Graybeards talk object storage with Russ Kennedy, Sr. VP Prod. Strategy & Cust. Solutions Cleversafe

In our 15th podcast we talk object storage with Russ Kennedy Senior V.P. Product Strategy and Customer Solutions, Cleversafe. Cleversafe is a 10 year old  company sellinge scale out, object storage solutions with a number of interesting characteristics. Howard and I had the chance to talk with Cleversafe at SFD4 (we suggest you view the video if you want to learn more), just about a year ago. But we have both known Russ for a number of years and Ray has done work for Cleversafe in the past.

We haven’t talked about objects storage in the past so this podcast goes over some foundational information about it. Object storage is starting to become more mainstream and general purpose as more interfaces become available and as the amount of data being stored grows out of sight.  Object storage has a flat name space, rich metadata, and relatively rudimentary, native storage access methods. But on top of this one can build sophisticated PB storage environments that can handle high amounts of data throughput, spread this data across multiple sites, and provide highly fault tolerant/highly available storage environments. Object storage will never replace OLTP block oriented storage but for environments with massive unstructured data repositories, it’s probably the best solution out there today.

Cleversafe has some unique characteristics namely their ability to split object storage elements over multiple disparate locations and use erase coding to supply data availability in the event of storage, server, or site failures. Some other object storage systems use 2- or 3-way replication to protect against data loss. But Russ makes the apt comment that when you are talking about PBs of data, replication can cause your storage costs to go up quite fast. Someone mentioned that there are Cleversafe customers that have 15-9’s data availability using erasure coding with only 150% of the original capacity. This is significantly more reliability than what could be obtained by dual or even triple redundancy alone. However, I always find that the weak link in data reliability  discussions such as these is always the software that implements the solution, not the data integrity architecture of the system.

Currently, Cleversafe has many multi-PB installations some of which span continents and others of which are looking to breach an EB (10**21 bytes of storage) of object data. We asked what these customers look like and Russ said lots of Accessors®  (stateless on- and off-ramps for object data) and a lots more Slicestors® (servers holding the statefull storage).

One of the significant barriers to higher object storage adoption has always been their unique, native object storage access protocols. But these days, it turns out that Amazon’s S3 protocol has become the defacto standard for object storage and this is helping accelerate object storage adoption.  In the podcast we discuss how historically, defacto standards have been a successful approach used to introduce new storage access protocols. Cleversafe offers its native RESTful access protocol, S3 and a smattering of others but you can also use other partner solutions if you need standard file access to the object store.

Cleversafe also offers HDFS as another access protocol. With Cleversafe HDFS, Hadoop can access all of it’s data from the Cleversafe object repository. In addition, you can run Hadoop MapReduce on its Slicestor nodes, if you want. Apparently, moving PB of data to analyze it and then deleting it is an expensive and very time consuming proposition, and of course native HDFS uses triple redundancy…

In the podcast, we get into object storage, some of Cleversafe’s advanced functionality, access protocol evolution and more. Listen to the podcast to learn more…

This months episode comes in at a little more than 47 minutes.

Russ Kennedy

Russ Kennedy, Sr VP Product Strategy & Customer Solutions

Russ Kennedy brings more than 20 years experience in the storage industry to Cleversafe as the company’s Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Customer Solutions. Having rolled up his sleeves working on automated tape libraries, Russ is still attracted to the technological challenges that have shaped the industry and particularly to the innovative approach that Cleversafe delivers to storage.

Russ joined the company initially in 2007 and left in 2009, staying on in an advisory role. In 2011, Russ rejoined the company seeing a clear opportunity to solve the storage needs surrounding the exponential growth of big data and the unique impact that Cleversafe delivers over traditional systems.

Previously, Russ served as the Vice President of Competitive Intelligence at CA Technologies, and was the Senior Director of Engineering and Product Management at Thin Identity Corporation. Russ has an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Colorado State University.

GreyBeards talk edge-core filers with Ron Bianchini, President & CEO Avere Systems

Welcome to our 13th podcast where we talk edge filers with Ron Bianchini, President and CEO of Avere Systems. Avere has been around the industry for quite awhile now and has always provided superior performance acceleration for backend NAS filers. But with their latest version, they now offer that same sort of performance acceleration for public cloud and object storage systems as well.

Ron has had quite a long history in the IT world. He was the CEO of Spinnaker Networks prior to NetApp’s acquisition which was used as the progenitor for FAS Cluster Mode services. He also worked for another startup and was a university professor before that. The second former professor on our podcast.

Avere Systems started out as an attempt to take NAS in another direction, this time performance at the edge with capacity filers at the core. That promise is now being taken to object store and public cloud storage as well.

This months episode comes in at a little more than 44 minutes.

We start our discussion with a short history of Avere Systems. It was originally targeted to offer an edge-core NAS solution where the Avere appliance supplied performance optimization and the NAS backend storage offered capacity optimization.

You may recall that originally there were a lot of edge-core NAS solutions on the market at one time but Avere has outlasted them all. One secret to Avere’s success was that they construct a virtualization layer with their own file system on top of backend NAS storage. This allowed them to offer unique capabilities such as Global name space, non-disruptive migration and disaster recovery but it also ultimately made it much easier for them to offer the same functionality for object storage and public cloud services.

Ron can talk NAS performance with the best of them and he shows us how Avere performs so well, even with relatively slow object and public cloud storage behind them. The Greybeards were duly impressed with Avere’s last quarter SPECsfs submissions (see Ray’s June SPECsfs2008 dispatch for more) with object storage (Cleversafe & Amplidata) and public cloud (Amazon’s Flash Storage) backends. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Ron Bianchini

Ron Bianchini, Jr. President & CEO Avere Systems

As president and chief executive officer of Avere Systems, co-founder Ron Bianchini has a long record of accomplishment in building and leading successful companies that deliver breakthrough technologies. Prior to Avere, Ron was a senior vice president at NetApp, where he served as the leader of the NetApp Pittsburgh Technology Center. Before NetApp, he was CEO and co-founder of Spinnaker Networks, which developed the Storage Grid architecture acquired by NetApp. Ron also served as vice president of product architecture of FORE Systems, where he was responsible for ATM products. Previously, he co-founded Scalable Networks [acquired by FORE], which designed and implemented a large-scale Gigabit Ethernet switch, and earlier in his career, he was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Ron received an S.B. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds numerous patents in fault-tolerant distributed systems and high-speed network design and has published extensively in technical journals.

Greybeards talk cloud storage with Marc Farley, product marketing for Microsoft StorSimple

Welcome to our seventh episode. This time we talk about cloud storage and how data centers can have both cloud and on premises storage with the proper system. We discuss all this with Marc Farley, Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft StorSimple Cloud-integrated Storage solution. Marc’s an old friend so besides talking about StorSimple’s technology we had a pretty wide ranging discussion on industry trends and storage startup history.

This months episode comes in at just under 40 minutes and the sound quality is the best yet.

Marc has a long and colorful history in social media and the storage industry having worked as an independent storage consultant, worked for EqualLogic before and after the Dell acquisition, 3PAR before and after the HP acquisition and StorSimple before and after the Microsoft acquisition.

Microsoft’s StorSimple appliance acts as local tier 2 storage but uses local SSD and disk as well as cloud storage to support its data storage services. Marc calls this approach “scale across” storage, i.e. across both local and cloud storage as well as across multiple independent StorSimple appliances.

For the record, although I was the first to mention Wang, Howard initiated and completed the discussion on this. We also asked Marc for his secret to selecting new startups to work for. Not sure we got a real answer to this but it made for an interesting conclusion to the talk.

Listen to the podcast for more

Marc Farley

Marc Farley is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft working on the hybrid cloud storage solutions. He has written three books on storage including his most recent, Rethinking Enterprise Storage: A Hybrid Cloud Model and his previous books Building Storage Networks and Storage Networking Fundamentals. In addition to his writing books he has been a blogger and podcaster about storage topics while working for EqualLogic, Dell, 3PAR, HP, StorSimple, and now Microsoft.

When he is not working, Marc likes to ride bicycles, listen to music, spend time with his family and dote on his cats.