GreyBeards on Storage year end 2015 podcast

In our annual yearend podcast and it’s the Ray and Howard show, talking about storage futures, industry trends and some storage world excitement of- the past year.

We start the discussion deconstructing recent reductions in year over year revenues at major storage vendors. It seems with the advent of all flash arrays (AFA), and all major vendors and most startups now have AFAs, customers no longer feel the need to refresh old storage hardware with similarly (over-)configured new systems. Instead, most can get by with AFA storage, at smaller capacities that provides the same, if not better, performance. Further9, the fact that AFAs are available from so many vendors and startups, customers no longer have to buy performance storage exclusively from major vendors anymore. This is leading to a decline in major vendor storage revenues, which should play itself out over the next 1-2 years as most enterprise storage systems are refreshed.

Recent and future acquisitions also came up for discussion. NetApp’s purchase of SolidFire was a surprise, but SolidFire had carved out a good business with service providers and web-scale customers which should broaden NetApp’s portfolio. In the mean time, the Dell-EMC acquisition takes them out of the competition for new technology acquisitions, at least until it closes. NetApp’s new CEO, George Kurian, appears more willing than his predecessor to go after good storage technology, wherever it comes from.

Software delivered (defined) storage came up as well. With the compute available in todays micro-processors, there’s very little a software delivered storage system can’t do. And with scale-out storage, there’s even more cores to work with. Software delivered storage and scale-out will continue to play a spoiler role, at least in the low to mid-range, in the storage market throughout the next year.

Nonetheless, hardware still has some excitement left. Intel’s recent acquisition of Altera, now makes Xeon/x86 processing available for embedded applications that previously had to rely on ARM and MIPS processing. Now, there’s nothing an FPGA hardware based system can’t do. Look for lot’s more activity here over the long term.

We talked about recent SMR disks coming out and how they could be used in storage systems today.  There was some adjacent discussion on the flash-disk crossover, and conclude it’s unlikely over the next 3-5 years, at least for capacity drives. Although there’s plenty of analyst that say it’s already happened, on a pure $/GB there’s still no comparison.

We then turned to  3D TLC NAND and the  reliability capabilities available from current controlller technologies. Raw planar NAND available today is much less reliable than what we had 1-2 generations back, but the drives, if anything, have gotten more reliable. This is due to the reliability technology inherent in todays SSD controllers.

We had an aside, on SSD overprovisioning and how this should become a customer level option.  Reducing overprovisioning would decrease drive endurance but it’s a tradeoff that the vendors/distributors make for customers today. We feel that at least for some customers, they could make this decision just as well. Especially if drive replacements were a customer maintenance activity with replacement SSDs shipped in a just-in-time manner.

We conclude on 3D XPoint (3DX) non-volatile memory. We both agreed 3DX adoption depends on pricing which will change over time. In the long term, we see the potential for a new storage system with 3DX or other new non-volatile memory as a top performing storage/caching/non-volatile memory tier, 3D TLC NAND as a middle tier and SMR disk as the bottom tier. When is another question.

Our year end discussion always wanders a bit, from high end business trends to in the weeds technologies and everything in-between. This one is no exception and runs over 49 minutes. We tried to do another Year End video this time but neither of our video recording systems worked out, but we had a good audio recording, so we went with the podcast this year. Next year should be back to video.  Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Howard Marks

Howard Marks is the Founder and Chief Scientist of howardmarksDeepStorage, a prominent blogger at Deep Storage Blog and can be found on twitter @DeepStorageNet.

 

Ray Lucchesi

Ray Lucchesi is the President and Founder of Silverton Consulting, a prominent blogger at RayOnStorage.com, and can be found on twitter @RayLucchesi.

GreyBeards talk HPC storage with Molly Rector, CMO & EVP, DDN

In our 27th episode we talk with Molly Rector (@MollyRector), CMO & EVP of Product Management/Worldwide Marketing for DDN.  Howard and I have known Molly since her days at Spectra Logic. Molly is also on the BoD of SNIA and Active Archive Alliance (AAA), so she’s very active in the storage industry, on multiple dimensions and a very busy lady.

We (or maybe just I) didn’t know that DDN has a 20 year history in storage and in servicing high performance computing (HPC) customers. It turns out that more enterprise IT organizations are starting to take on workloads that look like HPC activity.

In HPC there are 1000s of compute cores that are crunching on PB of data. For Oil&Gas companies, it’s seismic and wellhead analysis; with bio-informatics it’s genomic/proteomic analysis; and with financial services, it’s economic modeling/backtesting trading strategies. For today’s enterprises such as retailers, it’s customer activity analytics; for manufacturers, it’s machine sensor/log analysis;  and for banks/financial institutions, it’s credit/financial viability assessments. Enterprise IT might not have 1000s of cores at their disposal just yet, but it’s not far off. Molly thinks one way to help enterprise IT is to provide a SuperComputer as a service (ScaaS?) offering, where top 10 supercomputers can be rented out by the hour, sort of like a supercomputing compute/data cloud.

We start early talking about DDN WOS: object store, which can handle archive to cloud or backend tape libraries. Later we discuss DDN ExaScaler and GridScaler, which are NAS appliances for Lustre and massively scale out, parallel file system storage, respectively.

Another key supercomputing storage requirement is  predictable performance. Aside from sophisticated QoS offerings across their products, DDN also offers the IME solution, a bump in the cable, caching system, that can optimize large and small file IO activity for backend DDN NAS scalers. DDN IME is stateless and can be removed from the data path while still allowing IT access  to all their data.

While we were discussing DDN storage interfaces, Molly mentioned they was were working on an Omni Path Fabric.  Intel’s new Omni Path Fabric is intended to replace rack scale PCIe networks for HPC.

This months edition is not too technical and runs just over 45 minutes. We only got to SNIA and AAA at the tail end and just for a minute or two. Molly’s always fun to talk to, with enough technical smarts to keep Howard and I at bay, at least for awhile :). Listen to the podcast to learn more.

HeadshotMolly Rector, CMO and EVP Product Management & Worldwide Marketing,  DDN

With 15 years of experience working in the HPC, Media and Entertainment, and Enterprise IT industries running global marketing programs, Molly Rector serves as DDN’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) responsible for product management and worldwide marketing. Rector’s role includes providing customer and market input into the company’s product roadmap, raising the Corporate brand visibility outside traditional markets, expanding the partner ecosystem and driving the end-to-end customer experience from definition to delivery.

Rector is a founding member and currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Active Archive Alliance. She is also the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA) Vice Chairman of the Board and the Analytics and Big Data committee Vice Chairman. Prior to joining DDN, Rector was responsible for product management and worldwide marketing as CMO at Spectra Logic. During her tenure at Spectra Logic, the company grew revenues consistently by double digits year-over-year, while also maintaining profitability. Rector holds certifications as CommVault Certified System Administrator; Veritas Certified Data Protection Administrator; and Oracle Certified Enterprise DBA: Backup and Recovery. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biology and chemistry.

PB are the new TB, GreyBeards talk with Brian Carmody, CTO Inifinidat

In our 26th episode we talk with Brian Carmody (@initzero), CTO of Infinidat.  Howard and I also talked with Inifinidat at Storage Field Day 8 (SFD8), a couple of weeks ago which recorded their session(s). For more information about Infinidat, we would highly suggest you watch the videos available here .

As they say, Brian is wise beyond his (35) years and was highly conversant about the history of storage,  IT in general and current industry trends –  must have had good mentor(s). He made mention that many of today’s Billion dollar IT businesses were first dreamt up at EMC but failed to make a significant impact there.

The podcast starts out talking about the changes impacting the storage industry today and the rise of the startups, all due to the great enabler – flash. Infinidat has a hybrid storage solution that uses controller based SSDs as a read cache for data that resides on 7200 RPM disks and uses sophisticated DRAM caching for read and write back cache.

Infinidat has targeted the enterprise market with a high touch model. The historic problem with this model is its high cost. To counter this trend, Infinidat has focused on reducing support costs by having 100PB or more of Infinidat storage in their labs either burning in for future customer shipments or being used in test, validation and customer performance modeling. The significant burn-in shrinks early life hardware failures (at customer data centers) and as a result, reduces field support activity.  Also having all that equipment sitting in their labs makes testing, validation and performance modeling much quicker and theoretically more comprehensive – much cheaper and easier to find & fix bugs in the lab than in the field.

Brian discussed how Infinidat started. He said Moshe gave them $80M and told them assume you have all the money you need, hire the best people you can, start with a clean slate storage design and take as much time as you need.

The result is the Infinidat Infinibox storage system, a 7-9’s available, triply redundant storage system that supports unified SAN-NAS storage. Moreover, their development team seems to have 3 generations of engineers with battle hardened engineers from the original development of EMC Symmetrix to developers straight out of Google today.

A couple of times Brian came out of left field with ideas that blew Howard and I away. As we were talking Brian mentioned that “PB are the new TB” in the enterprise today.  And later in the session he said something to the effect that todays plethora of mobile devices act as a caching layer for data in the cloud. Brian’s pretty impressive and should go far in this industry.

This months edition runs just over 42 minutes and didn’t expend as much time on technical details as about industry trends and what Inifinidat was doing to differentiate themselves from the pack. Howard and I came away impressed both with the information presented at SFD8 as well as the conversation we had with Brian. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Infinidat - Brian CarmodyRZBrian Carmody, CTO Infinidat

Brian Carmody is Chief Technology Officer at INFINIDAT, responsible for corporate technology strategy and new technology incubation.

Carmody is a 15-year technology veteran and serial entrepreneur, starting with medical diagnostics company, Jurupari Systems, which he co-founded in 1999. He was an early employee of storage consultancy NovusCG, starting as a hardware engineer and ultimately building and leading their storage management technology practice.

In 2007, Brian joined media company, MTV Networks Viacom, where he managed worldwide storage engineering and led development of Viacom’s digital media storage system.  In 2008, Carmody joined IBM, where he led corporate solution engineering for the XIV Storage and PureFlex brands, then returned to an engineering role in Israel where he led the XIV Hyper-Scale cloud storage project. Carmody joined Infinidat as CTO in 2013.