Random Short Take #8

Here are a few links to some news items and other content that might be useful. Maybe.

Random Short Take #6

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Random Short Take. Here are a few links to a few things that I think might be useful, to someone.

E8 Storage Announces InfiniBand Support

I recently had the opportunity to have a call with Julie Herd about what E8 Storage have been up to and thought I’d share my thoughts here. I’ll admit it was a very quick chat because the announcement needed little explanation, but it’s sometimes the simple things that are worth noting.

 

Announcement

E8 Storage recently announced availability of InfiniBand support for its high performance, NVMe storage solutions. They already do NVMe/F using 4 or 8 100GbE ports, and there’s now an equivalent offering using IB.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

E8 are positioning this primarily as a response to requirements from HPC customers. While some people think IB is dead, there has been a big investment in the technology in HPC environments, and this allows E8 to get into that market without upsetting the apple cart too much. They’re certainly delivering the kind of storage performance that HPC folks would be interested in, so this seems like a sensible solution. They tell me there’s no difference in terms of latency or performance between the IB and RoCE offerings, and it’s really just about a common transport for those users that need it. The cool thing about E8, of course, is that there’s also a software-only version of their offering available, in case you have a particular tin vendor that you’d like to build your super fast NVMe/F storage platform on. You can read the full announcement here.

E8 Storage Announces Software-only Offering

Introduction

E8 Storage came out of stealth in 2016, and have been dazzling the market with some very impressive performance numbers. I recently had the opportunity to chat about their announcements with Julie Herd, and thought I’d share my thoughts here.

 

Announcement

E8 recently announced the launch of its new E8 Storage Software only product offering for a selected range of pre-qualified servers from leading vendors such as Dell, HP and Lenovo. Built with “standard” components, such as RoCE and standard 2.5″ NVMe SSDs, the E8 Storage Software connects up to 96 host servers to each E8 Storage controller, each linked concurrently to shared storage to deliver unprecedented petabyte scalability.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

It’s been interesting to see a number of high-performance storage offerings released as software-only plays. While this announcement isn’t exactly the same as Kaminario’s recent exit from the hardware market, it does mark a significant shift in the underlying technology driving modern software solutions. In the past, storage consumers were beholden to their vendor’s choice of silicon (and associated supply chain). Nowadays, however, we’re seeing a lot more focus on the value that can be delivered beyond the hardware. It no longer matters as much to your storage vendor what the bezel looks like. What is important is that their code is driving your storage solution.

The benefit of this is that you can now, potentially, enjoy an improved consumer experience by leveraging your existing server purchasing arrangements (assuming you’re still in the business of buying tin) to extend your storage footprint as well. The downside is that you’re still possibly going to be a bit limited by the range of hardware supported by software vendors. This is going to be heavily influenced by what hardware the software vendors can get into their integration lab to test, and sometimes you’ll find (much like the early days of VMware ESX) that the latest revision of your favourite bit of kit may not always be supported by your preferred storage provider.

In any case, E8, according to Herd, don’t expect to flip their business model on its head. Instead, they foresee their hardware business continuing along as before, with this software-only offering merely augmenting their capability for customers who are into that kind of thing. You can’t run software without hardware, but it’s nice to be able to choose which hardware you want to deploy. I’m all for it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else E8 have up their sleeve in the next little while.

If you’d like to read more about E8 Storage, you can find details of their products here. I also recommend checking out Chin-Fah’s write-up from Storage Field Day 14, as well as Max’s article.