Using XAM with Nearline 2.0 to Ensure Data Compliance
Recently, SAND has been conducting tests on our SAND/DNA Access product to benchmark its support for the XAM (eXtensible Access Method) API. These tests, executed at EMC’s lab in Hopkinton, Mass. using the latest version of EMC’s Centera solution, were a great success in a number of respects, and the SAND/DNA Access Nearline 2.0 software component is now the first commercial product to obtain XAM certification from EMC. In today’s blog post, I will describe the XAM interface, explain our motivation for implementing it, and provide some details about the benchmark tests.
The Wikipedia entry for XAM describes it as “a storage standard developed and maintained by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). It is in the process of being ratified as an ANSI standard. XAM is an API for fixed content aware storage devices. XAM replaces the various proprietary interfaces that have been used for this purpose in the past. Content generating applications now have a standard means of saving and finding their content across a broad array of storage devices.”
For a data framework solution like Nearline 2.0, XAM provides the ability to store large amounts of structured data (for example, call detail records, application logs, web logs, syslogs, low-level manufacturing data, data exported from an enterprise data warehouse such as SAP BW, and so on) securely and efficiently to ensure compliance with data governance requirements. SAND/DNA Access can use XAM storage providers like EMC Centera as WORM (Write Once Read Many) devices, ensuring that stored data can not be modified. Furthermore, the Centera XAM compliance solution offers robust integrated business continuity and disaster recovery protection for structured data in SAND/DNA Access. In turn, SAND/DNA Access maintains massive volumes of structured data as content for the XAM storage provider, enabling a complete enterprise solution for data governance and compliance. SAND/DNA Access also brings high-performance query capability for structured data in the XAM storage provider, making it possible to conduct true electronic discovery (e-discovery) on this data. All these considerations contributed to SAND’s decision to implement support for the new XAM API.
We began development of XAM API support at the beginning of October 2008, and within a month were ready to execute our benchmark tests at the EMC Hopkinton Lab. These tests, which were fully supported by the EMC Centera team, allowed us to validate our XAM API implementation and to evaluate the performance of the data migration process (moving data from SAND/DNA Access to the Centera server) as well as query speeds. In both cases, observed performance was very impressive: using limited processing power (4 blade servers), we were able to achieve data migration speeds higher than 400 MB per second, and query speeds of close to 11 million records scanned per second! This shows that the new XAM functionality of SAND/DNA Access is more than up to the task of enabling existing Centera or XAM storage provider customers to extend their infrastructure to incorporate data compliance and governance regimes for massive amounts of structured data.