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.
What’s a Datera?
Datera’s Elastic Data Fabric is “software defined storage appliance that takes over the hardware”. It’s currently available in two flavours:
- Software available with qualified hardware (this is prescriptive, and currently based on a SuperMicro platform); and
- Can be licensed as software-only as well with 2 SKUs available in 50TB or 100TB chunks.
What Can I Do With a Datera?
[image courtesy of Datera]
There are a couple of features that make Datera pretty cool, including:
- Intent defined – you can use templates to enable intelligent placement of application data;
- Economic flexibility – heterogeneous nodes can be deployed in the same cluster (capacity, performance, media type);
- Works with an API first or Dev/Ops model – treating your infrastructure as code, programmable/composable;
- Multi-tenant capability – this includes network isolation and QoS features;
- Infrastructure awareness – auto-forming, optimal allocation of infrastructure resources.
What Do You Mean “Intent”?
According to Datera, Application Intent is “[a] way of describing what your application wants and then letting the system allocate the data”. You can define the following capabilities with an application template:
- Policies for management (e.g. QoS) – data redundancy, data protection, data placement;
- Storage template – defines how many volumes you want and the size you want; and
- Pools of resources that will be consumed.
I think this is a great approach, and really provides the infrastructure operator with a fantastic level of granularity when it comes to deploying their applications.
Datera don’t use RAID, currently using 1->5 replication (synchronous) within the cluster to protect data. Snapshots are copy on write (at an application intent level).
Further Reading and Final Thoughts
I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of some of the capabilities of the Datera platform. I am super enthusiastic about the concept of Application Intent, particularly as it relates to scale-out, software-defined storage platforms. I think we spend a lot of time talking about how fast product X can go, and why technology Y is the best at emitting long beeps or performing firmware downgrades. We tend to forget about why we’re buying product X or deploying technology Y. It’s to run the business, isn’t it? Whether it’s teaching children or saving lives or printing pamphlets, the “business” is the reason we need the applications, and thus the reason we need the infrastructure to power those applications. So it’s nice to see vendors such as Datera (and others) working hard to build application-awareness as a core capability of their architecture. When I spoke to Datera, they had four customers announced, with more than 10 “not announced”. They’re obviously keen to get traction, and as their product improves and more people get to know about them, I’ve no doubt that this number will increase dramatically.
While I haven’t had stick-time with the product, and thus can’t talk to the performance or otherwise, I can certainly vouch for the validity of the approach from an architectural perspective. If you’re looking to read up on software-defined storage, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Enrico‘s recent post on the topic. Chris M. Evans also did a great write-up on Datera as part of his extensive series of SFD10 preview posts – you can check it out here. Finally, if you ever need to get my attention in presentations, the phrase “no more data migration orgies” seems to be a sure-fire way of getting me to listen.