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.

GreyBeards talk global storage with Ellen Rubin CEO & Laz Vekiarides CTO, ClearSky Data

In this edition we discuss ClearSky Data’s global storage service with Ellen Rubin (@ellen_rubin), CEO & Co-Founder and Laz Vekiarides (@lazvek), CTO & Co-founder of ClearSky Data.  Both Ellen and Laz have been around the IT industry for decades and Laz in particular was deeply involved in the development of EqualLogic storage systems both at Dell and at EqualLogic, prior to the acquisition.

ClearSky Data provides a global, primary storage service that connects edge device(s) in the data center that supply a read/write cache for iSCSI block storage to a point-of-presence (PoP) appliance in the metro area which uses cloud storage as its backend storage repository . We get into the technology later but essentially a customer pays a $/GB/month fee and all the edge, point-of-presence hardware and cloud storage repository is bundled into that monthly price.

The service is implemented as a two level caching service: level one at the edge is a cluster of 2U appliances with compute, DRAM and up to 24 SSDs and a dedicated metro-ethernet networking link to the PoP; level two at the PoP includes a dual HA server configuration with a JBOD with even more SSDs that has a direct link to Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (AWS S3).

Data is compressed, (inline or post-process) deduped and encrypted at the edge. Encryption keys are kept by the customer. Data written to the edge is synch-mirrored to the PoP and when the PoP fills up or the customer’s time interval has elapsed, their data is destaged to Amazon S3 which can then be replicated to other regions, where needed.

As part of their service, ClearSky Data also offers disaster recovery. As all customer data resides in S3, it can easily be supplied to another edge appliance (with the proper keys) at any other metro area location connected to one of their PoP’s.

ClearSky Data handles eventual consistency (not all copies of the data residing in  cloud storage may be the same) by versioning the cloud data objects and providing point-in-time consistency.

At the edge, the service can be deployed as a cluster of appliances that work together to support the IO workload and the PoP is configured to handle whatever IO workload is required in the metro area. Activity at the edge is heavy compute (compression, dedupe and encrypting all the data that comes in) and workload at the PoP is more IO bandwidth/networking based.

ClearSky Data currently has PoP’s in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Boston with more on the way in the US. Today, ClearSky Data offer’s iSCSI interface protocols but have plans to provide FC, NFS and SMB support as well.  As we recorded the podcast, ClearSky Data’s  service was not quite GA yet, but were close.

Full Disclosure: Howard has worked for ClearSky in the past.

This months edition runs just under 41 minutes and gets into the business side and technical side of their service. Ellen provided the business view and Laz handled all the technical questions Howard and I threw at him. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

Ellen and Laz-orig copyEllen Rubin, CEO & Co-Founder ClearSky Data

Ellen Rubin is an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to-market for fast-growing companies. Most recently she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company that was successfully acquired by Verizon in 2011. At Verizon, Ellen ran the cloud products group and was responsible for the strategy and roadmap for all cloud offerings.

Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was Vice President of Marketing at Netezza (NYSE: NZ), the pioneer and global leader in data warehouse appliances that power business intelligence and analytics at over 200 enterprises worldwide. As a member of the early management team at Netezza, Ellen helped grow the company to $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen defined and created broad market acceptance of a new category, “data warehouse appliances,” and led market strategy, product marketing, complementary technology relationships and marketing communications.

Prior to Netezza, Ellen founded Manna, an Israeli and Boston-based developer of real-time personalization software. Ellen played a key role in raising over $18 million in venture financing from leading US and Israeli venture capital firms, recruiting the US-based management team and defining product and market strategy. Ellen began her career as a marketing strategy consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard College. She speaks regularly at industry events and has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Women in the Cloud by CloudNOW, as a Woman to Watch by Mass High Tech and Rising Star Entrepreneur by the New England Venture Capital Association.

Laz Vekiarides, CTO  & Co-Founder ClearSky Data

For over 20 years Laz Vekiarides has served in key technical and leadership roles delivering breakthrough technologies to market. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Software Engineering for Dell’s EqualLogic Storage Engineering group, where he led the development of numerous storage innovations and established the EqualLogic product line as a leader in host OS and hypervisor integration.

Laz joined Dell from EqualLogic, which was acquired in early 2008, where he was a member of the core leadership team – playing a key role in the company’s early success as a Senior Engineering Manager and Architect for the PS Series SAN arrays and host tools. Prior to EqualLogic, Laz held senior engineering and management positions at several companies including 3COM and Banyan Systems.

An occasional blogger, Laz frequently speaks at industry conferences, particularly in the areas of virtualization and data storage. He holds several storage technology patents, as well as a BSEE from Northeastern University, and an MSCS from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

GreyBeards talk VMware agentless backup with Chris Wahl, Tech Evangelist, Rubrik

In this edition we discuss Rubrik’s converged data backup with Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl), Tech Evangelist for Rubrik.  You may recall Chris as a blogger on a number of Tech, Virtualization and Storage Field Days (VFD2, TFD extra at VMworld2014, SFD4, etc.) which is where  I met him. Chris is one of the bloggers that complains about me pounding on my laptop keyboard so loud at SFDs ;/

Chris had only been with Rubrik about 3 weeks when we  talked with him but both Howard and I thought it was time to find out what Rubrik was up to.

Rubrik provides an agentless, scale-out backup appliance for VMware vSphere clusters. It uses VADP to tap into VM data stores and obtain changed blocks for backup data. Rubrik deduplicates and compresses VM backup data and customers define a SLA  policy at the VM, folder or vSphere cluster level to determine when to backup VMs.

Rubrik supports cloud storage (any S3 or SWIFT provider) for long term archive storage of VM backups. With Rubrik, customers can search the backup catalog (for standard VM, NFS file, and backup metadata) that spans the Rubrik cluster data as well as S3/SWIFT storage backups.  Moreover, Rubrik can generate compliance reports to indicate how well your Rubrik-vSphere backup environment has met requested backup SLAs, over time.

Aside from the standard recovery facilities, Rubrik offers some interesting recovery options such as “instant restore” which pauses a VM and reconfigures its storage to come up on the Rubrik cluster (as a set of NFS VMDKs). Another option is “instant mount”, which runs a completely separate copy of a VM using Rubrik storage as its primary storage. In this case the VM’s NIC is disconnected so that the VM gets an error when it fires up, which has to be resolved to run the VM.

Rubrik hardware comes in a 2U package with 4 nodes. Each node has one flash SSD and 3 4 or 8TB SATA disks for customer data. The SSD is used for ingest caching and metadata. Data is triple mirrored across SATA disks in different nodes.

The latest release of Rubrik supports (compressed/deduped) data replication to other Rubrik clusters located up to asynchronous distances away.

This months edition runs just under 42 minutes and gets somewhat technical in places. We had fun with Chris on our call and hope you enjoy the podcast.


Chris Wahl, Tech Evangelist, Rubrik


Chris Wahl, author of the award winning Wahl Network blog and Technical Evangelist at Rubrik, focuses on creating content that revolves around virtualization, automation, infrastructure, and evangelizing products and services that benefit the technology community.

In addition to co-authoring “Networking for VMware Administrators” for VMware Press, he has published hundreds of articles and was voted the “Favorite Independent Blogger” by vSphere-Land three years in a row (2013 – 2015).

Chris also travels globally to speak at industry events, provide subject matter expertise, and offer perspectives to startups and investors as a technical adviser.