November 19, 2014

Primary Data delivers the promises of universal storage

Primary Data (, recent storage vendor founded by David Flynn and Rick White one year ago, made a big splash at DEMO conference a few hours ago. To put things in perspective, Primary Data raised 50M$ in Nov. 2013 from several VCs: Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Wing Capital Group.

With this first company iteration, Primary Data absorbed Tonian Systems (Nov 2011, Nov 2012 and Aug. 2013), pioneer in Parallel File System with pNFS and key contributor of Open-pNFS. The company also announced today the appointment of Steve Wozniak as Chief Scientist a few days later the nomination of Lance Smith as CEO. Fusion-io band is now grouped again for a new venture, a new storage adventure.

Primary Data just launched its product and announced a data center storage strategy. As many end-users and CIOs expect and wish to deploy, Primary Data promotes a very highly scalable storage agnostic data virtualization platform with several key points to keep in mind as they will serve as references for others:
  • 1 single global dataspace across all resources,
  • storage agnostic with file, block and object back-ends,
  • seamless linear scalability with independence between performance and capacity,
  • data mobility across local and cloud tiers thanks to a policy-based automation engine and a real time data placement mechanism,
  • and the support of block, file and object storage mode.
Primary Data uses a asymmetric model and provides essentially 2 components: Data Hypervisor installed on client machines and Data Director, a Meta Data Server (MDS) like the pNFS MDS, with the famous data policy engine. If you read pNFS specification, the protocol supports file, block and object storage back-ends and Primary Data delivers that promises from one product.

What is less clear are the use cases where you can consider Primary Data solution, it's probably too early to establish a clear matrix where the product excels and delivers the right value. Time will give us visibility in that angle but we can anticipate high-end NAS services for cross industries when capacity and throughput are required.

For sure, Primary Data leveraged the good work made by Tonian Systems with their pNFS Meta Data Server, people from this company continue to contribute to the pNFS project. Benny Halevy, former CTO of Tonian and active in pNFS, was CTO of Primary Data before the shift started with Lance Smith arrival, Ron Asher, former Engr. VP at Diligent and IBM/XIV, is SVP Engr and very interesting, Jeff Rothschild, co-founder of Veritas Software, now at Facebook, is on the board. We'll learn more about Primary Data with our visit at their HQ during the 14th IT Press Tour 1st week of December.

Before the next meeting, here is the short video of the interview of David Flynn I made this evening at the Primary Data party:


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