Archive for the ‘ECS’ Category

India’s Largest Search Engine Dials into Object Storage

Corey O'Connor

Senior Product Marketing Manager at Dell EMC² ETD

Welcome to another edition of the Emerging Technologies ECS blog series, where we take a look at issues related to cloud storage and ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage), Dell EMC’s cloud-scale storage platform. 

Navigating the World Wide Websearch

The World Wide Web was invented by an independent contractor at a nuclear research facility in Switzerland back in the late 80’s (who knew!) In its early stages, the web was extremely clumsy and had to be completely indexed by hand. It didn’t take long for the computer geeks of the world to create a very rudimentary search engine tool comprised of a searchable database of files that captured all public directory listings – the big problem here was the data they were able to ingest was limited and searching through it was a very manual and tedious task. After a few years of development, “all text” search engines were established (which is what we currently use today) providing users the ability to search for any word within the contents of any web page.

Up to this point, search engine tools were developed mostly by university researchers and small startups and although showing lots of promise, they had a difficult time monetizing them. Then one day a spinoff from a startup shop came up with the brilliant idea to sell search terms; a ‘pay-for-placement’ service to businesses which made search engines one of the most lucrative tech businesses almost overnight.     

Just Dial Limited

Like Google to the United States and Baidu Inc. to China, Just Dial Limited is the premier search engine provider in India. Just Dial also provides services to the US, UK, UAE, Canada and satisfies over 1.5 billion daily customer requests that come in from around the world.

The challenge: Just Dial had a strict retention policy of five years for their customer’s data with most of it being static and infrequently accessed. Their traditional SAN infrastructure was neither a cost effective nor scalable solution and like many other organizations, they had their concerns around putting sensitive customer data into the public cloud. There was also a constant demand for storage from their application developers and storage admins as capacity seemed to always be running thin.

The solution: Just Dial was in the market for an in-house, native object cloud-based solution that provided universal access, multi-site support, and easily integrated with their cloud services. They chose Dell EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) and would see an 80% reduction in their overall storage management costs. Just Dial was able to easily provision unlimited capacity to their end-users, move all static archival data to ECS by policy, and experience true cloud-scale economics across their data centers. Watch the video below for the full story:

 

Want to start your Digital Transformation with ECS? Find out how by visiting us at www.dellemc.com/ecs or try the latest version of ECS for FREE for non-production use by visiting www.dellemc.com/getecs.

Embrace Digital Transformation with Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) 3.0

Sam Grocott

Senior Vice President, Marketing & Product Management at EMC ETD

Digital Transformation is drastically changing the business landscape, and the effects are being felt in every industry, and every region of the world. For some, the goal of this transformation is to use technology to leapfrog the competition by offering innovative products and services. For others, the focus is on avoiding disruption from new market entrants. Whatever your situation might be, it’s clear that you can’t ignore the change. In a recent study by Dell Technologies, 78% of global businesses surveyed believe that digital start-ups will pose a threat to their organization, while almost half (45%) fear they may become obsolete in the next three to five years due to competition from digital-born start-ups. These numbers are a stark indication of the pressure that business leaders are feeling to adapt or fall by the wayside.

But for IT leaders, this raises an uncomfortable question: Where will you find the money to make this transformation? You’re already under constant pressure to lower IT costs. How can you invest in new technologies while still doing this?

Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS), Dell EMC’s object storage platform, was built to help organizations with precisely this challenge. After being in market for just under two years, the latest release, ECS 3.0 is being announced at Dell EMC World today. ECS is a next-generation storage platform that simplifies storage and management of your unstructured data, increases your agility, and most importantly, lowers your costs. Let’s take a look at some of the ways ECS can help modernize your datacenter, clearing the way for you to embrace Digital Transformation.

Simplify and Accelerate Cloud-Native Development

The success of companies like Uber and AirBnB has highlighted the transformative power of “cloud native” mobile and web apps. Enterprises everywhere are taking note – in the previously mentioned Dell Technologies survey, 72% of companies indicated that they are expanding their software development capabilities. Often, these software development efforts are directed towards “cloud-native” applications designed for the web and mobile devices.

ECS is designed for cloud-native applications that utilize the S3 protocol (or other REST-based APIs like OpenStack Swift). ECS natively performs many functions like geo-distribution, ensuring strong data consistency and data protection, freeing up application developers to focus on what moves their business forward. This greatly increases developer productivity, and reduces the time to market for new applications that can unlock greater customer satisfaction, as well as new sources of revenue.

Reduce storage TCO and complexity

Legacy storage systems that sit in most enterprise datacenters are struggling to keep up with the explosion in unstructured data. Primary storage platforms are constantly running out of capacity, and it is expensive to store infrequently accessed data on these platforms. Additionally, as many businesses operate on a global scale, data coming in from different corners of the world ends up forming silos, which increase management complexity and lower agility in responding to business needs.
ECS is compatible with a wide range of cloud-enabled tiering solutions for Dell EMC primary storage resources like VMAX, VNX, Isilon and Data Domain.  Additionally, ECS is certified on many 3rd party tiering solutions, which enable it to act as a low cost, global cloud-tier for 3rd party storage platforms. These solutions drive up primary storage efficiency and drive down cost by accessing a lower cost tier with ECS. Tiering to ECS is friction-free, which means that apps or users accessing primary storage don’t have to change any behavior at all.

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Tape Replacement

The new ECS dense compute rack D-series increases storage density by more than 60%, making it an ideal replacement for tape archives. The D-Series comes as an eight node system that provides the highest density configurations for ECS at 4.5PB (D-4500) and 6.2PB (D-6200) in a single rack.

These new configurations provide the low cost and scalability benefits of traditional tape solutions, but without the lack of agility, poor reliability, and operational difficulties associated with storing data on tape.  Additionally, ECS makes business data available to BUs in an on-demand fashion. This allows organizations to fully embrace Digital Transformation, which relies on insights mined from business data to create more compelling experiences for customers.

Legacy application modernization

ECS can serve as an ideal storage platform for organizations looking to modernize legacy LoB applications that utilize or generate a large amount of unstructured data. Modifying legacy apps to point to ECS using the S3 (or other REST-based APIs like OpenStack Swift) protocol can help reduce costs, simplify maintenance of the application, and allow them to scale to handle massive amounts of data.

Take the Next Step

Learn more about how ECS can enable your transformation , follow @DellEMCECS on Twitter, or try it out – for free!

 

 

Buckets, Apps & Digital Exhaust…All in a Day’s Work For a Dell EMC Splunk Ninja

Cory Minton

Principal Systems Engineer at EMC

Grab your hoodies, your witty black t-shirts, and maybe your capes…it’s time for another exciting Splunk .conf, the annual Splunk User Conference taking place this week at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort.  All of us at EMC are excited to be sponsoring .conf for the third year in a row, and this year our presence will be bigger and better than ever before. Dell EMC is hosting two technical sessions this year, we’ll have more than 20 of the Dell EMC Splunk Ninjas running around learning and a large booth in the partner pavilion demonstrating our technology solutions.. For all the details, check out our .conf16 site.

This year marks the beginning of a great relationship between two awesome tech businesses: Dell EMC and Splunk.  We joined forces through a formal strategic alliance that started in February.  This alliance enables Dell EMC and its partners to sell Splunk’s industry leading platform. And, it allows Dell EMC unique access to Splunk technical resources for solution design, testing, and validation.  Most importantly, it creates a framework for these two technology powerhouses to collaborate more effectively for customer success.

Why Dell EMC for Splunk?


When we talk about customer success, we mean it in two distinct ways: deploying Splunk on Dell EMC platforms and, using Splunk to derive value from Dell EMC infrastructure.

First, we believe success is deploying Splunk on a flexible infrastructure that not only helps Splunk run fast and efficiently, but also one that can scale easily as the usage of Splunk evolves in a customer organization.  We believe that converged and hyper-converged technologies powered by Dell EMC’s robust portfolio of storage technologies delivers on this vision and provide additional enterprise capabilities:

  • Cost effective & Optimized Storage – Dell EMC delivers optimized and efficient storage by aligning the right storage to Splunk’s hot, warm, and cold data long retention and varying performance requirements.
  • Flexible & Scale-Out capacity consumption model – Scale-out infrastructure to meet capacity and compute requirements independently or as a single, converged platform as per your data growth.
  • Data Reduction & other data Powerful Enterprise Capabilities – including secure encryption, compression & deduplication of indexes, and fast, efficient zero-overhead copies for protection.
    Bottom-less cold bucket – Scale-Out storage platforms, whether on premise or in the cloud, obviates the need for a frozen bucket by providing a PB-scale cold bucket solution, simplifying data management and making data always searchable.

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Splunk and Dell EMC engineering teams have engaged in a strategic collaboration to ensure that all Dell EMC platforms have been validated by Splunk to “meet or exceed Splunk’s published reference server hardware” guidelines.  The Splunk team takes this validation process very seriously and customers can rest assured that if they are considering infrastructure for your Splunk deployment, we have done extensive testing. Whether you are looking at hyper-converged solutions like VXRail or VxRack, converged solutions like VBlock systems, or just storage from EMC like ScaleIO, XtremIO, VNX, Unity, Isilon, or ECS, you can be confident that the work has been done by both Splunk and Dell EMC to make sure it runs well.

Secondly, we believe Splunk is an incredibly powerful platform for capturing and deriving value from machine data.  As it turns out, Dell EMC products spin off a massive amount of “digital exhaust” that can be captured easily and used to drive operational intelligence in IT.  Dell EMC has made massive investments over the last few years to build apps for our platforms and make them available in Splunkbase for free.  We’ve built apps for XtremIO, Isilon  and VNX and expect to have many more in the works.  These apps make it simple to ingest data from Dell EMC platforms, and we offer useful, pre-built reports and dashboards to make monitoring these assets simple.  And it doesn’t stop there…once the data is extracted from your Dell EMC platforms, the underlying searches powering our reports or just the indexes themselves can be used in investigations across the entire IT service stack.  One of my favorite things to hear from our customers is the exciting ways they use the apps beyond just simple reporting and I hope to hear many more stories this year at .conf2016.

Dell EMC Splunk Ninjas And Our Top Ten List

 

splunk_ninja_resizeThe Dell EMC Splunk Ninja team are at the show in their Dell EMC blue Ninja Hunt shirts. The Dell EMC Splunk Ninja team is a group of more than 40 systems engineers from across Dell EMC who have been trained the same way Splunk trains its own systems engineers.  The Ninjas hold certifications ranging from SE1 all the way to SE3, we’ve got skills across not only using Splunk, but administering and architecting it at scale.  This is a global team not only available to talk to you at .conf, but also available in the field to have direct conversations with you when you head back to the office.

 

 

Our wise, passionate and zany Ninja team recently pulled together a list of Top Ten Best Practices for Splunk on Dell EMC. This list has been amassed based on years of lab testing and real world customer experience. You may say ‘Duh’ to some, but others may surprise you.

Happy Splunking!

Enterprise Strategy Group on ECS: Meet data growth challenges with software-defined object storage

“This new era of massive content storage environments requires a new storage architecture, object storage.” That’s the view of Scott Sinclair, Storage Analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in its October 2015 whitepaper: “EMC Elastic Cloud Storage Offers Resilient Scalability for the New Generation of Workloads”. Let’s explore why ESG believes object storage is an essential enterprise technology.

Identifying The Challenges Of Data Growth

Managing today’s ever-growing quantities of (mostly unstructured) data is a constant challenge for most enterprises – a fact that ESG underlines in its whitepaper. ESG asked 373 IT decision-makers: “What are your organization’s biggest challenges in terms of its storage environment?

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The rapid growth of data was cited as a top challenge by 26% of IT decision-makers, which ESG says should not be a surprise. However, what may be more surprising is that all the other top challenges – including increased hardware costs, data protection costs, and staffing costs – can also be considered symptoms of data growth.

Why The Industry Is Moving To Object Storage

ESG says that object-based storage offers a strong solution to meet the multiple challenges created by data growth. It represents an evolution in the ability to store unstructured data, with near limitless scalability. Object storage also offers automatic geo-dispersed data protection and the ability to leverage commodity hardware, making it an ideal storage environment for a new generation of IT workloads.

To discover more about what attracts IT decision-makers to object storage, ESG also asked: “Which factors are responsible for your organization’s initial deployment or consideration of object storage technology?”

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As ESG reveals, across the wide variety of potential use cases for object storage, organizations are turning to the technology to help control TCO in the wake of rising digital content levels. But of those potential use cases, more organizations are looking to object storage as the foundation for the next generation of modern and cloud-based workloads.

Evaluating ECS Object Storage Advantages

ESG says that EMC’s object storage solution Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) delivers key features for object storage, such as:

  • Software-defined architecture leveraging commodity components
  • A strongly consistent, global scale-out namespace
  • In-place Hadoop analytics with HDFS support
  • Support for S3 and OpenStack APIs
  • Combined erasure-coded and replication-based protection
  • Built-in journaling, snapshots, and versioning
  • Multi-tenant architecture
  • Flexible deployment models
  • On-premises data security

Today’s Demanding Workloads Are Ripe For ECS

As ESG comments: The next generation of workloads is looking to be even more dependent on larger levels of digital content than ever before, and therefore needs the next generation of storage.” Highlighted workload areas where ECS can help improve TCO and ROI for organizations include:

  • Foundation for a cloud storage solution: ECS supports your deployment of a cloud infrastructure with its ability to dynamically allocate resources – and to report on how they are being leveraged. Its potential for nearly infinite scalability along with its ability to leverage commodity hardware help keep cloud infrastructure costs low.
  • Data lake for business analytics: ECS offers the ability to pool all your data into a single globally distributed repository for business analytics to derive new value, while its multi-protocol access reduces the need to move data back and forth for analysis.
  • Global content repository: Offering a single scalable, resilient, and cost-effective pool that can serve multiple application and content types, ECS enables all the content within the repository to be globally accessible by web, mobile, and cloud applications – at up to 65% lower cost than public cloud.
  • Universal object storage platform for Internet of Things (IoT) with in-place analytics: The geo-distributed strong consistency of ECS provides the ability to collect and store IoT sensor data in locations closer to the actual “things,” which improves performance and saves cost.
  • Modern application development: The scale and automatic geographic accessibility of ECS can provide significant benefits for developing your modern applications, especially those that require access to a large pool of read-only content.
  • Cold storage archive: ECS-based archiving controls the growth of unstructured data by migrating “cold” data off of high-performing and more expensive storage – while allowing for the data to remain online and accessible.

The Next-Generation Object Storage Platform

As ESG concludes: “Object storage is designed for and ideally suited for large content storage. EMC’s ECS solution, ultimately, offers a foundation upon which IT organizations can build out the next generation of applications and workloads. The next-generation datacenter will need a next-generation storage solution, like ECS.”

Read the full ESG Whitepaper for yourself: ”EMC Elastic Cloud Storage Offers Resilient Scalability for the New Generation of Workloads”, October 2015.

Learn more about object storage with EMC ECS.

EMC ECS software is available to download now and try free.

 

Breakfast with ECS: Files Can’t Live in the Cloud? This Myth is BUSTED!

Welcome to another edition of Breakfast with ECS, a series where we take a look at issues related to cloud storage and ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage), EMC’s cloud-scale storage platform.

The trends towards increasing digitization of content and towards cloud based storage have been driving a rapid increase in the use of object storage throughout the IT industry.  However, while it may seem that all applications are using Web-accessible REST interfaces on top of cloud based object storage, in reality, while new applications are largely being designed with this model, file based access models remain critical for a large proportion of the existing IT workflows.

Given the shift in the IT industry towards object based storage, why is file access still important?  There are several reasons for this, but they boil down to two fundamental reasons:

  1. There exists a wealth of applications, both commercial and home-grown, that rely on file access, as it has been the dominant access paradigm for the past decade.
  2. It is not cost effective to update all of these applications and their workflows to use an object protocol. The data set managed by the application may not benefit from an object storage platform, or the file access semantics may be so deeply embedded in the application that the application would need a near rewrite to disentangle it from the file protocols.

What are the options?

The easiest option is to use a file-system protocol with an application that was designed with file access as its access paradigm.

ECS - Beauty FL_resizedECS has supported file access natively since its inception, originally via its HDFS access method, and most recently via the NFS access method.  While HDFS lacks certain features of true file system interfaces, the NFS access method has full support for applications and NFS clients are a standard part of any OS platform, thus making NFS the logical choice for file based application access.

Via NFS, applications gain access to the many benefits of ECS, including its scale-out performance, the ability to massively multi-thread reads and writes, the industry leading storage efficiencies, and the ability to support multi-protocol access, e.g. ingesting data from a legacy application via NFS while also supporting data access over S3 for newer, mobile application clients and thus supporting next generation workloads at a fraction of the cost of rearchitecting the complete application.

Read the NFS on ECS Overview and Performance White Paper for a high level summary of version 3 of NFS with ECS.

An alternative is to use a gateway or tiering solution to provide file access, such as CIFS-ECS, Isilon CloudPools, or third-party products like Panzura or Seven10.  However, if ECS supports direct file-system access, why would an external gateway ever be useful?  There are several reasons why this might make sense:

  • An external solution will typically support a broader range of protocols, including things like CIFS, NFSv4, FTP, or other protocols that may be needed in the application environment.
  • The application may be running in an environment where the access to the ECS is over a slow WAN link. A gateway will typically cache files locally, thereby shielding the applications from WAN limitations or outages while preserving the storage benefits of ECS.
  • A gateway may implement features like compression, thereby either reducing WAN traffic to the ECS, thus providing direct cost savings on WAN transfer fees, or encryption, thus providing an additional level of security for the data transfers.
  • While HTTP ports are typically open across corporate or data center firewalls, network ports for NAS (NFS, CIFS) protocols are normally blocked for external traffic. Some environments, therefore, may not allow direct file access to an ECS which is not in the local data center, though a gateway which provides file services locally and accesses ECS over HTTP would satisfy the corporate network policies.

So what’s the right answer?

The there is no one right answer; instead, the correct answer will depend on the specifics of the environment and of the characteristics of the application.

  • How close is the application to the ECS? File system protocols work well over LANs and less well over WANs.  For applications that are near the ECS, a gateway is an unnecessary additional hop on the data path, though 3d Kugel mit Fragezeichen im Labyrinthgateways can give an application the experience of LAN local traffic even for a remote ECS.
  • What are the application characteristics? For an application that makes many small changes to an individual file or a small set of files, a gateway can consolidate multiple such changes into a single write to ECS.  For applications that more generally write new files or update existing files with relatively large updates (e.g. rewriting a PowerPoint presentation), a gateway may not provide much benefit.
  • What is the future of the application? If the desire is to change the application architecture to a more modern paradigm, then files on ECS written via the file interface will continue to be accessible later as the application code is changed to use S3 or Swift.  Gateways, on the other hand, often write data to ECS in a proprietary format, thereby making the transition to direct ECS access via REST protocols more difficult.

As should be clear, there is no one right answer for all applications.  The flexibility of ECS, however, allows for some applications to use direct NFS access to ECS while other applications use a gateway, based on the characteristics of the individual applications.

If existing file based workflows were the reason for not investigating the benefits of an ECS object based solution, then rest assured that an ECS solution can address your file storage needs while still providing the many benefits of the industry’s premier object storage platform.

Want more ECS? Visit us at www.emc.com/ecs or try the latest version of ECS for FREE for non-production use by visiting www.emc.com/getecs.

Digital Health Strategies – An introduction to Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS)

Nathan Bott

Healthcare Solutions Architect at EMC

This past April, my father reached two important milestones – he turned 70 and retired from a 40-plus year career in food science.  He is now planning to head back to Spain to complete the Camino de Santiago – or the Way of St. James – a journey he started in 2014.  Unfortunately he had to stop 150 miles into the 500 mile trek because of severe back and hip pain due to the emergence of degenerative disc disease.  After working with his physician to manage this new condition, he started to prepare for the upcoming trip by walking between 5 and 10 miles three times a week.  Along with this training came other ailments that would be expected with anybody his age:  pulled muscles, strained knees, and “light-headedness.”  This last ailment can be attributed to another condition he happens to have – Type 2 Diabetes.  And so it goes, as he gets older and tries to maintain a high level of activity, he will suffer more ailments, and spend more time and money (via Medicare benefits) managing these chronic conditions.

And he will not be alone.  My father was born in 1946 and is thus a first year baby-boomer, the first wave of new Medicare beneficiaries in which about 10,000 enroll every day.  The Congressional Budget Office expects over 80 million Americans will be Medicare eligible by 2035, an almost 50% increase in enrollment from 2015.  The cost per beneficiary is expected to increase even more as each patient will have multiple chronic conditions to manage; per the National Council on Aging:

  • About 68% of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic diseases and 36% have four or more.
  • More than two-thirds of all health care costs are for treating chronic diseases.

The US government and the healthcare industry are well aware of the current “silver tsunami” and planning has been underway.

For the past 7 years, since the passage of the Hi-Tech provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009 and the Medicare Shared Saving Program (MSSP) in 2011 the ground work has been laid to implement various programs and incentives to distribute the efforts to manage the cost of delivering healthcare to an ever expanding beneficiary population.  The prolific adoption of electronic health records technology by healthcare providers and the reorganization of reimbursements to these providers – from a fee-for-service to an outcomes based model – have combined to become a catalyst for a digital revolution in healthcare.

Government led healthcare reform programs like Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), the Patient Centered Medical Home, and the Precision Medicine initiative are predicated with having a digital technology platform that can use the demographic, financial, clinical and genetic data acquired from the vast population of patients to develop evidence-based plans of care that are specifically tailored based on the genetic disposition and the disease(s) of a given patient.

Medicine doctor hand working with modern medical iconsRegardless of the industry, product or service, a disruptive technology that drives innovation through digitization requires a re-assessment of the infrastructure that supports it; the healthcare industry is no different.  As healthcare providers have implemented electronic medical records systems, deployed enterprise imaging solutions, piloted next generation sequencing programs, and developed clinical informatics capabilities, new infrastructure requirements and operating modes have emerged.  Furthermore, in response to the evolving markets and reimbursement models explained above, many healthcare entities – providers, payers, and pharmaceuticals alike – have consolidated through mergers and acquisitions which also necessitate re-evaluating infrastructure architectures in order to rationalize operational capabilities, drive utilization efficiency and decrease both operational and capital costs.

Working directly with healthcare customers, collaborating with healthcare software vendors, and partnering with IT service providers, EMC has been on the front line to provide architectural guidance and infrastructure solutions to support this digital revolution and its emerging infrastructure requirements. A key infrastructure solution to support the digitization revolution in healthcare is a highly durable, geo-distributed, performant storage platform that will work with legacy monolithic systems using file system interfaces as well as cloud-native distributed applications using standard storage APIs like AWS S3 or OpenStack Swift.

ECSEMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage system (ECS) is a modern object storage platform that does just that…and more.  Just as important, the ECS object platform can be used for a myriad of use cases specifically for the healthcare industry to support:

  • Innovative technology platforms which enable coordinated and accessible medical services such as outlined by the Patient-Centered Medical Home program
  • Collaboration and data sharing as needed for programs such as the Accountable Care Organization initiative
  • An increase in IT operational agility using a storage platform that can be provisioned with cloud-based API’s
  • A decrease in costs through storage utilization efficiency at scale using modern data protection and replication methods

In my follow-up blog entries here, I will provide more details on the functional capabilities of ECS as well as map these capabilities to specific use cases that are driving the digital revolution to take on the challenges of delivering collaborative and personalized healthcare services to an aging population with multiple complex chronic conditions while driving down IT operational costs as well as the overall cost of the healthcare system.

Examples of the use cases I mentioned above include various new technology trends like the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that support remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and behavior modification tools to help manage chronic diseases; data lake functionality with the Hadoop ecosystem for population and precision health based analytics programs; and cloud-native development efforts to launch distributed mobile applications that can capture and access data from any location.

I look forward to exploring these use cases and examining how ECS’s unique capabilities will help our healthcare customers move towards meeting their technical, operational, and “digitized-mission” goals.

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