Storage

Field report: Managing large-scale file and object storage

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Experts responsible for preserving data find there’s a lot to like about object storage.  Object storage has scalability and efficiency advantages.  Much of the data and storage management complexity is hidden.  Organizations with the fastest data growth are the most likely to invest in object storage, according to ESG survey data.

I manage IBM’s data and storage management software business, so I’m interested in how organizations manage large storage infrastructures.  I recently met with Bob Oesterlin, Senior Principal Storage Engineer at leading voice recognition software company Nuance, to see how his company is managing a growing inventory of object data.

Nuance has 10 years’ experience managing a massive grid that supports research and development for its voice-related products, including healthcare and automobile systems and Dragon voice recognition software.  Object storage is very important to Nuance because, while data needs to remain accessible, a large amount is cold after 90 days.  Object storage has a compelling value proposition for this type of data.

Bob described object storage at Nuance as part of a 3-layer environment, with physical disks at the bottom, object storage in the middle and a file system on top.  Bob said, “Our users want a file system interface.  They don’t want to know about object storage.”  Bob explained that file systems (he is using IBM Spectrum Scale) also deliver better performance, which is needed for active data.  Object storage can be implemented as a virtual machine (VM) or in a storage system enclosure; but in either case, there are underlying disks to maintain.  So while object storage reduces complexity for data owners, it can increase complexity for storage administrators.

Bob uses IBM Spectrum Control and has been beta testing new support for IBM Cloud Object Storage, formerly Cleversafe.  “What I see so far has impressed me,” Bob said.  “IBM Spectrum Control gives me one pane of glass to manage spinning disk, file system clusters and object storage.”

Manageability is important because Nuance uses multiple petabytes of object storage. Nuance is also investigating the use of transparent cloud tiering between file systems and object storage with Spectrum Scale.

cleversafe ibm nvidia nvlink

Figure 1: IBM Spectrum Control v5.2.11 consolidates administration for multi-site IBM Cloud Object Storage environments.

IBM Spectrum Control provides capabilities not found in software that comes with storage systems.  For example, IBM Spectrum Control:

  • Uses analytics to assess risks and optimization opportunities.
  • Consolidates views of multi-platform, multi-cluster, and multi-site storage environments.
  • Enables consolidated application and department views of all types of storage.

Learn more about how Nuance manages large scale file and object storage:

  • Presentation: IBM Spectrum Scale Performance Tools Deployment at Nuance, Bob Oesterlin, Nuance, June 10 2016.
  • Video: Voice recognition software company Nuance tackles massive data growth with scale-out storage, Bob Oesterlin, Nuance, April 1 2015.

Learn more about IBM Spectrum Control support for IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM FlashSystem, and other recent enhancements:

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