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Storage gets the X-Factor with Acunu big data voting software

Cliff Saran

Mobile voting will be a big factor in the X-factor, with millions expected to tune in to ITV on Saturday to see the showdown between Little Mix, Amelia Lilly and Marcus Collins.

Live Talkback, the company behind The X Factor UK 2011 smartphone app, is using software from UK start-up Acunu to support its iPhone/iPad and Android voting app. The software is expected to manage the voting from one million smartphone users this weekend.

Acunu was established two years to develop a product that could improve storage subsystems for next-generation hardware platforms. Tom Wilkie, one of the founders of Acunu, said: “The assumptions used to define storage subsystem were routed in the 1980s and are not designed for today’s Sata disk, multi-core architectures and large amount of RAM.”

Acunu has designed software it claims will optimise database performance on big data applications, such as the system for voting being used by Live Talkback for the X-Factor.

Acunu’s technology, called Castle, sits below the Apache Cassandra database engine, a Facebook-developed project for distributed databases. Castle is a key-value storage engine (similar to Oracle's BerkelyDB), designed for big data applications.

The company packages Castle as a software appliance using the free Centos, Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

According to Wilkie, Castle offers fast disk rebuilds, which can recover from a disk failure in under 30 minutes (compared to hours for traditional RAID). “This enabled users to safely use large disks, something that is not possible with existing technologies.”

During the X-factor final, Live Talkback will be running 50 virtual machines on Amazon EC2 at peak using 120 instances of its voting application. Castle, running on EC2 will provide the storage system for about 10% of the show’s audience.


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