146: GreyBeards talk K8s cloud storage with Brian Carmody, Field CTO, Volumez

We’ve known Brian Carmody (@initzero), Field CTO, Volumez for over a decade now and he’s always been very technically astute. He moved to Volumez earlier this year and has once again joined a storage startup. Volumez is a cloud K8s storage provider with a new twist, K8s persistent volumes hosted on ephemeral storage.

Volumes currently works in public clouds (AWS & Azure( soft launch), with GCP coming soon) and is all about supplying high performing, enterprise class data services to K8s container apps. But doing this using transient (Azure ephemeral &AWS instance) storage and standard Linux. Hyperscalers offer transient storage as almost an afterthought with customer compute instances. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

It turns out that over the last decade or so, there has been a lot of time and effort devoted to maturing Linux’s storage stack and nowadays, with appropriate configuration, Linux can offer enterprise class data services and performance using direct attached NVMe SSDs. These services include thin provisioning, encryption, RAID/erasure coding, snapshots, etc., which on top of NVMe SSDs, provide IOPS, bandwidth and latency performance that boggles the mind.

However, configuring Linux sophisticated and high performing data services is a hard problem to solve..

Enter Volumez, they have a SaaS control plane, client software plus CSI drivers that will configure Linux with ephemeral storage to support any performance and data service that can be obtained from NVMe SSDs.

Once installed on your K8s cluster, Volumez software profiles all ephemeral storage, and supplies that information to their SaaS control plane. Once that’s done your platform engineers can define specific storage class policies or profiles useable by DevOps to consume ephemeral storage. .

These policies identify volume [IOPs, Bandwidth, Latency] X [read, write] performance specifications as well as data protection, resiliency and other data service requirements. DevOps engineers consume this storage using PVCs that call for these storage classes at some capacity. When it sees the PVC claim, Volumez SaaS control plane will carve out slices of ephemeral storage that can support the performance and other storage requirements defined in the storage class.

Once that’s done, their control plane next creates a network path from the compute instances with ephemeral storage to the worker nodes running container apps. After that it steps out of the picture and the container apps have a direct (network) data path to the storage they requested. Note, Volumez’s SaaS control plane is not in the container app storage data path at all.

Volumez supports multi-AZ data resiliency for PVCs. In this case, another mirror K8s cluster would reside in another AZ, with Volumez software active and similar if not equivalent ephemeral storage. Volumez will configure the container volume to mirror data between AZs. Similarly, if the policy requests erasure coding, Volumez SaaS software configures the ephemeral storage to provide erasure coding for that container volume.

Brian said they’ve done some amazing work to increase the speed of Linux snapshotting and restoring.

As noted above, the Volumez control plane SaaS software is outside the data path, so even if the K8s cluster running Volumez enabled storage loses access to the control plane, container apps continue to run and perform IO to their storage. This can continue until there’s a new PVC request that requires access to their control plane.

Ephemeral storage is accessed through special compute instances. These are not K8s worker nodes and they essentially act as a passthru or network attachment between worker nodes running apps with PVC’s and the Volumez configured Linux Logical Volumes hosted on slices of ephemeral storage.

Volumez is gaining customer traction with data platform clients, DBaaS companies, and some HPC environments. But just about anyone needing high performing data services for cloud K8s container apps should give Volumez a try.

I looked at AWS to see how they price instance store capacities and found out it’s not priced separately, but rather instance storage is bundled into the cost of EC2 compute instances.

Volumez is priced based on the number of media devices (instance/ephemeral stores) and performance (IOPs) available. They also have different tiers depending on support level requirements (e.g., community, Business hrs, 7X24) which also offers different levels of enterprise security functionality.

Brian said they have a free tier that customers can easily signup for and try out by going to their web site (see link above), or if you would like a guided demo, just contact him directly.

Brian Carmody, Field CTO, Volumez

Brian Carmody is Field CTO at Volumez. Prior to joining Volumez, he served as Chief Technology Officer of data storage company Infinidat where he drove the company’s technology vision and strategy as it ramped from pre-revenue to market leadership.

Before joining Infinidat, Brian worked in the Systems and Technology Group at IBM where he held senior roles in product management and solutions engineering focusing on distributed storage system technologies.

Prior to IBM, Brian served as a technology executive at MTV Networks Viacom, and at Novus Consulting Group as a Principal in the Media & Entertainment and Banking practices.