Storage Optimization

Astonishing Capacity Gains

Posted in Analyst,Blogroll,Storage by storageoptimization on February 6, 2009
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Stephen Foskett had a nice post on his Packrat blog today that delves into the question of whether encryption can be done in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with compression. The whole post is worth a read. We were also pleased to see him describe Ocarina in the following manner:

“The software from Ocarina, for example, actually decompresses jpg and pdf files before recompressing them, resulting in astonishing capacity gains!”

The Packrat blog is on our RSS and Stephen is one of those bloggers who seems to have a grasp of just about everything that’s happening in storage–always adding his own fresh twist to the conversation. He’s also got a Twitter feed worth following, @sfoskett.


Test Your Storage Optimization IQ

Posted in Storage by storageoptimization on February 5, 2009
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Here’s a quick quiz to see how smart you are about primary storage optimization:

1. True or false: the only type of deduplication on the market today is block level deduplication–the type that looks at the zeros and ones on disk, and removes the duplicates.

2. Content aware deduplication is:

a) More effective than other types of optimization for primary storage;

b) The best approach to optimizing online files, such as photos, PDFs, and other already compressed files because it extracts them and reads them in their non-compressed format before optimizing them;

c) Only available from Ocarina Networks;

d) All of the above.

3. True or false: dedupe gets 20:1 data reduction results the first time it passes through your data.

4. With online data sets, block level dedupe and content aware dedupe get:

a) About the same results;

b) Different results–block level is better;

c) Radically different results–Ocarina’s content aware deduplication solution gets 5x or better results than block level dedupe.


1. FALSE. There’s a new type of dedupe on the storage scene–content aware dedupe. This works in part by analyzing the ones and zeros in files that have been extracted out of their compressed format–a far more effective approach for the types of files that are driving storage growth, such as images, PDFs, and Windows files. More info. at:

2. d-all of the above.

3. FALSE: Block level dedupe gets its results because of the repetitive nature of backups – daily backups create dupes, dedupe takes them back out. For online data sets, you won’t get those results, because it’s not a repetitive data set.  You need a different approach that can find the dedupe and compression opportunities in a single online set of files.

4. c–see the chart below for a comparison of results.


Storage, the Final Frontier


Remember the holodeck? Turns out some Stanford researchers have figured out a way to use holographics to store data. This is a quantum leap, and while actual commercial usage is many years away, but this is the kind of innovation that makes Silicon Valley great. Thanks to Robin Harris for discovering and posting this.

How to Cut Storage Costs – Taneja

The explosive growth of data is threatening to overwhelm any number of industries. Whether we’re talking about an online photo sharing site or high throughput gene sequencing lab, the pain is the same. There’s too much data and not enough space to store it on, with the result that costs are spiraling out of control. A recent white paper from the Taneja Group: “Extending the Vision for Primary Storage Optimization: Ocarina Networks” takes a look at the emerging capacity optimization technologies to handle this influx of data. It comes to the conclusion that ours is one of the most compelling technologies, being the only content-aware primary storage optimization (PSO) on the market today.

In its conclusion, the report states: “‘If you’re looking at PSO technology, Ocarina needs to be on your short list.”

Click here to access this report.

2009–the Year of Storage Optimization

Posted in Analyst by storageoptimization on January 28, 2009
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Storage consultant Tony Asaro cut straight to the chase on his HDS blog with his top prediction for 2009: “IT professionals will focus on optimization. I should end my blog right here. Nothing is more important this year.”

We couldn’t agree more, Tony. As data volumes grow – and budgets shrink –doing more with less is going to be the most important theme of storage for 2009 and the foreseeable future.

HDS is already recognized as the leader in many of the most important optimizations available in block storage. The next frontier is optimization in file storage. This includes content-aware compression and content-aware dedupe for online NAS, active archives, and content depots.

Being able to store two, 10, or 20 times more file data on a given amount of high performance virtualized HDS physical storage is not only now possible, but an example of vendor technology and user need intersecting at just the right time.

Yet another Ocarina

Posted in Featured by storageoptimization on November 12, 2008
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As someone who enjoys my iPhone, I was surprised and pleased to discover a new app that’s getting a lot of attention, the “Ocarina” by Smule–the same folks that came up with the sonic lighter app. According to TechCrunch, it’s a “Textbook example of how to build a great iPhone app.” 

Looks like it could be fun to play, and seems to work something like a real ocarina–the musical instrument, that is. See below for a demo.

The other reason that I am mentioning it is that my company, Ocarina Networks, is, in my humble opinion, a textbook example of another kind. That is, how to build a company that serves a growing and urgent need. In our case, this need is for reducing the storage load in the arena of unstructured data. Like the ocarina iPhone app, we are responding to something that has become extremely popular in this day and age.

The folks at Smule are responding to the fact that the iPhone is becoming a source of entertainment. In our case, we are responding to the immense uptick in the amount of data that must be stored due to the number of photos, videos and, yes, music files that are being shared in our social networking era.

For all this, we never expected that the actual instrument known as the ocarina would be making such a comeback. When we came up with the name Ocarina Networks, our biggest consideration was that it is a real word, rather than one of those conglomerated computerized type monikers like Zminlglynx or … well, like “Smule.”

In any case, glad to share the stage with you guys. And look us up if your storage capacity starts to get too high.

Economic Woes and Storage

Posted in Storage by storageoptimization on October 6, 2008
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Every major business magazine has a cover story this week on the economic turmoil that’s gripping the credit markets, Wall Street, and the rest of us. Every one, that is, except Forbes, which chose to put John Chambers, CEO of Cisco on its cover this week. No doubt, some editors over there are wishing they’d made a different choice at this moment–but leaving that aside, in some ways this story says more about the economy than any of the others.

Cisco, the article demonstrates, has jumped in with both feet into the area with the greatest promise: data centers. This unglamorous chunk of reality that underlies all the fun and fancy Web 2.0 that, for now, is keeping Silicon Valley from tanking along with the rest of the economy. (Unless you believe the NYT, of course.)

To quote the Forbes article: “This is what the online computing revolution has become, a giant electricity hog of Internet searches, phone calls, blog posts, wireless downloads, bank transactions and office documents. And video, lots and lots of video. ” The article also includes a chart comparing new server spending v. power and cooling costs.

All of which leads us to the inexorable conclusion–which TechTarget’s Dave Raffo refers to in a recent post–that one of the few places that is sheltered from the current storm is anything that reduces the cost of storage. So yes, storage optimization is the place to be in today’s tough economic climate. But the main point is that it could help keep lots of companies afloat that might otherwise crumple under the weight of their storage costs.

The impending storage crunch

Posted in Storage by storageoptimization on July 28, 2008
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No one can miss the fact that data storage is spiraling upward at a terrifying rate. Joerg Hallbauer puts it on Dell‘s Future of Storage blog hit the nail on the head with his post: “We are running out of places to put things.”

Citing data collected by IDC, Hallbauer concludes that in a mere three years, we there will be 1400 exabytes sitting on disk. Currently, according to the study, there are 281 exabytes of data being stored, and the CAGR rate is 70 percent. Much of this data is on laptops, home computers or servers under your desk today, but as Joerg correctly notes, there’s no question its migrating quickly to the cloud. Huge data centers will end up holding most of this data, and disk drives are not growing fast enough to deal with it anymore.

So, where do we go from here? Well, if the traditional answer was, wait for bigger drives so I can put more stuff on a disk, the other logical thing to do is to say, how can I put a lot more stuff on disks that I already have?  The answer is advanced storage optimization. The first simple storage optimization solutions are out there today – single instancing, deduplication, and compression. But the area of storage optimization is really just taking off, and much more sophisticated approaches are emerging that will allow a disk – whatever its physical size – to store 10, 20, or 100 times more data than it does today.  

What’s more, the move to large data centers providing huge cloud storage services will make this more efficient, because storage optimization is all about finding redundant information and figuring out how to store it more efficiently. So the larger the data set, the more likely you will see big wins from next generation storage optimization.

This also naturally leads to more tiering. Where today you have fast disks (Fibre Channel or SAS) and slow disks (SATA) making up the tiers, it’s much more likely in the future that the fast tiers will be solid state storage of some sort (SSD and Flash, as Joerg points out) and the massive tiers that hold the bulk of all these Exabytes will be the largest possible disks integrated in to systems that have very efficient storage optimization built in.

Image credit: Orange Photography blog archives

What’s Hot in Storage — Spending Less

Posted in Featured,Storage by storageoptimization on July 18, 2008
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Byte & Switch has once again released its “Top 10 Storage Startups to Watch” for 2008, and it’s definitely worth a read. My company Ocarina Networks was on that same list last year, and so I can say with confidence that they got it right at least once before. 

As reflected in this year’s list, data reduction technologies continue to be hot. Makes sense in a down economy that anything that increases capacity will continue to get budget dollars. As we’re finding, dollars for stuff like Ocarina is already there in every data center’s budget – it’s just listed as disk expense. We’re not only ahead of our revenue goals for our storage optimization product launched in April, but we’re having to triple the size of our sales force to keep up with demand. 

If you have planned to buy 100 TB of disk, and can spend half as much for an optimization solution that shrinks your files that means you don’t have to buy any disk at all. A win all the way around. While Ocarina started out with wins in large web sites – where the fastest year-to-year storage growth is taking place – we’re now seeing installs in life sciences, energy, movie studios, and finance.  

The chief takeaway from what I’ve seen: some nice-to-have new technologies may be facing a tough summer with an economic downturn, but data reduction scores high on both saving money and green IT, and is likely to stay strong, or maybe even move up in priority, during a down cycle in storage spending.