Oct 18, 2017

Oct 16, 2017

Next phase soon for WekaIO

WekaIO (www.weka.io), pioneer of a new generation of scalable file storage for a the new data age, was present recently at the SNIA SDC Conference and participate to the SNIA SMB3 Plugfest.

We had the chance to meet and discuss with Liran Zvibel, CTO and co-founder, for a short update as we have visited the company last year in Tel-Aviv during the IT Press Tour and since then the company has made significant progress.

The firm belongs to the small group of high performance and scalable file storage companies with Avere Systems, Elastifile, Qumulo and Rozo Systems, which deliver a very high bandwidth, IOPS and low latency while delivering a seamless and advanced data protection.

At SNIA SDC, beyond its participation to the SNIA SMB3 plugfest the firm didn't have any talk, per haps the team has to think about a more visible presence with a talk by Liran next year as he loves to explain things and transmit his passion.

WekaIO suffers from market visibility even if some efforts have been made thanks to the November 2016 IT Press Tour visit in Israel. During Flash Memory Summit in August, the company has demonstrated an interesting configuration with Intel developing 3M IOPS with 1PB NVMe-oF in 1U with last INTEL SSD based on 3D NAND.

The performance of WekaIO Matrix is also officially recognized by the SpecSFS benchmark for the software build (SFS2014_swbuild) published last July with 500 builds for 3.06msec overall response time, 3.9GB/s and 248k ops/sec.

The other interesting solution is the one published September 26th with NetApp FAS8200 with FlexGroup.

We summarize with the image below the three configurations of Matrix, that can be combined together, demonstrating the flexibility of the product and its capabilities to be integrated to various applications and deployments models.

The next release of WekaIO Matrix software should offer a new feature named "Snapshot of Object" to finally bridge seamlessly on-premises and cloud entity to simplify data migration and workload management. It will allow an immediate restart and continuity of work from the cloud and also builds interesting architecture with N edge configurations and one central cloud-based DR site validating a N-1 model.

The company has chosen to identify some use cases and play with them, developing key messages, advantages and benefits using WekaIO Matrix. This is the case with EDA, software development, financial analytics and genomics sequencing, illustrating recently by Illumina success story.

In term of business we understood from this exchange that WekaIO should announce an oem agreement with a company during SuperComputing 2017 conference in Denver mid November. Only Qumulo will have a booth in Denver, none of the others listed above will have one but pretty sure we’ll discover their presence in some booths…

Oct 13, 2017

Hitachi unveiled a piece of the object storage future

Recent Hitachi (www.hitachi.com) NEXT conference in Las Vegas offered the opportunity to understand the vision of the company about Object Storage.

In a few words, facts, reality and directions:
  • Hybrid storage is a reality largely promoted by vendors that can't afford total erosion of their end-users' footprint but we know the end of the story.
  • Software and Commodity Off-The-Shelf are here to stay and Software-Defined Storage is the new way to go.
  • Container and micro-services provides full hardware abstraction and portability.
  • Meta-data is the focal point to deliver value as end-users expects more intelligent data services from their storage platform. Today GDPR is hot with mobility, analytics and IoT.
The presentation is posted below.


Oct 11, 2017

New CPO for Nasuni

Nasuni (www.nasuni.com), i.e “NAS UNIfied”,
one of the few historical cloud gateway players with CTera Networks, Panzura, TwinStrata (acquired by EMC in 2014) and StorSimple (acquired by Micorosft in 2012), just recruited Russ Kennedy, a strong well-respected leader.

Russ came from IBM where he stayed a two years following Cleversafe acquisition in 2015.

He was before at CA Technologies, ThinIdentity, Cleversafe (1st period), Pillar Data Systems, Sun and StorageTek.

The Market is clearly now oriented towards a “Cloudification” with a transition model based on hybrid schema.

Nasuni has morphed from a pure cloud gateway play to a real NAS play bridging on-premise storage to cloud entities providing an unlimited file storage experience. ESG has named this approach a Cloud Integrated Storage.

Founded in 2009, Nasuni has raised so far $116 million.

Comparing the management layer we saw a few years ago and the one today, Nasuni has clearly solidify the management and is ready to accelerate in the next few quarters as the opportunities window is not so large.

With cloud offering like Azure Stack or Oracle Cloud at Customer but also players such Avere Systems, Elastifile, Qumulo or WekaIO, we understand that Nasuni, and a few others, could be out of the picture rapidly. Also for a company of that age, it starts to be urgent to articulate a clear next step: IPO or exit, as we have doubt about becoming a billion dollars company alone. Without clear visible future steps, we’re afraid these few companies will join the Zombie group reducing obviously value for users and investors. In other words, we won't be surprise to see one of them acquired as they represent a strategic component for some large IT vendors.

Oct 9, 2017

DriveScale shakes its leadership

DriveScale Inc. (www.drivescale.com), player in software composable infrastructure to deliver a modern IT adaptive approach, just announced the appointment of Alan Butler as VP global alliances and business development and Herb Cunitz, former president of Hortonworks, as advisor. We already met at least 3 times Herb when we have me Hortonworks with the IT Press Tour. We'll visit and meet DriveScale for the #25 Edition of The IT Press Tour.

It seems that at the same time some management reshuffle has been decided and Jeff Raice, previously VP Marketing, is now the new VP of Sales, meaning that Howard Doherty, who has led the sales effort since the inception, disappears from the picture. In both cases at the time we write this article, their respective LinkedIn page doesn't reflect that recent change.

DriveScale defines a new approach to support modern workloads such as Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, NoSQL, Cassandra, Docker, Kubernetes and other distributed applications at a fraction of the cost of alternative platforms.

Oct 2, 2017

Minio announced $20M funding

Minio (www.minio.io), fast emerging open source object storage player, announced recently a new VC round of $20M for it series A following a seed round of $3.3M in July 2015. Total is now $23.3M. We see Dell Technologies and Intel Capital in addition to previous ones plus Steve Singh, the new CEO fo Docker, as an individual. Interesting and probably too early to understand Dell and Intel money injection.

Starting with the idea to build an open source alternative offering to Amazon S3 with full compatibility with the AWS API, the company changed its vision recently. The team wishes to offer now a neutral object storage layer or service, still open source and still offering S3 access method. In other words, AB Perisamy ambition is to become the Kubernetes of object storage, no other companies can do that, only him for sure.

And this VC round is a confirmation of this strategy even if only a few survivors will stay alive as it exists too many players on the planet.

It's and it was a good approach to consider that S3 is and will be the king and winner as some other player tried to articulate their own approach. The question is not having the best product, it's about having the product that users will use and consume at the right cost. Some people forget this obvious human behavior, purist probably...

In open source, only Ceph, Swift and Minio can survive, other are just toys, for commercial ones, it's even worse as the number of players is much larger so we expect just a few to stay alive and a few of them will become zombie.

The company plays also an interesting role in the industry as several players try to mimic Minio and even use several tools developed by the company. What a recognition, other companies don't really promote that of course...

Starting after several object storage stories, Minio has chosen now a different path with Google, Microsoft and others illustrating again the multi-cloud eldorado and the wish for users to not put their data in the same basket.

For the 3rd times, Minio will join the IT Press Tour in December and we expect as usual plenty of new things. Again Congratulations to the team.

Sep 29, 2017

New Flash offering from ProphetStor

ProphetStor Data Services (www.prophetstor.com), an emerging player in Software-Defined Storage, just announced the StellarFlash Arrays product line composed of All-Flash (AFA) and Hybrid Flash arrays (HFA) running on commodity servers.

The company has embedded its unique intelligence based on machine learning to provide advanced predictive analytics to anticipate any failure, downtime or impact of performance.

Technically, the product supports VMware Storage Hardware such VAAI and offers a Cinder interface for OpenStack environments. Coupled with Federator, the flagship product of the company, StellarFlash also delivers
  • advanced caching powered by advanced data profiling,
  • capacity optimization with data reduction techniques such deduplication and compression,
  • high scalability with scale-up and/or scale-out mode,
  • data protection with snapshot, replication, encryption RAID of course and active-active controller,
  • and a rich GUI to manage and monitor the storage environment plus a RESTful API.
Having Federator and StellarFlash deployed together in the same environment provides a pretty unique approach, reducing cost while delivering advanced control and high performance.

With the recent acceleration of the deployment of the company in EMEA, the strategy is focused on finding new channels and oems.

Sep 27, 2017

Sep 26, 2017

Veritas Vision 2017 Recap

Veritas Vision 2017, the annual user conference just took place in Las Vegas at the Aria complex and we have counted 2,000 attendees representing 52 countries for at least 33 official sponsors and exhibitors.

As a true believer of cloud with a clear multi-cloud strategy, Veritas has selected the four top sponsors – Microsoft, Google, IBM and Oracle – who lead the cloud computing industry with AWS, very present last year but absent for this edition.

Among other sponsors we noticed the presence of Aptare, Cloudian, Infinidat, NEC, NetApp and Seagate and the presence of Komprise and StorReduce in the Google Cloud both with small pods, allowing them to gain visibility.

The company has articulated the conference around four key topics that describe its products and solutions: Data Protection, Software-Defined Storage (SDS), Cloud and Risk & Compliance articulated around the 360 Data Platform (360DM).

Data Protection
NetBackup, the unified enterprise data protection offering for multi-cloud, physical and virtual environments, will be available under 8.1 release September 26. Still available as software or appliance, the company adds several interesting features:
  • CloudCatalyst, available as software or appliance, offers a new deduplication mechanism connected clouds,
  • Parallel Streaming to support NoSQL, Hadoop and Cassandra environments, crystalizing new users’ needs already validated by players such DatosIO or Imanis Data,
  • and a comprehensive and extended support for Microsoft Azure, OneDrive for Business, SQL Server, Office 365, Exchange but also Google Drive and Cloud Storage, Oracle databases, Box…
Long time leader in SDS, Veritas continues to expand the product family and prefer to use SDS for Block, File or Object to qualify its offerings. Hopefully Veritas doesn't use the ridiculous term “Server SAN” that finally creates confusion and complexity in users mind. Veritas unveiled two key announcements:
  • an object storage (SDS for Object) represented by Veritas Cloud Storage,
  • a new iteration of Scale-out NAS (SDS for File) named Access Appliance powered by Seagate, available early 2018. Access is also available as pure software,
  • and HyperScale for Container (SDS for Block) as the new companion of HyperScale for OpenStack.
Information Map receives 23 new connectors for data sources for on-premises and cloud-based environments. It is also available as a standalone product. The company has also gave some previews of the next big thing at Veritas, the Multi-Cloud Data Management platform, that will impact and weaken many tentatives from small vendors.

Risk & Compliance
Among other topics, GDPR was covered in various places and several extensions and new features for Enterprise Vault were introduced.

Microsoft and especially its Azure business were also well covered during the show. Veritas announced 360DM for Azure but also Veritas Resiliency Platform (VRP), SDS Access, Information Map again, NetBackup (see above), Backup Exec and Enterprise Vault. The company introduced two needs products:
  • CloudPoint to manage snapshot on-prem and make quick recovery a reality in the cloud. The product is available via a freemium model.
  • CloudMobility to migrate workload to and from the cloud.
All these Veritas announcements are summarized in these three following PRs (1, 2 and 3).

This second edition of Veritas Vision as an independent company has confirmed that the company is back, leading the data management market with several product lines.

Sep 25, 2017

Veritas Cloud Storage will shake the industry

Last year, same place, same Vision conference, I spoke with Mike Palmer, former SVP and GM for datacenter products and now EVP and chief product officer of Veritas Technologies LLC, about Object Storage and the huge lack of solution from the leader of Data Management and the need to build something.

Software-Defined Storage is almost synonymous of Veritas as the company is recognized for the leading platform independent open system file system and volume manager since early 90’s.

But even when the pioneers of object storage launched their company around 2005, I mean here Caringo and Cleversafe, Veritas didn’t investigate in that direction. Really lack of anticipation and vision? Not sure as Symantec owned the company at that time for more than a decade and finally froze some developments and initiatives.

Announcement and context
One year later and just 16 months following the split between Symantec and Veritas, Mike Palmer on stage announced Veritas Cloud Storage (VCS), the company’s answer to the need of high capacity and high resiliency dedicated to unstructured data, I mean here the object storage product from the software giant we expect for several years.

Interesting to notice that the term “object storage” is not mentioned in the press release that announced the product as the term generates very often mixed feelings.

Product management did a great job except for one thing: the name of product. We understand that object and cloud could be exchanged in that case but as a common practice many people name product by acronym. NetBackup is known as NBU, Backup Exec as BE or Veritas Cluster Server as VCS. And this one clashes with Veritas Cloud Storage. I have to admit that InfoScale product line has introduced a new name InfoScale Availability to replace Cluster Server. So let consider this as a detail, we have to also adapt ourselves.

The new product manager for the product is Chad Thibodeau who has spent a few years at Cleversafe, the object storage leader by far.

Product detail
Also named on stage the “ZetaScale” product, VCS is a pure Veritas development with hopefully several similar concepts and ideas we find in other object storage products but also many differentiators.

It runs on commodity hardware, bare metal, virtualization or even with container leveraging standard components and Linux OS. Every node is deployed with a local file system (ext2, XFS or VxFS among others) for internal drives and every drive is independent.

The philosophy chosen by the engineering team is based on consistent hashing with a columnar data store backend and the data pivot size is 64MB.

In term of data protection, metadata are protected by replication and data by replication or erasure coding. In that case, it’s based on Reed Solomon implemented with the Jerasure library.

For access methods, the product is very rich, probably one of the richest on the market, with NFS and SMB, S3, Swift plus a http REST API, MQTT and CoAP (for IoT), JDBC connector for BI and plugins for Apache projects such HDFS, Kafka and Storm.

The design offers a choice between eventual or strong consistency models when you configure the product.

VCS provides also a workflow engine and implements several features such data indexing (hopefully), classification, analytics and categorization without the need to add any third party product on top of it.

Market climate
With more than 20 vendors trying to find a niche and a position for their product, the object storage market segment has real difficulties to grow and exist. Recently, even backed by famous investments firms or entities such A16Z, Dell Ventures and Mayfield Fund among others, two companies died, Coho Data and Formation Data Systems, event that confirmed a probably too important number of actors for a limited number of business opportunities.

It’s probably not even a market but more a technology that helps to address limits of “classic” architectures and reduce significantly the cost to store data. It’s not a product either like a NAS even if some companies were built on that and try to push that approach. Remember Data Domain, as the first company in enterprise-class data deduplication, they were able to build a product from a feature. And it's not an architecture also like SANs are, where you select components, design a network and finally deliver an orchestrated connected IT environment.

Object storage vendors have also created their own difficulties surfing and leveraging the SDS and commodity approach. The result is all products are very similar and suffer from lack of differentiators. Imagine a blind test, like we do for yogurts, and you will be surprised that users can't make any difference among offerings. It's true today when you ask for S3 access, erasure coding, geo-aware, commodity based… finally lots of them can do the work. Is it what we call a maturity plateau? Or an other sign of tough times?

In that aspect open source plays its role and has put pressure on commercial offerings. In two words, why pay for software you can download? So differentiators and ecosystem are key. Probably use cases could be the last opportunity to survive, potentially oem as well if you find the right partner, as large vendors now offer object storage, it was not the case a few years ago. I invite you to read 2 articles about that 1 and 2.

Finally, as Veritas is already a leader in several data management segments, the market penetration for this product should be pretty straightforward as the natural extension should be one of the messages, something like up-sell, cross-sell.... For sure, for new projects and existing Veritas customers, VCS will be the de facto and default choice, no need to check elsewhere. For new customers, the battle is on but as the leader in data management with a huge portfolio effect, the game should be over pretty soon as well, we already saw that from other vendors. The product should soon skyrocket. Independent small object storage vendors will have some difficulties to survive especially for ones who have just one product and no real differentiators. Let’s start counting…