DataDirect Networks adds hybrid scale-out storage for 'big data'

DataDirect Networks' latest scale-out storage system is its first hybrid flash array; SFA7700 also has caching suite to optimize flash performance.

DataDirect Networks Inc. plans to begin shipping its first hybrid flash array in early 2013. The 4U SFA7700 is a midrange scale-out storage system that will include multi-level cell flash and spinning disk, and storage acceleration tools for such block and file-based high-performance computing applications as data analytics.

The SFA7700 uses the new Storage Fusion Xcelerator (SFX) suite of flash optimization tools from DataDirect Networks (DDN) to boost performance. The suite consists of SFX Read, SFX Write, SFX Instant Commit and SFX Context Commit acceleration modes. SFX Read caches reads to accelerate frequently accessed data, SFX Write accelerates writes, SFX Instant Commit caches most recent writes, and SFX Context Commit enables customers to direct data-intensive applications to solid state.

The SFA7700 base unit supports up to 60 drives, either 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch 800 GB flash solid-state disks (SSDs) or spinning disks. Customers can choose any combination of SSD and spinning drives.

The base unit can support up to 48 TB of flash drives and 180 TB of 15,000 RPM or 7,200 RPM hard disk drives. Jeff Denworth, DDN's vice president for marketing, said he expects DDN to support 4 TB disks next year, which would boost the array's maximum capacity to 240 TB.

The SFA7700 will scale with 60-drive and 84-drive add-on enclosures, allowing it to scale to 396 drives in 20U of rack space. The scale-out storage system's intelligence will reside in the base unit, but the enclosures can be configured for any combination of SSDs and spinning disk.

Denworth said the SFA can support more than 100 GBps sustained throughput and more than 350,000 IOPS to handle the processing and distribution of large data sets.

DDN specializes in high-performance computing, or HPC, with a series of appliances and arrays for parallel file systems, network-attached storage, media content servers, virtual tape libraries and cloud storage.

Henry Baltazar, senior analyst for storage and systems with 451 Research Inc., said the scale-out storage SFA7700 will process large data sets with millions or billions of data bits from databases, machine-generated data, and "big data" data analytics applications. "DDN is a specialized storage company," he said. "Their systems are really designed to deal with the problems that are outside the ordinary. They didn't add hybrid storage so they could go compete against EMC's VNX and NetApp's mid-range FAS model. They're not going after that."

DDN plans to release SFA7700 pricing at the end of the year, Denworth said.

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