EMC's Atmos cloud storage gains more efficient data protection

The new GeoProtect feature is designed to protect against data loss without full replication

EMC will add a data protection mechanism to the next version of its Atmos internal cloud storage platform, along with using more powerful and efficient chips and more dense disk drives in its Atmos infrastructure.

Atmos is a hardware and software system, used mostly by service providers, for storing unstructured data across many locations. AT&T uses Atmos for the infrastructure of its Synaptic hosting service.

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Atmos 1.3, due to become available this quarter, will include a new feature called GeoProtect, EMC is set to announce on Tuesday. GeoProtect works like RAID except that it distributes data in geographically dispersed locations instead of just across a set of disks in one array, said Jon Martin, director of product management and product marketing for Atmos. With it, enterprises can protect themselves from a loss of critical data without having to replicate all their data, which can save on storage space, he said.

With GeoProtect, administrators can break a piece of data, such as a video, into fragments. The system automatically creates a certain number of "encoded fragments" that can be used to reconstruct the data if anything is lost. For example, the data can be broken up into nine fragments with three encoded fragments. In this case, the system only has to have one-third more capacity than the space required for the original data.

This offers the security of geographically dispersed data centers and the ability to recover lost data, without having to replicate the data multiple times and store it in different places, Martin said. Administrators can use both GeoProtect and traditional replication in the same Atmos system.

Also with the next release, Atmos will begin using Intel Xeon 5500 Series processors, which offer a greater-than-50-percent improvement in performance over the processors currently used, and 2TB disk drives. The 2TB drives fit in the same slots as 1TB drives, so twice as much storage capacity -- 720TB -- will fit in one cabinet. By the same token, a user could fit the same amount of data in half the data-center footprint, EMC said.

GeoProtect will help Atmos users keep storage costs under control as the amount of data to be stored continues to grow, said IDC analyst Benjamin Woo. At the massive scale of typical Atmos systems, administrators have to be efficient in the way they protect their data, he said.

"Replicating across a lot of sites is expensive," Woo said. Protecting data without having to do so will provide a major cost benefit, he said.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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