That is exactly what happend in the fast moving storage industry yesterday in Silicon Valley.
I had a chance to meet with the top startups, Nimble storage and Coraid to name a few, at the #ExecEvent Big Data conference in Santa Clara. I was very impressed with the direction of both companies.
The state of storage over the past couple of decades has focused on two primary metrics: First, there is the “dollars per GB” or “dollars per TB” metric, which expresses how much storage can be had for a particular dollar amount. Second, there is the “dollars per IOP” metric, which tells CIOs how much performance can be purchased as part of that storage.
Although the capacity metric has trended steadily downward over time for traditional rotational storage, the performance metric has remained relatively high. In order to meet application performance needs, organizations needed to purchase additional storage, even if that meant buying additional capacity that wasn’t necessarily needed.
Today, several companies in the market are trying to solve this performance dilemma through the creative application of flash-based storage. However, moving to an all-flash storage system simply flips the problem; organizations may end up with the performance they need but far too little capacity, or capacity at too high a cost.
Nimble Storage was founded in 2008 and started shipping product in 2010. Today, with 600 customers and close to 1,000 devices shipped, Nimble has set its sights on the midmarket space — 200 to 2,000 employees — with storage needs in the 50 TB range. These customers are typically heavily virtualized, but they do not have an army of IT staff. As such, these organizations are looking for homogenous, easily-managed, cost-effective storage.
Nimble brings a combination of high performance flash and low cost SATA storage to a purpose-built iSCSI-based hybrid array. Hybrid storage is an increasingly popular way for vendors to deliver solutions that capture the raw performance capabilities of flash storage while retaining the massive storage capacities that can be had with traditional rotational storage.
For a more detailed report on Nimble read this research post from Wikibon.org.
In the Nimble solution, the flash storage is as nothing more than a cache, which is used to accelerate read operations while the SATA disks are used for storage. Because the flash is simply cache and is not an actual data tier, the Nimble solution is tierless. Administrators do not need to concern themselves where data is stored.
Coraid is another hot startup that is smoking right now. Coraid was built from ground up and bootstrapped by tech guru Brantley Coile. According to Wikipedia, Brantley, Coraid CTO, is an inventor and founder of several network technology companies whose well known products include PIX Firewall and LocalDirector. Brantley earned a degree in Computer Science at the University of Georgia and later worked at AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill. In 1994, he co-founded Network Translation, Inc where he created the PIX Firewall appliance a new class of data communication firewalls utilizing statefull packet inspection.
Coraid story is interesting. Brantley brought in industry legend Audrey MacLean as Chairman. Audrey brought in Kevin Brown a seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneur and executive. Coraid is smoking hot. Year to date Coraid has raised over $85 million in venture financing from ALLEGIS Capital, Azure Capital, Menlo Ventures, Kinetic Ventures, Crosslink Capital, and Seagate Technology.
Both these companies Nimble and Coraid have big news coming out so stay tuned. Both companies are very impressive.
Storage continues to be hot especially the Solid State Drive market. New solutions are emerging from big SSD/Flash technology movement. SSD and Flash performance is the number one value proposition being discussed.
Other key conversations happening at the ExecEvent were:
- Applications and new apps will be a big driver
- Bottlenecks can be removed around DAS vs shared infrastructure areas..and inside the server savings are amazing (performance)
- Ethernet with Massively Parallel – if you can get down to the bare metal the better… latency is important
Future of Storage – Predictions from Startup Execs
Disruption is creating lots of opportunities for startups. The big storage vendors used to charge lots of money for storage and now the market is about getting more better performance and mosre storage for less money. This is making the big boys like EMC, Netapp, and IBM really freak out. HP is the only vendor that I can tell that is really doing well in competing with startups thanks to the efforts to their 3Par acquisition.
One disruption area that Violin Memory sees happening is SNE – storage network environment.
When asked what they saw as the next big thing in 12 months the following startup execs answered:
Virident – application level interfaces to engage with SSD has to change…custom interfaces will emerge that will generate some standardization around it
Skyera – more customer deployments with new tech around SSD will accelerate because of the need that is generated with new levels of performance and capabilities
Nimble Storage – people who have the control points will have more power in the architecture equation….not just attaching SSD in server; storage builds around server based cache will be absorbed
Coraid – intelligence is moving up the stack and there is a need to tie into that – the SSD hype goes away – there will be more in integration and those integrations will be more pragmatic
Violin Memory – application vendors want to see new capability – appliances are emerging to application specific solutions around storage – storage applications will be key infrastructure
In the past it was all about monolithic storage. Today, we see everyone doing scale out storage where converged server-storage is driving more efficiency, processing power, and storage.
Going forward, the future of storage is about ubiquitous storage. Storage will become a service( like startup Nirvanix) that is running on a distributed scalable architecture on converged storage servers.