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WANdisco Fusion Q&A with Jagane Sundar, CTO

Tuesday we unveiled our new product: WANdisco Fusion. Ahead of the launch, we caught up with WANdisco CTO Jagane Sundar, who was one of the driving forces behind Fusion.

Jagane joined WANdisco in November 2012 after the firm’s acquisition of AltoStor and has since played a key role in the company’s product development and rollout. Prior to founding AltoStor along with Konstantin Shvachko, Jagane was part of the original team that developed Apache Hadoop at Yahoo!.

Jagane, put simply, what is WANdisco Fusion?

JS: WANdisco Fusion is a wonderful piece of technology that’s built around a strongly consistent transactional replication engine, allowing for the seamless integration of different types of storage for Hadoop applications.

It was designed to help organizations get more out of their Big Data initiatives, answering a number of very real problems facing the business and IT worlds.

And the best part? All of your data centers are active simultaneously: You can read and write in any data center. The result is you don’t have hardware that’s lying idle in your backup or standby data center.

What sort of business problems does it solve?

JS: It provides two new important capabilities for customers. First, it keeps data consistent across different data centers no matter where they are in the world.

And it gives customers the ability to integrate different storage types into a single Hadoop ecosystem. With WANdisco Fusion, it doesn’t matter if you are using Pivotal in one data center, Hortonworks in another and EMC Isilon in a third – you can bring everything into the same environment.

Why would you need to replicate data across different storage systems?

JS: The answer is very simple. Anyone familiar with storage environments knows how diverse they can be. Different types of storage have different strengths depending on the individual application you are running.

However, keeping data synchronized is very difficult if not done right. Fusion removes this challenge while maintaining data consistency.

How does it help future proof a Hadoop deployment?

JS: We believe Fusion will form a critical component of companies’ workflow update procedures. You can update your Hadoop infrastructure one data center at a time, without impacting application availability or by having to copy massive amounts of data once the update is done.

This helps you deal with updates from both Hadoop and application vendors in a carefully orchestrated manner.

Doesn’t storage-level replication work as effectively as Fusion?

JS: The short answer is no. Storage-level replication is subject to latency limitations that are imposed by file systems. The result is you cannot really run storage-level replication over long distances, such as a WAN.

Storage-level replication is nowhere nearly as functional as Fusion: It has to happen at the LAN level and not over a true Wide Area Network.

With Fusion, you have the ability to integrate diverse systems such as NFS with Hadoop, allowing you to exploit the full strengths and capabilities of each individual storage system – I’ve never worked on a project as exciting and as revolutionary as this one.

How did WANdisco Fusion come about?

JS: By getting inside our customers’ data centers and witnessing the challenges they faced. It didn’t take long to notice the diversity of storage environments.

Our customers found that different storage types worked well for different applications – and they liked it that way. They didn’t want strict uniformity across their data centers, but to be able to leverage the strengths of each individual storage type.

At that point we had the idea for a product that would help keep data consistent across different systems.

The result was WANdisco Fusion: a fully replicated transactional engine that makes the work of keeping data consistent trivial. You only have to set it up once and never have to bother with checking if your data is consistent.

This vision of a fully utilized, strongly consistent diverse storage environment for Hadoop is what we had in mind when came up with the Fusion product.

You’ve been working with Hadoop for the last 10 years. Just how disruptive is WANdisco Fusion going to be?

JS: I’ve actually been in the storage industry for more than 15 years now. Over that period I’ve worked with shared storage systems, and I’ve worked with Hadoop storage systems. WANdisco Fusion has the potential to completely revolutionize the way people use their storage infrastructure. Frankly, this is the most exciting project I’ve ever been part of.

As the Hadoop ecosystem evolved I saw the need for this virtual storage system that integrates different types of storage.

Efforts to make Hadoop run across different data centers have been mostly unsuccessful. For the first time, we at WANdisco have a way to keep your data in Hadoop systems consistent across different data centers.

The reason this is so exciting is because it transforms Hadoop into something that runs in multiple data centers across the world.

Suddenly you have capabilities that even the original inventors of Hadoop didn’t really consider when it was conceived. That’s what makes WANdisco Fusion exciting.