Startup devises distributed SAN built on DAS for fast clouds

An Australian cloud computing startup, OrionVM, has designed its own cloud storage systems that it says are a fraction of the cost of arrays, yet perform faster and make cloud computing a better proposition for large-scale web applications.

An Australian cloud computing startup, OrionVM, has designed its own cloud storage systems that it says are a fraction of the cost of arrays, yet perform faster.

The company does not offer cloud storage as a distinct product, but does offer variable storage capacity to support its elastic computing service.

To deliver that capacity, the company has devised a distributed storage system that uses disks housed inside its servers. The company has selected servers that offer 12 disk bays apiece, equipped each with Infiniband host bus adapters and written a system that distributes data between disks across the server fleet. Data is not necessarily resident on a disk in the same server that hosts a virtual machine, but the company says the server-to-server speed afforded by Infiniband means it can outpace other cloud providers. This blog post explains the company’s performance claims, while the graph below shows its claimed speed advantages on its smallest virtual machine instance.

Joseph Glanville, a Director at OrionVM, told SearchStorage ANZ that the company chose to design its own system in order to build “the world’s fastest cloud” and also because he felt a storage area network (SAN) inevitably create bottlenecks. Any crimp on performance, he added, is unwelcome for OrionVM’s intended clientele of large-scale web application providers.

“SANs are designed for certain workloads,” he said. “Our system is designed to do the best IOPS per dollar.”

Sheng Yeo, another Director, said the company’s approach is also designed to be more robust.

“We have taken the functions of a storage controller and completely distributed it,” he said, explaining that doing so makes the company’s cloud less dependent on a single storage appliance.

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