Cleversafe Inc. bumps up performance for object storage appliance

Cleversafe brings out high-performance Slicestor object storage appliance to increase the number of objects per second it can deliver.

Object storage vendor Cleversafe Inc. today rolled out two new faster-performing Slicestor appliances -- including an all-flash version -- and a software feature that allows data to bypass erasure coding for faster access.

A Slicestor object storage appliance is a storage node in Cleversafe's Dispersed Storage Network (dsNet) that spans geographic regions. The vendor uses erasure codes to protect data, with fault-tolerance levels depending on the number of sites used.

While Cleversafe boasts that it has object storage appliances for multiple exabyte-scale clouds, the vendor also discovered its customers often have smaller files that demand better performance than object storage could previously deliver. Rob McCammon, Cleversafe's director of product management, said customers often used network-attached storage or other storage systems for small files alongside Cleversafe storage for objects.

The Slicestor 4100 is a 1U appliance that holds eight 482 GB solid-state drives (SSDs) for 3.84 TB of raw data, plus an internal 500 GB Seagate Hybrid Hard Drive for faster boots. The 4100 uses an Intel Xeon E5-2620 processor. McCammon said Cleversafe incorporated SSDs to eliminate bottlenecks caused by hard drive seek times and to deliver more objects per second.

Cleversafe claims the 4100 can handle 10 times as many objects per second as its previous Slicestor appliances. McCammon said the flash 4100 system is considered complementary to higher-capacity Slicestors. A typical use case will be for customers to store data that requires fast access on the 4100 and to use other models for bulk storage.

For instance, thumbnails of photo files can go on the flash appliance with the entire photos remaining on another Slicestor appliance.

"We don't think anyone will set up an all-SSD dsNet," McCammon said. "This is for people who need access to small files that you can't get from spinning disk."

List prices for the Slicestor 4100 start at $36,850.

The Slicestor 2440 is an enhanced performance version of Cleversafe's flagship Slicestor 1440 object storage appliance. The 2440 uses 48 4 TB Seagate cloud drives for 192 TB of raw capacity. The 4U 2440 uses the same Xeon processor as the new 4100. The low-power cloud drives spin at 5,900 rpm. The 2440 is the same density as the 1440, but Cleversafe claims it delivers five times the throughput and four times as many objects per second as the 1440. While the 1440 is positioned for active archive and backup, the 2440 can be used for applications that require more access to data or data analysis.

McCammon called the 2440 the "big brother" to the 1440 that delivers better performance at a higher price. It has a faster processor for better ingest rates, more memory and cloud-class drives instead of desktop drives.

The Slicestor 2440 list price starts at $67,050, compared with $50,750 for the 1440.

Need faster access to your objects? Cache Vault can help

Cleversafe also launched Cache Vault software as part of ClevOS 3.1, the Cleversafe operating system. Cache Vault allows customers to store objects that require faster access than the larger objects that dsNet protects, without using dsNet's erasure coding.

Cleversafe claims Cache Vault enables performance of 10 times the objects per second as a standard dsNet vault. A Cache Vault can be set up on any Slicestor appliance, and Cache Vault data can be replicated.

Like the all-SSD 4100, McCammon said Cache Vault is complementary to Cleversafe's core technology. It provides performance but sacrifices the data protection that erasure codes bring.

"A customer would never store all [their] data on a Cache Vault, but might store thumbnails there," he said. "You get an order of magnitude, better performance in reads and writes per second, but that data isn't stored with the durability of the standard vault. If a drive fails, you'll lose data, so you create multiple Cache Vaults and replicate between them or you recreate the file from the original photo."

Cleversafe was placed in the leaders category among 13 object storage vendors included in a recent object storage MarketScape report by Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. The product rollout follows a $55 million funding round Cleversafe closed in August.

Ashish Nadkarni, a storage research director at IDC, said enhanced performance is the next logical step for Cleversafe and other object storage vendors. "They want to get away from being labeled as only an archiving platform," he said.

Nadkarni said Cleversafe's huge funding round last year shows that investors have identified object storage as a hot technology. "Object storage vendors were languishing because they didn't have the financial muscle to expand, but with the advance of OpenStack Swift and open source platforms, investors are realizing this is the right solution for large-scale storage," he said.

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