Scale Computing had added flash storage capability to its 2150 and 4150 hyper-converged hardware. It has also added storage tiering and, with a nod to legendary rock-umentary Spinal Tap, has built in the ability to “turn it up to 11” and pin specified workloads to the solid state storage tier.
Previously only offering spinning disk HDD capacity, Scale now allows the deployment of an extra drive, with one SAS-connected flash disk per node.
This is added as a tier of storage rather than as cache. A user-configurable slider goes from 0 to 11 and allows the customer to set a virtual disk’s relationship to the flash cache, with 0 pinning a virtual disk to spinning disk, 1-10 representing an increasing priority to use of the flash tier and 11 pinning a virtual disk to flash.
From settings 1 to 10 a heat map algorithm identifies the hottest blocks from virtual disks (there can be up to 12 per virtual machine) in the node that should go to flash.
SLC (single level cell) flash was the main type of enterprise flash in the early days. It allows just one 1/0 switch per cell (hence the name) compared to the two found in MLC (multi-level cell) but offered better I/O performance.
But SLC has fallen from favour. It’s cost has increased and its storage density decreased compared to MLC and eMLC implementations. Now it’s very rare to find a storage array maker that offers SLC.
But eMLC and MLC are likely to be offered in the not too distant future, said Scale’s co-founder and chief evangelist, Jason Collier.
He said, “SLC is definitely the more costly option but we looked at MLC and eMLC and we wanted something with more sustainable life and went with the tried-and-tested SLC. Having said that, we are going to move to MLC and eMLC options in future.”
“Tape is dead” is probably one of the most successful aphorisms in IT; it is oft repeated and also represents the triumph of a sound bite over reality. The truth is that the global tape market is in a state of very slow shrinkage, being eaten at by disk-based methods of storage, although in the UK we have seen tape buying hold pretty steady. But rather than being in the rest home, tape is actually more like a healthy middle-aged person: very active and taking on new interests now it has established itself. That’s the conclusion to be drawn from this week’s headline article on the state of the tape market, where we find tape products with upgraded physical attributes in capacity, pooling and speed of access, as well as in soft functions with the availability of LTFS and tape analytics. No, tape isn’t dead; it’s just taken up tennis and is going to evening classes.
(This was an intro to a weekly SearchStorage.co.UK newsletter I thought worth repeating.)
Elsewhere I started to jot down thoughts about the facts of life of capitalism as they manifest themselves in the storage industry. Recently we saw another stark example: the tendency of vendors to ride roughshod over customers’ wishes. Symantec was the culprit here. It just dumped its CEO and now has to row back on changes it made to its key midrange backup product Backup Exec 2012 that may take up to nine months to rectify.
I recently blogged on how the tide had turned in NAS: how clustered/scale-out NAS is now on course towards being the norm with the shipping of NetApp’s FAS2220 with a truly clustered OnTap 8.1.1 on board.
But of course when tides turn, they don’t move uniformly; great masses of water rush oceanwards but distant inlets and basins take some time to drain. And it’s likewise in the storage market, evidence of which is Coraid’s recent launch of a ZFS NAS device, the ZX series, without clustered NAS capability.
In the world of traditional NAS vs scale-out or clustered NAS, the tide has turned. I’ve argued elsewhere that it is about time the limits of traditional NAS — with its tendency for devices to proliferate but not be accessible one from the other — were overcome by clustering capability.
Now they have been with NetApp’s launch of the FAS2220, the first of its filers to ship with Ontap 8.1.1, which has true clustering capability on board.
Open source storage vendor Nexenta recently press released results of a Freedom of Information request it put to 44 UK local authorities and government departments. Its headline conclusions were:
- That despite numerous government declarations stretching back over several years (this one, for eg) that the public sector must use more open source products, precisely no respondents to Nexenta’s FoI requests said they use open source storage.
- Respondents buy an average of 101 TB a year with 1 TB costing them between £2,000 and £5,000.
I spoke to DataCore CEO George Teixeira this week. He told me about the latest enterprise and cloud-focused upgrade of the vendor’s storage virtualisation software plus its pay-as-you-serve licensing model for cloud storage providers.
I also had chance to question George on the company’s rationale for dubbing its product a “storage hypervisor,” a term I’ve long thought misleading.
It seems like hybrid flash/spinning disk array startups are sprouting up all over the place lately. There are the likes of Tintri, NexGen and Nutanix, and this week I spoke to another — Tegile — and was impressed by its ability to do so much with so little.
Tegile’s claims are so impressive that they scream out that something must happen to the company and to those like it. Tegile reckons that it can provide, for example, 105 TB of storage at 75,000 IOPS in 2U of space for $75,000 against equivalent I/O and capacity from NetApp that would take 115U and cost $475,000.
I was briefed by Dell yesterday, and the topic of conversation was meant to be “storage virtualisation.” I was looking forward to it, expecting an announcement of perhaps a forthcoming storage virtualisation product. I was intrigued; what could Dell, a company famous for it iSCSI arrays and its Compellent line, be doing with storage virtualisation?
Gartner recently released research showing the volumes (in US dollars) of storage arrays shipped by the top vendors.
It’s useful to look at just to know who the Big Five are, for example. But we’ll also compare Gartner’s research with SearchStorage.co.UK’s 2011 storage Purchasing Intentions survey findings among UK IT departments, which provides a different top five.