A3CUBE's Fortissimo Foundation Turns up the Volume on Converged Storage

By Pedro Hernandez

Half a year after unveiling its PCIe-inspired storage networking tech called RONNIEE Express, A3CUBE has unveiled new software that enables enterprise storage environments to keep up with the demands of large-scale, I/O-intensive applications.

The San Jose, Calif.-based startup's new Fortissimo Foundation platform leverages RONNIEE Express, specialized PCIe network interface cards and the company's ByOS parallel storage operating system, allowing organizations to build clustered data storage environments that can extend in-memory-like performance to business applications. In-memory appliances, like SAP HANA, speed up database applications by placing data on up to terabytes (TB) of RAM instead of drives, avoiding the performance hit of reading and writing data across storage networks and subsystems.

Fortissimo allows data center operators to engineer converged storage networks that offer those benefits to application servers tasked with today's big data workloads, according to Emilio Billi, founder and chief technology officer of A3CUBE.

Despite advances, traditional storage architectures are haunted by their past. Take a simple SQL setup, "all of these [types of] applications are designed to run on a single server." Today's NoSQL, big data and massively virtualized workloads, on the other hand, "are not designed to run on a single machine" and place much more of a burden on storage networks and systems that are essentially offshoots of old methodologies, he argued.

Using commodity servers and storage, Fortissimo Foundation's Global Direct Remote I/O architecture aggregates memory, flash and hard disk storage while eliminating the need for external switches, a perk that comes courtesy of RONNIEE Express, into a global name space. Inline data deduplication and compression is handled in memory and hardware-assisted multi-level replication protects against data loss.

The ensuing low-latency pool of storage blurs the line between local and remote resource management, at least to application servers, said Billi. On average, CPU to remote device access times are subject to latencies of "less than 800 nanoseconds," a figure that includes operating system and software overhead, boasted Billi. A3CUBE's technology effectively enables applications to "access all the resources of all the nodes," he said. Resource utilization is further optimized by the elimination of metadata synchronization.

The effect on NoSQL and big data workloads can be game-changing, added Billi. By creating a Fortissimo-based caching system, organizations can easily "aggregate 1 TB of memory and [subsequently allow] each server to cache data at DRAM speed."

In Hadoop, this capability translates into the transparent, "in-memory" acceleration of HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) with an up to 100x performance improvement in applications based on the big data platform. Organizations that rely on the NoSQL databases like MongoDB -- which has no built-in in-memory capabilities, reminded Billi -- for their Web scale applications can expect snappier performance, a similar impact on speeds and a 10X increase in transactions per second, while enabling up to "16:1 consolidation of server cluster size," according to the company.

A3CUBE Fortissimo Foundation is available in October.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on September 17, 2014