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Hammerspace the ‘missing link’ for a cloud still lacking

The cloud can’t enable true multi-region working so Hammerspace helps make data visible globally and aggregate it as needed between locations with workflows set via customer policy

Hammerspace is the “missing link” that allows customers to access file data globally without the inherent costs and difficulties that arise by trying to use only the cloud for such functionality.

That’s the view of Hammerspace marketing senior vice-president Molly Presley, who said Hammerspace offers granular file access to data from any location that would be impractical and costly using existing public cloud provision. That, she said, is because public cloud services cannot offer access to data from distributed global locations without racking up migration costs and management overheads.

“The premise of the cloud has not been achieved yet. Data gravity is very real,” said Presley, referring to the tendency of data to weigh heavily in certain locations, with migration a potentially time-consuming, costly and complex task.

“Hammerspace brings the ability to aggregate data between cloud regions. We present metadata that the customer can see without moving the data unless they need to.”

That’s the core of what Hammerspace provides – namely the ability see an organisation’s data and manage it from one place, no matter what on-premise or cloud storage it is held on. As Presley described, that data isn’t moved in its entirety unless needed, or as specified by policy-based tools.

But what’s the benefit of just seeing the metadata?

“A lot of work involves just knowing what data is there,” said Presley. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you see it and then decide what work you’ll do with it. Then we can move data on a file-granular basis, using, for example, placement to a local S3 region, and being able to predict ahead of time the need to migrate.”

According to Hammerspace technical product management director Johan Ballin, no other supplier is able to turn metadata into actionable data via policy settings in the same way.

“With Hammerspace, you can create workflows that tag data and describe it and apply a policy,” said Ballin. “For example, after data is ingested, you could specify that it is moved after a certain amount of time and made ready for processing by a certain application.”

Presley added: “There’s no bunch of IT tickets asking for data to be moved. It all happens in the background according to customer policy.”

Presley cited UK video production company Jellyfish Pictures in which stages in the workflow are flagged for processing in Autodesk ShotGrid.

Ballin favourably contrasted Hammerspace to IBM’s GPFS file system, called Spectrum Scale since 2015.

“Hammerspace is vastly simpler and more forgiving in terms of how it is architected,” said Ballin. “The real difference is that we don’t replicate data unless asked.”

Presley added: “GPFS is more like a traditional HSM [hierarchical storage management system], so it requires data to be rehydrated out of slower storage. Hammerspace always has visibility of that first layer – the metadata – that is always on in high-performance storage, so we’re all about overcoming the legacy architecture.”

Hammerspace is among a group of products that aim to provide global file access and collaboration with access to the latest version of files from any location. Competitors include Ctera, Nasuni, Panzura and Peer Software.

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