One of the biggest problems with cloud storage is data movement. Transferring large quantities of data to and from the cloud takes time, which can impact performance.
This issue is the province of a batch of storage startups who address it in a wide variety of ways. Some seek to increase caching capabilities. Some boost processing at the edge of the network by bringing the processing to the data. Some accelerate the speed of transfer. Some minimize the amount of data that has to be shunted around the globe for apps such as synch and collaboration. And some deal with the trials and tribulations of network file sharing across a large number of sites.
Lack of Speed
Barry Phillips, CMO at Panzura, thought the biggest problem with the cloud was the lack of speed for data transfer. Whatever cloud you use, it is always some distance away. So if you want to use local storage, you need to cache it.
Panzura seeks to solve this problem for unstructured data in the cloud. A caching appliance on premises supports the cloud as a means of getting rid of primary NAS and backup. Otherwise, a regular internet connection is utilized as opposed to a premium network connection.
“We do well in global software development where you have dev in one location and test in another,” said Phillips.
In one example, he said a current client in the media industry was taking ten hours to transmit 50 GB video files many times per day. This is now down to less than a minute. Another example is sending seismic data from one location to a big compute farm in the cloud and then sending the results back. In addition, for CAD applications, which can be very chatty and therefore consuming time and network resources, Phillips said Panzura makes CAD files much faster to open.
Global deduplication is another part of what Panzura does. This cuts down the amount of data that has to be transferred. Global file locking is included, too. The basic value proposition is to replace a raft of file servers, NAS appliances and WAN optimization appliances with a combination of a Panzura appliance and Microsoft Azure.
Sensor Data Overwhelm
One stealthy startup is Igneous, which has eleven patents to its name. The problems it solves involve sensors and other devices that generate huge amounts of data, up to 1 TB per hour. Just a few of those and a network becomes saturated. Igneous is designed to solve this problem, though the details are sketchy.
“We have a zero-touch infrastructure for data that you can’t or won’t send to the cloud,” said Steve Pao, CMO of Igneous. “It provides automated and API-driven services that operate on your network behind your firewall.”
He noted the difficulty in moving bits to the cloud fast enough as machine data and Internet of Things (IoT) data proliferates. While humans tend to generate word docs and emails galore, machines and sensors can generate high-fidelity data and larger files that continue to rise in size. Scientific equipment in biology, chemistry and physics now deal in huge files. And media and entertainment resolutions continue to increase.
“We are talking about really big data, how you move it around and how you analyze it,” said Pao.
Very large data sets, he added, have different workflows. Instead of moving the data to the computing power as in older paradigms, you need to move the compute to the data.
“Operations on the data are iterative so need a different compute paradigm,” said Pao. “Processing and compute have to live together in an unconstrained environment.”
Big File Transfer
The volume and size of modern files is overwhelming existing network infrastructure. For industries like media, entertainment, and oil and gas, it’s a real challenge to send big files around the world rapidly.
“We provide solutions to move very large data files quickly and securely across the network,” said Doug Davis, CEO of BitSpeed.
He gave the example of it taking 22 hours to move a TB of data six miles on a GigE network. Using his product, that is down to less than an hour. This is achieved using a special box installed at the client site and the regular Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) which is a core protocol of the Internet protocol suite. Davis said multiple streams of TCP are employed up to the line’s capability.
“Moving large movie files from coast to coast in the U.S became ten times faster for one media customer, yet they were already using state-of-the-art acceleration technology and 10GigE,” said Davis.