Tag Archives: ClearSky Data

47: Greybeards talk Storage as a Service with Lazarus Vekiarides, CTO & Co-Founder ClearSky Data

Sponsored By:

In this episode, we talk with ClearSky Data’s Lazarus Vekiarides, CTO and Co-founder,  who we have talked with before (see our podcast from October 2015). ClearSky Data provides a storage-as-a-service offering that uses an on-premises appliance plus point of presence (PoP) storage in the local metro area to hold customer data and offloads this data to cloud storage. In addition to the on-premises storage-as-a-service they offer access to customer data from an in-cloud virtual appliance. ClearSky provides the whole storage service, including gigabit metro Ethernet connections from the customer to the POP for simple capacity based charge every month.

How does it work

Their Edge (on premises) appliance supports 24 SSDs and can scale up to 4 appliances. Soon a single appliance will be able to hold up to 32TB of data.  It’s intended to hold a data center’s entire working set for one week of activity. So essentially it’s a big caching appliance for the local data center

For ClearSky Data the lone source of truth for customer data lies in the PoP. The PoP is connected to metro wide fibre that is available in a number of large metropolitan areas. Laz says they have measured sub 500 µsec round trip response time between their PoP equipment and Edge appliance. The PoP provides the backing store for the Edge appliance. Data written to the edge appliance(s) are written through to the PoP storage. This data and it’s metadata (<1% of LUN size) is flushed to cloud storage which holds the data indefinitely.

DR through the PoP

If customers have multiple data centers within the same metro area (100Km) then they can have a single “logical” array that accesses the same data, say a cluster file system across the two data centers. The PoP will take care of copying the metadata to the secondary edge device and will invalidate any data sitting in the secondary device which is no longer valid. In this way customers can have a Recovery Point Objective (RPO)=0 seconds. That is any data written to the primary data center is automatically available to the secondary data center as long as the PoP survives.

But even if you wanted to fail over to a different metro area the PoP data is offloaded to the cloud continuously so while you wouldn’t attain an RPO=0 seconds, it could be awfully short, on the order of a couple of seconds.

Recent enhancements

ClearSky Data has recently enhanced their storage as a service to provide policy management over snapshots. That is you can establish policies as to how often to take LUN snapshots and how long to retain them in the cloud.

Also, ClearSky Data has added VMware functionality via plugins that allow their storage to know which VMs are writing data or are being backed up to their appliance. And this is included in the metadata written for a LUN which is offloaded to the cloud. Someday soon when you can have vSphere running bare metal in a public cloud service, you will be able to run the Cloud Edge (cloud software version of their Edge appliance) and restore the data from your data center directly to the cloud and have an iSCSI LUN available to EC2 running VMware providing complete Cloud DR for a data center.

We talked a bit about our favorite topic, NVMe storage and Laz sees a potential for it to help their Edge appliances but at the moment fault-tolerence/high availability is not there. And as they are primary storage for data centers HA is a critical capability.

Pricing and availability

Their product is priced as a service in $0.nn/GB/Month and if you do a 36 month cost analysis they feel they would come out cheaper than hybrid storage. They currently have PoP’s in Boston, NyNy, Northern Virginia, Dallas, and California. Laz says they believe there’s 15 major metropolitan areas across the USA they have targeted for service.  What nothing in Europe or Asia? We would imagine this is merely a question of the number of customers, amount of data and metro infrastructure.

The podcast runs ~24 minutes. Laz has been in the storage industry across a number of companies and has been with a few startups as well. Laz is very knowledgeable about storage, cloud, and metro networking, a good friend and is always a pleasure to talk with.  Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Lazarus Vekiarides, CTO & Co-Founder ClearSky Data

For over 20 years Laz Vekiarides has served in key technical and leadership roles delivering breakthrough technologies to market. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Software Engineering for Dell’s EqualLogic Storage Engineering group, where he led the development of numerous storage innovations and established the EqualLogic product line as a leader in host OS and hypervisor integration.

Laz joined Dell from EqualLogic, which was acquired in early 2008, where he was a member of the core leadership team – playing a key role in the company’s early success as a Senior Engineering Manager and Architect for the PS Series SAN arrays and host tools. Prior to EqualLogic, Laz held senior engineering and management positions at several companies including 3COM and Banyan Systems.

An occasional blogger, Laz frequently speaks at industry conferences, particularly in the areas of virtualization and data storage. He holds several storage technology patents, as well as a BSEE from Northeastern University, and an MSCS from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

GreyBeards talk global storage with Ellen Rubin CEO & Laz Vekiarides CTO, ClearSky Data

In this edition we discuss ClearSky Data’s global storage service with Ellen Rubin (@ellen_rubin), CEO & Co-Founder and Laz Vekiarides (@lazvek), CTO & Co-founder of ClearSky Data.  Both Ellen and Laz have been around the IT industry for decades and Laz in particular was deeply involved in the development of EqualLogic storage systems both at Dell and at EqualLogic, prior to the acquisition.

ClearSky Data provides a global, primary storage service that connects edge device(s) in the data center that supply a read/write cache for iSCSI block storage to a point-of-presence (PoP) appliance in the metro area which uses cloud storage as its backend storage repository . We get into the technology later but essentially a customer pays a $/GB/month fee and all the edge, point-of-presence hardware and cloud storage repository is bundled into that monthly price.

The service is implemented as a two level caching service: level one at the edge is a cluster of 2U appliances with compute, DRAM and up to 24 SSDs and a dedicated metro-ethernet networking link to the PoP; level two at the PoP includes a dual HA server configuration with a JBOD with even more SSDs that has a direct link to Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (AWS S3).

Data is compressed, (inline or post-process) deduped and encrypted at the edge. Encryption keys are kept by the customer. Data written to the edge is synch-mirrored to the PoP and when the PoP fills up or the customer’s time interval has elapsed, their data is destaged to Amazon S3 which can then be replicated to other regions, where needed.

As part of their service, ClearSky Data also offers disaster recovery. As all customer data resides in S3, it can easily be supplied to another edge appliance (with the proper keys) at any other metro area location connected to one of their PoP’s.

ClearSky Data handles eventual consistency (not all copies of the data residing in  cloud storage may be the same) by versioning the cloud data objects and providing point-in-time consistency.

At the edge, the service can be deployed as a cluster of appliances that work together to support the IO workload and the PoP is configured to handle whatever IO workload is required in the metro area. Activity at the edge is heavy compute (compression, dedupe and encrypting all the data that comes in) and workload at the PoP is more IO bandwidth/networking based.

ClearSky Data currently has PoP’s in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Boston with more on the way in the US. Today, ClearSky Data offer’s iSCSI interface protocols but have plans to provide FC, NFS and SMB support as well.  As we recorded the podcast, ClearSky Data’s  service was not quite GA yet, but were close.

Full Disclosure: Howard has worked for ClearSky in the past.

This months edition runs just under 41 minutes and gets into the business side and technical side of their service. Ellen provided the business view and Laz handled all the technical questions Howard and I threw at him. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

Ellen and Laz-orig copyEllen Rubin, CEO & Co-Founder ClearSky Data

Ellen Rubin is an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to-market for fast-growing companies. Most recently she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company that was successfully acquired by Verizon in 2011. At Verizon, Ellen ran the cloud products group and was responsible for the strategy and roadmap for all cloud offerings.

Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was Vice President of Marketing at Netezza (NYSE: NZ), the pioneer and global leader in data warehouse appliances that power business intelligence and analytics at over 200 enterprises worldwide. As a member of the early management team at Netezza, Ellen helped grow the company to $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen defined and created broad market acceptance of a new category, “data warehouse appliances,” and led market strategy, product marketing, complementary technology relationships and marketing communications.

Prior to Netezza, Ellen founded Manna, an Israeli and Boston-based developer of real-time personalization software. Ellen played a key role in raising over $18 million in venture financing from leading US and Israeli venture capital firms, recruiting the US-based management team and defining product and market strategy. Ellen began her career as a marketing strategy consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard College. She speaks regularly at industry events and has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Women in the Cloud by CloudNOW, as a Woman to Watch by Mass High Tech and Rising Star Entrepreneur by the New England Venture Capital Association.

Laz Vekiarides, CTO  & Co-Founder ClearSky Data

For over 20 years Laz Vekiarides has served in key technical and leadership roles delivering breakthrough technologies to market. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Software Engineering for Dell’s EqualLogic Storage Engineering group, where he led the development of numerous storage innovations and established the EqualLogic product line as a leader in host OS and hypervisor integration.

Laz joined Dell from EqualLogic, which was acquired in early 2008, where he was a member of the core leadership team – playing a key role in the company’s early success as a Senior Engineering Manager and Architect for the PS Series SAN arrays and host tools. Prior to EqualLogic, Laz held senior engineering and management positions at several companies including 3COM and Banyan Systems.

An occasional blogger, Laz frequently speaks at industry conferences, particularly in the areas of virtualization and data storage. He holds several storage technology patents, as well as a BSEE from Northeastern University, and an MSCS from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.