At-Scale Data Movement,
How To Do It Right

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Zettar Inc. (Zettar) builds and delivers a deep-tech-powered, simple, scalable, and efficient at-scale data movement manager. The product is ideal for distributed data-intensive engineering and science workloads such as for genomics, life sciences, Oil & Gas, AI, machine learning, transporting data for large scale IoT deployments, autonomous vehicle fleets, smart cities, EDA, Media & Entertainment Studio post-production, light sources (large lasers), accelerators, large telescopes.  Note that it is excellent for tackling today’s ever growing edge to core/cloud use cases.

The Zettar team has rich first-hand solution architecture experience in helping tier-1 customers in the biopharmaceutical, Oil & Gas, Media & Entertainment Studios, and supercomputing centers in different countries. As a result, even as a software company, the Zettar engineering team has a deep and comprehensive understanding and expertise of the entire infrastructure stack, storage, computing, networking (including network security). 

Furthermore, from the engagement supporting the highly ambitious data movement requirements (>= 1Tbps point-to-point by 2024) of Linac Coherent Light Source II (LCLS-II), a premier U.S. DOE Exascale Computing preparation project hosted at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, all members have gained extensive experience applying the U.S. DOE Exascale Initiative’s “co-design” principle – integrated consideration of storage, computing, networking, and concurrent software for optimal performance.  Thus, Zettar is a genuine deep tech startup.  Hence, working with Zettar will help your business to gain such valuable experience as well.


Zettar has been focusing on at-scale data movement since 2014. The company is supported by its revenue. A few engineering initiatives are funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science.

Since early 2015, Zettar has been engaged to support the the highly ambitious data movement requirements of Linac Coherent Light Source II (LCLS-II), a premier U.S. DOE Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) preparation project hosted at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California. As a result, all engineering members have gained extensive experience applying the U.S. DOE ECI’s “co-design” principle – integrated consideration of storage, computing, networking (including network security), and concurrent software for optimal performance. Thus, working with Zettar will help your business to gain such valuable experience as well.

Foremost,  we strongly recommend getting all infrastructural stacks ready, storage, computing (servers, physical and/or virtual), networking (including network security, e.g.  firewall).   At-scale data movement is neither a software alone nor network alone endeavor.  Furthermore, an application can only run so well as its environment (and its settings, which depends on the environment) allows it to.

Never think like this: “Oh, let’s just install the software and see how fast it runs!”  That’s not for professionals!

Please Contact Sales.  Zettar’s Tech Sales team will be in touch and provide you the necessary info.

First of all, we strongly recommend you to review this U.S. DOE Technical Report, “Data Movement Categories“, which divides the data movements in distributed data-intensive organizations (both commercial and non-profit) into four categories.  Knowing how to map a data movement task into one of the four categories helps select proper data mover tools.  zx is designed to tackle the first three categories described in the report.  The 4th by nature doesn’t involve at-scale data movement, often short distance too. There are numerous freeware based solutions.  There is no need to pay for any commercial software.  Obviously, Zettar doesn’t focus on the 4th category either.

Another way to look at the possibility of using zx: if your workflows involve mostly API-enabled, automated data movements, then zx is an excellent fit.  Note that although it comes with an easy-to-use built-in WebUI, it is a data mover application designed foremost for highly automated data moving tasks.

Once you are here, please Contact Sales.  Our Tech Sales and Solution Architect will be in touch and help you further in your planning and decision-making.  Of course, we invite to review the rest of this documentation.  The information should be helpful as well.

Zettar delivers an at-scale data movement manager, zx, that provides top performance, simplicity, manageability, scalability, and breakthrough economics. zx seamless integrates four distinct products.  As such, it enables you to tackle almost all conceivable data management tasks that involve at scale data movement: data protection, vaulting, moving, and synchronization.

The software runs on standard server hardware with Linux OS and delivers 10X or more the performance than the typical commercial or freeware counterparts.  Zettar does not employ marketing hot-air – we don’t need to.  Please see the Company, Publications for publications from various super-computing centers, U.S. DOE ESnet, and prestigious business publications.

The Zettar zx has some very important core attributes.  It is:

  • Purposely designed for moving data at scale data movement – distributed, scalable, and running as a daemon (i.e. it is not a CLI utility)
  • A hardware agnostic solution
  • A solution that supports both POSIX-compliant file storage and AWS S3 (including true compatibles) object storage

Hardware technology changes over time; a software data mover solution should accommodate such changes, which means that it must be able to run on any standard hardware platform.  zx was designed to run on any standard Intel x86_64/AMD64-based server hardware.  It works with conventional HDDs or the latest SSDs.  zx also runs natively in a public compute cloud or works directly with a public storage cloud.  zx eliminates the cost overhead of expensive specialized hardware and allows you to benefit from advances in technology without suffering the pain of forklift upgrades to next-generation architecture.

zx is ideal for transporting massive amounts of data for the following:

  • Life Science research data collection, replication, and exchange – Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), bio-imaging, cancer research, molecular diagnosis, structural biology, and bio-informatics
  • Oil & Gas exploration data transportation – among facilities or between on-prem and cloud
  • Large scale NAS tech refresh – same vendor, different vendors
  • File system migration – between the same type (e.g. IBM GPFS) or different filesystems (e.g. from IBM GPFS to BeeGFS), or between NAS and a parallel filesystem
  • Data migration between file and object storage (on-prem or public) – e.g. from a NAS to AWS S3
  • HPC – light source and nuclear accelerator detector data off-site processing, camera data of large telescopes off-site for processing and storage; climate change simulation, computational physics, earthquake studies, space research, simulation, intelligence
  • In-vehicle data collection for fleets of autonomous vehicles – Transporting collected data to data center and/or cloud
  • AI, Machine Learning, and work flows involving GPU acceleration – both on prem and in the cloud
  • Media and Entertainment – pre- and post-production workflow acceleration, content delivery, digital asset replication and disaster recovery

More are feasible.  Please Contact Sales. Our Tech Sales and Solution Architect will be in touch and help you further in your planning and decision-making.

zx is an easy-to-deploy data mover solution that is configurable to fit your environment, giving you complete deployment flexibility.

  • Hyperconverged deployments leverage your existing compute infrastructure while eliminating your data transfer setup footprint and reducing power and cooling costs.
  • Pooled storage deployments are ideal when you want to use separate storage and compute infrastructure for application isolation, performance, or scalability.
  • Public cloud deployments allow you to realize the promise of truly elastic computing by running zx on public cloud server instances.

The software runs well in physical servers, virtual machines, and containers.  Which one to choose depends on the use case.

  • zx provides flexibility, ease of deployment, and resiliency, whether on-premises, in a hybrid configuration, or entirely in the cloud for on-demand scalability.
  • zx is a single at-scale data movement solution that provides the freedom to choose the environment best suited for your application based on performance, scale, and economics.
  • It targets 1) Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x and 8.x or a free rebuild like Rocky Linux, Alma Linux, Oracle Linux 2) Ubuntu 18.04LTS and newer.

Being an at-scale data movement manager, Zettar zx has three key strengths:

  1. Simplicity – from the simple installation, configuration, and operation, to its rich integrated functionalities, Zettar Engineering has strive to make every aspect as simple as possible.
  2. Scalability – among all data mover software applications, it’s one of the only few (all have been created with U.S. DOE Office of Science’s support) that is truly scale-out capable, not with some “cluster workload managers”. This fact again contributes to Zettar zx’s simplicity.
  3. Efficiency – we have not run into any other data mover, free and commercial, that exhibits the same level of efficiency as Zettar zx.  These are not empty words. We have enough deeds to prove (About Zettar, Publications). 

The tight integration also provides highly consistent usages across different products as well.

No, it’s not.  Open source doesn’t fit our business model.

On a per instance basis:

  • A FTP server application typically runs on a single computer. Even being confined to run in this manner (i.e. no scale-out), zx is usually 10X or faster.  rsync, scp, sftp, and robocopy are all end-user oriented CLI tools. Even they are used by experienced users, the same range of speed up has been observed in real world usages.  Once the scale-out capability of zx is leveraged, such CLI tools will be left far behind.  Even if a threaded and cluster capable FTP application is used (e.g. GridFTP), zx still holds both efficiency and performance advantages by a large margin (> 50%) over a wide file size range.  FYI, at the world’s highest level data mover competition, Supercomputing Asia 2019 Data Mover Challenge, Zettar beat out the Globus author team of GridFTP (slide 7). 
  • Zettar zx supports both file and AWS S3 (including true compatibles) object storage. None of those CLI tools do so either at all or fully.
  • Most importantly, once zx is setup, it offers operational simplicity and manageability these CLI tools can not match. For example, zx provides both built-in Web UI and API (Python SDK provided in source) which enables simple yet powerful automation. Furthermore, it offers advanced workflow management features such as check-point, restart, sophisticated bandwidth throttling, multi-level parallelism that works with storage, computing, and network resources.  A critical benefit is that it’s proven network latency insensitive.  None of those popular CLI tools can offer all such benefits.

s3cmd is a CLI end-user oriented tool running on a single computer.  Even being confined to run in a single computer, zx is usually anywhere from 10X or more faster per instance.  Once the scale-out capability of zx is leveraged, s3cmd will be far behind. 

When properly configured, rclone can attain a good transfer rate when the file sizes are suitable for its processing.  But it lacks sophisticated data management capabilities, with only an experimental UI (as of this writing), not scale-out capable, and not capable of preserving file attributes either when files are transferred to a cloud storage (including AWS S3). 

zx’s benefits over other CLI tools are applicable here as well.  The ease-of-use aspects mentioned previously also apply in this case.

Such applications are limited to the traditional end-to-end data transfers – a very narrow scope.  In addition, as a rule they are not scale-out capable. Some may claim that they have patented data transfer protocols, but their results do not jibe with facts.  Also, even being confined to run in a single computer, zx is usually anywhere from 10X or faster per instance.  Once the scale-out capability of zx is leveraged, such tools cannot even match.  Most importantly, once zx is setup, it is much easier to use.  See these capability videos above.

Most of them also have very limited scope – typically only capable of dealing with the traditional end-to-end data transfers.  Almost all well established data movers were introduced around 2000 – that’s 20 years ago. They did their jobs.  But the world’s exponential data growth started in 2016, per Intel DCG EVP Navin Shenoy.  Zettar zx is designed from the ground up to address this challenge. The problems when these well-known data movers came into being and the problems we address demand very different approaches and architectures. You are invited to review this 1min 48 sec video, Learn the water transport analogy, up on this page.

Zettar started off in 2015 by supporting a premier U.S. DOE Exascale Computing project, Linac Coherent Light Source II, which has highly ambitious data movement requirements (not just the traditional transfers!). The Zettar Product Brief up on this page has some details. Striving to meet such demanding requirements ever since, by 2018, zx has been able to attain excellent outcomes in the following production trials (not demos!) and international competition:

  1. In September 2018, using a modest test bed, under a hard 80Gbps bandwidth cap, with full encryption and checksumming, zx transferred 1PB in 29 hours over a 5000-mile loop provided by the U.S. DOE Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). 94% average bandwidth utilization was achieved.
  2. In March 2019, the 2-person Zettar team competed in and became the overall winner of the grueling 2-months long SCA19 DMC, this is the Olympic competition for data mover software.  The six other participants are elite national teams (slide 7).  Over two successive SCA DMCs (2019 and 2020), Zettar is still the only Overall Winner with its record unbroken.
  3. In October – early November, 2019, working with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling (ICM)– University of Warsaw (Poland), A*STAR Computational Resource Centre (A*CRC, Singapore), the joint-effort succeeded in achieving a historical 1st data transfer production trial over the then brand new Collaboration Asia Europe-1 (CAE-1)  100Gbps network across a vast distance of 12,375 miles.

Please note that the above are all published by government agencies and supercomputing centers. 

Sure!  The U.S. DOE Office of Science over the years has invested in the creation and development of a few heavy duty data movers (including Zettar zx).  Two national laboratories that have been funded are FNAL and BNL.  Together, the two national labs have created the MDTM project. The researchers there have conducted comparison with other DOE funded data movers and the commercial IBM/Aspera and reported their findings in the MDTM Project Review Documents

According to the the report. IBM/Aspera is 3.9X slower than mdtmBBCP (slide 50 & 51).  But the author team of the MDTM project was beaten out by the Zettar team at SCA19 DMC.  Enough said?

At the 2 month grueling, Olympic Competition of data movers, Supercomputing Asia 2019, Data Mover Challenge, the Zettar team  became the only Overall Winner awarded so far, beating out 6 other elite national teams, including the Globus GridFTP author team From ANL and University of Chicago and The FANL’s BigData Express (which uses MDTMFTP and MDTMBBCP) author team by about 50% of margin. With the latter, when a horizontal scale-out setup is used, it will be lagging behind even more.  

From October – November 2020, the U.S. DOE Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) evaluated Zettar zx as reported in Zettar zx Evaluation for ESnet DTNsFig 1 of the report shows that over a wide range of file sizes, Globus GridFTP is 2 – 5 times slower per node. BigData Express is not even in the same league as GridFTP and zx, since neither MDTMFTP nor MDTMBBCP is cluster-oriented.  When the employed storage system enables zx’s linear scalability to kick in, even the cluster capable GridFTP  will be left far-behind.


  • Both Globus GridFTP and BigData Express lack the efficiency to tackle Category 1. 
  • Furthermore, since both are based on the traditional client-server design, so they are good only for Category 2 of this DOE Technical Report Data Movement Categories.  For example, neither would be awkward and of limited use in the very common large-scale file system migration scenarios, which belong to Category 3.
  • Zettar zx however, tackles the first 3 categories competently.

Yes, zx has the following attributes:

  • zx is symmetric.  Any instance can send and receive with the other zx instance, even concurrently.  In other words, it’s architecture differs from the traditional client-server model, for at least 2X simplicity
  • Its transfer performance is highly predictable – with sufficient computing power and network bandwidth, usually it attains 80% or more of the measured storage throughput
  • It is truly network latency insensitive – this has been proven repeatedly over a 5000-mile ESnet loop from 2015 – 2019, many other high-profile international events,  e.g. SCA19 DMC and Poland-to-Singapore data transfer trial over CAE-1.

It is the most modern scale-out capable data mover software funded in 2019 by the U.S. DOE Office of Science. 

zx employs unconditional end-to-end checksum.

zx provides linear scalability – the throughput increases linearly as the number of zx instances, assuming

  1. The storage throughput available to each instance is the same
  2. The available network bandwidth can accommodate the collective throughput
  3. Sufficient computing power is available to each zx instance
  4. Firewalls are not hindering the desired data rates.

zx supports both POSIX and AWS S3 (including true compatibles).

This is extremely easy and only takes a few minutes.  Please see the following:

  1. zx is a data mover. It runs on a compute node (aka data transfer node, or DTN).
  2. The compute node should be configured as a NFS client, preferrably running a new enough OS that allows the use of the nconnect NFS option.
  3. Note that you can import multiple NFS shares and zx can work with all of them concurrently if they are mounted under the same root. This is true both for reading and writing.

zx can use the available bandwidth anywhere from Mbps to hundreds of Gbps. Typically, with modern hardware, assuming sufficient storage throughput available, a decent CPU model, fully populated CPU memory channels, enough available network bandwidth, and normal average file/object sizes (>= 4MB), a single data transfer node running zx can comfortably push/pull 70+Gbps or beyond. At the SCA19 DMC, even with the sub-optimal setup and a 2TB dataset consisting mix-sized files, Zettar was still able to reach this level.  See the official announcement. So, using two nodes at each end not only have the potential to go beyond 100Gbps but also provide high-availability (HA) at the same time.

zx is insensitive to network latency.  This has been proven


Zettar Engineering has also done many transfers at much lower bandwidth internationally, e.g. 80Mbps from Europe to N. America.

zx compares the differences between two file data sets and transfers only the difference (i.e. delta).  Thus, other than just bulk transferring/streaming data, zx can be used for efficient incremental replication.

zx can be used for large scale replication tasks, such as tech refresh of many NASes, large parallel file system storage pools.

zx offers standard based TLS encryption with various ciphers available to fit your requirements.

zx uses a key-based mechanism through TLS encrypted channel to achieve secure authentication.

Getting started with Zettar is easy.   Please fill out the Contact Sales form.

Zettar software package (a single RPM or DEB) includes everything you need for high-performance, scale-out data transport. There are no additional license fees for standard enterprise file-based features.

Zettar supports annual subscription and perpetual license, both come with white-glove support.  The 2nd model may need you to purchase an annual Software Maintenance and Support Agreement, which is mandatory for the 1st year.  The software is licensed on a per-node basis.  Given its proven efficiency, even a large site usually needs just a few licenses.

As long as there is an active Software Maintenance and Support Agreement in place, Zettar license holders are entitled to all software fixes and product enhancements as part of the base product (zx-File) license.  Please note that from time to time, Zettar may introduce new products (e.g. zx-Object, zx-Single-Site-Mode, zx-Append-Streaming) that are integrated into zx and are available for purchase.  Such new products must be activated via additional licenses and would not be included in the base product license entitlement.

Zettar understands that your usage patterns and needs may change from time to time. So you can let your license expire if it’s of the annual subscription type. 

zx’s built-in WebUI About page, License tab will show you the respective license expiry date of what you have licensed.  Also, if your license is of the annual subscription type, zx will stop working post the expiry dates.  With perpetual licenses zx always works.  But we encourage you to keep the Software Maintenance and Support Agreement renewed promptly to keep your base software always current and benefit from our professional support.

You can reinstate either the software license or the Software Maintenance and Support Agreement or both at any time after expiration by simply contacting us via the online form or email.  Written requests are necessary for both sides’ records.

We are afraid for what the software designed for, free download doesn’t make sense and is illogical.  At-scale data movement demands foremost proper infrastructure preparation and readinessIt is never a software alone endeavor!  Even you have the software, but your infrastructure is not conducive to what you desire to achieve, the software cannot magically make things happen.

If your organization is serious in embarking such a project, we advise you contact us to discuss. Then, we can work with you on an evaluation – a typical one, even remotely with a non-domestic (in U.S.) customer, generally it takes about 3 – 4 1-hour sessions to gain sufficient experience for your decision making.

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No Fear to Data Gravity