Cleversafe Obect Storage vs CDN Storage

Cleversafe offers next generation object-based storage solutions catering to companies that require massive amounts of storage. They offer storage appliances and software products that replace CDN storage. Their storage offering is innovative, and available for single site or multisite deployments. Does Cleversafe storage replace CDN storage, or compliment it? According to their website, it replaces it. Let’s examine this more in depth.

CDN Storage Assumptions

On the Cleversafe website section of Content Distribution, several assumptions are made. I’ll recap them in a few bullet points.

  • Storing web content in a single location presents problems with scalability, availability, and performance
  • If an ISP (data center) fails, the stored content is inaccessible to customers
  • Routing through a CDN, requires the CDN to replicate copies of the content to the edge
  • Not all web content is suited for a CDN
  • Using a CDN can be expensive
  • Cleversafe Smartread (patented feature) predicts the optimal network route and storage node, that is best suited for delivering web content to the user
  • Cleversafe states that traditional CDNs route users to a specific server to get the content
  • Cleversafe distributes read request at the edge, enabling massively parallel reads, thus avoiding chokepoints of gateway appliances
CDN Storage Characteristics

Architecting, designing, deploying and scaling storage infrastructure for CDN environments is as complex as it gets. CDN storage arrays store different types of content, some content require lots of reads/writes, and others don’t. CDN storage must be able to store files, videos, PDFs, software programs, small objects, large objects, and so on. Many storage solutions are a good fit for one particular type of content, but not mixed content environments.

Nimble storage, the high flying provider of hybrid flash storage, is not a good fit for a production CDN environment. Neither is NetApp. NetApp is a good fit for archival & backup, but not as central, production CDN storage. Isilon and Data Direct Networks (non-object storage) are a great fit for mixed content environments required for CDNs.

Response to Cleversafe Assumptions

CDNs are well suited to serve every type of content, even more so than Cleversafe storage. Using a CDN is not as expensive as it once was, it’s more expensive for companies to do it on their own. CDNs don’t really replicate content, they cache content, not only at the server & cluster level, but across different locations. Highly popular content is stored at many locations, if anything fails, the content is still available at different POPs.

There are two types of storage used at CDNs, cache servers loaded with caching software, such as Nginx or Squid, that cache/store content on low cost commodity hardware, and central production storage, running on expensive disks arrays like Isilon. No CDN should go cheap on origin storage.  Low cost commodity hardware doesn’t cut it here.

Origin storage doesn’t need to be replicated across many locations, 1 or 2 locations per region like North America & Europe is sufficient. Thus, does Cleversafe replace Nginx at the edge, and Isilon at the core?

Lastly, CDNs offer incredibly efficient delivery of objects and content from edge servers, and origin storage. It’s highly unlikely that Cleversafe, or any other object storage provider can offer better performance than Akamai, EdgeCast & Limelight, that offer cache hit ratio’s of 99%. Their entire content delivery protocol stack is optimized, from storing, to routing, to caching, and so on.