SOURCE: Ocarina Networks

September 10, 2008 08:00 ET

Ocarina Unveils $1 Million Prize Fund to Advance the State of Compression Research for Data Storage

Prize Announcement Follows Compression Summit Featuring Leading Industry Researchers

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - September 10, 2008) - Ocarina Networks, provider of the industry's first online storage optimization solution, today challenged the storage industry to become ten times more efficient in power, cooling, and space utilization by 2010. As part of the challenge, the company announced the Ocarina Compression Prize, an initiative backed by more than $1 million in award money to encourage advances in file type specific compression algorithms for storage.

The Ocarina Prize comes on the heels of the inaugural Ocarina Compression Summit, a gathering of the world's top compression researchers and experts held August 5-7 in San Jose, California. The Summit brought together top minds in the compression industry from all over the world to explore the role of data compression in dealing with the challenges associated with skyrocketing storage demands and the related financial and environmental concerns.

The Ocarina Prize will be presented as a series of awards for advancements in content-aware compression algorithms and techniques for specific file types. Ocarina will award the winner $10,000 U.S. dollars for each submission that advances the current best scoring compressor by three percent or more, with a total pool of up to $1,000,000 allocated for the awards.

"Ocarina is positioning itself as a leader in the field of data compression, both by recruiting the top minds in the field, and by sponsoring this contest," said Dr. Matt Mahoney, a recognized thought leader in the field of next generation data compression who recently joined the company as chief scientist. "The Ocarina Prize is the largest ever offered in a data compression contest, with some extremely challenging data."

The initial prize fund will include awards for three categories -- JPEG 2000 recompression, h.264 video recompression, and an industry file mix for engineering CAD file types. Submissions can be from individuals or companies, and may be open or closed source. Contestants will be judged on their overall reduction of a test data set within a fixed time period. For more information, visit: http://ocarinanetworks.com/prize/index.html.

"This prize serves as a great catalyst to attract the attention of top researchers to what has and will continue to be a growing problem: reducing the size of files that drive today's storage growth," said Dr. Przemyslaw Skibinski, who recently joined Ocarina's research team. "This has not only business benefits for end-users who may have to purchase less storage, but also has potentially profound environmental benefits, as the amount of power and cooling required to store the world's data will decrease in direct proportion to the degree to which it can be effectively compressed."

Ocarina Compression Summit: Showcasing Innovation, Exploring Industry Challenges

Approaches to online storage have to date struggled to keep pace with the explosive growth of data. At the heart of this problem are outdated compression technologies that do not allow storage vendors to achieve the optimal capacity from the solutions. This in turn has led to a proliferation of storage devices across data centers, burdening them with higher energy, bandwidth and operational requirements.

While significant advances in efficiency have been made for backup data with deduplication techniques and for data moving across networks with WAN optimization, online storage requires a unique set of solutions and has until now remained a key unaddressed problem area.

To address the relationship between the growing storage gap and compression technologies, the recent Ocarina Compression Summit called together researchers who have won every major competitive prize in advancing information theory and compression technology, including keynote speaker Dr. Robert Gray, this year's holder of the top honor in the field of Information Theory, the Shannon Prize. Other attendees included multiple winners of the Hutter Prize, the Calgary Corpus Challenge, and the Large Text Compression Benchmark.

Summit highlights included presentations on breakthrough algorithms for video file recompression for both MPEG-2 and h.264 videos, the video file types that make up the bulk of today's internet and broadcast video. These new algorithms are projected to be incorporated into Ocarina's online storage data reduction solutions in the first half of 2009.

About Ocarina

Ocarina is a leader in online storage optimization solutions. Organizations of all sizes use Ocarina's file-aware optimization technology to reduce their storage footprint and achieve a ten-fold capacity increase on their current storage systems. Based in San Jose, Calif., Ocarina is privately held and financed by leading investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Highland Capital Partners. For more information, visit www.ocarinanetworks.com.

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