Jul 17, 2017

The SDS 120 Club

Software-Defined Storage aka SDS is becoming the new Must-Be for the storage industry and if you are not considered in that area, you may suffered from user adoption and market penetration. I invite you to read a long article I wrote recently on StorageNewsletter about the SDS 120 Club grouped in various categories: file, block, object, cis and hci. You can also register to receive the short version of the report.

Jul 14, 2017

WekaIO, new player for new demanding needs

Weka.IO (www.weka.io), a new file storage player, confirms the need for a new file storage approach. Under stealth mode, the IT Press Tour had the chance and privilege to visit the Weka R&D center in Tel-Aviv last November with several key executives of the company. We realized the potential of the solution that really changes the file storage market landscape. So far, the company has raised 2 VC rounds for a total of $32M and we expect a series C soon to boost development, geo expansion and marketing.

Since that, product development addresses and illustrates vertical business cases such Oil and Gas, Media and Entertainment, Life Sciences and Electronic Design Automation when high IOPS, large bandwidth and low latency are a must. The company positioned itself as a cloud-native scalable file system. It reminds me something when I tried a few years ago to position a product towards a scalable file storage angle. Management refused the market reality and claimed to be a scale-out NAS, the Isilon 2.0, having some difficulties to understand market dynamics and distinctions between utopia, dream and reality. What a joke it was, check today, I was right, just the facts...

Back to Weka, the firm chose to wait some real adoption and strong references by customers to officially appears on the market. As covered several months ago (June 2016 and Nov. 2016), Weka represents a good mix between performance, scalability and cloud economics. It also confirms that object storage is a capacity play even if some players have dreams.

Weka Matrix presents a single namespace from local SSD/Flash drives and considers a S3- or Swift-based secondary storage for cold data. The data evacuated remains accessible through the primary namespace.

Weka already published several performance reports that perfectly shows the growing place of HPC-like file storage within the enterprise. Perfectly executed, the strategy invite them to be on the M&A list of several potential acquirers. We really hope to meet and visit Weka again during a next IT Press Tour before te end of the year. In a similar approach, we invite the reader to watch as well Avere Systems, DDN Storage, Elastifile, Panasas, Primary Data, Qumulo and Rozo Systems that sometimes compete against Weka as well.

Jul 12, 2017

Avere addresses data divergence in the cloud

Avere Systems (www.averesys.com), leader in NAS acceleration and virtualization for on-premise and cloud environments, recently participated to the 23rd edition of The IT Press Tour. Ron Bianchini, CEO and founder, gave us an interesting update related to the data consistency model the company provides for cloud storage.

Founded in 2008, Avere Systems has morphed from a network file virtualization aka NAS optimization for on-premises file storage to a full cloud file storage virtualization whatever data reside. The company promotes a hybrid data model where some data reside locally controlled by a physical FXT and others in the cloud but also a mix model where a virtual FXT runs directly at the cloud service providers sites with again data on-premise or in the cloud as well.

During the session, the company has insisted a lot on the CAP theorem, claiming to be the only one vendor of this caliber to deliver a full data consistency approach for data distributed in the cloud. It was pretty new as Avere never covered that aspect in the past and this behavior is inherent of cloud storage as a distributed architecture. Many object storage implementations behind cloud storage services are eventually consistent and just a few strictly consistent. But NAS users and file-based applications expect a strict consistency behavior with a NAS acceleration such Avere wherever data reside.

Avere continues to explore and maximize customers references in M&E - Pixar is a user of FXT connecting various NAS generation "behind" the accelerator such Qumulo or Isilon - Life Sciences and Finance to name a few.

With almost 10 years old, the company is still independent, remember the rapid acquisition of Spinnaker Networks by NetApp in 2003 just 4 years after its creation. What will be the future for Avere Systems, still one of the solution for NAS acceleration? What is the ambition of Ron Bianchini for the next few years?

The full presentation delivered during the IT Press Tour is available below, spend some time to read it, it contains very interesting informaion.


Jul 4, 2017

Komprise to maximize the value of data tiering

Komprise (www.komprise.com), new data management player, has recently participated for the very first time to the IT Press Tour. The company, founded in 2014 by senior executives, Kumar K. Goswami (CEO), Krishna Subramanian (COO), and Mike Peercy (CTO), has raised a total of $18.2M for 2 VC rounds and we find 2 interesting persons as investors: Bill Moore, one of the father of ZFS and co-founder of DSSD, and Sanjay Mehrotra, co-founder and CEO of SanDisk and currently CEO of Micron.

The mission of Komprise is pretty clear in order to offer a new generation data management solution powered by analytics to reduce data storage infrastructure costs. By data management, we mean here a data tiering solution dedicated to file storage that migrates inactive or cold data to secondary storage such on-premise or cloud-based object storage. We can also associate the idea to be a modern HSM. The company was recognized recently in the SDS 120 Club by Condor Consulting Group and in the Cool Vendor 2017 by Gartner.

We recently interviewed Krishna Subramanian and made this dialog available on StorageNewsletter here.

When the team has designed the product they wished to offer automation at every level, seamless integration and usage, limitless scalability and above all to be simple to deploy and use. Tiering is not new but how Komprise designs and builds its solution is pretty unique. It's of course all about metadata with a transparent data movement capability not based on stubs or other similar techniques. Also there is no need for specific or dedicated appliance, no storage agents as well is necessary and above all no impact on the data path. Nothing changes for the applications as all data appear to be local. One of the key approaches is to use symbolic links to maintain a reference of files on primary storage and make an association with the Komprise engine.

Komprise has chosen a distributed architecture based on Elastic data store across all Observers that constitute a grid. An observer is a Komprise VM, stateless by design, to deploy on some machines that analyze NFS mounts and SMB shares and exchange information with other peers and talk with the central Director for observers' state and configuration. You can loose the director but the environment is not stopped and continue to provide the data hierarchy service. The migration information is directly maintained as a distributed information with Komprise Access Address built on Elastic. It seems that the design chosen is pretty efficient and robust. A technical paper is available here.

To validate the market adoption, the company has selected a few vertical markets such genomics, finance, public sector, engineering, M&E and oil & gas. Komprise has announced a european hannel strategy with the signature of 3 resellers: B-Cloud in Italy, also a Cloudian partner, Itiso in Germany, also a Cloudian partner and interestingly, a Versity partner as well, and SymStor in UK. I invite you to check the presentation delivered during The IT Press Tour below.


Jun 12, 2017

Series of interviews with companies' leaders

We ran a series of interviews with several companies' leaders we met during the 20th and 21st editions of the IT Press Tour respectively in November in Israel and December 2016 in California. All of them were posted on StorageNewsletter recently and you got here a summary and links to all of them: Cohesity, Datos IO, Igneous, IguazioNEC Hydrastor, Open vStorage, Primary Data, Reduxio and Rubrik.

Jun 7, 2017

Jun 2, 2017

May 30, 2017

May 26, 2017

Dell EMC World 2017 Recap

For the first time, Dell Technologies (www.delltechnologies.com) organized a new EMC World conference renamed now Dell EMC World, still in Vegas, LV and at the Venetian and Sands expo. Dell Technologies is now the structure above seven business activities: Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware.

The conference was big with 13,500+ attendees coming from 122 countries, 120 sponsors and exhibitors and 310 press, analyst and influencers. It is one of the biggest storage conferences in the world even if it is operated by a vendor and some players such direct competitors can't be present obviously. But we noticed the presence of Aptare, Avere Systems, Caringo, Datos IO, Datrium and Komprise and it was funny to see IBM Global Financing with a booth.

The conference overall topic was the Digital and IT Transformation of the enterprise sustained by new iterations around full flash, cloud, SDS, HCI, data protection and IoT. Dell EMC has made tons of announcements to cover its vast portfolio of products.

Flash announced at all levels of the product line
From enterprise to mid-range segments, from block to file to unified storage platforms:
  • VMAX 950F is the new high-end storage array developing 6.7 million IO/s for RRH and 350μs response times for OLTP. It represents an offering of choice for consolidating open systems, mainframe and IBM i. SRDF, D@RE (Data At-Rest Encryption), inline compression offered with the platform.
  • XtremIO X2 is the new generation with real enhancements such a boost of capacity with up to 138TB per X-Brick able to scale-out up to 8 X-Bricks for a total capacity of 5.5PB of effective capacity of full flash. In addition to deduplication, the XtremIO X2 offers now an integrated CDM (Copy Data Management) capability named iCDM. Hopefully Dell EMC has decided to not provide file access methods, it would have created another confusion in the product line.
  • Unity mid-range product line has four new all-flash models 350F, 450F, 550F and 650F with 80 drives in 3U for 500TB. This line offers iCDM and inline compression in addition to the block and file capabilities.
  • SC5020 is a new hybrid block storage array for entry to mid-range segment with better density, capacity and throughput with new connectivity options: FC, iSCSI and SAS.
  • Isilon with a new full flash model, the F800.
The storage line is pretty large and we're surprised that Dell EMC continues to maintain Compellent and EqualLogic products. At the time we write this article, EqualLogic is still listed on the Dell and Dell EMC web sites. We see the company to consolidate even more the mid-range product line around the Unity family. It's a surprise that Dell EMC didn't really mention and insist on NVMe but flash. In other words, when you really provide a technology, a component or a feature, you mention it. In fact, it was only mention when speaking about the PowerEdge 14G. Globally we see a form of alignment or convergence across the product line with many of family members offering the same set of features.

Software-Defined Storage aka SDS
This is clearly a transversal topic at EMC as the company tried for many years to promote itself as a software vendor. Let's reduce the scope and list only ScaleIO, ECS and Isilon that are scale-out offering as well:
  • ScaleIO receives inline compression, better snapshots, granular thin provisioning and vVol capabilities.
  • ECS with 2 new iterations ECS. Next with extension for analytics and streaming IoT and ECS Dedicated Cloud Service which offers the best of private and public clouds as the environment is secured and dedicated in the Virtustream cloud and appears as a public service.
  • Isilon with the full flash flavor mentioned above and the IsilonSD Edge extension for ROBO locations available for x86 servers like the Dell PowerEdge 14G and support of course ScaleIO, vSAN and vSphere 6.5. Leveraging the 'Infinity' architecture, Isilon runs now OneFS 8.1 and operates as a real product line with 3 sub-lines with capacity, density, file IO/s and throughput in mind: Archive with A200 and A2000, Hybrid with the H600, H500 and H400 and finally the last member, the full flash one, the F800. The last product delivers up to 6x the IO/s, 11x the throughput, and 2x the capacity of the current generation Isilon platform.
Dell also maintains a SDS offering with Nexenta that competes directly with its own solution. We understand the historical reason for that but now it would be good to simplify that but canceling that or add all the others.

HyperConverged Infrastructure aka HCI
This is the third group of key announcements with VxRail Appliances, VxRack Systems and XC Series:
  • VxRail Appliance is now in 4.5 release supporting vSAN 6.6 and vSphere 6.5 and offers a new pricing model.
  • VxRack Systems with VxRack FLEX, now supporting by Dell EMC R930, powered by ScaleIO and VxRack SDDC powered by VMware Cloud Foundation and offering multiple options based on the Dell EMC PowerEdge R630.
  • XC Series with the new XC430 Xpress appliance and the 2 packaged XC Series coupled with Avamar VE, Data Domain and Data Domain VE and with Pivotal Cloud Foundry.
Data Protection
As the owner of three historical products - Avamar, Networker and Data Domain -, Dell EMC must refresh and update its product line and understand the new competition with companies such Rubrik, Cohesity or Datos IO. The storage giant introduced new data protection appliances and an extension to its cloud data protection service. These appliances are named Integrated Data Protection Appliance aka IDPA and available in 4 models: DP5300, DP5800, DP8300 and DP8800 from 34TB to 1PB of usable capacity promoting a 55:1 reduction ratio, search, analytics and encryption capabilities. The battle is pretty active in that segment against companies including Veritas, IBM, NEC with HYDRAstor, Exagrid, HPE and Quantum. Even if the on-premise or device-based data protection seems to be solid, the cloud DP strategy based on Data Domain VE 3.1 is more a 'me too' tactical answer.

Internet of Things aka IoT
Dell EMC introduced the Nautilus project with very limited details. It represents an initiative dedicated to IoT to store and analyze data preserved on Isilon or ECS. It will be interesting to learn more about this project soon as some other vendors such Crate.io or InfluxData design and promote new scale-out database architecture to sustain high-rate of writes. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, unveiled Pulse IoT Center, a secure IoT infrastructure management solution. Dell EMC Services develops an IoT Technology Advisory Service in addition to the promotion of EdgeX Foundry, an open source software project from Linux Foundation with more than 50 companies. Dell EMC also announced new partnerships especially with Bosch and Atos.

And finally
Dell EMC also unveiled the 14th generation of PowerEdge server aka 14G controlled by Intel but very limited information was available . Some new networking switches were revealed with the S5100-ON series, S4100-ON series and N1100-ON series. Many of the new Dell EMC products can be ordered now and will be available starting next June.

May 25, 2017