April 15, 2021

Alation unveils Alation Data Service

Alation, a reference in enterprise data cataloging, makes a new clear step towards cloud. The data catalog product available for several years for on-premises and hybrid environments is now offered as a managed cloud service. Thus it avoids some deployment complexity and management burden and be fully into production very rapidly completely make maintenance and upgrade transparent. As a central piece of enterprise data strategy, the Alation data catalog reaches a new level of high availability and scalability running across multiple availability zones at AWS. The product is available form Alation or from AWS Marketplace from here.


April 8, 2021

CTera chosen by IBM

CTERA Networks, a leader in global file services, has been selected by IBM to offer COS FA - Cloud Object Storage File Access - Wow fabulous acronym... A reseller deal exists since 2016 I think but is clearly extended with multiple iterations.

But instead of positioning the solution for ROBO and distribution offices, IBM strangely promoted it for inactive files. They claim that these files must reside in COS. In fact the argument is not good as CTERA considers object storage because it's scalable, resilient and ubiquitous. Caching approach be nature differentiate hot and cold data. Place a front-end on top of object storage here COS makes files distribution via caching a very clever idea with a master copy in central location and the portal engine on top as it is called by CTERA.

To summarize CTERA architecture, imagine you have a central data repository represented by an instance of object storage here COS connected to the CETRA Portal and then a myriad of file storage gateway exposing locally NFS and SMB to local clients machines. It could be extended by other CTERA components such Drive, Agents and mobile app. CTERA leverages star topology and caching technology to propagate data and changes. All data are written directly to the back-end object store from the gateways using S3 API which a remote protocols and all reads come from the Portal, an CTERA instance that coordinate distribution of data to edge filers. As pure software, CTERA Portal and gateways could be deployed as physical appliance or virtual ones.

CTERA confirms its leadership in that category with real competition with Nasuni the other key player here, we found also some alternatives like NetApp with FexCache and Talon acquisition or toy like Morro Data.

The surprise comes from IBM where the solution is pointed as an archive solution which appear to be pretty bizarre. But to be honest, it's not a surprise when you put in perspective the IBM file storage strategy that put everything behind the Spectrum Scale umbrella. And of course, SS appears to be a hammer or not at all the right fit for some file storage needs. To address NAS needs, the company has chosen in the past NetApp, Compuverde, Panzura... and demonstrate its inability to develop its own solution. And it's even more surprising that IBM owns Red Hat...


April 2, 2021

April 1, 2021

CTera introduces a far edge caching device

CTera Networks, a leader in global file services, extends its market coverage with a new small factor device in caching, the HC100, developed to address small teams needs.

This edge filer is a desktop sized, about the size of a large smartphone, configured with 16GB of RAM, 1TB of NVMe SSD cache and 1GbE network promoted with the CTera Drive Connect for Windows and MacOS. This model arrives with embedded anti-virus, data transfer based on AES-256 and security and access control lists are aligned with Active Directory. The HC100 targets 20 users max and extends CTera even closer to users locations.


March 30, 2021

DDN reaches $400M in 2020

DDN, the HPC storage leader for a few decades, confirms its position of largest storage vendor with the $400 million annual revenue bar. The company who positions itself as a key player in AI and multi-cloud has extended its market coverage with enterprise offering.

This is just a confirmation but a significant one, DDN is just the largest private storage vendor. All other larger vendors are public.

Founded in 1998 following a merge between MegaDrive Systems and ImpactData, the company is historically known to be the leader in HPC storage and more globally for scientific and technical environments.

Famous for its super fast block storage array, we all remember S2A and later SFA, the team recognized rapidly the need to provide also optimized high performance file storage based on Lustre and IBM GPFS parallel file systems. EXAScaler and GRIDScaler were born and have extended the reputation of the company. Later DDN iterated object storage first as Bucket FS in 2008 to become WOS in 2009. Adding all these flavors qualified DDN as a U3 player developing Unified, Universal and Ubiquitous solutions.

And the end-to-end portfolio with a real BFO - block, file and object - approach explains DDN's success. Products are globally used by the top research centers, universities and enterprises having serious storage challenges.

In the trajectory of the company, a few years ago, one episode some people have in mind revealed a management mistake that has weakened the business but it was rapidly solved by Alex Bouzari and Paul Bloch. This episode has marked a delay in the trajectory caused by the same person who almost destroyed 2 other companies burning tons of money for nothing as Dire Straits says. But it's history we just expect that this won't happen again, 3 times is enough, so please never recruit this person again and especially gives him management responsability and authority, he will kill your company.

As a market opportunity, HCI was attractive and DDN decided to make a try with its Wolfcreek product but its adoption didn't reach original expectations.

The management recognized for quite long time that the file system service really structures storage and secures the business relation between the vendor and users. IBM GPFS now Spectrum Scale available as GRIDScaler changed its license agreement and accelerated DDN's decision to "own" its file system. They then acquired Whamcloud, the Intel Lustre business division that is now exclusively promoted by the company with the last iteration ExaScaler 5. Whamcloud was a company founded by Alex Bouzari and Paul Bloch.

IO performance is almost synonymous of DDN and we have to mention IME - Infinite Memory Engine - its burst buffer based on NVM.

We also must mention that the team has jumped into AI as a natural fit and extension for its fast file storage line being a read intensive type of workload. They develop A3I as an integrated solution with NVidia DGX systems and iterates with SuperPod in 2020. DDN is also one of the rare vendor that officially partners with Nvidia for GPD Direct Storage. The 2 others are VAST Data and WekaIO and we see some interesting results from Pavilion Data.

HPC has entered the enterprise for specific use cases and it was a segment globally ignored by DDN leaving millions to others. This triggered a real strategy illustrated by three acquisitions, we should say bargains. Tintri, Nexenta and IntelliFlash, the latter coming from WDC following the acquisition of Tegile Systems in 2017. WDC tried to build a system business that finally never took off, the company also sold ActiveScale to Quantum early 2020, the object storage product came from Amplidata acquisition by HGST, WDC subsidiary, in 2015.

And it's a winning idea as adoption is really good. DDN jas also adopted a new logo to indicate the start of a new era. Tintri, as a well respected brand, was kept as the enterprise business entity promoting VMstore and the rest. IntelliFlash General File Services is an example of integration of NAS between Nexenta and IntelliFlash. Recent VMstore iteration towards database is a clever move surfing on the success of VMstore for VM, it makes sense.

These various product facts and market trends confirm once again the convergence of HPC and enterprise with features coming from each side to feed products on the other side. And simply it means a real push of ExaScaler with enterprise features to enterprises. In other words when the demand is related to unstructured data the answer is ExaScaler and for structured one it's IntelliFlash.

DDN continues to play a dual game with commercial and open source software.

For two years in a row, Coldago Research elects DDN as a leader in file storage for HPC and enterprises.

Before concluding, we have to mention DDN's cloud strategy. It is addressed as well as a real multicloud offering available on AWS, Azure, GCP and on-premise of course. GCP recommends ExaScaler for HPC storage needs.

in 2021, we expect to see VMstore iteration around new databases like Oracle, some cloud mobility especially for AWS and new NVMe flavors. IntelliFlash should also received a major refresh related to security and data protection on any kind of product instance. And we think the team is working on something big again very U3 oriented...

We can't say it's just the beginning but for sure DDN has entered into a new era.


March 26, 2021

CTERA Networks continues its rapid expansion

CTera Networks, a reference in global file services, had a great 2020 thus validating its technology for the new way to work on the planet. 

The company claims to be deployed over 50,000 sites on 110 countries that translates into millions of corporate users. In terms of business, revenues grew by almost 50% year over year being adopted by 50 Fortune 500 companies.

A few key milestones got achieved during past year:

  • the major release 7.0 with fast synchronization, secure geo segmentation, MacOS suite, data discovery and migration,
  • a SDK was introduced to strengthen in DevOps communities,
  • the ecosystem was expanded with HPE, Nutanix with also an award from IBM and the solution was validated for AWS Outposts and
  • the dev. team was granted for 10 new patents reaching a total of 23 since the inception fo the firm.
A new device was introduced a few weeks ago - the HC100 - for small teams up to 20 users.

In 2021 the company plans to release CTERA KubeFiler and attacks the container environment opportunity via the CSI support.


March 25, 2021

March 24, 2021

SoftIron Launches HyperSafe

SoftIron, the emerging leader in Ceph-based enterprise storage, announced yesterday HyperSafe, a new service offering to provide world-class enterprise support for Ceph. This clearly extends their current coverage beyond their own solutions especially HyperDrive. At the same time, the company positions itself as a real expert in the domain.

Ceph is very popular, well adopted and serves as a reference for large scale storage both adopted by enterprise, SI and cloud providers. But clearly it requires solid expertise and strong support as going in production with the product must be fully controlled and well mastered.

SoftIron's Ceph support includes 4 options:

  1. SoftIron Ceph Support Takeover – Resuming services from a previously existing support vendor.
  2. SoftIron HyperDrive Migration – Assisting in the migration from a legacy Ceph installation to SoftIron’s HyperDrive appliances.
  3. Emergency Assistance – Providing as-needed support for enterprises requiring experienced and capable Ceph engineers.
  4. Transition to SoftIron Linux – Utilization of the only Linux distribution in the world tuned for Ceph performance.

HyperSafe is available as Standard or Premium and is respectively charged per OSD node per year and per cluster per year for the second model.

Once again it shows that SoftIron acts a premier ambassador of Ceph globally.

We notice at the same time an incredible story that SUSE gives up Ceph and prefers Rancher Labs for containers and Kubernetes related environments. Even if we understand the validation of their acquisition, it's a minimum, the market reality is very different as many deployed workloads run bare-metal or VM and Ceph is a very good solution to do that. But it could also mean that SUSE storage enterprise footprint is super weak as Coldago Research already reported in their Map 202 for File Storage and Object Storage listing SUSE as a specialist., without a real ownership of storage technologies.

HyperSafe and SUSE move represent an opportunity for SoftIron that will strengthens their positions in the coming quarters.


March 16, 2021

Robin.IO supports IBM Cloud Satellite

Robin.IO, an emerging leader in Kubernetes-based cloud-native storage (CNS), announced that its CNS solution is now available for IBM Cloud Satellite offering both on-premises, on the IBM cloud and at the edge. The company already announced its support of Red Hat OpenShift and leverages the data location priority to elect applications where data reside. Robin CNS is available on Red Hat Marketplace and on IBM Cloud Pak for Data. We'll learn more about this during the next IT Press Tour in June.


March 12, 2021

StorCentric introduces a new Violin flash array

StorCentric, the umbrella storage company with Drobo, Retrospect, Nexsan, Vexata and Violin, recently unveiled the Violin QV-1020 model.

This product iteration belongs to the QV-Series with already the QV-2020 model, the QV-1020 being a lower entry product with up to 116TB with 4/8 FC or 8 iSCSI ports.

In terms of data services and core features, we can list:

  • Active-active controllers, 
  • Matrix RAID, named vRAID for Violin in the past, with global parity and global spare as writes are balanced across all NVMe drives via RAID-6 groups,
  • data reduction working at the volume level,
  • snapshots and clones,
  • synchronous replication,
  • encryption based on AES-256 coupled with self-encrypted disks,
  • QoS and performance metrics and predictive analytics,
  • vCenter plugins, REST API for management and web-based UI.

We expect some new M&As activities from StorCentric in the coming quarters, we'll see we have a few ideas of course...