Tag Archives: Storage startups

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.

GreyBeards talk Nexgen Storage with John Spiers, CEO and Kelly Long, CTO Nexgen Storage

In this podcast we discuss Nexgen’s hybrid storage with John Spiers, Founder & CEO and Kelly Long, Founder & CTO of Nexgen Storage. Both John and Kelly have had a long and interesting career across multiple companies ranging from startups to major industry organizations, so they bring a unique perspective to what’s happening in the storage industry today.

Nexgen Storage has an unusual history itself, having been acquired by FusionIO, then SanDisk acquired FusionIO and then SanDisk spun out Nexgen Storage as an independent company again. There were good reasons for each of these changes and John goes into some detail in the podcast on these transitions.

Some of Nexgen Storage’s competitive advantages are from a few decisions, made early on in the development of the product. Specically, the use of PCIe Flash storage as a separate storage tier and their vision of the need for highly granular Quality of Service (QoS) functionality.

It turns out that Nexgen Storage was an early adopter of FusionIO’s PCIe flash cards and continues to use SanDisk solutions in their hybrid storage today. John and Kelly discuss some of  their considerations behind using PCIe Flash vs. SSDs in the podcast.

John and Kelly also talk about why QoS is so important to today’s storage systems and and how Nexgen’s QoS differs from the rest of the competition. Some of the data Nexgen gathers about IO and other system activity is pretty impressive and as it turns out, is absolutely essential to providing the level QoS that Nexgen supplies.

Another item discussed on the podcast is Nexgen’s data reduction capabilities which they refer to as “simple dedupe”. It’s not quite dedupe, but it does have some interesting characteristics we haven’t seen in other storage systems.

Finally, at the end of the podcast, there’s some discussion on the hardware innovation coming out around the PCIe bus and what this might mean to future storage systems.

This months editionruns just under 44 minutes and doesn’t get as technical as some of our previous sessions. We even discuss goto market strategies at prior companies and channel changes that transpired during the FusionIO and SanDisk acquisitions.  We hope you enjoy the podcast.

John Spiers, Founder & CEO, and Kelly Long, Founder & CTO, Nexgen StorageJohn Spiers

John is a serial entrepreneur based in Boulder, CO. John has been pioneering breakthrough data storage innovations for over 30 Years. He co-founded venture-backed LeftHand Newtorks, a market leader in virtualized, scale-out data storage, and served as LeftHand’s Chief Technology Officer. In 2010 John co-founded NexGen Storage. John supports local entrepreneurs, serving on the boards of local technology startups and as an advisor for the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. John is a graduate from Colorado State University with a degree in Engineering.

Kelly Long

 

Kelly has been innovating in the storage industry for over 20 years. An expert in architecting and developing storage software, Kelly has contributed to the advancement of a wide range of technologies such as hard drives, high currency multi-thread/multi-processor/multi-computer computing and clustered storage systems. He holds multiple patents, and has worked at leading companies, including Maxtor, StorageTek, LeftHand Networks, Copan, Dot Hill, Crosswalk, MySQL and Sun. He was a co-founder and chief software architect at LeftHand Networks. Kelly has a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Greybeards talk cloud storage with Marc Farley, product marketing for Microsoft StorSimple

Welcome to our seventh episode. This time we talk about cloud storage and how data centers can have both cloud and on premises storage with the proper system. We discuss all this with Marc Farley, Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft StorSimple Cloud-integrated Storage solution. Marc’s an old friend so besides talking about StorSimple’s technology we had a pretty wide ranging discussion on industry trends and storage startup history.

This months episode comes in at just under 40 minutes and the sound quality is the best yet.

Marc has a long and colorful history in social media and the storage industry having worked as an independent storage consultant, worked for EqualLogic before and after the Dell acquisition, 3PAR before and after the HP acquisition and StorSimple before and after the Microsoft acquisition.

Microsoft’s StorSimple appliance acts as local tier 2 storage but uses local SSD and disk as well as cloud storage to support its data storage services. Marc calls this approach “scale across” storage, i.e. across both local and cloud storage as well as across multiple independent StorSimple appliances.

For the record, although I was the first to mention Wang, Howard initiated and completed the discussion on this. We also asked Marc for his secret to selecting new startups to work for. Not sure we got a real answer to this but it made for an interesting conclusion to the talk.

Listen to the podcast for more

Marc Farley

Marc Farley is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft working on the hybrid cloud storage solutions. He has written three books on storage including his most recent, Rethinking Enterprise Storage: A Hybrid Cloud Model and his previous books Building Storage Networks and Storage Networking Fundamentals. In addition to his writing books he has been a blogger and podcaster about storage topics while working for EqualLogic, Dell, 3PAR, HP, StorSimple, and now Microsoft.

When he is not working, Marc likes to ride bicycles, listen to music, spend time with his family and dote on his cats.