Panasas pushes on

by Robin Harris on Thursday, 16 November, 2017

Panasas has long been one of the most innovative storage companies – and the industry’s best kept secret. The latter fact is due to their focus on High Performance Computing (HPC), and a steadfast refusal to market themselves as “enterprise” storage.

So, yeah, it is a engineering company. But they keep turning the product development crank and growing their product capabilities.

Their latest announcement is a case in point. They have a new controller platform that is server, rather than blade, based. This enables them to put considerably more scale-up grunt behind their controller software.

Disaggregation
Panasas has disaggregated their director software to run on commodity servers. That software can also be run on a cluster of at least 4 nodes for high availability and performance – with up to 360GB/sec of bandwidth.

The director software is not in the data path, but as Isilon users can attest, poor metadata handling can cripple nominally powerful storage controllers. Panasas maintains separate control and data planes to mitigate metadata performance issues.

Parallel file system
Panasas was also an early advocate for the NFS 4.1 parallel file access protocol. The PNFS standard was stillborn though, due to the reluctance of vendors who couldn’t take advantage of the extra performance declining to support it.

But the PNFS architecture lives on in Panasas Direct Flow, which the company has continued to develop. Direct Flow enables multiple 10gig or faster Ethernet links to act in parallel to speed large file transfers.

The StorageMojo take
There’s a lot more to the announcement, but the bottom line is that Panasas continues to innovate and push the envelope of high performance storage for HPC.

AI’s need for large training data sets is a natural for HPC storage. We’re at the beginning of a very interesting curve in high performance storage.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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