Appistry today added another element to its cloud-computing application platform, announcing the April availability of CloudIQ Storage. With the release, the St. Louis-based company joins the growing ranks of companies seizing on demand cloud storage solutions that can maintain performance in the face of rapidly growing data volumes. Appistry hopes to distinguish its scale-out storage offering from the competition, however, with two key innovations: (1) an ace-in-the-hole that it calls “computational storage,” and (2) CloudIQ Storage Hadoop Edition.
Customers can achieve the performance benefits of computational storage by launching a commodity-server-based cloud with Appistry CloudIQ Engine, and installing CloudIQ Storage on the same pool of servers. This is a big change from the standard model of having separate islands of processing and storage connected by what Appistry VP of Product Management and Marketing Sam Charrington calls “a straw.” In a computational-storage model, processing tasks automatically route themselves to the relevant data, wherever it’s located across the file system. Charrington says this capability lets applications access data at bus speed (i.e., within the same box), thus eliminating the network bottleneck.
With the Hadoop Edition, Appistry hopes to “upgrade” the performance and availability of Hadoop-based applications by replacing the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) with CloudIQ Storage. While Hadoop is wildly popular right now, one issue is its use of a “namenode” – a centralized metadata repository that can constrain performance and creates a single point of failure. Appistry’s approach retains Hadoop’s MapReduce engine to assign parallel-processing tasks, but attempts to resolve namenode problems with CloudIQ Storage’s wholly distributed architecture.
Charrington told me that Appistry also is “in the lab as we speak” with an intelligence-sector customer that has “massive, massive” applications built on HBase, a distributed NoSQL database with Hadoop at its core. Although CloudIQ Storage doesn’t formally support HBase, it has helped the customer improve database throughput, and formal support might be on the way. Because of their inherently scalable natures, Charrington says CloudIQ Storage and NoSQL databases are complementary solutions to handle structured and unstructured data.
The idea behind cloud storage is the same as the idea behind cloud computing: Organizations want to meet their ever-expanding storage needs as they arise, and they want to do so at lower price points than are available from incumbent vendors like EMC and NetApp. For customers in areas like social media, scientific imaging or film rendering, though, scale and price must be matched with performance. This is where companies like Appistry come in, but it certainly isn’t alone in the quest for these dollars. Startups Scale Computing, Pivot3, MaxiScale and ParaScale all have raised millions for their unique offerings, and HP last summer snatched IBRIX to boost its relevance in the performance-hungry film-rendering market.