Amplidata Upgrades AmpliStor Big Data Storage Software

By Pedro Hernandez

Amplidata today rolled out an update to the company's object storage software called AmpliStor XT. The company specializes in storage systems for media, scientific and live archive applications. In a sign of the times, its tech is being enlisted to help make more of that Big Data accessible online.

The updates to the company's AmpliStor software will power storage systems that offer secure, near-linear scaling in both throughput performance for unstructured data. Key to delivering on that promise is Amplidata's choice of data protection: erasure coding.

The company's BitSpread technology employs erasure coding to deal with the advent of high capacity hard disk drives. According to Paul Speciale, vice president of products for Amplidata, growing drive sizes are testing the limits of RAID data protection schemes. Describing erasure coding as "a different way to look at data protection," his company settled on it as a core technology for its Big Data storage offerings.

"RAID and replication create multiple instances of data," explained Speciale. While effective in many cases, drive failures and bit errors can slow data recovery efforts and incur downtime. The bigger the drive, the longer the wait. "The issue is that RAID has very long rebuild times," he said.

Enter Erasure Coding

"Erasure coding mathematically encodes all the data," said Speciale. This, he said, gives Amplidata systems a leg up over RAID. 

In a blog post, the company charts erasure coding's space age origins. "The basic idea is that it enables data to be broken into multiple packets (with a bit of additional information), sent to a receiver, and then reassembled on the receiving side," reports the company. "The key is that the receiver can reassemble the data even if some of the packets are lost in the transmission phase (that is, the receiver has a subset of the original packets). This created a perfect use for erasure codes in deep space transmissions," it states.

Today, Amplidata, along with other IT companies like NEC and DataDirect, are using variants of the technology to overcome RAID's limitations. This method results in storage systems that are more forgiving of drive and component failures, above and beyond the two-drive failure tolerance of RAID 6.

XT Stands for "Extreme Throughput"

Performance-wise, the company's updated software allows an Amplistor systems to scale across multiple racks, while achieving near linear scaling of throughput as the system grows. According to Amplidata, this results in I/O rates in the tens of Gigabytes per second, depending on configuration.

Each AmpliStor Controller can now deliver "750 Megabytes per second, up from 400 Megabytes per second," reports Speciale. This will help speed things up, he added, particularly for customers that are currently "throwing things like multi-terabyte files" onto his company's systems. Also new are object caching options that allows storage admins to configure AmpliStor controllers with object caches of variable sizes, employing either solid-state drives (SSDs) or hard-drives.

Amplidata's erasure coding and scalability-enhancing tech should prove compelling for organizations wrestling with storing, accessing and protecting their Big Data stores according to Robin Harris, chief analyst at StorageMojo.com. In a company statement, he said, "Amplidata's technology is unique: Rateless erasure coding ensures extreme data durability, and their high-performance codec gives the speed needed to handle Big Data."

"Combined with the innate scalability of object storage, Amplidata brings welcome capabilities to live archive applications managing huge capacities," concluded Harris.

Further rounding out AmpliStor XT's upgrades is an http/REST API that supports extensible metadata as well as a native .Net SDK for Microsoft environments to ease development of Big Data applications. The GUI gets some attention with SNMP support, improved monitoring and reporting, and automated storage deployment.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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This article was originally published on April 04, 2012