Storage Soup

Nov 24 2010   2:46PM GMT

Object storage newcomer Scality looks to conquer the cloud

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

A new object storage vendor has thrown its hat in the ring to compete as a cloud storage enabler.

Actually, it’s thrown its Ring in the ring.

Scality’s Ring technology is targeted at service providers looking to take on Amazon S3 in the cloud. Scality is concentrating on storing email first, with designs on other applications and enterprise customers down the road.

“In five years I see us in the enterprise market,” Scality CEO Jerome Lecat said. “Today enterprises are still on the learning curve. They ask a lot of questions, but are not deploying a major pool of cloud storage. But that will come.”

Scality’s DNA is in email storage. It spun out of European email management vendor Bizanga after Cloudmark acquired Bizanga last February. The spin-out was originally called Bizanga Store, but changed its name to Scality in June. Scality is based in France, but has an office in San Francisco.

Lecat said email is also a good fit from a technology perspective for Scality.

“Some applications are being re-written to work with object storage. Email is one of them,” Lecat said. “People have written connectors with Exchange to work in the cloud. We’ll target applications that have been optimized to work with object storage.”

Scality sets up a cluster – or a ring – of nodes on commodity servers, and each node manages its piece of the storage environment. Each node constantly monitors a small number of peers, and the system will automatically rebalance the load if a node is added or taken out. Store and receive requests go through “accessors” that use HTTP, REST, RS2, Zimbra, OpenXchange, or Dovecot to communicate with the application. Scality also developed an I/O daemon called BizIOD to communicate with storage hardware.

When a store or retrieve request comes, the accessor contacts one of the nodes on the Ring. Lecat said by using Scalitiy’s Distributed Hash Table algorithm, the assessor can find the Ring in one hop for a ring of 10 nodes, two hops for 100 nodes, three hops for 1,000 nodes and seven hops for 10,000 nodes. That means within three hops, one node can address 50 PB of storage with less than 20 milliseconds of latency on a Gigabit Ethernet LAN.

After the correct node is contacted, it passes the object to BiziOD, which places it on the storage hardware. The nodes decide what objects should get off-loaded to tier two storage, and handle retention policies. One BizIOD runs per piece of physical storage hardware, but multiple BizIODs can run on one Ring node. If a disk fails, it only impacts the associated BizIOD daemon instead of the entire Ring node.

Adding tier one nodes boosts IOPS for better performance, and adding tier two nodes increases capacity.

Lecat said one Ring node typically has between 3 TB and 7 TB of usable capacity. He said Ring will support unlimited file sizes in its next release, which could come by the end of the year.

“We believe we have faster performance,” Lecat said. “And we can handle policies deployed on storage itself. You can decide how many copies of data you want to keep, and the data can self-delete at the end of the archival period. We manage these things from the storage layer rather than the application layer.”

Lecat said Scality has seven customers, including European service providers Telent, Host Europe, ScaleUp, Dunkel and intergenia. Backup vendor CommVault also provides a connector to European-based providers who use the Scality Ring.

Scality is looking to expand its U.S. footprint, but that won’t be easy because it involves competing with object storage products from EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, Dell, NetApp/Bycast, DataDirect Networks, Caringo and Cleversafe.

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