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Network storage system reduces space, power use

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:network storage? algorithms? hard drives?

Startup Greenbytes has emerged from stealth mode with unique algorithms that help reduce the size and power consumption of the rising tide of network-attached storage systems in the data center.

The company's Cypress system locates and removes duplicated files as it reads them, compresses what is left and keeps disks in a low-power state when not in use. The result is a network-attached storage device that consumes an estimated 80 percent less power than its competitors, according to Matthew Aitkenhead, VP of sales and marketing, Greenbytes.

Noemi Greyzdorf, research manager at International Data Corp., said the system will be favored by data center managers who are examining data growth of 30 percent a year on average.

"There's huge growth in file-based unstructured data storage because many companies are required to keep more data files longer," he added. "This is eating up increasing amounts of space and power in the data center," he noted.

The startup's challenge is to get visibility for itself among entrenched vendors including EMC Corp. and NetApp. With an objective to increase its own slice of its pie, IBM Corp. rolled out a number of new storage products last week, including one system with similar abilities to reduce duplicate files.

"In this market, Greenbytes should focus on a few underserved niches to build awareness," said Greyzdorf.

Greenbytes sells its software running on a SunFire 4540 system from Sun Microsystems. The Sun system packs as much as 90Tbytes of hard disk storage and 64Gbytes RAM in a single x86-based rack mounted computer. The startup also uses Sun's OpenSolaris OS and a version of Sun's ZFS file system modified with Greenbytes' algorithms.

A search routine in Cypress can find and draw away redundant files at native data read rates. It competes with a new product from IBM using Big Blue technology acquired from Diligent Technologies in April to decrease duplicate files by a ratio of 25:1.

A compression algorithm on Cypress can reduce the size of file-based storage by as much as 50 percent. Power management techniques keep related data on the same drive and minimize the amount of time disks need to spin.

Greenbytes configures the Sun system with two 32Gbyte serial ATA flash drives as working memory for the search function. "The search algorithm requires higher I/O rates than hard drives can handle," said Aitkenhead, who did not identify the flash drive vendor.

The system is also equipped with a CompactFlash card that contains the OpenSolaris OS. "The system will be available in late September at a cost of about $89,000 for a 90Tbyte version, or about $1/Gbyte," he added.

"The new company plans to port its software to other storage systems to serve smaller branch offices as well as large petabyte-class data centers and application specific markets such virtualization appliances," he noted.

Greenbytes is a self-financed startup, formed by Americo Petrocelli, its chairman, and his two sons who serve as CEO and technical officers, respectively. The trio formed an earlier startup, HeartLab, which designed a digital cardiac imaging system eventually sold to Agfa for $150 million.

"The work at HeartLab showed a data storage problem at hospitals that typically store digital images for years even though after a few weeks these images were rarely accessed," said Aitkenhead. The Cypress product addresses some of the problems the founders observed while at HeartLab targets the broader market for storage.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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