Storage Soup

January 27, 2016  8:02 AM

Pivot3 buys NexGen, combines hyper-converged with all-flash storage

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Hyper-converged vendor Pivot3 today acquired hybrid flash vendor NexGen Storage, combining small private companies that play in two hot technology areas.

NexGen CEO and founder John Spiers said the deal “came about serendipitously” at the suggestion of a venture capitalist firm. While working on a funding round, NexGen talked to one of Pivot3’s investors who suggested the two explore a merger. Spiers met with Pivot3 CEO Ron Nash and the two agreed they would be better as a larger company. The vendors’ investors decided how to allot the shares in the new company.

 “It’s really a stock swap, there’s no real purchase price,” Nash said.

Nash will be CEO of the new Pivot3. Spiers will become Pivot3’s executive vice president and Chief Strategy Officer and fellow NexGen founder Kelly Long will be a CTO in the company. Nash said all NexGen’s employees will join Pivot3.

 Pivot3 sells its VMware-based vStac OS on all-flash and hybrid hyper-converged systems combining storage and compute. It also sells a system optimized for video surveillance and high-density blades that fit in a rack to support up to 9,000 virtual machines.

NexGen sells all-flash and hybrid arrays that use PCIe server-based flash, solid-state drives and hard disk drives. Its policy-based quality of service manages data based on its value.

“We saw in NexGen a unique opportunity to expand upon what we have been doing in hyper-convergence,” Nash said. “We saw that we can be boarder in terms of the range of performance we can offer to IT shops. And they have a lot of storage functionality that makes us deeper.

“NexGen gets to combine with us, we have more international reach and additional products. It’s a great combination all around.”

 Nash said NexGen’s 86 employees will join Pivot3’s 130 to expand the headcount to more than 200. He said Pivot3 has more than 1,600 customers and NexGen has around 400, giving the combined company more than 2,000 customers. Austin, Texas-based Pivot3 will keep NexGen’s Boulder, Colorado, office.

Nash said Pivot3 will continue to sell both companies’ current products, and they will port software features to the others’ platforms. The NexGen brand will continue for now, but there will be new products combining both vendors’ technologies.

Among NexGen’s software features, Nash said Pivot3 is most interested in quality of service and dynamic provisioning.

 “There is a new wave of technology breaking out,” Nash said. “In a software-defined data center, you will have some hyper-converged, some storage-only and some cloud products – all based on a commodity x86 processor with software on top of it.”

This is the second time NexGen has been acquired. PCIe flash vendor Fusion-io bought NexGen in 2013 for $119 million. After SanDisk subsequently acquired Fusion-io, SanDisk spun off NexGen in January, 2015, putting it back in control of original founders Spiers and Long.

“We weren’t a good it for SanDisk’s business strategy because we competed with their OEMs,” Spiers said. “Our growth plans [for 2016] were to triple the size of our sales force, hire key marking positions and add key people in Europe and Asia. Pivot3 brings all that to the table.”

“We think this new wave of technology is going to knock out several incumbent IT companies,” Nash said. “We think we have a chance to be one company that pops up to replace them.”

January 26, 2016  9:00 AM

EMC expands Elastic Cloud (object) Storage

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
EMC, Object storage

EMC today launched Elastic Cloud Storage 2.2, making its object storage platform more mature as it prepares to take over use cases from EMC’s other object storage products, Atmos and Centera.

ECS is available as a software-only product or packaged on an appliance. The software is the ViPR software-defined storage data plane and the hardware is an x86 server.

EMC launched ECS in 2014 and brought out ECS 2.0 last May.

ECS 2.2 adds native NFS support to go with its previous support for Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). Native NFS support allows ECS to handle file storage without a file gateway. EMC also enhanced the search capabilities, claiming ECS can search metadata across exabytes of unstructured data without a dedicated database. For security, EMC added data at rest encryption.

“We feel ECS now has anything you might want from an object storage platform,” said Manuvir Das, senior vice president of EMC’s Advanced Software Division.

Das said the metadata search “opens up an Internet of Things use case. We have automotive customers storing telemetry data from vehicles. Those are small pieces of large volumes of data. They can throw that into scalable object storage and search the metadata.”

He said EMC has shipped more than an exabyte of ECS storage, mostly on hardware appliances. He said there are three main types of customers. Traditional enterprise shops are using ECS for a low-cost archive as well as storage used to develop new applications. Service providers use it to build object-based clouds to compete with popular public clouds, and content providers creating cloud apps deploy ECS for scalable storage.

EMC has two other types of object storage – Centera for compliance-related data and Atmos for the cloud. Das said EMC continues to support and upgrade those applications, but it sees ECS as its object storage of the future.

“All roads lead to ECS,” he said. “Almost all the use cases across Atmos and Centera are heading to ECS. With version 2.2, the ECS feature set can do anything Atmos and almost everything Centera can do. Centera has advance compliance features that ECS does not yet do, but those are covered on the ECS roadmap.”

January 21, 2016  11:06 PM

Netlist launches new DDR4 NVDIMM

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa

Netlist unveiled its new DDR4-based non-volatile dual in-line memory module (NVDIMM) yesterday at the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)’s Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Summit in San Jose.

The NVvault DDR4 NVDIMM (NV4) combines DRAM and NAND flash, with the non-volatile flash ensuring that data is protected in the event of a power failure. The main difference between the latest NV4 product and the prior NV3 NVDIMM is support for DDR4 DRAM.

Netlist’s DDR4-based NV4, which became generally available yesterday, brings speed and capacity advantages over the DDR3-based NV3 product. The maximum density expands from 8 GB to 16 GB, and the DRAM clock speed increases from 1,600 megahertz (MHz) to 2,400 MHz, according to Mat Young, Netlist’s vice president of marketing.

At the NVM Summit, Netlist demonstrated the NV4 NVDIMM against a PCIe NVMe NAND flash device using a Super Micro server running a Percona TPC-C-like transaction processing benchmark on a MySQL database. Netlist claimed the NV4 system achieved a transaction rate five times higher than the PCIe NVMe flash.

Young said industry demos often focus on IOPS and bandwidth, but Netlist wanted to show potential customers how the product could performance with a real-world application.

“We feel really strongly that non-volatile memory is the next potential performance boost for storage. It’s a bit like NAND was to spinning hard drives,” said Young.

Netlist is working with several server and BIOS manufacturers on support for its NV4 NVDIMMs and sampling the product to an undisclosed number of customers, according to Young. He said target customers include OEMs and ODMs, appliance manufacturers and end users looking for higher application performance than NAND flash can provide.

“The fact that they’ve migrated to the DD4 interface indicates that NVDIMMs are growing in popularity. Although today’s main application is logs or journals in storage arrays, the growth of in-memory databases will create a much larger market,” said Jim Handy, chief analyst at Objective Analysis in Los Gatos, California. Handy said Netlist’s competition includes AgigA Tech, Micron, Smart Modular Technologies and Viking Technology.

January 20, 2016  12:52 PM

Caringo adds support for Microsoft Azure to its Swarm software

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Caringo has expanded its Swarm object storage to Microsoft Azure.

The company recently said its object storage software, which already has Amazon S3 support, now is available on the Azure cloud so customers have the ability to move applications seamlessly from Amazon S3 to the Azure cloud by using the Swarm software.

This capability gives customers another storage tier option, allowing them to tier to the Azure cloud without changing mount points or work flows. Files can be consolidated from all filers into a scalable object storage tier that is accessible via a web-based portal for search while also giving the ability to deploy disaster recovery sites globally. Data can be accessed and managed universally through cloud and file protocols and RESTful APIs.

“We’ve talked to a number of customers that don’t want to be connected just to one vendor,” said Tony Barbagallo, Caringo’s vice president of product. “This is an expansion of our platform. We have customers who use our storage on-premise but also want to replicate to the cloud and customers want multiple storage targets.

“They want a hybrid solution so they can distribute cloud storage or replicate to cloud storage,” Barbagallo.

Caringo’s object storage manages objects in a flat address space, making it easy to adjust to petabyte scale configurations. Each object is assigned a unique identifier, which allows a server to retrieve it without needing to know the physical location of the data. These characteristics make it a good fit for cloud storage.

This latest capability gives companies the ability to migrate Amazon S3-based application to the Azure cloud with the use of a RESTful interface.

The new Microsoft Azure template can be deployed in a 16TB, 32TB or 64TB Swarm cluster with an SSL Amazon S3 interface. It requires 18, 26 and 42 available processor cores for 16TB, 32TB and 64TB sizes and each size needs a Jump-Box virtual machine to increase the requirement for each size by one additional processor core.

Once on Swarm, files can be combined and protected in a searchable pool for continued use and complex analysis.

“Azure can offer our operating system as a server running on Azure hardware,” Barbagallo said. “For S3 we have a proxy server. If an application has a S3 problem, it is transferred to our protocol and translated. When the information is sent back, the translation goes the other way.”

In September 2015, Caringo came out with software that lets customers move data back and forth between file-based primary storage and Caringo Swarm object storage software. FileFly for Caringo Swarm is a Windows-based application that plugs directly into the Windows NTFS file system.

FileFly uses policy-based automation to identify and migrate aged data from primary Netapp file servers and arrays running the Windows Storage Server operating system to Caringo Swarm on the back end. No changes are required to applications or end user workflows.

Barbagallo said Caringo has no immediate plans to support the Google Cloud platform.

“Right now, we have no current plans to expand beyond this,” he said.

January 19, 2016  1:17 PM

Actifio adds central copy data management interface

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Nearly five years into sales of its copy data virtualization, Actifio is finding customers are looking for a simpler way to manage data across its appliances.

Today the vendor launched Actifio Global Manager (AGM) and a new Actifio Report Manager to give customers one HTML5 screen to manage their installed appliances.

AGM lets customers set service level agreement-based management from one interface. Actifio previously had a report manager, but the new one is re-designed with a new engine to create, manage and view reports on application, protection and recovery job performance, and SLA compliance.

Until now, Actifio customers used a desktop user interface to manage one appliance at a time. Chandra Reddy, Actifio’s vice president of product marketing, said the average Actifio enterprise customer uses Actifio to protect 100 TB of data, and some protect petabytes. To protect 100 TB, an organization would need two appliances on site and two more at a remote site for DR. Those four appliances would be managed separately without AGM.

Service providers might use 30 or more appliances, Reddy said.

“Now a customer can go to a single dashboard and get an aggregated view,” he said.

Customers can use AGM to migrate applications between Actifio appliances and to load balance applications across appliances. AGM also allows customers to manage processes such as snapshots, deduplication, live cloning and replication.

“Customers want a single centralized pane of glass to manage, monitor and troubleshoot thousands of protected virtual machines,” Reddy said. “That was the genesis of AGM.”

AGM will require a separate license. For new customers, AGM is free for the first two Actifio appliances and existing customers will not be charged for their first 10 appliances.


January 18, 2016  3:29 PM

Veeam kicks off 2016 with V9 GA

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii
Backup software, Veeam

Veeam Software has started off the year by making Veeam Availability Suite 9 generally available to customers. The software has more than 250 features, according to Veeam.

While the data protection application is only going GA now, Veeam pre-announced features throughout the past eight months.

“The software has been a year in the making,” said Doug Hazelman, vice president of product strategy at Veeam. “The focus has not only been on adding scalability but enterprise features that the mid-market and enterprise segments are looking for. So version 9 focuses on them.”

One of the main enhancements include integration with EMC VNX and VNXe hybrid storage. Veeam announced this in May 2015. Enterprises will able to use Veeam Backup from storage snapshots to create backups from EMC VNX or VNXe storage snapshots in two minutes or less via Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots without the need for intermediate steps.

The Veeam software also adds more granularity and intelligence from the VNX storage snapshots and Veeam Explorer can do recoveries from an individual files or restore individual application items from Microsoft Exchange or SharePoint. It also can recover a single virtual machine. Veeam also added new primary storage integrations with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), NetApp and EMC.

Last September HPE announced integration between Veeam Backup and Replication with HP StoreOnce Catalyst. The Veeam software also works with NetApp FAS and FlexArray V-Series so customers can create image-based backups as often as needed with little impact on production environments. Veeam also has enhancements with Veeam Explorer for Oracle and a disaster recovery as a service that is powered by Veeam Cloud Connect Replication.

Hazelman said the software had cloud backup in version 8, but the new version includes the ability for service providers to replicate to the cloud so they can provide disaster recovery as a services (DRaaS).

The latest Veeam software also has an unlimited scale-out backup repository.

January 15, 2016  5:01 PM

Avere launches new FXT Edge filers

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Avere Systems rolled out a new high-end and midrange FXT Edge physical appliances that offer more performance and storage compared to the previous systems that will be replaced.

The new 1U appliances have more density compared to the previous 2U 3850 and 4850 generation, while holding more CPU cores, solid state drive (SSD) capacity, NVAM and, in the case of the 5600, more DRAM.

The FXT 5600 holds 9.6 TB SSDs per node and scales up to 480 TB per cluster. That is double the amount of SSDs compared to the previous FXT model. The FXT 5400 holds 4.8TB per node and replaces the  and scales up to 240TB per cluster.

Jeff Tabor, Avere’s senior director of product management and marketing, said the new systems boast new performance that can be clustered to up to 50 systems so the performance builds across all the nodes. The 5600 can achieve 3.7 GBs per second while the 5400 can achieve 2.7 GBs per second. Avere is positioning the 5600 as both a capacity and performance system, while the 5400 is more of a capacity play.

“It’s just less expensive for those who don’t need quite as much,” Tabor said. “Our mission is to optimize on-premise infrastructure and enable the ability to move to the cloud.”

Both the 5600 and 5400 include 16 CRU cores and four GBs of NVAM. They have four 10GbE port and four 1GbE ports. The3 5600 has 384 GBs of DRAM and the 5400 use 256 GBs of DRAM. Both FXT 5000 models are 50 percent smaller than the prior FXT systems.

Avere’s FXT Edge filers are scale-out NAS devices built for the hybrid cloud and are used to boost performance for NAS devices. The systems support bothNFS and SMB protocols so businesses can store data and run applications on premises or in the cloud with minimal latency.

The systems support Avere’s FlashCloud for Amazon S3, Google, IBM and Cleversafe, HGST and Amplidata and SwiftStack. Avere layers a file system on object storage to accelerate performance.

n October 2015, Avere Systems expanded its cloud storage strategy with CloudFusion virtual NAS software designed specifically for Amazon Web Services (AWS). The CloudFusion virtual NAS filer is a 64-bit file system that Avere claims can scale to 1 exabyte in the public cloud.

It follows Avere’s 2014 launch of its Virtual FXT Edge Filer, a software-only version of its FXT Edge Filer that works as network-attached storage (NAS) in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). CloudFusion is based on the same vFXT Edge software technology designed for big data processing and storage in the cloud.

CloudFusion uses three tiers of AWS, storing data on EC2, Elastic Block Storage (EBS) or Simple Storage Service (S3), depending on usage patterns. It supports Network File Storage and Server Message Block protocols, and comes in two versions — one that supports four virtual CPUs and includes 30.5 GB of DRAM, and larger version that supports eight virtual CPUs and 61 GB of DRAM. Both support snapshots, compression and data tiering in RAM, solid-state drives and SATA disk drives.

January 14, 2016  7:50 AM

Diablo Technologies names new CEO, raises $19 million

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
flash storage, Storage

Flash memory vendor Diablo Technologies named a new CEO and secured $19 million in Series C financing as the company tries to rebuild momentum for its memory technology business after fighting off legal challenges in 2015.

Chairman and CEO Mark Stibitz takes the reins from Diablo founder Riccardo Badalone, who moves into the chief product officer role. Stibitz had been an independent member of Diablo’s board of directors since February 2012. His business management and product development experience spanned start-up and public companies including Anobit, Elliptic Technologies, PMC-Sierra, Agere Systems and Lucent/AT&T-Microelectronics.

Stibitz said he started to work with Badalone on the executive transition in October. “Riccardo is the creative genius behind the innovation in the product, and he wants more time to see that through with the customers,” Stibitz said.

The $19 million Series C capital infusion raised total investments to $77.8 million since Diablo’s 2003 founding. The Ottawa-based startup commenced with $9.8 million and banked $36 million in Series A funding in November 2012 and $13 million in Series B funding in April 2015. Leading the Series C financing is ICV, a new investor, joined by Battery Ventures, BDC Capital, Celtic House, and Hasso Plattner Ventures.

Stibitz said Diablo needed money after battling legal claims from Netlist Inc., a memory module manufacturer that was its former development partner. Netlist’s accusations against Diablo included patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, and incorrect inventorship.

Diablo claimed victory in March 2015 after a U.S. District Court jury found no breach of contract or misappropriation of trade secrets. The company’s law firm, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, claimed another win in December after the Patent Trial and Appeals Board decided in Diablo’s favor in three inter partes review proceedings on the intellectual property claims.

“The judge did not allow us to conduct business until we went through the legal process. We had high legal fees, and until we got through that, the company was basically put on hold,” Stibitz said. “Part of the amazing piece of the Diablo story is working through that legal process, coming out successful against the claims, clearing our good name and then [maintaining] the incredible support of the investors along the way.”

Stibitz said the Series C funding will enable Diablo to devote its full attention to its Memory1 all-flash DDR4 module and customer deployments. He said the company wants to expand its sales force, customer support team at headquarters and in the field, and research and development arm.

Target customers for Memory1 are hyperscale data center operators and major server OEMs. Stibitz said customers use the flash-based Memory1 module to increase the amount of memory in their server systems at a lower cost than DRAM.

Unlike Memory1’s use of flash as system memory, Diablo’s first product uses flash as high-performance block storage. Stibitz claimed the Memory Channel Storage product was gaining momentum until a judge ordered the company to stop selling the product last January. The judge later lifted the restrictions, but he said, “The pause was tough for us.” Diablo had sold its all-flash Memory Channel Storage through SanDisk and Lenovo under the name ULLtraDIMM.

Stibitz said Diablo faced a choice of updating its DDR3-based Memory Channel Storage product to DDR4 or focusing on the new Memory1 technology. The team chose the latter and pushed off the Memory Channel Storage refresh to this year. Diablo expects to sample the DDR4-based Memory Channel Storage product for top customers in the middle of the year and go into production by year’s end, according to Stibitz.

“We’re rebuilding the momentum the company had previously gained, but we’re doing it around flash as memory,” Stibitz said. “We felt that flash as memory was very innovative, and we wanted to get that out first in the restart process.”

January 13, 2016  4:57 PM

HPE puts equity stake in Scality and its Ring software

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Scality just got a bigger endorsement — and a cash infusion — from Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The object storage software company said HPE has made an equity investment in the startup and the two companies have forged a tighter partnership in engineering, go-to-market and sales. HPE has had a reseller relationship with the San Francisco-based Scality since October 2014 when the two signed a formal agreement that paired the Scality Ring

Now Ring software is available with the HPE storage portfolio.

“The difference between now and before is we didn’t have an equity stake in Scality,” said Patrick Osborne, senior director of product management and marketing, HP Storage Division at HPE. “And the Ring software was only sold with the server line. Now it’s been expanded to the storage channel.

Scality announced it raised $45 million in funding last August to expand its North American sales force, continue international expansion and build out its reseller channel. The company, which is targeting an IPO in 2017, has raised a total of $80 million since its founding in 2009.

Scality also scored its second major server reseller deal last year when Dell added the object storage vendor to the Blue Thunder program that combines software-defined storage with Dell servers.

Osborne would not disclose how much Hewlett-Packard Ventures has invested in Scality but other reports put the figure at $10 million.  Erwan Menard, president and CEO of Scality, said the HPE investment is part of a new D round of funding that brings total funding to $92 million.

Osborne said the Scality partnership will focus on sales that require large capacity compared to its HPE 3PAR SAN array product line that focuses on latency and performance sensitive configurations.

“This is for applications that require capacity optimization,” he said. “Workloads that have unstructured data and rich media that create large amounts of data that is static and need dense servers with Apollo servers. This creates a great solution for capacity-oriented solutions.

Menard said the two companies also now have a joint engineering partnership that will focus on leveraging hardware upgrades and enhancements for faster time-to-market releases.

“We are an application that runs on standalone servers so we will be able to leverage hardware innovations very quickly,” Menard said. “People say that no one cares about hardware but customers do care about hardware, especially petabyte-scale customers. Hardware if very important and we will get access to hardware innovations a lot quicker.”

January 13, 2016  1:21 PM

New CFO hopes to take Tegile public

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Flash and hybrid storage array vendor Tegile Systems has hired a CFO with experience bringing companies public, and CEO Rohit Kshetrapal said he is aiming Tegile in that direction.

“We don’t see an IPO [initial public offering] as a tomorrow-morning-thing or a day-after-tomorrow-thing,” Kshetrapal said. “We want to put the fundamentals in place.”

Tegile probably won’t go public before 2017, but the new CFO Mike Morgan was hired to start the process. Morgan has already led two IPOs as a CFO and most recently was CFO at cloud storage controller vendor Panzura. He has been a CFO at technology companies since 1991.

Morgan said Tegile “has taken a smart, measured approach to how they grow the business,” he said. “All the other players in the space have a particular niche – Tintri in virtualization, Pure in all-flash, Nimble on the lower-end side. The market here for Tegile is bigger than for the others because of the breadth of our product line.”

Tegile added all-flash arrays in 2014 to complement the hybrid arrays it began selling in 2012.

Tegile raised $117.5 million in four funding rounds since 2010. Its investors include venture capitalists August Capital, Meritech Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, Pine River Capital and Cross Creek Adivsors, and strategic investors Western Digital and SanDisk.

Kshetrapal said Tegile has more than 1,200 customers and about 35% of them now are using all-flash arrays. He said units shipped increased 350% year-ever-year in 2015.

Kshetrapal didn’t disclose revenue, but a source with knowledge of the company said its 2015 revenue was between $30 million to $35 million, depending on the final fourth quarter results.

Following several years of large funding rounds in storage, venture capitalists are expected to pull back in 2016. That would leave IPOs as the best way for mature private companies to raise cash over the next few years. But storage vendors have had mixed results with IPOs in recent years, so it won’t be easy to pull off.

Morgan and Kshetrapal said they want their bottom line to be in better shape than Pure Storage and Nutanix. All-flash vendor Pure, which went public last year, and hyper-converged vendor Nutanix, which has filed to go public in 2016, have had impressive revenue growth during their histories but still experience large losses every quarter.

“You can’t spend three times your revenue to buy your business,” Morgan said. “Everybody is taking a more sober look at how to grow the business.”

Kshetrapal added: “We want to show both growth and an effective cost structure.”

According to the annual Piper Jaffray CIO survey published this week, 10% of CIOs who say they plan to deploy all-flash arrays this year named Tegile as their preferred vendor. That placed Tegile tied for fourth with Tintri behind EMC, Pure Storage and IBM.

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