Storage Field Day 7 – Initial Thoughts

Storage Field Day 7 – Initial Thoughts

Chris EvansStorage, Tech Field Day

Storage Field Day 7 (11-13 March 2015) proved to be yet another impressive and thought provoking event, with lots of new ideas demonstrating that the storage industry is one of the most innovative and competitive sections of the technology landscape.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll deep dive into some of the more interesting presentations and technologies.  However for now, here’s a summary of initial thoughts, plus links to the presenting vendors.

Catalogic Software – Catalogic is a software company focused around the problem of data copy management.  By this we mean creating copies of data for test/dev and backup/recovery.  The software works by using the underlying data protection features of supported platforms; initially this is based on NetApp and their snapshot capabilities.  Of course there’s more to data copy than simply managing snapshots and Catalogic provide the capability to orchestrate the building of virtual machines from a snapshot images.  The product concept looks good, but at this stage the focus purely on NetApp places some restrictions on their available market.  This will change over time as more platforms are on-boarded.

Catalogic Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

Kaminario Inc – Kaminario is an all-flash array vendor, providing the capability of both scale up and scale out within their 5th generation K2 platform.  Naturally the SFD7 discussion got down into the weeds covering the intricacies of how things like K2’s variable de-duplication and data placement works.  These kinds of details are difficult to consume and this level of discussion helps get to the facts in order for the benefits to be correctly quantified.  As we can expect the quality of the implementation of K2 features will be key in this increasingly competitive market.

Kaminario Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

Primary Data – Primary Data recently emerged from “stealth” with a technology that effectively acts as a global data hypervisor.  Notice that their offering is not being called a storage hypervisor, which potentially points to it being more than a data-bit director.  In fact the Primary Data solution doesn’t actually sit in the data path at all and so is more of a data mapping solution.  The software uses client-side drivers to perform the lookup of data locations from data director appliances, after which the data is accessed directly wherever it is located within the infrastructure.  The design is certainly interesting, although we’ve seen many virtualisation solutions before, including out-of-band failures like InVista.  One to watch.

Primary Data Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

VMware Inc – VMware chose to present on their storage strategy, which was mainly focused on Virtual SAN and new features in release 6.0 (actually 2nd generation).  I have to say I was disappointed by VMware’s approach.  There are countless thousands of words in blog posts and white papers already written on Virtual SAN (see Eric Siebert’s vSphere Land page here for a truly massive list), so almost everything discussed was widely known.  The presenting team also refused to go into any “implementation details”, which is a hallmark of Tech Field Day coverage.  I recommend checking out Eric’s list of posts for Virtual SAN specifics.

VMware Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

Connected Data – Connected Data is the name of the company that now markets and sells Drobo as well as the (relatively) new File Transporter product.  Transporter aims to target those users who don’t want to use cloud storage, either for cost or security reasons.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the implementation of the Transporter technology, including the way it integrates into the desktop to provide a Dropbox-like experience.  I’m looking forward to reviewing the business-version of this platform, which could be appropriate for many SMB/SMEs.

Connected Data Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

Springpath – Springpath (formerly known as Storvisor) is another company looking to hasten the demise of the traditional storage array through a software-only distributed storage solution.  Now, we’ve seen distributed storage before, such as SolidFire’s appliances (available now in a software-only version) and within hyper-converged solutions, so Springpath needed to present something interesting and differentiating from what’s already in the market.  We weren’t disappointed.  Springpath’s HALO architecture virtualises all components of the hardware infrastructure, abstracting items such as hard drives, flash and so on into logical containers.  I’ll the discuss the benefits of this in more detail in a specific post on the presentations.

 Springpath Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

Cloudian – Cloudian’s product offering is called HyperStore, an object storage system.  There are already many object stores in the market today (some good, some not so good), so why do we need another one?  Well as you can imagine, it’s all about the data management side of things and the features.  The Cloudian solution had some interesting takes on metadata management, which I’ll explore in a more detailed post.

Exablox – Exablox is one of those companies you think you know, but when you get the deep dive, you realise there’s a whole world of detail that you missed.  Although marketed as a scale-out NAS appliance for small/medium enterprises, the underlying architecture is based on object storage, making the solution potentially much more flexible to evolve into other use cases.  Exablox’ presentation was definitely a revelation and I look forward to writing more about the company.

Exablox Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

Maxta – Maxta is a company I’ve spoken to many times before and as with Exablox, the presentation’s at SFD7  provided a much greater insight into the Maxta offering.  Now billing themselves as hyper-converged, Maxta’s Storage Platform (MxSP) is a distributed storage layer to make use of locally installed DAS storage across a cluster of VM hypervisors.  Hyper-converged is a hot topic these days, but the market (especially in software only solutions) is getting more competitive;

Maxta Presents at Storage Field Day 7 (Videos on Tech Field Day Website)

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Disclaimer:  I was personally invited to attend Storage Field Day 7, with the event team covering my travel and accommodation costs.  However I was not compensated for my time.  I am not required to blog on any content; blog posts are not edited or reviewed by the presenters or Tech Field Day team before publication.

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