Disclaimer: I recently attended VMworld 2016 – US. My flights were paid for by myself, VMware provided me with a free pass to the conference and various bits of swag, and Tech Field Day picked up my hotel costs. 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.
I had the opportunity to speak with NooBaa about six months ago. At the time they were still developing their product, but I thought it looked pretty cool. At Tech Field Day Extra, they demoed their cloud services engine. The company was founded by Yuval Dimnik (Co-founder and CEO) and Guy Margalit (Co-founder and CTO). If you’re familiar with Exanet or Dell FluidFS, you’ll be familiar with some of their capabilities. NooBaa was founded in 2014, with a product launch in September 2016, and a current headcount of 14 (they tell us have a strong security/storage DNA).
“Customers don’t care how you do your tech, they care how it fixes their problems”
So NooBaa, eh?
They have thought about the name. A lot. It’s a pure software product enabling folks to create and provision cloud services
- Storage (like AWS S3) – First!
- Serverless compute (like AWS Lambda) – Future
The key is that the customer owns the service, with
- Full control of who accesses what, and what stays on-premises
- No cloud vendor lock-in
The services use
- Heterogeneous resources – cloud resources and servers
- In the cloud, on-premises, and spanned
So, take all the spare storage you have lying about on Windows and Linux VMs, bang it all in a single namespace and present it back to your object-friendly apps. Replicate it to the cloud if you like. Or use all your spare clouds. Sounds like a cool idea.
Design Considerations (once bitten, twice shy)
They wanted to design a product that behaves like the cloud, but gives you the choice to consume from on-premises or cloud.
But can you predict the unpredictable?
- Cloud strategy? Everyone has one of those, they’re just not sure what it really means.
- Growth rate? Oh, it grows a lot.
- Hardware technologies? Yep, software still needs hardware.
- Vendors? Who can really work out what they do?
- Organisational changes?
- Security issues and lurking “heart bleeds”?
Stuff is hard. Along with this, NooBaa were looking to add the following capabilities
- On-premises, multi-cloud, and supporting cloud migration
- P2P scalable capacity
- Monitor hardware and adapt
- Agnostic to the machine
- Allowed to grow, allowed to shrink
- User space as a religion – when you need to fix that you can do it right away
NooBaa is all about a hybrid approach to resources, supporting multiple cloud providers and on-premises resources. It also has support for multiple sites.
The key to NooBaa’s storage performance in what might seem to be non-performant environments is the way it stores data, as you can see in the below diagram.
Note that they’re not targeting low-latency workloads. At this stage they’re cloud agnostic and hoping to keep things that way. Heterogeneous resources are key for NooBaa. You can also sign up for the Community Edition – limited to 20TB aggregate object size.
Final Thoughts and Reading
The name doesn’t roll off the tongue, and the colour-scheme is very pretty. But I think this belies the thought that’s gone into this product. Yuval and his team have a strong background in scalable object storage, and I’m excited to see them finally come out of stealth. The concept of treating storage nodes as second class citizens is interesting, and I’m looking forward to taking the Community Edition for a spin when I get my act together in the near future. In the meantime, head over to Alastair’s blog for a more succinct write-up on what we saw. John White also did a great post here. You can grab a copy of my raw notes here, and watch NooBaa’s TFDx presentations here.