EMC World 2012: EMC Scores ‘20 Petabyte Facebook Deal’
EMC is giving Facebook tens of petabytes for a scale-out, cloudy architecture, a source tells TechWeekEurope
EMC has won a major deal with Facebook, in which the storage vendor’s kit is helping the social networking vendor leverage 20 petabytes of data, a source close to the matter revealed to TechWeekEurope.
Talking at EMC World, the source said Facebook was taking advantage of EMC scale-out architecture, which could mean Mark Zuckerberg’s firm is using the storage giant’s notable scale-out kit, Isilon, rather than its famous scale up boxes like VMAX.
“There are only 10 companies on the planet who could build their own cloud-based infrastructure at scale from the ground up, but they [Facebook] are building out best of breed tech to augment the IT infrastructure,” the source said. “EMC has put in tens of petabytes in at Facebook to help them get their business to where they want it to be.”
The deal would be particularly significant, as it would suggest Facebook itself is not yet ready to rely on its Open Compute architecture, a low-energy design which EMC has dismissed as not sufficiently reliable to displace EMC’s proprietary systems.
Not so Open Compute?
The agreement would indicate Facebook is not sticking to the designs of its Open Compute Project, which was launched last year and saw Facebook release low-energy data centre and server specifications used in its Oregon data centre. The company wants to see vendors and customers adopt open source technologies that come out of the initiative. The project is also seeking to produce open standards for big, modern, scale-out data centres.
EMC is better-known for pushing proprietary kit and has been publicly dismissive of Open Compute. EMC’s COO Pat Gelsinger told TechWeekEurope yesterday the company has reservations about Facebook’s project. Gelsinger said “no one is running mission critical infrastructure on Open Compute today. They are taking ideas and bringing them into their products for their mission critical infrastructure.”
A changed EMC
The agreement would be important for a number of other reasons. Firstly, it would prove to onlookers that EMC can provide for a major service provider that is known to prefer webscale data centre environments. Commodity hardware is typically used in such data centres, rather than powerful but expensive boxes. Some suspected EMC was being kept out of that market as it sought to protect its array market position. That attitude appears to have changed.
EMC has been pushing away from the vertically-integrated, scale-up model as companies look for a different kind of architecture, in particular public clouds like those provided by Amazon
A couple of years ago, EMC was all for the private cloud model. Now it is embracing the hybrid model, which suits its scale-up expertise and its fresh approach to scale-out.
Big deal for big data
For the social network, a 20PB deal with EMC would prove what many know: Facebook is serious about big data.
Isilon, with its recently-announced Hadoop support, is looking like EMC’s most significant play in the big data space right now.
The major Isilon announcement at EMC World this week was the introduction of a new operating system for the network attached storage (NAS) systems. The OneFS scale-out NAS operating system, code named “Mavericks,” will be available in the second half of 2012. EMC claims it could cut average latency by half for I/O intensive applications. It should enable processing of 100Gbps of data and the vendor believes Mavericks will increase overall throughput by 25 percent in Isilon boxes.
Mavericks looks to meet the requirements of big data, such as massive capacity and rapid information growth, as well as the “requirements of enterprise IT – security, interoperability and predictable performance,” said Sujal Patel, president of EMC’s Isilon business yesterday.
EMC also launched two new Isilon boxes – the X400 and the NL400. Both have significant capacity capabilities of over 15 PB.
These boxes, along with the Mavericks OS, are aimed at reaping the benefits of file-based, unstructured data – something Facebook has a lot of and likely wants to use to its advantage.
Facebook may not be using Isilon boxes, of course. Tony Lock, programme director at analyst firm Freeform Dynamics, told TechWeekEurope one should not assume anything when it comes to Facebook. “The way they want to tinker with things, it is hard to say what they would be doing,” he added.
EMC would also be especially delighted by a deal with Facebook as one of the social network’s major data centre providers is the storage company’s rival Fusion-io, which counts Zuckerberg’s firm as a big customer. EMC and Fusion-io have been having a mini war of words over where to put flash technology, which resulted in the former producing a direct competitor for the latter’s server-side PCIe flash cards in the form of VFcache.
Facebook said it was not going to comment on this story.
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