Burlywood Tech Announces TrueFlash

Burlywood Tech came out of stealth late last year and recently announced their TrueFlash product. I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Tomky about what they’ve been up to since emerging from stealth and thought I’d cover the announcement here.

 

Burlywood TrueFlash

So what is TrueFlash? It’s a “modular controller architecture that accelerates time-to-market of new flash adoption”. The idea is that Burlywood can deliver a software-defined solution that will sit on top of commodity Flash. They say that one size doesn’t fit all, particularly with Flash, and this solution gives customers the opportunity to tailor the hardware to better meet their requirements.

It offers the following features:

  • Multiple interfaces (SATA, SAS, NVMe)
  • FTL Translation (Full SSD to None)
  • Capacity ->100TB
  • Traffic optimisation
  • Multiple Protocols (Block (NVMe, NVMe/F), File, Object, Direct Memory)

[image courtesy of Burlywood Tech]

 

Who’s Buying?

This isn’t really an enterprise play – those aren’t the types of companies that would buy Flash at the scale that this would make sense. This is really aimed at the hyperscalers, cloud providers, and AFA / HCI vendors. They sell the software, controller and SSD Reference Design to the hyperscalers, but treat the cloud providers and AFA vendors a little differently, generally delivering a completed SSD for them. All of their customers benefit from:

  • A dedicated support team (in-house drive team);
  • Manufacturing assembly & test;
  • Technical & strategic support in all phases; and
  • Collaborative roadmap planning.

The key selling point for Burlywood is that they claim to be able to reduce costs by 10 – 20% through better capacity utilisation, improved supply chain and faster product qualification times.

 

Thoughts

You know you’re doing things at a pretty big scale if you’re thinking it’s a good idea to be building your own SSDs to match particular workloads in your environment. But there are reasons to do this, and from what I can see, it makes sense for a few companies. It’s obviously not for everyone, and I don’t think you’ll be seeing this n the enterprise anytime soon. Which is the funny thing, when you think about it. I remember when Google first started becoming a serious search engine and they talked about some of their earliest efforts with DIY servers and battles with doing things at the scale they needed. Everyone else was talking about using appliances or pre-built solutions “optimised” by the vendors to provide the best value for money or best performance or whatever. As the likes of Dropbox, Facebook and LinkedIn have shown, there is value in going the DIY route, assuming the right amount of scale is there.

I’ve said it before, very few companies really qualify for the “hyper” in hyperscalers. So a company like Burlywood Tech isn’t necessarily going to benefit them directly. That said, these kind of companies, if they’re successful in helping the hyperscalers drive the cost of Flash in a downwards direction, will indirectly help enterprises by forcing the major Flash vendors to look at how they can do things more economically. And sometimes it’s just nice to peak behind the curtain to see how this stuff comes about. I’m oftentimes more interested in how networks put together their streaming media services than a lot of the content they actually deliver on those platforms. I think Burlywood Tech falls in that category as well. I don’t care for some of the services that the hyperscalers deliver, but I’m interested in how they do it nonetheless.

Storbyte Come Out Of Stealth Swinging

I had the opportunity to speak to Storbyte‘s Chief Evangelist and Design Architect Diamond Lauffin recently and thought I’d share some information on their recent announcement.

 

Architecture

ECO-FLASH

Storbyte have announced ECO-FLASH, positioning it as “a new architecture and flash management system for non-volatile memory”. Its integrated circuit, ASIC-based architecture abstracts independent SSD memory modules within the flash drive and presents the unified architecture as a single flash storage device.

 

Hydra

Each ECO-FLASH module is comprised of 16 mSATA modules, running in RAID 0. 4 modules are managed by each Hydra, with 4 “sub-master” Hydras being managed by a master Hydra. This makes up one drive that supports RAID 0, 5, 6 and N, so if you were only running a single-drive solution (think out at the edge), you can configure the modules to run in RAID 5 or 6.

 

[image courtesy of Storbyte]

 

Show Me The Product

[image courtesy of Storbyte]

 

The ECO-FLASH drives come in 4, 8, 16 and 32TB configurations, and these fit into a variety of arrays. Storbyte is offering three ECO-FLASH array models:

  • 131TB raw capacity in 1U (using 4 drives);
  • 262TB raw capacity in 2U (using 16 drives); and
  • 786TB raw capacity in 4U (using 48 drives).

Storbyte’s ECO-FLASH supports a blend of Ethernet, iSCSI, NAS and InfiniBand primary connectivity simultaneously. You can also add Storbyte’s 4U 1.18PB spinning disk JBOD expansion units to deliver a hybrid solution.

 

Thoughts

The idea behind Storbyte came about because some people were working in forensic security environments that had a very heavy write workload, and they needed to find a better way to add resilience to the high performance storage solutions they were using. Storbyte are offering a 10 year warranty on their product, so they’re clearly convinced that they’ve worked through a lot of the problems previously associated with the SSD Write Cliff (read more about that here, here, and here). They tell me that Hydra is the primary reason that they’re able to mitigate a number of the effects of the write cliff and can provide performance for a longer period of time.

Storbyte’s is not a standard approach by any stretch. They’re talking some big numbers out of the gate and have a pretty reasonable story to tell around capacity, performance, and resilience as well. I’ve scheduled another session with Storbyte to talk some more about how it all works and I’ll be watching these folks with some interest as they enter the market and start to get some units running workload on the floor. There’s certainly interesting heritage there, and the write cliff has been an annoying problem to solve. Coupled with some aggressive economics and support for a number of connectivity options and I can see this solution going in to a lot of DCs and being used for some cool stuff. If you’d like to read another perspective, check out what Rich over at Gestalt IT wrote about them and you can read the full press release here.

X-IO Announces ISE 900 Series G4

X-IO Technologies recently announced the ISE 900 Series G4. I had the chance to speak to Bill Miller about it and thought I’d provide some coverage of the announcement here. If you’re unfamiliar with X-IO, ISE stands for Intelligent Storage Elements. This is X-IO Technologies’ “next-generation ISE”, and X-IO will also be continuing to support their disk-based and hybrid arrays. They will, however, be discontinuing the 800 series AFAs.

 

What’s In The Box?

There are two boxes – the ISE 920 and ISE 960. You get all of the features of ISE hardware and software, such as:

  • High Availability
  • QoS
  • Encryption (at rest)
  • Management REST API
  • Simple Web-based Management
  • Monitored Telemetry
  • Predictive Analytics

They used to use sealed “DataPacs” in the disk drive days but this isn’t needed in the all-flash world. ISE still manages SSDs in groups of 10 and still overprovisions capacity up to a point. The individual drives are now hot-swappable though.

You also get features such as “Performance-Optimized Deduplication”, and deduplication can be disabled by volume.

The ISE also uses Enhanced Matrixed RAID Data Allocation, where you get:

  • Up to 60 individually hot-swappable SSDs (for the 960, 20 for the 920)
  • Writes to SSDs balanced across drives for better wear and performance

ISE Software for “resilient in-place media loss”, meaning

  • Less frequent drive replacement
  • Global parity and spare allocation
  • Failed drives do not have the same urgency for replacement as traditional arrays

Web-based Management Interface

  • Simplified management with X-IO’s OptimISE
  • Support for multi-system management through a single session
  • At-a-glance and in-depth performance metrics
  • Customizable widget based layout

As with most modern storage arrays, the user interface is clean and simple to navigate. OptimISE replaces ISE Manager, although you’ll still need it to manage your Gen1 – Gen3 arrays. X-IO are considering adding support for Gen3 arrays to OptimISE, but they’re waiting to see whether there’s customer demand.

[image courtesy of X-IO Technologies]

 

X-IO tell me that snapshots and replication are on the roadmap and will be added in the future, with X-IO aiming to have these features available in H1 next year (but don’t hold them to that though). They’ll also be aiming to add support for iglu systems.

 

Show Me Your Specs

It wouldn’t be a product announcement without a box shot.

 

[image courtesy of X-IO Technologies]

 

2U Dual-Controller Active/Active

  • 8Gbps FC (16Gbps field upgradeable in the future)
  • 4 ports per controller (8 ports will be field upgradeable in the future)

Hot-Swappable FRUs

  • Controller
  • Power Supplies
  • Fans
  • Regulators
  • SSDs min – max
    • ISE 920: 10 – 20
    • ISE 960: 10 – 60
  • Two hot-swappable 1600 Watt PSUs

Capacity (*Effective capacity assumes 5:1 deduplication ratio)

  • ISE 920: 9.6TB – 242TB
  • ISE 960: 9.6TB – 725TB

Capacity expansion (up to 60 drives) is done in 10 drive increments.

Performance

X-IO tell me they can get performance along the lines of:

  • Up to 400,000 IOPS; and
  • Access Time <1ms.

 

Conclusion and Further Reading

X-IO released a really good overview of the Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) platform a while ago that I think is worth checking out. X-IO’s deduplication solution promises to deliver some pretty decent results at a highly efficient clip. If you want some insight into how they go about doing it, check out Richard Lary’s presentation from Storage Field Day 13. This is their first array with deduplication built in, and I’m interested to see how it performs in the field. The goal is to deliver the same results as their competitors, but with improved efficiency. This seems to be the goal behind much of the hardware design, with X-IO telling me that they come in around 60 cents (US) per effective GB of capacity. That seems mighty efficient.

X-IO have been around for a while, and I’ve found their Axellio Edge product to be fascinating. The AFA market is crowded with vendors saying that they do all things for all people. It’s nice to see that X-IO aren’t promising the world to customers, but they are offering some decent features at a compelling price.