August 23, 2019

A newcomer Stellus Technologies

The web site is very limited but at least it exists and we can read on it the following statement: "Stellus Technologies is a stealth company focused on solid state storage system technology for next-generation software-defined data centers."

The origin of the company came from Samsung Electronics who wished to build some next generation storage systems but not internally. The company is based in San Jose, CA with offices in Irvine, CA and Pune, India.

We understand the company leverages Ceph, Elasticsearch, RocksDBZeroMQ and consensus algorithms like RAFT and Paxos to build a scalable storage system with leading NVMe, RDMA/RoCE and NAND/Flash technologies. We'd like to learn more and understand differences with other Ceph-based appliance storage like SoftIron.

Spectra Logic on a blog post about M&E Storage mentions them for primary file storage with Qumulo, Pure Storage and Alcestor aka MooseFS.


August 22, 2019 raised again, pioneer in open-source machine learning for the enterprise, continues its growth with now a new VC round of $72.5M for it series D. The total reaches now $147M illustrating the role and positon of the company led by the charismatic Sri Ambati.

The mission to democratize AI for continues with Driverless AI with now a tripled installed base. With this new round, the company will expand geo presence, sales and marketing of course, and innovation to maintain its leadership.

At the same time, a new iteration of Driverless AI is announced with the ground-breaking recipe creation as the company promotes, model administration and collaboration, and 100 open-source recipes that can be customized and extended to be included to customers specific needs. Finally H2Oa.i provides AI to do and accelerate AI.


August 12, 2019

A Recap of Flash Memory Summit 2019

Flash Memory Summit 2019 aka FMS, taking place last 5-8 August in Santa Clara, CA, was again an interesting conference delivering a good mix of keynotes and sessions coupled with an attractive expo presenting essentially components except a few software exceptions.

There was 130 exhibitors and sponsors with approximately 6,000 attendees according to the organizer, so pretty stable compared with last year figures. We noticed that 80% of visitors are vendors attendees giving the event an image of industry event by and for the industry as an annual market rendez-vous.

There was not really end-users. It explains why the show is a technology show without some large vendors, systems or storage, on the expo floor. This is the case of HPE, on the sponsor list but no booth, same for Pavilion Data Systems, IBM neither sponsor or exhibitor had a keynote, Dell EMC, Hitachi, NetApp, Kaminario… all absents.

The opposite is true with the presence of specialists such as Broadcom, FADU, Marvell, Mellanox, Microchip, SK Hynix, Toshiba, Viking, and Western Digital, but we still wonder why some companies announced their presence but finally didn’t show up with their own booth like Intel, Micron, Samsung or Seagate.

On the other hands, some players choose to have pods on some partners booth like WekaIO or Pure Storage on Mellanox one, Pliops on Xilinx, Liqid on Phison Electronics, DriveScale on Toshiba or Lightbits Labs on International Computer Concepts to name a few.

Conference organizers published a poster of the flash industry timeline, you can find the entire document here.

As mentioned, the event has a huge conference program with lots of sessions and this year topics were around enterprise storage, controllers, flash and new memory technology, SSD, persistent memory, NVMe, software, computational storage, security, AI/ML, consumer and mobile applications, hyperscale and automotive. Some vendors chose to present a session without being an exhibitor thus limiting their exposure but cost as well.

This event confirms what we know for several years: US drives HDD market with Western Digital and Seagate are trying to play a role with Micron and Intel in the SSD/flash/NVMe landscape controlled by Asian companies such Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba to name a few.

But it shows again that SSD/flash/NVMe software is almost exclusively developed and controlled by Israeli people. To illustrate this let’s mention a few examples like Toshiba Kumoscale developed by OCZ people following the OCZ acquisition by Toshiba in 2013, Annapurna Labs acquired by AWS in 2015 and more recently E8 Storage, Plexistor acquired by NetApp in 2017 or even Anobit acquired by Apple in 2012. Excelero, Kaminario, Lightbits Labs, Pliops or ScaleMP can also be listed in that domain.

Keynotes and sessions covered multiple angles such increasing density with new layers, 4 and 5 bits per cell, 4D NAND, PCIe Gen 4 and even future NVMe-oF implementations and directions, zones storage, computational storage among others.

Among the ton of announcements made during FMS, here is a selection of vendors around performance, new memory and storage devices, PCIe, NVMe-oF, storage processor, computational storage, listed by alpha order:
  • Broadcom Announces Industry-First Portfolio of PCIe 4.0 Ethernet Adapters and Fibre Channel HBAs Supporting AMD EPYC 7002 Series Processor
  • Broadcom Announces Availability of Industry’s First Universal NVMe Storage Adapter for Bare Metal and Virtualized Servers
  • ICC Introduces STRATA Storage Appliance with Lightbits Labs’ LightOS Software Inside
  • Marvell Extends NVMe-oF Ethernet SSD Technology Portfolio
  • Marvell Unveils Lowest Power PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD Controller Portfolio
  • NGD Systems Becomes First to Demonstrate Azure IoT Edge Using Computational Storage
  • Pliops Demonstrates Storage Processor at Flash Memory Summit
  • ScaleFlux Announces Computational Storage Drive 2000 Series
  • SMART Modular Announces New Enterprise Grade PCIe NVMe and SATA Solid State Drive Products
  • Toshiba Memory Unveils XL-Flash Storage Class Memory Solution Toshiba Memory XFMEXPRESS for Removable NVMe Memory Devices
  • Western Digital Accelerates Software-Defined Workloads with Two New Ultrastar Storage Server Platforms
  • Western Digital Launches Two New Families of NVMe SSDs For Today’s Data Center Workload Evolution
  • Western Digital Unleashes the Fastest NVMe-oF Open Composable Platform for Shared Accelerated Storage
  • Xilinx Expands Alveo Portfolio with Industry’s First Adaptable Compute, Network and Storage Accelerator Card Built for Any Server, Any Cloud

June 25, 2019

New dense appliances for Qumulo

Qumulo, one of the NAS market leader, announced today several new appliance models and software enhancements.

Three new models are introduced confirming a real trend towards dense nodes with NVMe drives. The Performance model P-184T receives double the capacity of the existing one with 184TB in 2U now with 24 drives of 7.68TB delivering 225GB/s with 4 x 100GbE ports, the hybrid C-168T has now 12 x 14TB HDDs coupled with 4 x 960GB SSD in 1U with 2 x 25GbE ports dedicated for mixed workloads and the active archive K-168T mimics the hybrid new storage update using 2 x 10GbE networking ports.. New software enhancements also boost performance by 40%, it is available to currents models with a simple OS upgrade.

Qumulo also updates the analytics engine for capacity consumed by storage, snapshots and metadata. Following the XPP introduction a few weeks ago, a security activity audit is added to understand information about file operations and activities.

Qumulo confirms its leadership with a very comprehensive solutions for cloud and on-premises workloads and demanding file environments in performance and capacity. The advantage to have designed an internal distributed file system creates a real gap with other NAS vendors. Next few months we should see a real acceleration and potentially an IPO.

June 17, 2019

A few good deals to secure

Cloudera last trading value was around $5 Friday, Nutanix touched $25 and Pure Storage landed on $15... to list a few bargains. Even MapR closed to a shutdown belongs to this list failing to raise a new VC round.

Cloudera would be great at IBM to increase Hadoop and services portfolio around Big Data and even HPE always looking for good deals after SimpliVity, Blue Data and Nimble Storage.

Who else? Hum I see some commercial object storage vendors who tried to survive and swim in a red ocean with too many players and reduced opportunity especially for pure players. As S3 eats everything, Minio became ubiquitous and the Tsunami I announced already a few years ago for S3 and open source object storage is confirmed. Les start a countdown for others, I don't see any future for several commercial others...

June 12, 2019

iXsystems unveils TrueCommand

iXsystems, a leader in systems and storage based on open source software, just introduced TrueCommand 1.0, a centralized management console for TrueNAS and FreeNAS product line deployed across the globe.

It offers performance monitoring and reporting, fault diagnosis, ZFS aware with specific integration, predictive analytics for capacity and health. By ZFA aware we mean the TrueCommand understands ZFS pools, caches, datasets and snapshots.
The tool is free of charge up to 50 drives not systems and enterprise licenses are available for larger configurations. You need a x86 64-bit CPU, at least 4GB of RAM and 80GB of disk space. TrueCommand is available to download via this link.


June 7, 2019

WekaIO breaks a new record

Benchmark results are key when you address technical computing and especially HPC. It exists essentially 2 flavors of benchmark: the ones to beat records and most of the time at a very high price and only a few entities can afford them and ones on users' hardware to beat performance thresholds on more common deployments.

We met WekaIO at their new HQ 3 days ago with The IT Press Tour and we got a very good session as usual following the visit we did at their R&D center in Tel-Aviv in November 2016, almost 3 years ago, the company has made lots of progress.

WekaIO has chosen to publish regularly various performance benchmarks on different hardware platform like SPECsfs and more recently did the STAC-M3 Antuco and Kanaga test on the FrostByte and Relion systems made by Penguin Computing.

This test uses the Kx time-series distributed database kdb+ 3.6 deployed across 7 Relion servers with data stored on FrostByte storage with 9 NVMe SSD per 1U server, Mellanox router and adapters with WekaIO MatrixFS 3.2.2 as displayed below. The result is impressive with 37.5GB/s and 2.5M 4K IOPS.

MatrixFS has a new design addressing limitations of "classic" distributed file system such Lustre and Spectrum Scale. It is what we called a Symmetric Parallel Distributed File System: Symmetric means that metadata service is delivered by any server in the cluster, Parallel implies that clients distributes/chunks/splits/stripes file data among multiple data servers thanks to the agent loaded on each client system and Distributed refers to the file system layout existing across data servers.

As financial demanding applications require high performance, financial institutions consider seriously such results that serve as a very good vehicle to boost WekaIO customer adoption.

But there is a mystery and just a miss: WekaIO is listed on the Penguin partners page but the FrostByte product page continues to list BeeGFS, Red Hat Gluster and Ceph and Lustre and no WekaIO as I wrote last year. Bizarre.


June 4, 2019

The unstructured data catalog from Data Dynamics

A good surprise of the IT Press Tour this week comes from Data Dynamics who markets StorageX, the famous Network File Virtualization product born at NuView then acquired by Brocade in 2006 for $60M.

Data Dynamics continues to penetrate enterprise landscape with 26 Fortune 100 companies, 6 of 12 world's largest banks and operating 350PB+ over 17 years of technology market presence. It means that the technology is reliable, proven, well adopted and span multiple technology waves and refreshes. We realize that StorageX lasts longer than the storage it manages and for a simple reason data lifecycle is longer that the hardware device where it resides.

We had the privilege to meet Piyush Mehta, CEO of Data Dynamics, now owner of StorageX since 2012, and got an interesting update on the product and future directions.

About the product, StorageX is one of the most comprehensive file data controller based on a very advanced metadata engine. However it suffers from a lack of visibility on the market.

It operates as a global file directory service for on-premises file servers and NAS like DNS plays for Internet. The slide above illustrates the features set of the product around the analysis of the unstructured data environment.

StorageX leverages a SQL database for several years, StorageX integrates now Elastic search and NoSQL engine when analytics and archives modules are enabled, for storing meta data collected and the tagging that drives categorization and intelligence into the data. This information can be accessed via StorageX UI, API or directly via Elastic.

In term of deployments, StorageX server receives data from UDE - Universal Data Engine - collectors running on-premises. As a pure software, StorageX doesn't require agents, gateway or stubs.

With the 8.1 release, several new features were introduced:
  • Analyze: optimized file scan and analytics powered by Elasticsearch plus the capability to perform query search to create custom datasets for effective data analytics and reporting,
  • Move: support added for Microsoft Azure Blog meaning that StorageX adds object storage target,
  • Manage: Integration added for 3rd-party monitoring tools plus enabled data grooming for Cassandra,
  • Modernize: New API functions for business workflow integrations.
StorageX is also a key solution chosen and selected for the delivered proven ROI. The image below shows an example that illustrates perfectly generated savings.

The pricing model for all StorageX modules is based or capacity per year per account in addition to a StorageX engine fee.

We expect StorageX 9.0 soon with some interesting new features and product architecture. First in term of architecture, Piyush Mehta told us that the product will be redesigned with microservices for the core and edge i.e the data collectors. AI will be also included and security extended. The last addition will see content analysis to complement metadata knowledge, enhance policy engine and align with some compliance requirements. Very good session, hope to meet Data Dynamics for a future IT Press Tour to see progress.


June 3, 2019

DataCore ready for a new era

We met a few times DataCore several years ago at heir HQ in Fort Lauderdale and the company seemed to manage pretty well its installed base but had some difficulties to go beyond its storage virtualization comfort zone.

The meeting early today during The IT Press Tour was the opportunity to meet the new team, at least part of it, especially Dave Zabrowski, CEO, Gerardo Dada, CMO and Steven Hunt, Product Management.

But a sad event has changed completely DataCore. The death of Ziya Aral, Founder and CTO, and technical hero of the company, early 2017 was a shock and served as a real trigger for the company to imagine a new future wishing to leverage its strong recognized expertise for two decades. Ziya co-founded DataCore in 1998 with his close friend George Teixeira, now chairman of the company.

After several months of shaking heads, the new DataCore landed on earth again. As you may have seen for severals months, the company name is the same but the logo, mission, strategy and management have changed under the leadership of Dave Zabrowski, arrived in April 2018.

The company has made a serious exercise to study end-users and partners needs especially their customers to understand their expectations and above all consider them. First, a clear cloud strategy is missing as DataCore is an on-premise player so the public flavor was out of their scope. Does it mean they will announce something, we'll see. Considering this domain, the pricing strategy will require an change to match the now common practice which is a subscription model.

The second direction could be to leverage the SANsymphony SDS software and start an HCI offering. This needs a hypervisor choice and other software adherence.

We then expect of course a new iteration for SANsymphony and what about what a few others developed overtime like Nimble Storage InfoSight, Kaminario Clarity, NetApp OnCommand Insight or Pure Storage Pure1. I mean a SaaS Analytics an Insights platform to understand end-users' storage environment getting more and more complex and large. We'll see but we heard that DataCore have some plans on these few product directions.

May 27, 2019

The IT Press Tour #31 will hit earth soon

The IT Press Tour, the leading IT event for IT press, has recently unveiled participating companies for the 31st edition planned the week June 3rd in Silicon Valley.

Eleven companies will join the press crew, some of them are well established and we already met them and some participate for the first time:
  • Atempo, leader in data protection,
  • Data Dynamics, growing player in metadata management,
  • DataCore, pioneer in storage virtualization,
  • HYCU, fast growing actor in cloud data protection,
  • iXsystems, reference in open source-based systems and storage,
  • Kaminario, top vendor in flash storage and composable infrastructure,
  • ObjectiveFS, disruptor in cloud file storage,
  • Publist, emerging player in online file management,
  • Qumulo, famous leader in enterprise NAS,
  • StorONE, innovator in unified SDS,
  • and WekaIO, developer of the world fastest file system.
It will be again a dense week with hot technologies, great leaders and fast growing companies, the tour will shake the market again. I invite you to follow us with @ITPressTour, #ITPT, various publications and reporters Twitter handles.