DDN unchains Wolfcreek, unleashes IME and updates WOS

16371098088_3b264f5844_zIt’s not every day that we get a vendor claiming 2.5X the top SPC-1 IOPS (currently held by Hitachi G1000 VSP all flash array at ~2M IOPS) as DataDirect Networks (DDN) has claimed for an all-flash version of their new Wolfcreek hyper converged appliance. DDN says their new 4U appliance is capable of 60GB/sec of throughput and over 5M IOPS. (See their press release for more information.) Unclear if these are SPC-1 IOPS or not, but I haven’t seen any SPC-1 report on it yet.

In addition to the new Wolfcreek appliance, DDN announced their new Infinite Memory Engine™ (IME) flash caching software and WOS® 360 V2.0, an enhanced version of their object storage.

DDN if you haven’t heard of them has done well in the Web 2.0 environments and is a leading supplier to high performance computing (HPC) sites. They have object storage system (WOS), all flash block storage (SFA12KXi), hybrid (disk-SSD) block storage (SFA7700X™ & SFA12KX™), Lustre file appliance (EXAScaler), IBM GPFS™ NAS appliance (GRIDScaler), media server appliance (MEDIAScaler™) and  software defined storage (Storage Fusion Accelerator [SFX™] flash caching software).

Wolfcreek hyper converged appliance

The converged solution comes in a 4U appliance using dual Haswell Intel microprocessors (with up to 18 cores each), includes a PCIe fabric which supports 48-NVMe flash cards or 72-SFF SSDs. With the NVMe or SSDs, Wolfcreek will be using their new IME software to accelerate IO activity.

Wolfcreek IME software supports either burst mode IO caching cluster or a storage cluster of nodes. I assume burst mode is a storage caching layer for backend file system stoorage. As a storage cluster I assume this would include some of their scale-out file system software on the nodes. Wolfcreek cluster interconnect is 40Gb Infiniband or 10/40Gb Ethernet and also will support Intel’s Omni-Path. The Wolfcreek appliance is compatible with HPC Lustre and IBM GPFS scale out file systems.

Wolfcreek appliance can be a great platform for OpenStack and Hadoop environments. But it also supports virtual machine hypervisors from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft. DDN says that the Wolfcreek appliance can scale up to support 100K VMs. I’ve been told that IME will not be targeted to work with Hypervisors in the first release.

Recall that with a hyper converged appliance, some portion of the system resources (memory and CPU cores) must be devoted to server and VM application activities and the remainder to storage activity. How this is divided up and whether this split is dynamic (changes over time) or static (fixed over time) in the Wolfcreek appliance is not indicated.

The hyper converged field is getting crowded of late what with VMware EVO:RAIL, Nutanix, ScaleComputing, Simplivity and others coming out with solutions. But there aren’t many that support all-flash storage and it seems unusual that hyper converged customers would have need for that much IO performance. But I could be wrong, especially for HPC customers.

There’s much more to hyper convergence than just having storage and compute in the same node. The software that links it all together, manages, monitors and deploys these combined hypervisor, storage and server systems is almost as important as any of the  hardware. There wasn’t much talk about the software that DDN is putting together for Wolfcreek but it’s still early yet. With their roots in HPC, it’s likely that any DDN hyper converged solution will target this market first and broaden out from there.

Infinite Memory Engine (IME)

IME is an outgrowth of DDN’s SFX software and seem to act as a caching layer for parallel file system IO. It makes use of NVMe or SSDs for its IO caching. And according to DDN can offer up to 1000X IO acceleration to storage or 100X file system acceleration.

It does this primarily by providing an application aware IO caching layer and supplying more effective IO to the file system layer using PCIe NVMe or SSD flash storage for hardware IO acceleration. According to the information provided by DDN, IME can provide 50 GB/sec bandwidth to a host compute cluster while only doing 4GB/sec of throughput to a backend file system, presumably by better caching of file IO.

WOS 360 V2.0

The new WOS 360 V2.0 object storage system features include

  • Higher density storage package with 98-8TB SATA drives or 768TB raw capacity in 4U) supporting 8B objects each and over 100B objects in a cluster.
  • Native SWIFT API support for OpenStack environments  which includes gateway or embedded deployments, up to 5000 concurrent users and 5B objects/namespace.
  • Global ObjectAssure data encoding with lower storage overhead (1.5x or a 20% reduction from their previous encoding option) for highly durable and available object storage usiing a two level hierarchical erasure code for object storage.
  • Enhanced network security with SSL  which provides end-to-end SSL network data transport between clients and WOS and betweenWOS storage nodes.
  • Simplified cluster installation, deployment and maintenance with can now deploy a WOS cluster in minutes, with a simple point and click GUI for installation and cluster deployment with automated non-disruptive software upgrade.
  • Performance improvements for better video streaming, content distribution and large file transfers with improved QoS for latency sensitive applications.


Probably more going on with DDN than covered here but this hits the highlights. I wish there was more on their Wolfcreek appliance and its various configurations and performance benchmarks but there’s not.


 Photo Credits: wolf-63503+1920 by _Liquid