Cray Rolls Out Tiered Storage Solution

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-11-06
 
 
 

Supercomputer maker Cray is expanding its storage capabilities with the introduction of a tiered archiving solution that offers organizations the ability to easily migrate data across four storage tiers.

Cray will offer its Tiered Adaptive Storage (TAS) solution to its wide range of high-performance computing (HPC) customers, but officials said the tiered archiving offering also will help the company in its push to grow its presence in the enterprise.

The company, which unveiled TAS Nov. 6, said the solution will be on display at the Supercomputing '13 show starting Nov. 17 in Denver.

Cray already offers several storage solutions, including its Cluster Connect Lustre storage offering for x86 Linux clusters, and a scale-out storage appliance using the company's Sonexion. However, organizations in the era of big data are collecting huge amounts of data, and are looking for tiered storage solutions that not only make it easier to keep the data, but also to access, analyze and migrate it between the tiers, according to Barry Bolding, vice president of storage and data management at Cray.

"There's this vast amount of data growth going on," Bolding told eWEEK, noting that IDC analysts expect the amount of data being generated will grow 300 times between 2010 and 2020. That data not only needs to be stored indefinitely, but it needs to be accessible and dynamic. "Now people want to transparently move data between these tiers."

Cray's TAS product, offered through a partnership with Versity Software, can be used by organizations as a primary tiered storage system as well as a persistent storage archive. TAS can offer up to four different tiers—from fast-scratch for data that needs to be accessed immediately to primary and archive storage—that leverage a range of storage technologies, from nonvolatile RAM (NVRAM) and solid-state drives (SSDs) to disks and tape. It's easily expandable and highly scalable, according to officials.

Cray's partnership with Versity—and its investment in the software company—is a key part of the company's tiered-storage offering, Bolding said. The company's co-founder and chief technology officer, Harriet Coverston, was the key developer of the SAM-QFS file management system, which Oracle inherited when it bought Sun Microsystems. SAM-QFS is tightly integrated with the Solaris operating system and is offered in the software giant's storage offerings, but Versity—in its Versity Storage Manager software—offers an open-source version of SAM-QFS based on Linux and supported by Cray.

"We think it's a very positive proposition that we offer this open environment," Bolding said, adding that Cray officials have talked to Oracle about supporting Oracle's Solaris-based SAM-QFS products. He said he is optimistic something can be worked out with Oracle.

Cray also will provide integration of hierarchical storage management (HSM) features in future versions of the Lustre file system, he said.

Cray also is partnering with Spectra Logic for its tape libraries and drives and NetApp with its E-Storage solutions. However, despite the partnerships, Cray will be the single point of contact for customers with any questions regarding TAS, Bolding said.

The TAS solution plays into Cray's efforts to expand its capabilities. While best known for its supercomputers, the company now has a strong and growing storage business, he said. The storage business brought in $50 million in revenues in 2012 and accounted for 10 percent of Cray's business for the year, with expectations that it will grow in the coming years, Bolding said.

"People don't think of Cray as a storage company, but we're trying to change that," he said.

At the same time, TAS should also be attractive to enterprises, which accounted for 10 percent of Cray's revenues last year, and should grow this year, he said. Enterprises in some industries, such as oil and gas, energy and manufacturing, are increasingly interested in commercial HPC offerings, which Cray officials see as a growth area.

Cray already offers a number of supercomputers aimed at enterprises, including the XC30-AC, an air-cooled system that offers similar capabilities as the XC30 supercomputer but at a starting price of about $500,000. Some of the XC30 systems can sell for $10 million to $30 million.

 

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