Hedvig’s Evolution

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 15.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Hedvig recently presented at Storage Field Day 15. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

More Hybrid Than Ever

It’s been a little while since I’ve spoken to Hedvig. Since that time they’ve built on a platform that was already pretty robust and feature-rich.

[image courtesy of Hedvig]

 

Features

If you’re unfamiliar with Hedvig, this post by Ray Lucchesi provides a nice overview of the offering. There are a number of nice features, including the fact that it’s hypervisor agnostic. You can also run the proxy on bare metal deployed as KVM instance. Each host requires a proxy and there are 2 proxies per host (active / passive) for HA. It provides protocol consolidation on a single platform and can do deduplication, compression and encryption at a virtual disk level. Workloads map to a virtual disk, and the deduplication is global (and can be toggled on / off at a virtual disk level). Deduplication is performed at a block-level to a 4K granularity.

The default replication policy is “Agnostic” (let the system decide where to put the data), but you can also tell it that you need it to be “Rack Aware” or even “DC Aware”. The cool thing is that the same policies apply whatever protocol you use.

Hedvig uses a concept called Containers (no, not those containers, or those containers). These are assigned to storage pools, and striped across 3 disks.

There is demarcation between metadata and data.

Data Process:

  • Local data persistence
  • Replication

Metadata Process:

  • Global knowledge of everything happening in the cluster

The solution can integrate with external KMS infrastructure if you’re into that sort of thing, and there’s a really focus on “correctness” of data in the system.

 

Hedvig’s Evolution

Hedvig already had a good story to tell in terms of scalable, software-defined storage by the time I saw them in 2016. Their recent presentation demonstrated not just some significant re-branding, but also increased maturity around the interface and data protection features on offer with the platform. Most of the demonstration time was spent in the Hedvig GUI, in stark contrast to the last time I saw them when there was an almost constant requirement to drop in to the CLI to do a variety of tasks. At the time this made sense as the platform was relatively new in the market. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m as much a fan as anyone of the CLI, but it feels like you’re in with a better chance of broad adoption if you can also present a useable GUI for people to leverage.

Of course, whether or not you have a snazzy HTML 5 UI means nothing if you don’t have a useful product sitting behind that interface. It was clear from Hedvig’s presentation that they certainly do have something worthy of further consideration, particularly given its focus on data protection, geo-resilience and storage efficiency. The fact that it runs on pretty much anything you can think of is also a bonus. I don’t think too many people would dispute that SDS has a lot of advantages over traditional storage deployments. It’s often a lot more accessible and provides an easier, cheaper entry point for deployment. It can often be easier to get changes and improvements made to the platform that aren’t necessarily tied to particular hardware architectures, and, depending on the software in play, it can often run on just about any bit of x86 compute you want it to. The real value of solutions like Hedvig’s are the additional data protection and efficiency features that provide performance, scalability and resilience beyond the standard 2-node, 1000 disk midrange offerings.

Hedvig seem to be listening to their current and (potential) customers and are making usability and reliability a key part of their offering. I look forward to seeing how this develops over the next 12 months.

It’s Hedvig, not Hedwig

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 10.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

hedvig_logo_260x77-200x59

Before I get started, you can find a link to my raw notes on Hedvig‘s presentation here. You can also see videos of the presentation here.

 

It’s Hedvig, not Hedwig

I’m not trying to be a smart arse. But when you have a daughter who’s crazy about Harry Potter, it’s hard not to think about Hedwig when seeing the Hedvig brand name. I’m sure in time I’ll learn not to do this.

If you’re unfamiliar with Hedvig, it’s software-defined storage. The Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform is made up of standard servers and the Hedvig software.

Some of the key elements of the Hedvig solution are as follows:

  • Software is completely decoupled from commodity hardware;
  • Application-specific storage policies; and
  • Automated and API-driven.

 

Capabilities

Hedvig took us through their 7 core capabilities, which were described as follows:

  • Seamless scaling with x86 or ARM (haven’t seen an ARM-64 deployment yet);
  • Hyperconverged and hyperscale architectures (can mix and match in the same cluster);
  • Support for any hypervisor, container or OS (Xen, KVM, HyperV, ESX, containers, OpenStack, bare-metal Windows or Linux);
  • Block (iSCSI), file (NFS) and object (S3, SWIFT) protocols in one platform;
  • Enterprise features: dedupe, compression, tiering, caching, snaps/clones;
  • Granular feature provisioning per virtual disk; and
  • Multi-DC and cloud replication.

 

Components

SFD10_Hedvig_Components

The Hedvig solution is comprised of the following key components:

  • Hedvig Storage Proxy – presents the block and file storage; runs as VM, container, or bare metal;
  • Hedvig Storage Service – forms an elastic cluster using commodity servers and/or cloud infrastructure; and
  • RESTful APIs – provides object access via S3 or Swift, instruments control and data plane

 

How Does It Work?

This is oversimplifying things, but here’s roughly how it works:

  • Create and present virtual disks to the application tier;
  • Hedvig Storage Proxy captures and directs I/O to storage cluster;
  • Hedvig Storage Service distributes and replicates data across nodes;
  • The cluster caches and balances across nodes and racks; and
  • The cluster replicates for DR across DCs and/or clouds.

 

Use Cases?

So where would you use Hedvig? According to Hedvig, they’re seeing uptake in a number of both “traditional” and “new” areas:

Traditional

  • Server virtualisation
  • Backup and BC/DR
  • VDI

New workloads

  • Production clouds
  • Test/Dev
  • Big data/IoT

 

Further Reading and Final Thoughts

Before I wrap up, a quick shout-out to Chris Kranz for his use of Hedvig flavoured magnetic props during his whiteboard session – it was great. Here’s a shonky photo of Chris.

SFD10_Hedvig

Avinash Lakshman is a super smart dude with a tonne of experience in doing cloud and storage things at great scale. He doesn’t believe that traditional storage has a future. When you watch the video of the Hedvig presentation at SFD10 you get a real feel for where the company’s coming from. The hyper-functional API access versus the GUI that looks a little rough around the edges certainly gives away the heritage of this product. That said, I think Avinash and Hedvig are onto a good thing here. The “traditional” storage architectures are indeed dying, as much as we might enjoy the relative simplicity of selling someone a dual-controller, midrange, block array with limited scalability.

As with many of these solutions I feel like we’re on the cusp of seeing something really cool being developed right in front of us. For some us, the use cases won’t strike a chord, and the need for this level of scalability may not be there. But if you’re all in on SDS, Hedvig certainly has some compelling pieces of the puzzle that I think are worthy of further investigation.

The Hedvig website contains a wealth of information. You should also check out Chris M. Evans‘s SFD10 preview post on Hedvig here, while Rick Schlander did a great overview post that I recommend reading. Max did a really good deep dive post, along with a higher level view that you can see here.