Liem Nguyen April 18, 2019
Adapted from white paper written by Dan Kusnetzky from ActualTech Media:
Data management in a hybrid cloud storage environment can be challenging and complex. Creating a simple, drop-in approach that produces immediate improvements is quite difficult. Traditional approaches that build up a custom solution that combines tools provided by different suppliers often compound the problem of complexity and may not address the issue of overall performance. When it comes to hybrid cloud storage, network management and security appears to have a technology that can be applied in the storage segment. Using this approach, it’s possible to quickly understand a sophisticated storage environment made up of many “moving parts,” built on a number of different technologies and provided by different vendors.
InfiniteIO Makes Hybrid Cloud Storage Simple and Fast
InfiniteIO was founded with the aim of making it possible for enterprises to easily and effectively address the challenges faced with hybrid storage.
The appliance-based solution they’ve developed is placed in front of enterprise NAS solutions and learns about the storage in use without disrupting current operations. This includes the hot (active) files and associated metadata. Then it begins to respond to the metadata requests out of its own internal DRAM to offload serving metadata requests from the back-end filers. Depending on the application, this can be up to 90% of storage requests. Therefore, once in operation, InfiniteIO makes the NAS systems more efficient and provides greater overall performance because the majority of storage requests are handled before they even get to the NAS systems.
Additionally, InfiniteIO learns a great deal about the enterprise’s files. It learns what files are and are not actively being used then transparently tiers files to more cost-effective storage. The key here is that all storage still appears to be local to applications, regardless of storage location. This means the enterprise can free up prime Tier-1 storage without disrupting workloads or applications and requires no changes to the enterprise storage infrastructure.
How InfiniteIO Works
Many members of InfiniteIO’s engineering team came from TippingPoint, a provider of network intrusion prevention systems. These engineers coded InfiniteIO technology to use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to analyze data as it travels over the network, enabling InfiniteIO to accelerate storage requests by responding directly to the majority of data requests without having to go back to the NAS systems for data.
The DPI approach is commonly used in network security applications. InfiniteIO refined this approach and focused it on inspecting every NFS storage request, in real time, to quickly understand the environment. Metadata from active files is held in memory, analyzed, and used to accelerate and consolidate storage while enabling real-time analytics and transparent tiering of files.
Scaling to Billions of Files Without Disruption
InfiniteIO’s solution is based on a shared-nothing cluster architecture offering “redundant everything” that provides enterprise resiliency, without a single point of failure.
It’s possible to drop this solution into the network just like a Layer 2 network switch, without requiring downtime or any workflow changes. It immediately begins to “crack” every NFS message, learning active files and responding to metadata requests on behalf of the storage behind it. Then it initiates a one-time scan of the storage and grabs the metadata for all the files on the storage servers. Once complete, it can serve all the metadata requests which makes all files “hot.”
Easy Policy Creation
Enterprises can set InfiniteIO to migrate files that haven’t been actively used in the last 180 days, for example. It would also be easy to select project data that’s no longer in use by file name or directory, and migrate it immediately without having to wait for it to “age out.”
Exceptions are also supported. For example, exceptions can be set to files in specific directories or created by a specific person or group. It’s easy to create multiple policies to represent the needs of individuals, groups, or business units with a great deal of flexibility.
Another advantage is that there’s never a need to rescan the storage environment to pick up metadata changes. InfiniteIO always has the current metadata for all files. Policies simply examine this metadata. All migrated files continue to look like they’re local to workloads and applications, no matter where they are.
If a read or write request is made for data that’s been migrated, InfiniteIO will simply bring that data back and place it in the original NAS system in its original location. This is all accomplished without capacity-based pricing. Enterprises simply purchase an appliance once and then manage as much data as needed.
Super Fast Performance
InfiniteIO is super fast. It can respond to typical metadata requests in under 100 microseconds. This is as fast as flash-based systems, regardless of where the file is actually stored. At the same time, InfiniteIO protects migrated data from unnecessary recall so all ingress charges are eliminated and the performance level is maintained for both local and migrated files for 70-90% of storage requests.
Although the original goal was to protect the metadata for local and migrated storage, the result is it can equalize and accelerate the performance for storage access for both on-premises and migrated files. One InfiniteIO customer saw 30-40% faster backup prior to tiering or migrating their data. It was an interesting and unexpected benefit of their use of InfiniteIO.
Insights From Real-time Analytics
InfiniteIO offers a dashboard providing real-time analysis of its functions including an overview of system health, real-time performance statistics, storage utilization and latency graphs, number of NFS calls per second, and estimated savings.
The machine learning capabilities make it easy to see how much data is active and how long it’s been since additional data has been used. This analysis also makes it possible for enterprise to realize significant savings by moving inactive data to more cost-effective storage.
Fulfilling the Promise of Simple, Fast Hybrid Cloud Storage
InfiniteIO lives up to its promise of making hybrid cloud storage simple and fast. It immediately goes to work with no software to install, no configuration and no special mounts required. Since the file metadata is abstracted, it doesn’t need to “stub” or use dynamic links to manage the hybrid storage environment.
ActualTech Media’s Take
Undertaking digital transformation for your business means re-thinking how you do everything. That even applies to storage.
For storage to work in the cloud era, it needs to be faster than ever, with the lowest latency possible. Moving data into and out of those clouds is both time- and resource-consuming; those are two things most IT organizations don’t have in excess.
That’s why you should look hard at anything that frees up resources and boosts speed. The InfiniteIO solution is elegant and simple, and should be on the short list of any company looking to speed up their storage for hybrid cloud scenarios.