Has Storage Hit Its Inflection Point?

The Atrato Velocity1000 (V1000) storage system announced today is focused on eliminating the I/O bottleneck that on-demand streaming content providers must address to produce competitive service levels of performance.

The 3U Self Array of Identical Disks (SAID) can deliver 25.6 to 50 terabytes of storage, handle 11,000 IOPS and 3,600 standard definition simultaneous data streams. Atrato said the spinning-disk technology offers 10 times the performance of competitive solutions that provide fast access to large data and rich media files.

Boasting an off-the-shelf controller and proprietary virtualization software, the V1000 is also self-maintaining, said the Colorado-based company. It features on-the-fly replacement disks internally in case of failure. The vendor even guarantees no hardware maintenance will be needed for three years.

But maybe most compelling is the price point — it starts at $140,000 for a 20 terabyte configuration.

As one expert noted, that’s pretty steep by most industry standards. Yet Pund-IT analyst Charles King said it’s a cost more than a few enterprises may be willing to pay.

“For every technology there is an inflection point. In this case, it’s tied to price and performance. This is the premium you may have to pay, and it may be worth paying, to gain the edge in performance,” King told InternetNews.com. “Enterprises may have such a strong need for this level of performance that they won’t care what pay. Atrato could be making the bet we’ve reached that inflection point.”

For its part, Atrato said the high cost is more than offset by the energy efficiencies gained and the ability to eliminate memory cache devices.

Dan McCormick, co-founder and CEO, said in a statement “IT managers assume that by adding rack units, they will get the increased IOPS needed. The reality is that over-provisioning not only fails to deliver the expected performance gains but also adds costly power and space intensive overhead to the data center.”

A current customer pilot involving a random database report pull cut turnaround time from nine hours to 90 minutes, Steve Visconti, executive VP of sales and marketing, told InternetNews.com.

“Yes, it’s expensive but it’s a competitive price given that our device provides 17 I/Os per watt where as typical products give 4 I/Os per watt,” said Visconti.

“With this system there is no need for expensive items such as video cache or extending the content pool. The Atrato system also removes management costs with its zero maintenance architecture. In a distributed model, this provides a significant advantage,” he added.

As King pointed out toInternetNews.com a few weeks ago, when Atrato first discussed its product, the device seemed to be aimed at a “corner” of the storage market.

“It’s not something everyone needs,” King had said. “Companies with extremely high performing database-enabled applications are likely looking for this kind of solution.”

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