There are many startups out there that do something with storage these days. To be honest, many of them do the same thing and at times I wonder why on earth everyone focuses on the same segment and tries to attack it with the same product / feature set. One of the golden rules for any startup should be that you have a unique solution that will sell itself. Yes I realize that it is difficult, but if you want to succeed you will need to stand out.
About a year ago Satyam Vaghani (former VMware principal engineer who was responsible for VMFS, VAAI, VVOLs etc.) and Poojan Kumar (former VMware Data products lead and ex-Oracle Exadata founder) decided to start a company – PernixData. PernixData was conceptualized based on their experiences working on the intersection of virtualization, flash based storage and data. Today PernixData is revealed to the world. For those who don’t know, Pernix means “agile”. But what is PernixData about?
How many of you haven’t experienced storage performance problems? It probably is, in fact, the number one bottleneck in most virtualized environments. Convincing your manager (director / VP) that you need a new ultra-fast (and expensive) storage device is not easy; far from it. On top of that, data will always hit the network first before being acknowledged and every read will go over your storage network. How cool would it be if there was a seamless software solution that solves all your storage performance problems without you requiring to rip and replace your existing storage assets?
Server-side flash overcomes problems associated with network based storage and server-side caching solutions provide some respite. Yet, server-side caching solutions usually neither satisfy enterprise class requirements for availability nor transparently support clustered hypervisor features such as VMware vMotion. In addition, while they accelerate reads they fail to do much for writes. Customers are then stuck between either overhauling their entire storage infrastructure or going with caching solutions that work for limited use cases. PernixData is about to release a cool new product – a flash virtualization platform – that bridges this gap. By picking up where hypervisors left off, PernixData is planning to become the VMware of server flash and is aiming to do to server flash what VMware did to CPU and memory. So, what is this flash virtualization platform and why would you need it?
PernixData’s flash virtualization platform virtualizes all flash resources across all server nodes in a vCenter Server cluster into a single high-performance, enterprise class data tier. The great thing is that this happens in a transparent way. PernixData sits completely within the hypervisor and in the data-path of your virtual machine. Note that there are no requirements to install anything in the guest (virtual machine). PernixData is not a virtual appliance because virtual appliances introduce performance overhead and would need to be managed with all costs and complexity associated.
PernixData is also flash technology agnostic. It can leverage SSD or PCIe flash (or both) within the platform. The nice thing is that PernixData uses a scale-out architecture. As you add hosts with flash they can be dynamically added to the platform. On top of that, PernixData does both read and write acceleration while providing full data protection and is fully compatible with VM mobility solutions like vMotion, Storage vMotion, HA, DRS and Storage DRS.
Even more exciting PernixData will support both Write-through and Write-back modes. The cool part is that PernixData also ensures IO is replicated for high availability purposes. You don’t want to run your VM in Write-back mode when you cannot guaranteed data is highly available right?! I guess that is one of the unique selling points of the solution. A distributed, scale out, flash virtualization platform which is not only flash agnostic but also non-disruptive for your virtual workloads.
I would imagine this is many times cheaper than buying a new storage array. Even without knowing what the cost of PernixData will be, or which flash device (PCIe or SSD) you would decide to use… I bet when it comes to overall costs of the solution (product + implementation costs) it will be many many times cheaper.
As I started off with, the golden rule for any startup should be that they have a unique solution that sells itself. I am confident that PernixData FVP has just that by being a disruptive technology that solves a big problem in virtualized environments in a scale-out and transparent manner while leveraging your existing storage investments.
Make sure to also read Frank’s article on PernixData.