The hype of Deep Learning (DL), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reached an unprecedented frenzy. Every infrastructure vendor from servers, to networking, to storage has a word to say or play about DL/ML/AI. This prompted me to explore this hyped ecosystem from a storage perspective, notably from a storage performance requirement point-of-view.
One question on my mind
There are plenty of questions on my mind. One stood out and that is related to storage performance requirements.
Reading and learning from one storage technology vendor to another, the context of everyone’s play against their competitors seems to be “They are archaic, they are legacy. Our architecture is built from ground up, modern, NVMe-enabled“. And there are more juxtaposing, but you get the picture – “We are better, no doubt“.
Are the data patterns and behaviours of AI different? How do they affect the storage design as the data moves through the workflow, the data paths and the lifecycle of the AI ecosystem?
I like LTFS (Linear Tape File System). I was hoping it would take off but it has not. And looking at its future, its significance is becoming less and less relevant. I look if Cloud has been a factor in the possible demise of LTFS in the next few years.
What is LTFS?
In a nutshell, Linear Tape File System makes LTO tapes look like a disk with a file system. It takes a tape and divides it into 2 partitions:
Index Partition (XML Index Schema with file names, metadata and attributes details)
Data Partition (where the data resides)
Diagram from https://www.snia.org/sites/default/orig/SDC2011/presentations/tuesday/DavidPease_LinearTape_File_System.pdf
It has a File System module which is implemented in supported OS of Unix/Linux, MacOS and Windows. And the mounted file system “tape partition” shows up as a drive or device.
There were many attempts to kill off tapes and so far, none has been successful.
I picked up the latest development news about Quantum Corporation. Last month, in December 2018, they secured a USD210 million financial lifeline to support their deflating business and their debts. And if you follow their development, they are with their 3rd CEO in the past 12 months, which is quite extraordinary. What is happening at Quantum Corp?
Quantum Logo (PRNewsFoto/Quantum Corp.)
Stornext – The Swiss Army knife of Data Management
I have known Quantum since 2000, very focused on the DLT tape library business. At that time, prior to the coming of LTO, DLT and its successor, SuperDLT dominated the tape market together with IBM. In 2006, they acquired ADIC, another tape vendor and became one of the largest tape library vendors in the world. From the ADIC acquisition, Quantum also got their rights on Stornext, a high performance scale out file system. I was deeply impressed with Stornext, and I once called it the Swiss Army knife of Data Management. The versatility of Stornext addressed many of the required functions within the data management lifecycle and workflows, and thus it has made its name in the Media and Entertainment space.
Jack of all trades, master of none
However, Quantum has never reached great heights in my opinion. They are everything to everybody, like a Jack of all trades, master of none. They are backup with their tape libraries and DXi series, archive and tiering with the Lattus, hybrid storage with QXS, and file system and scale-out with Stornext. If they have good business run rates and a healthy pipeline, having a broad product line is fine and dandy. But Quantum has been having CEO changes like turning a turnstile, and amid “a few” accounting missteps and a 2018 CEO who only lasted 5 months, they better steady their rocking boat quickly. Continue reading →