DataDirect Networks Builds Niche in Big Data

Big data - massive quantities of unstructured data - present big storage challenges. Here's how one company is addressing its storage needs with DataDirect Networks, a storage provider who serves the big data crowd - government, media and entertainment and Web companies.

Colleen Miller

January 26, 2012

4 Min Read
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If your company's entire services are built on cloud storage, how do you accommodate growth in your business and the need to move and store massive volumes of data? That was the challenge facing YouSendIt, Inc., a fast-growing company that offers cloud-based services where users can send files, share folders and sign documents. The company recently investigated storage offerings that chose DataDirect Networks (DDN), which has built a niche handling large volumes of data.

DataDirect Networks is the world’s largest privately-held data storage infrastructure provider. Its focus is on the requirements of today’s massive unstructured data generators, such as high performance computing; life science research; Web and cloud content; professional media; homeland security; and intelligence communities.

Scalability is an important factor for these companies,many of which start out with modest requirements.

"We had a small DDN facility, about 20-30 terabytes," said Stanford Au, CTO of YouSendIt. "It was effective at small scale and we investigated if it would work at larger scale." YouSendIt has a 60 to 70 percent annual growth, and 20 million registered users in 193 countries, so the size of its storage is measured in petabytes. And it wants to keep growing its customer base of business and individuals, and therefore, its storage capacity.

Last February, YouSendIt launched with DDN appliances and was "very successful," according to Au. Then over the summer, they looked to the marketplace again, but came back to DDN.

Trio of Requirements: Price, Performance and TCO

"It came down to price-performance," said Au. "Every unit had to meet a certain level of performance and they all met that. So it came to price and then total cost of ownership." He said DDN was 20 to 40 percent of the cost of other solutions in the market.

Another element in TCO that was crucial was the small footprint of DDN. "We are talking 1-2 racks as compared to 6-7 racks," said Paul Massie, YouSendIt's Senior Director of IT and Operations. Saving space in the data center can create considerable cost savings, Massie explained.

"This was a business critical decision we were making, between price-performance, total cost of ownership and reliability," Au said. The appliances must have a performance level where thousands or tens of thousands of files are accessed at the same time with no degradation of performance.

And the results? "We are very happy with the performance and the flexible way we store the data, and being able to scale," Au said. "This is very extensible."

Other customers of DDN include government agencies, such as the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton that engages in comprehensive long lead-time research on weather and climate, and business such as photo service, Shutterfly.

"These are examples of organizations who are storing large volumes and pulling files from storage," said Mike King, director of marketing for DDN. "DDN has the high capacity throughput that really shines. For instance, Shutterfly has big data and it is also monitoring its big data at the same time," he said. All that adds to more storage needs.

DDN is a major player in the world of high-performance computing (HPC), or supercomputing. As ranked by the November 2011 edition of the TOP500 list of the world's leading supercomputers, there's been a 50 percent year-over-year increase in the number of petaflops powered by DDN among listed systems.

DDN Products

Storage Fusion Architecture (SFA) - Using highly parallelized storage processing technology, SFA delivers unprecedented Input-Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) and massive throughput at the same time. Combined with Enterprise-level data protection and leading scalability, density and energy efficiency, SFA is utilized in extreme storage infrastructure projects. SFA includes: up to 1,400,000 Sustained IOPS and up to 40GB/s throughput from a single storage system and up to 3.35PB per data center rack for leading storage density.

Silicon Storage Architecture (S2A) - Now in its eighth generation, S2A delivers the needed throughput for high-bandwidth applications in a number of verticals, including media and entertainment and high-performance computing. Scaling to multiple petabytes in a small footprint, products based on S2A technology are used in bandwidth intensive environments as well as large content archives and backup sites. S2A has up to 6GB/s of read and write Performance.

Web Object Scaler (WOS) - The WOS is built for geographically dispersed global storage clouds holding billions of files and petabytes of content in a single namespace, WOS provides a single management interface.

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