Graybeards talk object storage with Russ Kennedy, Sr. VP Prod. Strategy & Cust. Solutions Cleversafe

In our 15th podcast we talk object storage with Russ Kennedy Senior V.P. Product Strategy and Customer Solutions, Cleversafe. Cleversafe is a 10 year old  company sellinge scale out, object storage solutions with a number of interesting characteristics. Howard and I had the chance to talk with Cleversafe at SFD4 (we suggest you view the video if you want to learn more), just about a year ago. But we have both known Russ for a number of years and Ray has done work for Cleversafe in the past.

We haven’t talked about objects storage in the past so this podcast goes over some foundational information about it. Object storage is starting to become more mainstream and general purpose as more interfaces become available and as the amount of data being stored grows out of sight.  Object storage has a flat name space, rich metadata, and relatively rudimentary, native storage access methods. But on top of this one can build sophisticated PB storage environments that can handle high amounts of data throughput, spread this data across multiple sites, and provide highly fault tolerant/highly available storage environments. Object storage will never replace OLTP block oriented storage but for environments with massive unstructured data repositories, it’s probably the best solution out there today.

Cleversafe has some unique characteristics namely their ability to split object storage elements over multiple disparate locations and use erase coding to supply data availability in the event of storage, server, or site failures. Some other object storage systems use 2- or 3-way replication to protect against data loss. But Russ makes the apt comment that when you are talking about PBs of data, replication can cause your storage costs to go up quite fast. Someone mentioned that there are Cleversafe customers that have 15-9’s data availability using erasure coding with only 150% of the original capacity. This is significantly more reliability than what could be obtained by dual or even triple redundancy alone. However, I always find that the weak link in data reliability  discussions such as these is always the software that implements the solution, not the data integrity architecture of the system.

Currently, Cleversafe has many multi-PB installations some of which span continents and others of which are looking to breach an EB (10**21 bytes of storage) of object data. We asked what these customers look like and Russ said lots of Accessors®  (stateless on- and off-ramps for object data) and a lots more Slicestors® (servers holding the statefull storage).

One of the significant barriers to higher object storage adoption has always been their unique, native object storage access protocols. But these days, it turns out that Amazon’s S3 protocol has become the defacto standard for object storage and this is helping accelerate object storage adoption.  In the podcast we discuss how historically, defacto standards have been a successful approach used to introduce new storage access protocols. Cleversafe offers its native RESTful access protocol, S3 and a smattering of others but you can also use other partner solutions if you need standard file access to the object store.

Cleversafe also offers HDFS as another access protocol. With Cleversafe HDFS, Hadoop can access all of it’s data from the Cleversafe object repository. In addition, you can run Hadoop MapReduce on its Slicestor nodes, if you want. Apparently, moving PB of data to analyze it and then deleting it is an expensive and very time consuming proposition, and of course native HDFS uses triple redundancy…

In the podcast, we get into object storage, some of Cleversafe’s advanced functionality, access protocol evolution and more. Listen to the podcast to learn more…

This months episode comes in at a little more than 47 minutes.

Russ Kennedy

Russ Kennedy, Sr VP Product Strategy & Customer Solutions

Russ Kennedy brings more than 20 years experience in the storage industry to Cleversafe as the company’s Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Customer Solutions. Having rolled up his sleeves working on automated tape libraries, Russ is still attracted to the technological challenges that have shaped the industry and particularly to the innovative approach that Cleversafe delivers to storage.

Russ joined the company initially in 2007 and left in 2009, staying on in an advisory role. In 2011, Russ rejoined the company seeing a clear opportunity to solve the storage needs surrounding the exponential growth of big data and the unique impact that Cleversafe delivers over traditional systems.

Previously, Russ served as the Vice President of Competitive Intelligence at CA Technologies, and was the Senior Director of Engineering and Product Management at Thin Identity Corporation. Russ has an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Colorado State University.

Greybeards video interview with Marc Farley, Marketing Quaddra Software

This is our first GBoS video interview, sorry about the quality of the video but the audio came through just fine.

Quaddra Software provides a file analytics solution which supplies information and analytical data about massive file stores.This allows customers to get a better handle on just what’s in their file stores.

Please see or for more information.

Graybeards talk hyper-convergence with Kelly Murphy, Founder & CTO, Gridstore

In our 14th podcast we return to hyper converged systems and talk with Kelly Murphy, Founder and CTO of  GridStore. Gridstore is a startup supplying hyper-coverged systems for Microsoft (Hyper-V) virtualization environments. Howard and I had a chance to talk with Gridstore at SFD4, just about a year ago.

Gridstore has recently added an all-flash version of their hyper-converged systems to their hybrid and pure SATA storage lineup. Howard, in a recent post, wrote about how all-flash hyper-converged systems make as much sense as chocolate covered pickles. It just so happens that within a month of writing the post, there two hyper-converged vendors announced all-flash nodes. Kelly responds well to Howard’s critique of the idea.

Howard apparently has a mischievous side, as sometime in the past he blew-up a  Gridstore node to test its fault tolerance. The video went viral and made Howard a YouTube star.

In the podcast, we get into Erasure coding, EVO RAIL pricing vs. cost, and why Hyper-V and not VMware to name just a few of the topics covered.  At the end of the podcast there’s a nice bit about how Gridstore came about and it involves disposable motherboards? Listen to the podcast to learn more…

This months episode comes in at a little more than 48 minutes.

Kelly Murphy, Founder & CTO
Kelly Murphy

Kelly Murphy, Founder and CTO, Gridstore

As a serial entrepreneur with a track record of bringing disruptive technologies to market, Kelly Murphy brings 15 years CEO experience with disruptive venture backed software companies. In 1998, almost a decade before the cloud became popular, Murphy founded Marrakech, the first software company that offered on-demand procurement and supply chain systems to over 30,000 trading partners including some of the world’s largest retailers, consumer food producers, packaging companies and utilities.

After selling Marrakech in 2007, he turned his sights onto what was his largest obstacle in growing his previous business — storage. In 2009, Murphy founded Gridstore — a pioneer of software-defined storage that is set to disrupt the traditional storage industry. Currently, he serves on Gridstore’s Board of Directors and is also the Chief Technology Officer.

Originally from Canada, Murphy obtained his BS in Computer Science from Michigan Technological University, played Division I hockey and was the seventh pick of the New York Islanders in the 1984 entry draft.

GreyBeards talk edge-core filers with Ron Bianchini, President & CEO Avere Systems

Welcome to our 13th podcast where we talk edge filers with Ron Bianchini, President and CEO of Avere Systems. Avere has been around the industry for quite awhile now and has always provided superior performance acceleration for backend NAS filers. But with their latest version, they now offer that same sort of performance acceleration for public cloud and object storage systems as well.

Ron has had quite a long history in the IT world. He was the CEO of Spinnaker Networks prior to NetApp’s acquisition which was used as the progenitor for FAS Cluster Mode services. He also worked for another startup and was a university professor before that. The second former professor on our podcast.

Avere Systems started out as an attempt to take NAS in another direction, this time performance at the edge with capacity filers at the core. That promise is now being taken to object store and public cloud storage as well.

This months episode comes in at a little more than 44 minutes.

We start our discussion with a short history of Avere Systems. It was originally targeted to offer an edge-core NAS solution where the Avere appliance supplied performance optimization and the NAS backend storage offered capacity optimization.

You may recall that originally there were a lot of edge-core NAS solutions on the market at one time but Avere has outlasted them all. One secret to Avere’s success was that they construct a virtualization layer with their own file system on top of backend NAS storage. This allowed them to offer unique capabilities such as Global name space, non-disruptive migration and disaster recovery but it also ultimately made it much easier for them to offer the same functionality for object storage and public cloud services.

Ron can talk NAS performance with the best of them and he shows us how Avere performs so well, even with relatively slow object and public cloud storage behind them. The Greybeards were duly impressed with Avere’s last quarter SPECsfs submissions (see Ray’s June SPECsfs2008 dispatch for more) with object storage (Cleversafe & Amplidata) and public cloud (Amazon’s Flash Storage) backends. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Ron Bianchini

Ron Bianchini, Jr. President & CEO Avere Systems

As president and chief executive officer of Avere Systems, co-founder Ron Bianchini has a long record of accomplishment in building and leading successful companies that deliver breakthrough technologies. Prior to Avere, Ron was a senior vice president at NetApp, where he served as the leader of the NetApp Pittsburgh Technology Center. Before NetApp, he was CEO and co-founder of Spinnaker Networks, which developed the Storage Grid architecture acquired by NetApp. Ron also served as vice president of product architecture of FORE Systems, where he was responsible for ATM products. Previously, he co-founded Scalable Networks [acquired by FORE], which designed and implemented a large-scale Gigabit Ethernet switch, and earlier in his career, he was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Ron received an S.B. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds numerous patents in fault-tolerant distributed systems and high-speed network design and has published extensively in technical journals.

GreyBeards talk all-flash storage with Vaughn Stewart, Chief Technical Evangelist Pure Storage

Welcome to our 12th monthly episode where we return to discussing all-flash storage arrays, this time with Vaughn Stewart, Chief Technical Evangelist for Pure Storage. This our third all-flash storage array vendor that the GreyBeards have talked with since the start of the podcast, not counting server side flash and scale-out/hybrid storage systems.

Vaughn has had a long and illustrious carreer in the storage business most recently prior to joining Pure, at NetApp in product strategy and marketing. Pure Storage seems to have disrupted the normal economics of Flash storage and as a result have seen success in the marketplace.

This month’s episode comes in at a little over 48 minutes long. 

In this podcast we discuss how Pure Storage is changing the economics of Flash storage, primarily through 5 forms of data reduction, some of which are unique to Pure Storage. Their storage solution is block storage, targeting tier 1 applications needing higher IOPS and with the consistent low response time of Flash at the economics of high performing disk storage.

Vaughn provides a good rational as to why we haven’t seen any Pure Storage SPC-1/SPC-2 benchmarks, mainly because SPC will not audit storage that uses data reduction.  Sometime in the podcast we have a good discussion on scale-out vs. scale-up solutions for block storage.

I would have to say that Vaughn is one of the more articulate storage geeks the GreyBeards have come across. We seem to take off on a number of tangents, not the least of which is all the innovation going on in storage these days, where Cisco may go, and where it will all end up,  but we try hard to bring it back to product technology.  Listen to podcast to learn more.

Vaughn Stewart, Chief Evangelist, Pure Storage

Vaughn Stewart is the Chief Technical Evangelist at Pure Storage, where he shares his perspective on the emergence and capabilities of a flash-powered economy. Prior to joining the ‘flash revolution’ he spent 13 years in technical and marketing leadership roles at NetApp where he led the virtualization and cloud strategy and was awarded a US patent. Vaughn strives to simplify the technically complex and advocates to think outside of the box.

You can find his thoughts on the role of storage with cloud computing and big data online and in print. He publishes his blog, ‘The Pure Storage Guy’, has authored a number of books including his latest is “Virtualization Changes Everything: Storage Strategies for VMware vSphere & Cloud Computing” and is a frequent guest on various online mediums.