s use of object storage and dispersed data makes it a good fit for storage clouds and defense agencies.
An exabyte is 1,000 PBs, 1 million TBs or a billion GBs. Who would possibly need a 10 exabyte storage system? Cleversafe executives said they were approached by two customers -- one in the Federal government and the other a telecommunications provider -- to determine what it would take to reach that mark.
“We were approached by a couple of organizations to come up with this large configuration, so we know there's interest out there,” said Russ Kennedy, Cleversafe’s vice president of product strategy, marketing and customer solutions. “They're fairly forward-thinking and they're trying to anticipate the need. These guys definitely understand the volume of data they will have to deal with in a short period of time. There are a couple of use cases on the horizon.”
Ray Lucchesi, president at Broomfield, Colo.-based Silverton Consulting Inc., said applications that would require a storage system of such magnitude include video, audio, images and applications that stream data from mobile devices and tablets.
“It’s certainly not something normal customers need today, but there are many customers out there dealing with petabytes and petabytes of storage, so exabytes are the next step,” Lucchesi said.
It wasn’t long ago when 1 terabyte disk drives were unheard of, said David Reinsel, group vice president, storage, semiconductors, GRC and pricing at IDC. With big data analytics on the way, it’s conceivable that exabyte storage systems will be needed in time. “I don’t think we have scratched the surface there,” Reinsel said. “There are certain companies out there that will benefit at this scale.”