December 13, 2017

Quantum unveils Xcellis Scale-out NAS

Quantum, famous leader in secondary storage, continues to extend and promote primary storage with part of its portfolio. The company just announced Xcellis Scale-Out NAS as a new iteration of the union of StorNext and Xcellis delivering a high performance highly scalable file storage solution.

The new solution uses a scale-out approach both for capacity and access as both layers can scale independently. NAS means industry file sharing protocols with NFS and SMB and in that case the file system is exposed through multiple NAS heads but each file is fully write via one head. To leverage the parallelism of the platform, users must use the client software or agent able to split and stripe data across multiple storage targets.

The solution also introduces a good set of data services such automated tiering, encryption, point in time copies, WORM, load balancing and data protection with replication, RAID and erasure coding to list a few. Multiple configurations are possible from full flash to hybrid, entry level and finally an archive model illustrating a wide range of flexible configurations to fit in various environments.

With this announcement, Quantum maintains the contact with the club of top commercial file storage players such Avere Systems, Elastifile, Qumulo, Rozo Systems and WekaIO.

We understand that the company must react to some revenue erosion for several quarters even years and the recent departure of his long time CEO John Gacek and CTO Bassam Tabbara. FY 2018 will be interesting to watch.

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December 12, 2017

New Edge filer from Avere

Avere Systems, one of the few file storage gem companies, continues to release product at an interesting pace. The company just announced the FXT 5850 with double the DRAM and SSD capacity, 2.5 times higher network bandwidth and finally 2x the performance if we compare with the previous model.

You can configure a cluster of 24 nodes, I let you imagine the capacity an performance you can achieve in that case, configurations are fully redundant to avoid any impact on production, this is the case with the failover capability and mirrored writes.

Recognized by the performance and flexibility, Avere marks a new milestones with a formula 1 product perfectly aligned with the high demanding characteristic of some verticals segments that need high data capacity and high speed at the same time.

The Avere FXT 5850 starts at $211,500 and is available now. Huge achievement that maintains Avere in the top file storage club.
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November 27, 2017

SuperComputing 17 was a good conference

Super Computing 2017 is always a very interesting conference and you see very often technologies that will arrive in more classic IT a few years later.

I invite you to read the long summary I wrote for StorageNewsletter available here. And in a nutshell a few points below.

Topics were about GPU, of course, burst buffers and fast I/O, file systems/storage, NVMe and composable infrastructure.

The organization also unveiled the new Top500 ranking and introduced the new IO500.

A lot of Lustre-and Spectrum Scale-based file storage solution of course, Quantum with StorNext of course, but also Rook, a multi-protocol SDS - file, block and object - product for massive volume of data, based on Ceph. We saw Panasas as well, the company has announced the 7.0 major PanFS release and a disaggregated model. Vexata demonstrated a file-based solution running Spectrum Scale and of course companies such DDN, NetApp, HPE, Cray, IBM, Dell...

Among the new file storage vendors or vendors with a innovative distributed file system, we noticed the presence of Avere Systems, Elastifile, Panasas and Qumulo but Rozo Systems and Weka IO didn't have a booth.

On the object storage side, it was limited as pure players were pretty much absent like Cloudian, except Caringo.

It confirms two things again: object storage is a capacity tier and file access is king.

Next year the event will take place in Dallas, TX, from 12 to 15 of November, 2018.


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November 16, 2017

IT Press Tour #25 in California with a huge program

The IT Press Tour (www.itpresstour.com), the leading press event for IT press, just announced an amazing list of participating companies for the 25th edition early December in California.

A few surprises as well during this edition but I can't reveal any of these.

Topics will be around Software-Defined Infrastructure with of course Big Data, Storage, Networking, Data Management and Containers with a flavor of open source and edge computing.

Here is the list:
  1. AetherWorks, inventor of AetherStore and more recently FogCoin and ActiveAether,
  2. Datos IO, new comer in data protection for distributed data,
  3. DriveScale, pioneer in composable infrastructure for demanding applications,
  4. Hedvig, leader in multi-protocol SDS,
  5. Igneous, recent player in secondary storage,
  6. iXsystems, reference in open source storage,
  7. Minio, the promising fast growing object storage platform,
  8. Panasas, leader in high performance file system,
  9. Quantum, top vendor for secondary storage solutions,
  10. Qumulo, key actor in new scale-out NAS generation,
  11. Rubrik, the fast growing data protection platform,
  12. Spanning, major player in Cloud-to-Cloud and SaaS data protection,
  13. Sysdig, a model for others in Container monitoring,
  14. and Vexata, young flash storage vendor dedicated to speed.
This edition will be again huge with a dense program and top innovators. I invite you to follow us with @ITPressTour, #ITPT, various publications and reporters Twitter handles.


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November 13, 2017

Bizarre Gartner Hype Cycle for Storage Technologies 2017

The Gartner Hype Cycle is a tough exercice delivered every year for 20 years. And for storage technologies it’s probably one of the toughest in the industry with so many innovations, convergences and merges of technologies.

The first remark is about the list of technologies listed and we wonder why Storage Cluster File Systems, IDA, Storage Multi-tenancy or Online Data Compression, to name a few, have such roles.

Surprised also to see that Cloud Data Backup is emerging with players such Spanning, Backblaze, Backupify (acquired by Datto already in 2014) or Code42. For instance Backupify was founded in 2008. Same remark for Integrated Backup Appliance with for sure new vendors such Rubrik, Cohesity but also established ones like Dell EMC with Data Domain line, NEC, Veritas or Exagrid.

At the same time we don't see topic such Persistent Storage for Container represented by several players such Portworx, StorageOS, Virtuozzo or Blockbridge. What about subject like Cloud Tiering or Cloud Archiving as we see Cloud Data Backup.

Where is P2P storage, only BitTorrent and Storj are listed with really different companions? We should have here Aerofs, AetherStore, Blockade, Cloudplan, Ugloo or Sia.tech.

What about VTL, is it obsolete in the Gartner grammar? What about multi-protocol SDS?

We’re also surprised to read that object storage lives a revival due to S3. In fact, there is more and more players offering an S3 interface and it doesn't mean they belong to the object storage category. The question is: does an interface or an access method defines a storage category? What is sure is that the ubiquitous presence of S3 reduces differentiators between vendors and kills the API battle.

Gartner has also a strong position about Cloud Storage Gateways (CSG) as the analyst firm declares that this technology is “obsolete before plateau” as written at the end of the Hype Cycle paragraph. What is sure is that the cloud gateway capability is now offered by various products but at the same time CSG provide more things that just a path to the cloud. Some time ago ESG has introduced a term that should be a better fit: Cloud Integrated Storage. The report displays different categories and we need to correct a few things:

  • Shared Accelerated Storage: where are Apeiron or Pavilion? Why Weka IO is listed here? • Management SDS: the missing actor is ProphetStor with Federator.
  • Cloud Data Backup: Where is Veritas? If you list Datos IO, you should list Imanis Data (former Talena).
  • Infrastructure SDS: what a mix. If you consider objet storage why vendors such DDN is not listed but globally this is a bizarre listing as we find vendors such Maxta or StorMagic and at the same time SwiftStack. Why StorPool is not listed here? We should see here StorONE next year.
  • Hyperconvergence: Atlantis Computing is still listed, ok you have an excuse, but the company sold its assets to Hive-IO. Where is GridStore?
  • Integrated Backup Appliances: as said above where are ExaGrid and NEC?
  • Storage Cluster File Systems: Really a bad name especially as Gartner defines it with the distributed file systems term as a single parallel file system. Wow. We should see here Rozo Systems and Weka IO.
  • IDA: very bizarre again with too diverse players. Why SimpliVity is listed here? Where are P2P players mentioned in a previous paragraph. We should see here Datomia if the category is maintained.
  • Object Storage: Where are Exablox, Hedvig, Huawei, Igneous, NEC, Noobaa?
  • Emerging Data storage Protection Schemes: what is this stuff? If Erasure Coding is listed and it is, Rozo Systems developer of the Mojette Transform must be added. Sqme for MemoScale, even Weka IO with its own N+M model. And one question: Is Reed Solomon really an emerging technology? Isilon introduced it in 2001!
  • Cloud Storage Gateways: Where is BridgeStor? This category sees a convergence of technology as many products add a S3 extension. It could be a tiering product like Komprise, StrongBox or Versity, a backup, archiving, migration, distributed file systems such Elastifile or Weka IO. This a large category not obsolete for sure as so many flavors exist.
  • Virtual Machine Backup and Recovery: Where is Nakivo? And of course Veritas?
  • Online Data Compression, Storage Multi-tenancy and Automated Storage Tiering are bizarre as well.
I stopped here as the report presents a huge work but the technologies listed are quite strange.

Also we wonder why the following vendors are not listed: Acronis, Apeiron, BridgeStor, Datomia, Datrium, Exablox, GridStore, Igneous, Imanis Data, Komprise, Nakivo, Noobaa, Pavilion Data Systems, Portworx, ProphetStor, Rozo Systems, StorageOS, StorPool, StrongBox, Vexata.
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November 11, 2017

AetherStore passes the 30,000 users over 150 countries

AetherStore (www.aetherstore.com), product developed by AetherWorks team, continues to penetrate the market with their brilliant P2P storage solution. Great, I'm a true believer of that with my own project KerStor several years ago.

Visited in New-York in September 2012 during the IT Press Tour #9, AetherStore has made great progress since that meeting. The adoption is pretty rapid with now more than 30,000 users in 150 countries globally. It marks a special milestone as the market changed a bit since the first projects in different world cities.

It reminds me some pretty similar p2p, cloud, decentralized or dispersed storage approaches on private or public clouds, with players like Aerofs, Blockade, Cloudplan, Kerstor, Ubistorage, Ugloo, Sia.tech, Space Monkey, Storj, Symform, Transporter, Tudzu, or Wuala. Some of them still exist, others disappeared, got acquired or changed their model to offer P2P backup.

Like others, AetherStore targets now a backup use case that reduces the original promises made by all the players in that category. Initially these solutions bring on the table several key advantages:
  1. Stop to buy and over provision with new hardware,
  2. Increase the used ratio of the current deployment storage entities,
  3. Then the storage optimization is improved in favor on a real better used TB/$.
The difficulty came from initially the drop of the storage cost but above all the lack of partnership as nobody in the sales chain wished to reduce the storage sales. I’m sure you remember the swiss company named Wuala who approached the market with a trade model. The company got acquired by LaCie in 2009 and LaCie got acquired three years later by Seagate in 2012. Guess what, Seagate shut downed the Wuala service. It’s difficult to promote a service that could participate of the erosion of hard drives sales.

Pooling free storage space on distributed computing, geo dispersed potentially, is a great concept, it would be good if the AetherStore team thinks about doing the same approach with compute, building a gigantic virtual computer to address cpu-bound demanding applications. And if you link that to bitcoin… Wow, you can have a huge impact of the planet. Hey FogCoin and ActiveAether are all that.

And it will be fantastic as the team has decided to join The IT Press Tour to pitch us about FogCoin and ActiveAether.
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November 10, 2017

New file Manager from Google for Android-based phone

Current phone offers high storage capacity and it's pretty common to buy 64 or 128GB of capacity. This is huge and at the same time, some computer vendors sell machine with also 128GB of flash. Funny right? So if you have a strong file manager on your computer why not on your phone. And last point I forgot to mention, you phone is a computer able to connect to a phone networks in addition to Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS.

It exists plenty of file manager you can download on Google Play and the giant from Mountain View finally never released any strong product in that space. The current version is today in public beta available from this link, you need Android 5.0 minimum. After you download the app, you need to accept a "Trusted Tester Agreement" in order to use it.


The official launch is scheduled for December. With 2 views - Storage and Files - it offers the capability to free space, to empty the cache, to check space occupied by your files – video, music, images, large files, downloaded files, documents … - and able to track duplicates, unused applications… in other words 3 functions: system cleanup, file management and transfer files. It gives also the capability to transfer files via a P2P Wifi connection.

With the recent announcement of Pixel2, Google promotes infinite cloud storage, so we expect a transparent tiering capability between Files Go and Google Drive with a easy to setup and simple file policies based on age, size… like a traditional HSM finally.

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October 31, 2017

StorONE, a new SDS gem

Founded in 2011 by Gal Naor, who has founded Storwize in 2004 and sold it later in 2010 to IBM for $140 million, StorONE has made huge efforts to disrupt the market and the result is quite significant in term of approach and price, delivering the true value of the device users buy everyday. We had the privilege to meet the team and visit StorONE HQ in Tel-Aviv a few day ago with The IT Press Tour crew. And if you follow me, I wrote one of the very first article about StorONE in August 2016 when they made a surprising presence at VMworld 2016 in San Francisco.


Six years of development allowed by more than $20 million of VCs - Seagate, Giza and JGV - and private investors. Another remarkable element resides in the number of patents - 50 - granted or almost granted before the first version of the software. Wow there is some IP behind this. The company had invited to its board Edward Zander, former CEO of Motorola and COO and president at Sun Microsystems, and John W. Thompson, chairman of Microsoft and former CEO of Symantec, more recently at Virtual Instruments, and they have made private investments.

"Over provisioning" is a terrible world especially today with the gigantic volume of data people have to manage, if finally a user can deploy the only necessary infrastructure to sustain the business based on the real capabilities of its deployed hardware, it would be perfect.

So the idea is pretty simple on the paper but a real tough mission to solve. Gal explained us that its software named TRU for True Resource Utilization reduces all the layers complexity in the entire storage software stack into one single seamless layer that removes the chokepoint. The beauty of this come from the performance delivered and the price, less than $0.01/GB and globally less than $0.002/GB for multi-petabyte installations.


All features, all protocols and support of any drives - HDD, SSD or NVMe - are included and there is no option that finally reduce the value of the software.

Many vendors remove options from the proposal instead of doing discount of the full software and data services stack showing a limited value proposition to users. As a period of launch, the company has decided to invite potential users to its Early Access Program with a compelling proposal: to offer the hardware for 1PB fueled by TRU. The strategy is simple as finally you try the solution and you won't give it up. TRU is available as physical server or virtual appliance.

I offer to name this approach a multi-protocol SDS as TRU offers block, file and object access methods with unlimited snapshots with mixed drives in same servers.
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October 27, 2017

Gartner continues to produce a bizarre Magic Quadrant for Distributed File System and Object Storage

Gartner just released a few days ago its 2017 Magic Quadrant for Distributed File System and Object Storage and we have some comments about this report as many things have surprised us this year but also last year.

If we need to summarize or qualify in one word the report we should say that it shows a real status quo with no real differences since last year but still some missing vendors and strange positions for some of them not representing how they behave on the market.

Definitions conflicts
The second paragraph of the Market Definition/Description introduces strange terms in conflict with criterias as it is mentioned “object and scale-out file technology” meaning that the scale-out term is applied to file but not object. In the criteria section, a product to be qualified must provide at least 500TB capacity, 1PB namespace with 3 nodes minimum. According to the Gartner definition, this scale-out criteria is good only for file technology. Let’s consider this as an oversight.

We can also argue that you can build a large (it’s a relative notion) scale-up object or file storage product passing the 500TB capacity and 1PB namespace criteria and not be a scale-out. For many use cases and customers, scale-up is good enough.

In the same part, distributed file system is defined with the notion of single parallel file system. This is an other problem introduced by the term parallel here as several companies listed in the quadrant are not aligned with that. A parallel file system relies on the capabilities to split files before touching the back-end data servers. Examples of that are pNFS, Lustre or GPFS, Isilon is not for instance as a file is written via one node and then split in the back and distributed across several nodes. In other words, there is a need for a piece of intelligence embedded in the client to split the data and send to multiple targets.

Criterias evolved
Between 2016 and 2017, Gartner adds two new criterias and modifies one to finally consider 5 criterias:
  • A multiple use cases criteria to avoid mono or too niche usages. As a result Panasas exists the quadrant.
  • An on-premises criteria and with that companies like Avere Systems, Nasuni or Panzura are out. Is it fair? Not sure as Avere, for instance, is deployed in M&E accounts in front of multiple scalable file storage. At Pixar or Dreamworks, Avere is the front-end layer connected to Isilon, Qumulo…. And everything is stored on-premises.
  • IP ownership and open source link with the need to be in the top 10 contributor is the company use free software. Very difficult to assess as several players use open source database among others and don't participate to these projects developments. Does it mean we should exclude them?
Surprises, presences and absences
Qumulo enters the quadrant as Visionnaries and Exablox, now StorageCraft, is back in the Niche Players zone.

We don't understand why file storage companies are not better listed in the report. In fact if the document is about file storage, we should find more references about it.

Does Gartner consider a product or a portfolio around file and object storage, in that case, some companies listed should be in a better position. This is the case for DDN and NetApp for instance. In the opposite if a product is “just” an object storage, it should be impacted. And for object storage, again it’s not clear, do we consider an objet interface or access method or an internal design. Many of these products are not object oriented for design.

Companies with file storage are not listed except this year with Qumulo. This is the case for HPE, Oracle, Microsoft, NEC or Veritas even if they have file or object storage solution, HPE and Oracle don’t have any object storage product but file storage and Veritas recently introduced an object storage but is super strong in file storage. I’m pretty sure the 2018 version will be different with for instance Veritas present in the leaders box.

Where is Microsoft in the picture? Where is Cohesity? Where is Hedvig?

The Big Miss
NEC with HYDRAstor is absent of this picture even if his product activity matches all criterias. Like EMC with Filepool or Hitachi Vantara with Archivas roots, NEC has a CAS history. I invite the reader to check the article published in July 2016 explaining the CAS and object storage story.

To illustrate some dimensions let me just say that NEC HYDRAstor represents 1,200 users, 2,000 installations, 3EB stored, 70% of revenue from Japan and 30% from EMEA and USA. NEC must be integrated in this Magic Quadrant especially as object storage is essentially dedicated to secondary storage usages what NEC HYDRAstor targets with several use cases.

Other comments
We don't also see how Gartner includes clients’ retention and associated churn especially if a direct competitor swaps some of these players. It will be interested to see if some players replaced others and give them weight.

Object Storage is essentially a tier 2 platform and distributed file systems is cross environments. The three key features for secondary storage are data reduction such compression and reduction, data protection with replication and erasure coding and then cold storage capabilities. All these three elements contribute to a different TCO and ROI and clearly the ranking would have been different, some vendors don't offer any of these three elements which is incredible for a platform that store huge volumes of data over potentially a long period of time. In other words, if a storage platform is just reduced to store data without one, two or all these three elements, its value is very limited.

Extension
And we found also this page on the Gartner Peer Insights web site. This page also displays the same 15 vendors showing a more representative view of the world presence and activity with a complete different ranking, here are the first seven players for four positions:
  • #1 Huawei (5), real surprise to obtain 5
  • #2 Cloudian and Qumulo (4.8)
  • #3 Red Hat and Caringo (4.7)
  • #4 SwiftStack and Exablox (4.6)
and Average = 4.49 and Median = 4.5



We really hope the 2018 version will reflect better products presence and adoption as they’re important misses in the 2017 version. If this quadrant covers seriously DFS, some vendors should appear next year: Avere Systems, Cohesity, Elastifile, HPE, Microsoft, NEC, Rozo Systems, Veritas or WekaIO to list some candidates.
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October 26, 2017

24th IT Press Tour edition with a second visit in Israel

For the second time, The IT Press Tour travelled to Israel for a unique tour. This 24th edition gave us the opportunity to meet and visit 9 innovative companies in Security, Big Data, IoT, Cloud and Storage.

Here is a short summary:
  1. Axonius is a very young company targeting IoT infrastructure management at scale.
  2. Aqua Security leads the pack in security for Containers with an interesting comprehensive approach.
  3. CloudEndure delivers a multi | cross- cloud migration solution to provide easy and cost effective DR and workload migration.
  4. Coralogix, also a young company, develops a SaaS-based powerful log analytics platform delivering easy integration and high flexibility.
  5. Elastifile, leader in the new file storage segment, continues to innovate with a Flash-native Cross-Cloud Data Fabric with impressive performance results.
  6. Illusive Networks, recent actor in new security axis, enhances protection by saturating the environment with deceptive information, creating a distorted reality that the attacker cannot confidently navigate.
  7. Reduxio Systems has accelerated since last year meeting in Israel with good market adoption and innovative features around data mobility with NoMigrate and NoRestore capabilities.
  8. StorONE, new Software-Defined Storage player, unveiled the company and the product for the very first time. No real article exists since a blog post I wrote In August 2016 when the company has participated to VMworld US 2016.
  9. and Webhose.IO, a big data player, swallowing web data to offer easy data extraction and consumption at scale.
Press coverage has started, I invite you to read various articles on visited companies, to follow the group on Twitter with #ITPT, @ITPressTour and respective Twitter handle of each journalist. It was gain a fantastic edition. -- The IT Press Tour team
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