SolidFire had their recent annual analyst day event in Boulder where we were given an update on their business and a preview into their 2Q offerings, a new SF9605 storage hardware node, Element X software defined storage (SDS), and OS8 Oxygen software.
SolidFire annual business update
SolidFire sales are growing (570% Y/Y booking growth), moving into the enterprise (46% of 2014 bookings), and building their international business (20% of 2014 bookings). To top it all off, SolidFire received $82M in Series D funding in 2014.
One item of significant interest to the analysts was that 27% of their 2014 installs were in OpenStack environments. VMware now accounts for 55% and Citrix/Cloud stack 12% of 2014 installations.
New SolidFire SF9605 storage node
The new storage node hardware offers 9.6TB of raw cMLC flash from SanDisk. With average compression and data deduplication the SF9605 offers ~34.5TB of effective capacity. The new SF9605 has the lowest $/GB cost of any of their current storage nodes. Since launch, 2.5 years ago SolidFire has reduced $/GB for their platforms by 43% (SF3010 to SF9605).
The SF9605 also offers a guaranteed, 50K IOPS per node. Recall that SolidFire offers extensive QoS capabilities, which allow customers to set, manage and guarantee storage performance to every system volume. The SF9010 is still the highest performer, with 100K IOPS. The other SolidFire storage nodes, the SF2405 and SF4805 offer 50K IOPS.
SolidFire FlashForward Program
SolidFire also introduced a new program that offers two guarantees:
- Platform Compatibility Guarantee, ensuring all future software and hardware from SolidFire will interoperate with existing infrastructure. This means all new software will run on current hardware and beyond and all new hardware will interoperate with older SolidFire node hardware in the same cluster.
- Unlimited Drive Wear Guarantee, meaning they will replace any SSD, which fails in any SolidFire array, with no restrictions on use or workload characteristics. This puts to bed any SSD write endurance concerns.
SolidFire OS8 Oxygen
SolidFire names their software releases with elements from the periodic table. The two major pieces of OS8 Oxygen functionality include:
- Synchronous Replication – pairwise data replication between nodes in different clusters up to metropolitan distances apart. This now adds to their current Asynch and Point-In-Time data mirroring capabilities.
- Incremental data compression – additional data compression done at garbage collection time to squeeze out more redundancy from the data and increase the overall compression ratio. The belief is that this can supply up to 30% additional compression. Although this takes more compute cycles to compress it’s done out-of-band, during recycling (garbage collection) and doesn’t impact IO performance.
OS8 Oxygen also adds snapshot scheduling with a data retention policy engine as well as enhanced multi-tenant networking support.
SolidFire continues to add their Ecosystem integrations. They now offer integration with VMware SRM (SRA), VASA 2.0, & vRealize Suite; enhanced Microsoft VSS and PowerShell; CommVault IntelliSnap; and OpenStack Kilo. VMware VVOLs were also mentioned but they would not be tied down to a delivery date.
SolidFire Element X Program
SolidFire has been quietly qualifying their Element OS with key commodity hardware platforms and currently support Dell R639 and Cisco UCS hardware. The program is delivering a software defined storage offering to select customers. Element X supplies the exact same features / functionality found on their SF appliances but runs on commodity hardware and was designed for hyper-scale, enterprise and service provider customers. The Element X Program allows customers to leverage their current supply chain to reduce hardware costs. Pricing is capacity based and includes Tier3 support.
With the introduction of Element X we are now seeing all-flash SDS (VMware VSAN 6.0 is another). All-flash SDS makes a lot of sense when you consider that most of the hardware in today’s (all-flash) storage is available on the open market and the purchase power of some (large) customers can exceed that of the storage vendors, these days. It’s a different business model, but a great product extension of a known and well-received brand and they are already serving the market.
SolidFire mentioned they were the number 1, all-flash array in public cloud, which was their earliest market. The OpenStack activity surprised many but large service providers/enterprises are trying to minimize the expense of VMware licensing costs.
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Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community.