Panasas Streamlines Metadata Management, Halves Access Time for Sports Content Creators With New ActiveStor NAS Solution

Next generation of the scale-out NAS platform targets fast-paced operations

Panasas has introduced the next generation of its ActiveStor scale-out NAS (network-attached–storage) solution, featuring the new ActiveStor Director 100 (ASD-100) control-plane engine and the ActiveStor Hybrid 100 (ASH-100) configurable plug-and-play hardware platform. The parallel storage system, which is capable of scaling capacity to 57 PB and delivering 360 GBps of bandwidth, doubles metadata performance to cut data-access time in half (regardless of number of users), while scaling performance and capacity independently.

Impact on the Sports-Production Market
As large-scale sports networks and content creators demand faster, more efficient access to exponentially growing video libraries/archives, Panasas sees the latest ActiveStor platform as a way to confront the mounting metadata-management challenges.

ActiveStor Hybrid 100 (ASH-100) configurable plug-and-play hardware platform

“The feedback we’re getting from people dealing with massive sports-content workloads is that there are more active components of their workflow in flight at the same time than ever before,” says David Sallak, VP/CTO, media and entertainment, Panasas. “The technology that they use needs to keep up and support their requirements on the metadata-management side, especially when all this data is in flight in parallel. We see [the latest ActiveStor release] applying perfectly to that data-management layer.”

In addition to the ASD-100 and the ASH-100, the new ActiveStor solution features an updated PanFS 7.0 parallel-file system and enhancements to the DirectFlow parallel data-access protocol. These enhancements will allow users to scale metadata performance, data bandwidth, and data capacity independently for faster time to results. In addition, users can mix and match HDD (hard-disk–drive) and SSD (solid-state–drive) configurations under a single global namespace to best match the system performance to workload requirements. The new solution is also backward- and forward-compatible with the ActiveStor product portfolio.

“With this [release], we are focused on metadata management and improving small-file access, as well as managing larger data sets that are active in parallel at the same time,” says Sallak. “In sports environments, we have seen active data sets exploding — not just the size per asset but the volume of assets that are in flight in parallel and the metadata transactions associated to those assets. Sports [users] need to be able to pull up the right moment with the right camera angle at a moment’s notice, so we are providing the tools [to] get that content quickly, create [a package], and get it out as fast as possible. That requires infrastructure to perform at its best, and that’s our goal with [this release].

ActiveStor Director 100: Upping the Metadata-Management Ante
Available in first quarter 2018, the new ASD-100 marks the first time Panasas is offering a disaggregated Director, the brain of the Panasas storage system, to provide greater flexibility. Customers can now add any number of ASD-100’s to drive exactly the level of metadata performance they need. The ASD-100 delivers double the metadata performance on metadata-intensive workloads as a result of doubling the raw CPU power and RAM capacity over previous Director Blades. The ASD-100, based on industry-standard hardware, offers such capabilities as managing metadata, the global namespace, and acting as a gateway for standard data-access protocols.

“Our new ActiveStor Director 100 improves our data responsiveness by enhancing metadata performance, reduces latency, makes our product more flexible for workloads, and is backward- and forward-compatible with our existing portfolio and new products we introduce in the future,” says Sallak. “You can think of the Director 100 as our bridge product: this is our bridge to be able to get from the world we’ve been in into the emerging flexible world of the future.”

The ASD-100 also uses NVDIMMs to store metadata-transaction logs, and Panasas is contributing its NVDIMM driver to the FreeBSD community.

ActiveStor Hybrid 100: Mix and Match HDD, SSD
Available later this year, the ASH-100 is the first hardware platform to market with the highest-capacity HDD (12-TB) and SSD (1.9-TB) in a parallel hybrid storage system, according to Panasas. It offers a broad range of HDD and SSD capacities, which can be paired as needed to meet specific workflow requirements. For example, choosing 24 TB of streaming HDD capacity with a 480-GB SSD for metadata might be perfect for a very large-file–streaming workload, whereas 8 TB of HDD capacity and 1.9 TB of SSD for metadata and small files might be the right choice for metadata-intensive workloads.

“This new release allows us to tailor ActiveStor Hybrid’s primary benefit — which is its ability to blend flash and spinning hard drives — to provide the most flexible configuration possible,” says Sallak. “Consider the ActiveStor Hybrid to be a slider lever: we can slide it toward more flash and less hard drive or less flash and more hard drive. And that slider flexibility, for the first time, allows us to tailor the storage exactly to the workflow our clients need. That means fewer components drawing less power, which is really important with these higher-density products.”

The ASH-100 has the flexibility to be configured with ASD-100’s or can be delivered with integrated traditional ActiveStor Director Blades, depending on customer requirements.

New and Improved PanFS 7.0 and DirectFlow Client
PanFS 7.0, the latest version of Panasas’s plug-and-play parallel-file system (available later this year), features an updated FreeBSD operating foundation and a dynamic GUI that supports asynchronous “push” notification of system changes without user interaction.

Enhancements to the DirectFlow parallel–data-access protocol, which will be available in the first quarter, offers a 15% increase in throughput, thanks to enhancements to memory allocation and read-ahead. All ActiveStor models will benefit from this performance increase after upgrading to the new release of PanFS.

Panasas will demonstrate the new ActiveStor solution in Booth 671 at the SC (SuperComputing) conference in Denver Nov. 12-17.

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