Greybeards talk all-flash arrays with Dave Wright, CEO and founder of SolidFire

Welcome to our eight episode where we discuss all-flash storage with Dave Wright, CEO and founder of SolidFire. The Greybeards  just talked with Dave at the SDDC14  and Storage Field Day 5 in San Jose, CA last month.

In this podcast, we learn a lot about SolidFire and other storage arrays from a leading light in the all-flash storage industry. Dave seems to have been around a lot longer than his years and has worked extensively in the cloud gaming and service provider industries. All of which gives him a unique perspective on the needs of storage today.

This months episode comes in at just under 40 minutes. 

We had a wide ranging talk about the virtues of SolidFire’s scale-out, deduplicating Tier 1 & 2 storage, detour into flash technology and the problems benchmarking data reducing, all-flash arrays, and end up with a lengthy discussion on SolidFire’s QoS.

However, If you want to learn about Dave’s technical musings on all-flash architectures, the Greybeards suggest viewing his great video sessions at Storage Field Day 5. Dave did a presentation where he explains the inner workings of SolidFire and some of the other, competitive all-flash storage systems on the market today. The Greybeards seldom find CEO’s with this level of technical understanding of their own product, let alone the competition.

Somewhere during all this Ray learned yet another new acronym, listen to the podcast to learn more…

DaveWright_SF_portraits-16Dave Wright, CEO and founder SolidFire

Dave Wright, SolidFire CEO and founder, left Stanford in 1998 to help start GameSpy Industries, a leader in online videogame media, technology, and software. While at GameSpy, Dave led the team that created a backend infrastructure powering thousands of games and millions of gamers. GameSpy merged with IGN Entertainment in 2004 to create one of the largest Internet gaming & entertainment media companies. Dave served as Chief Architect for IGN and lead technology integration with FIM / MySpace after IGN was acquired by NewsCorp in 2005.

In 2007 Dave founded Jungle Disk, a pioneer and early leader in cloud-based storage and backup solutions for consumers and businesses. Jungle Disk was acquired by leading cloud provider Rackspace in 2008 and Dave worked closely with the Rackspace Cloud division to build a cloud platform supporting tens of thousands of customers. In December 2009 Dave left Rackspace to start SolidFire.  Dave leads the team at SolidFire in the creation of the only storage architecture built specifically to guarantee true Quality of Service (QoS) in a multi-tenant cloud infrastructure.

 

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.

Greybeards talk server DRAM IO caching with Peter Smith, Director, Product Management at Infinio

Welcome to our sixth episode. We once again dive into the technical end of the pool with  an in-depth discussion of DRAM based server side caching with Peter Smith, Director of Product Management at Infinio. Unlike PernixData (checkout Episode 2, with Satyam Vaghani, CTO PernixData) and others in the server side caching business, Infinio supplies VMware server side storage caching using DRAM for NFS VMDKs. It got a bit technical fairly fast in the podcast, sorry about that.

This months podcast comes in at a little over 40 minutes and was recorded on 20 February 2014. The overall sound quality is much better than Episode 5 but we are still working out some of the kinks, so bear with us.  

Peter comes from a number of different IT infrastructure and co-location services and brings a wealth of knowledge on IO caching within a VMware server environment. With all the DRAM supplied in ESX servers these days and the increasing compute power that’s now available, the time seems ripe to implement a deduplicated, DRAM cache for VMware IO.

Infinio clusters together segments of ESX DRAM, across nodes in a VMware cluster to supply an IO cache. The software installs across the VMware cluster non-disruptively (~ = Vmotion) and Infinio clusters can be expanded without operational impact.

There was some discussion on the odds of a (random) SHA-1 hash collisions happening in our lifetimes (as Greybeards our lifetimes may be shorter than yours). I tried to get Peter or Howard to give me commensurate odds on this happening but alas, no takers.

Listen to the podcast to learn more…

Peter Smith

peter-smith-headshotDirector of Product Management. Peter brings more than 10 years of expertise as an infrastructure architect and IT operations director. In previous companies such as Harvard Business School and Endeca Technologies, Peter managed full-service datacenters and colocation spaces. Most recently Peter led infrastructure services for Endeca, and has also directed operations of customer-hosting infrastructure for clients including American Express, Fidelity UK, Bank of America, and Nike.

GreyBeards talk scale-out storage with Coho Data CTO/Co-founder, Andy Warfield

Welcome to our fifth episode. We return now to an in-depth technical discussion of leading edge storage systems, this time with Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-founder of Coho Data. Coho Data supplies VMware scale-out storage solutions with PCIe SSDs and disk storage using the NFS protocol. Howard and I talked with Andy and Coho Data at Storage Field Day 4 last November but we thought he was so interesting, he deserved a second conversation.

This months podcast comes in at a little over 40 minutes. I apologize for the occasional poor sound quality. I used WiFi while recording the call while recuperating from foot surgery. Hopefully, next month I will be back to my normal office and using LAN.

Andy comes at storage from a stint at XenSource and Citrix Systems and sees many parallels between server virtualization and storage. In the case of servers, CPUs had become so powerful that in order to take advantage of all that speed you needed to run multiple independent workloads using a non-intrusive hypervisor to coordinate it all. In storage, the case can be made that PCIe SSDs can now supply more IOPS and throughput than most single application can possibly use and the way to take effective advantage of that performance is to support multiple IO workloads using a non-intrusive storage hyper/supervisor to coordinate it all. For Coho Data, all IO lands on PCIe SSD first and then is only migrated to Disk if it’s cold enough not to warrant flash residency.

The other interesting thing about Coho Data was their inclusion of an OpenFlow SDN switch in their scale-out storage system. They use SDN switching to help implement the NFS presentation layer,  balance IO workload across different nodes and direct IO to an appropriate node.

Although, I may have made mention of using 8″ floppies to gather data from storage systems in the old days, contrary to popular myth I never played frisbee with them.

Listen to the podcast to learn more…

Andrew Warfield, CTO/Co-founder Coho Data


Andy is an established researcher in computer systems, specializing in storage, virtualization, and security. At Coho Data, Andy leads the technology vision and directs the engineering team in building elegant and functional systems that enable customers to focus on the data and applications instead of the underlying infrastructure that drives them. As a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, he was one of the original authors of the Xen hypervisor, and has since done award-winning research in virtualization and high availability. At XenSource and Citrix Systems, he was the Technical Director for Storage & Emerging Technologies.

GreyBeards year end storage trends wrap-up

Welcome to our fourth episode. In this year end wrap-up Howard and Ray talk about the three trends that have emerged over the last year or so which are impacting the storage industry in a big way and will continue to affect the industry in the the years to come.

First up is scale-out storage. Howard and Ray were part of Storage Field Day 4 (SFD4) where we met with at least 5 different vendors of scale out storage. All the blogger participants were starting to call this the “Scale-Out” field day. It turns out that the compute requirements for storage are starting to increase, for many reasons not the least of which is the performance of SSDs. This rising compute requirement generates a need for scale-out storage.

Second is software defined storage. Howard took a stab at defining it and in our view software defined storage is delivered as a software only solution that provides storage and compute services together in one server environment. With a 2U server, one can have a couple of SSDs and a gaggle of HDDs and still only use 4 of the 24 cores to supply storage services, leaving the other 20 for compute. What with VMware’s VSAN and the other software defined storage players, this is becoming another hot trend this year.

Finally, whither the disk drive? Drive capacity continues to grow with no end in sight, with helium, HAMR, and shingled magnetic recording. SSD is not killing them off as quickly as we thought, even though SSD costs on $/GB basis keep coming down. The net effect of this is that both of us believe disks are going to be around for the near term (5 yrs or so) but we differed on the long term prospects of disk.

Listen to the podcast to learn more….