Tag Archives: array

IBM DS8882F converges array and mainframe in one rack

Talk about converged infrastructure — IBM just embedded an all-flash array inside mainframe server racks.

IBM today launched a rack-mounted IBM DS8882F array for IBM Z ZR1 and LinuxOne Rockhopper II “skinny” mainframes that rolled out earlier in 2018. The 16U DS8882F is the smallest of IBM’s high-end DS8880 enterprise storage family designed for mainframes. The new mainframes install in a standard 19-inch rack. The IBM DS8882F array inserts into the same rack and scales from 6.4 TB to 368.64 TB of raw capacity.

The IBM DS8882F is part of a large IBM storage rollout that features mostly software and cloud storage updates, including the following:

  • IBM Spectrum Protect1.6 data protection software now supports automatic tiering to object storage and ransomware protection for hypervisor workloads. The software generates email warnings pointing to where an infection may have occurred. Spectrum Protect supports Amazon Web Services, IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
  • IBM Spectrum Protect Plus1.2 virtual backup now supports on-premises IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM Cloud and AWS S3. It also supports VMware vSphere 6.7, encryption of vSnap repositories, and IBM Db2 databases.
  • IBM Spectrum Scale0.2 added file audit logging, a watch folder and other security enhancements, along with a GUI and automated recovery features. Spectrum Scale on AWS now enables customers to use their own AWS license and supports a single file system across AWS images.
  • The IBM DS8880 platform supports IBM Cloud Object Storage and automatically encrypts data before sending it to the cloud.

The products are part of IBM’s third large storage rollout this year. It added an NVMe FlashSystem 9100 and Spectrum software in July, and cloud-based analytics and block-based deduplication in May.

Steve McDowell, senior technology analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said IBM has become the most aggressive of the large storage vendors when it comes to product delivery.

“IBM storage is marching to a cadence and putting out more new products faster than its competitors,” McDowell said. “We’re seeing announcements every quarter, and their products are extremely competitive.”

IBM ended a string of 22 straight quarters of declining storage revenue in early 2017 and put together four quarters of growth until declining again in the first quarter of 2018. IBM’s storage focus has been around its Spectrum software family and all-flash arrays.

IBM’s focus on footprint

McDowell called the IBM DS8882F “a nice piece of hardware.” “The zSeries is moving towards a more standard rack, and this fits right in there with almost 400 TB of raw capacity in a 19-inch rack,” he said. “It’s about capacity density and saving floor space. If I can put a zSeries and a rackmount of storage unit side by side, it makes a nice footprint in my data center.”

“The days of an EMC VMAX spanning across your data center are gone. With flash, it’s how many terabytes or petabytes I can put into half a rack and then co-locate all of that with my servers.”

Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer for IBM storage, said reducing the footprint was the main driver of the array-in-the-mainframe.

“We created a mini-array that literally screws into the same 19-inch mainframe rack,” Herzog said. “This frees up rack space and floor space, and gives you a smaller, lower-cost entry point.”

Competing in a crowded market

IBM’s DS8880 series competes with the Dell EMC PowerMax — the latest version of the VMAX — and the Hitachi Vantara Virtual Storage Platform as mainframe storage platforms.

IBM storage revenue rebounded to grow in the second quarter this year, but the market remains crowded.

IBM’s Herzog said the storage market “is fiercely competitive in all areas, including software. It’s a dog-eat-dog battle out there. Software is just as dog-eat-dog as the array business now, which is unusual.”

The new products are expected to ship by the end of September.

Array bolsters throughput, security in NFV appliance

Array Networks Inc. has introduced an upgrade of its network functions virtualization hardware. New features in the AVX NFV appliance, which provides application delivery, security and other networking operations, include support for 40 GbE interfaces and higher throughput for encrypted traffic.

Array, based in Milpitas, Calif., launched the AVX5800, AVX7800 and AVX9800 appliances this week. Along with support for optional 40 GbE network interface cards (NICs), the latest hardware provides a significant improvement in elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) processing over a Secure Sockets Layer virtual private network (SSL VPN).

The new NFV appliances include Array’s latest software release, AVX 2.7. The upgrade provides better fine-tuning of system resources for virtualized network functions running on the platform. Other improvements include the ability to back up and restore AVX configurations and images via USB and an online image repository for software running on AVX appliances.

Array has also added enhancements for companies using the NFV appliance with OpenStack environments. The company has introduced a hypervisor driver that lets the AVX platform serve as an OpenStack compute node.

The AVX NFV platform, launched in May 2017, comprises a series of virtualized servers for running Array and third-party applications, such as Fortinet’s FortiGate next-generation firewall and Positive Technologies’ PT AF web application firewall.

A10 Harmony Controller Update

A10 has launched an upgrade to its Harmony Controller, an application delivery controller, or ADC, that is also a cloud management, orchestration and analytics engine.

A10, based in San Jose, Calif., released Harmony version 4.1 last week, adding improvements to the product’s ability to configure and manage policies across A10’s line of Thunder security appliances.

New features in Harmony include preloaded Thunder ADC services. Also added to the controller is a self-service app for Thunder SSL inspection, which decrypts traffic, so security devices can analyze it.

Array Networks’ AVX9800 NFV appliance

Other improvements include extending Harmony’s analytics history to 12 months, so network operators and security pros can go further back in time when investigating events.

Harmony is a cloud-optimized ADC that can spin up specific services anywhere in a hybrid cloud environment. The software also incorporates per-application analytics and centrally manages and orchestrates application services.

Aviatrix improves its AWS security

Aviatrix has added to its AVX network security software better control over traffic leaving Amazon Web Services. The enhancements provide customers with stronger protection against internal threats and external attacks.

The new AVX capability announced last week focuses on filtering egress data from an AWS virtual private cloud (VPC). An AWS VPC provides a private cloud computing environment on the infrastructure-as-a-service provider’s platform. The benefit of a VPC is the granular control a company can get over a virtual network service serving sensitive workloads.

AVX for AWS VPCs verifies the traffic destination’s IP address, hostname or website, the vendor, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said. An inline, software-controlled AVX Gateway does the VPC filtering and prevents traffic from going to unauthorized locations.

The Aviatrix platform, which comprises a controller and gateway, operates over a network overlay that spans cloud and data center environments. The new VPC egress security feature is available as part of the platform, which is available only as software.

Companies can deploy the Aviatrix product through the AWS marketplace. Aviatrix also has versions of its technology for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Bank opts for AI-infused data storage platform over cloud

When the Hitachi Vantara storage array used by Frost Bank approached its five-year mark, Dan King, vice president of IT operations for the San Antonio -based chain of banks, started looking at alternatives. Simply replacing the existing system with a newer version of itself would take six months of planning, cleaning out a rack and migrating the data over. King wanted to determine if newer technology might save money, boost performance or simplify operations.

He considered cloud options, including Amazon, but decided these were too slow and couldn’t give him the kinds of IT controls he was used to (see sidebar). He ended up going with a new all-flash storage array, delivered as service from Pure Storage. Data migration promised to be relatively painless. Pure Storage said that it could also replace the six-rack array with a single rack that was faster — and do so in a weekend rather than six months.

But what really moved him to make the choice, he said, was what other customers told him about the data storage platform’s management capabilities. Pure Software’s core offering, Pure1, included cloud-based management and predictive support. The company was also rolling out Pure1 Meta, which included predictive intelligence that automatically optimizes the storage array.

“The way Pure designed the storage software makes using and managing the systems much simpler,” said King, an attendee at Pure Accelerate 2018 conference in San Francisco. “The other systems are designed to sell storage.”

More than faster hard drives

Since the dawn of IT, storage has been perceived as a hardware commodity. Enterprises purchased storage as a capital expense and provisioned it across enterprise users through a complex system of rules-based software.

But enterprise storage vendors are starting to adopt the playbook of public cloud providers, selling private storage infrastructure as a service.

This in part explains the rapid rise of Pure Storage, a data storage platform provider founded in 2009. The company, headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., sells against entrenched competitors like Dell EMC and Hitachi. Its focus on selling private storage as a service seems to involve more than just semantic juggling around recategorizing Capex as Opex. It has driven the company to explore better practices around upgrading, provisioning and optimizing storage at the hardware level. These are all functions that have typically been done outside of the hardware at the application level, which limits the speed at which the enterprise can make good on big initiatives like digital transformation.

“Storage has been an afterthought for most CIOs. It is not a place an executive or IT person thinks of to drive innovation for their architecture,” said Matt Burr, general manager of FlashBlade at Pure. But he said that attitude is changing; companies are being forced to digitalize their business models.

Baked-in AI, improved management

As companies look to repurpose their data for new applications, they are starting to connect legacy applications for storing the system of record to more nimble applications that have different patterns of reading and writing data, Burr explained. Not only can new data access patterns slow down performance, the interfaces between apps can break things in ways that are hard for IT organizations to diagnose.

To address this challenge, Pure’s data storage platform uses AI analytics to capture and analyze petabytes of data, with the aim of automating many of the traditional management challenges associated with keeping servers running — and doing that automation and optimization at the hardware level. This optimization at the hardware level leaves IT to innovate at the software level, with less fear of having to tweak the data management software to get good performance.

“We want to invest in technology that allows IT managers to anticipate problems before they happen,” Burr said.

Data dedupe at the hardware level

Frost Bank’s King has found Pure’s predictive approach helps identify signs of a problem early, before a failure cascades into other systems.

He said the vendor’s data storage platform has also made it much easier to migrate data. Before Frost Bank would have to get six rack spaces and develop a plan to install a unit, which would take six months. Afterward, they would have to deinstall the older storage array to make a hole for the next round of storage migrations.

Modern data stores tend to be highly redundant and reuse many of the same data structures across records. Traditional approaches to compression happen at the operating system level, which adds a lot of overhead. It also adds a bit of brittleness, making it harder to move to a better app that is more aligned with a digital transformation strategy.

But better compression and deduplication at the hardware level can dramatically shrink IT infrastructure with no overhead on the application itself.

For example, King observed that he was able to shrink at 150 TBs data storage infrastructure onto a 15 TB system on top of Pure. Same applications, same data, only Pure’s data storage platform was able to compress and deduplicate data on the fly without any additional burden on his IT team or new software to install.

Of course, vendors have experimented with deduplication at the app level, King pointed out, but he said that just added another level of complexity to manage at the software level, when the aim is to make things simpler.

Page Locking comes to OneNote Class Notebooks |

Educators face an array challenges, not least of which is ongoing classroom management. As more and more teachers use Class Notebooks, stand alone or integrated with Microsoft Teams, the most common request we’ve heard from teachers is the ability to “lock” a page. This capability allows educators to have control and make the OneNote page read only for students while still allowing the teacher to add feedback or marks.  Today, we are excited to deliver on this request and begin rolling out page locking broadly to help teachers manage their classrooms and save time.

Page Locking—To further simplify classroom workflows, we are delivering on the number-one request from teachers for OneNote Class Notebooks—enabling lock pages. With our new page locking, the following capabilities are enabled:

  • Teachers can now lock all the pages of a distributed page as read-only after giving feedback to the student.
  • Teachers can unlock or lock individual pages by simply right clicking on the page on a student.
  • Teachers using Microsoft Teams to create OneNote assignments can have the page of the OneNote assignment automatically lock as read only when the due date/time passes

During our early testing process, we’ve had teachers trying out the page locking in their classrooms.  Robin Licato, an AP Chemistry and Forensic Science from St. Agnes Academy, Houston, TX had this to say: “This feature is an absolute game changer.  I am enjoying the ability to unlock a specific student who has an extension on an assignment due to illness or absence while keeping the page locked for students who did not complete the assignment on time!”

Scott Titmas, Technology Integration Specialist Old Bridge Township Public Schools, NJ was also an early beta tester of the new page locking feature. “The page locking feature is extremely intuitive, easy to use, and opens a whole new world of possibilities for teachers. It will be a welcomed feature addition for all teachers.  More encouraging than just this feature is the fact that Microsoft has consistently shown they listen to their users and user voice drives the direction of product development”

Platforms supported Initially, we are rolling this out for OneNote for Windows 10, OneNote 2016 Desktop Addin, OneNote Online, and OneNote for iPad. Most platforms will provide page locking built in to the toolbar. For OneNote desktop, download the new free add in.

For additional details on which version of OneNote is required for both teacher and students, please visit this new OneNote Class Notebook page locking support article.  It is important to read this article to understand the details before rolling this out.

Important Note #1: for OneNote 2016 Desktop MSI customers, you must deploy this Public Update first before student and teacher pages will properly lock.  Please work with your IT Admin to ensure you properly deployment this patch first.  Page Locking is not supported for OneNote 2013 Desktop clients 

Important note #2: Page Locking works best when a page is distributed or made into an assignment. For example, if students copy the pages manually from the Content Library into their own notebooks and change the page title, the teacher will have to manually right click on the student page to lock it, instead of being able to use the single checkbox to lock all pages.

Page Locking in OneNote for Windows 10

Page Locking in OneNote 2016 Desktop


Teacher right click to unlock a page

Class Notebook Addin version

  • Page Locking support to allow teachers to make a page of set of student pages read-only
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

We hope you enjoy these new updates! Share any feedback at @OneNoteEDU, and if you need support or help, you can file a ticket here: http://aka.ms/edusupport.

This post was originally published on this site.


HomeDNA offers an array of DNA tests that can give you information on your ancestry, paternity, and even the genetic makeup of your pets. It also processes raw data from other DNA services for a fee. The ancestry tests break down your gene pools and family migration patterns, and offer a trove of information about your results. HomeDNA is pricier than many of the other services I’ve reviewed, but it offers more detailed results than most. It’s more closely related to National Geographic’s Genographic Project than the Editors’ Choice award-winning 23andMe, a service that has a deeper focus on information about you and your generation.

Setup and Interface

There are a handful of HomeDNA ancestry tests available: GPS Origins Ancestry Test ($199); DNA Origins Maternal Lineage ($69); DNA Origins Paternal Lineage ($69); HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test ($69); and Vitagene Health Report + Ancestry ($99). There’s also a $79 option that lets you upload raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA.com, or National Geographic.

For this review, I took the GPS Origins Ancestry Test, which HomeDNA says is so advanced that it may pinpoint the town or village where the different groups of your ancestors met. The test analyzes 800,000 autosomal genetic markers, 862 reference populations, and 36 gene pools.

When I ordered the test kit, I just had to fill out contact information, and choose the shipping method. HomeDNA provides free shipping if you’re willing to wait 7-12 business days for your kit to arrive. Otherwise, you can pay $7 for two-day shipping or $14 for overnight service.

HomeDNA’s extraction process is the simplest of the DNA kits I’ve tested. The kit contains four cotton swabs and two envelopes. I swabbed each cheek twice, placed the swabs in an envelope, sealed it up, and placed that envelope into the prepaid envelope. All of the other kits I’ve tested required placing the sample in a stabilizing liquid, and not eating, drinking, or chewing gum for at least 30 minutes prior; HomeDNA had no such warning.

As is always the case, your DNA sample does not have your name on it, rather a unique barcode, which maintains your privacy, while also making the sample easier to track as it moves through the process. Before you ship away your sample, you must register your kit online; otherwise, you won’t be able to view your results.

The prepaid envelope will take up to 10 days to reach the lab, and the results take another two to three weeks. My results were ready within that time frame.

DNA Reports and Extra Features

While I never received a confirmation email that my sample had made it to the lab, I did get a notification when my results were ready. After you log into HomeDNA’s website, you’ll find a link in the top right that leads to your account and results pages. You can either view the results or download the raw data.

HomeDNA displays results in a different manner than AncestryDNA and 23andMe. While the latter two focused on countries, such as Ireland and England, HomeDNA looks at gene pool regions. In my case, I had three gene pool regions: Fennoscandia (19.9 percent), Southern France (18.9 percent), and the Orkney Islands (15 percent.) Fennoscandia consists of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and a part of Russia known as the Kola Peninsula, and the Orkney Islands are off the northern coast of Scotland. Southern France apparently experienced multiple waves of migration. It was interesting to see where my ancestors had been before settling in Ireland and eventually migrating to the United States. HomeDNA doesn’t go as far back as the National Geographic Genographic Project, which traces you all the way back to Africa, but it has a lot more detail about that “in-between” stage.

You can also view your DNA migration patterns on a map. It’s meant to show how your maternal and paternal lines migrated and eventually co-mingled to create your ancestral line. You can zoom in and out, move the map around, and click on the various stops along the migration to learn more about what your ancestors experienced. Mine showed one group of ancestors moving from Denmark to Ireland to England, and the other from Estonia to Finland to Russia. It’s not clear how they would come to meet each other, though. I wish there were more of an explanation as to why the migration patterns don’t converge, especially since I’ve taken several other DNA tests, I know that my ancestors ended up in Ireland, Scotland, and England. You can take three optional questionnaires about your personal history and that of your birth parents to give HomeDNA more data and help the company refine future DNA tests.

What HomeDNA doesn’t do is search for genetic matches in its database, like many other competitors, including 23andMe and MyHeritage DNA. It also doesn’t have family tree software, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll have to go elsewhere. Ancestry is our top-rated product for genealogy software, and if you take a DNA test, you can incorporate the results into your family tree, as well as any genetic matches. If you’re just looking for information about your past, HomeDNA is a fine choice.

HomeDNA also offers an array of other types of DNA tests including health and breed-identification tests for dogs, healthy weight and skin care tests for humans, and a health report test that offers personalized nutrition and fitness advice.

If you need help during the process or with interpreting your results, you get assistance from HomeDNA’s blog and FAQ. The company also has an 800 number that you can call with any questions. HomeDNA lacks the breadth of informative articles about researching your past and understanding your DNA results that its competitors possess.

A Close-Up Look at Your Ancestors

HomeDNA, like the National Geographic Genographic Project, takes a deep look at your ancestors, though it doesn’t go all the way back to Africa. It does show where your ancestors lived post-Africa, and where they migrated over time. It offers a deeper look at where you came from, but not as much detail about your makeup. For that, you’re better off going to AncestryDNA or our Editors’ Choice 23andMe, both of which offer more information about your personal genetics.

New devices and Windows Mixed Reality headsets unveiled at IFA 2017, Cortana and Alexa collaborate and Skype TX wins an Emmy® Award — Weekend Reading: Sept. 1 edition – The Official Microsoft Blog

In this edition of Weekend Reading, you’ll read about IFA 2017 and the vast array of devices revealed at the event, a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Amazon, Skype TX receiving the Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award and more.

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Microsoft delivered a keynote at the IFA 2017 consumer electronics show in Berlin on Friday, Sept. 1. You can watch the on-demand video of the keynote on Windows Blogs. Earlier this week at IFA, several companies revealed new Windows Mixed Reality headsets, PCs, laptops and much more.

Dell unveiled a suite of new devices and services at IFA 2017 on Monday, including new Inspiron 7000 2-in-1s and laptops, XPS 13 performance enhancements and the Dell Visor, the company’s first-ever virtual reality headset for Windows Mixed Reality. Dell also announced new gaming PCs powered by Windows 10, new curved gaming monitors and the Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet.

ASUS announced the new ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset, unveiled the brand-new Republic of Gamers (ROG) Chimera gaming laptop and ROG curved monitor, and introduced the latest thin and light ZenBook and VivoBook laptops, all powered by Windows 10.

Acer announced a series of innovative new devices powered by Windows 10, including additions to its premium Predator gaming line; a new all-in-one desktop PC in its Aspire desktop series; and new detachable devices for working on-the-go with the next generation of their Swift, Spin, and Switch models.

Photo shows the words “Hi, I’m Cortana” on the screen of an Amazon Echo Show device next to a laptop that displays the words “Hello, I’m Alexa”

On Wednesday Microsoft announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Amazon between Cortana and Alexa.

“I’m excited that by bringing Cortana to Alexa and Alexa to Cortana, we’re adding more value and choice for consumers and developers alike,” writes Andrew Shuman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Cortana Engineering. “Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s third-party skills by asking Cortana to open Alexa, just as Alexa users will have access to Cortana’s world knowledge and helpful productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and location-based reminders simply by asking Alexa to open Cortana.”

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Skype TX, a multiplatform broadcast solution that pushes the boundaries of broadcast television, was honored Tuesday with a Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a deepened, long-term partnership with Pact, a leading nonprofit international development organization working to reduce child labor in mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“This partnership builds on our existing work with Pact, with whom we’ve worked since 2015,” writes Joan Krajewski, Microsoft general manager of Safety, Compliance and Sustainability. “Through this partnership, the successful Watoto Inje ya Mungoti (Children Out of Mining) project was launched; it uses interventions that are deeply embedded in communities and local institutions to address the economic and social root causes that lead to child labor in mining.”

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In Frankfurt, Germany, the Steigenberger Airport Hotel is known for premium customer service. It’s a complex system that requires efficient logistics. To improve communication and back-of-house operations, housekeeping employees are piloting new Trekstor IoT (Internet of Things) wearable devices. Powered by Windows 10 IoT Core and Microsoft Azure IoT, the devices enable up-to-the-minute service and cleaning, so guests can enjoy excellent service, whether they need feather pillows or more flatware.

You’ll find Labor Day sales in the Windows Store and with Groove Music. If you’ve wanted to try out Groove Music, now is a great time to do so. Get seven months of the streaming service for the price of one. This offer is available until Sept. 5. Also save up to 65 percent on hit new releases, movie bundles and TV season passes with the Labor Day Sale in the Windows Store, which runs now through Sept. 4. “Wonder Woman” is now available in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store, three weeks before it arrives on Blu-ray. On the games front, “ReCore Definitive Edition” has launched on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass.

That’s it for our round-up. See you next Friday for another Weekend Reading!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Tags: Cortana, Groove Music, IFA, skype, Weekend Reading, Windows Store

Kaminario gives composable infrastructure an NVMe twist

Kaminario is preparing the next version of its K2 all-flash array, a rack-scale system with compute controllers and nonvolatile memory express flash drives that can be used to build what it calls a “composable infrastructure.”

Kaminario’s flagship K2 all-flash array features a dual controller and four 24-drive SSD shelves.

The K2.N consists of storage controller nodes and NVMe flash shelves connected via a Remote Direct Memory Access over Converged Ethernet back-end fabric. Hosts talk to the K2.N cluster using a standard Fibre Channel or iSCSI protocol as an NVMe-over-Fabrics connection.

The all-flash vendor also introduced Kaminario Flex software to virtualize shared capacity on the K2.N array. Kaminario Flex reallocates storage controllers between K2.N arrays in real time across a data center. The Flex code derives its intelligence from Kaminario’s Clarity predictive analytics.

Creating virtual private arrays with K2.N and Kaminario Flex

Kaminario defines composable infrastructure as the ability to create dedicated storage, or clusters of virtual arrays, on demand by pulling resources from a shared mesh. Others call this rack-scale architecture or software-defined infrastructure.

Kaminario creates a virtual private array by combining a set of 1U compute servers, or c.nodes, with 3U media nodes, or m.nodes, equipped with an NVMe all-flash shelf. The K2.N nodes treat all capacity in the mesh as though it were local. Flex lets users virtually reconfigure how compute and storage are allocated and composed.

“This is what allows us to create composable infrastructure. We compose capacity and compute resources to form virtual private arrays that behave as shared storage systems, but enjoy the benefits of the centralized resource pool. You don’t have to manage spares and overprovision each array. You can actually handle management and provisioning at a data center level,” said Eyal David, CTO at Kaminario, based in Needham, Mass.

Eric Burgener, a research vice president for storage at IDC, said Kaminario Flex-powered K2.N flash should find adherents among data centers that need to move data between racks without latency.

“What Kaminario has done is create a software layer that allows you to effectively create composable infrastructure for storage,” Burgener said. “Let’s say you have three racks of Kaminario storage in your data center. You can virtually define a dedicated array that is specifically set up to meet the requirements of one application or multiple applications. You can pull resources from different racks. It’s like creating a virtual machine, but for storage.”

“If you’ve got NVMe devices in your array, the K2.N is something you could consider. You could still use Fibre Channel or iSCSI if you want. But if you use Kaminario Flex, you’re going to want to use [it as] NVMe over Fabrics,” Burgener added.

All-flash NVMe arrays evolving in line with customers’ expectations

Kaminario K2.N arrays join a list of products based on NVMe-based solid-state drives.  Among all-flash array vendors, Pure Storage sells its FlashArray//X with integrated NVMe modules installed directly on blades, and Tegile Systems this month unveiled its IntelliFlash N-5000 Series with an internal PCIe fabric.

Legacy vendor Dell EMC previously sold an NVMe all-flash array — the DSSD, designed with a custom NVMe mesh — but that product was discontinued in March.

As is the case with competing NVMe all-flash arrays, Kaminario K2.N swaps NAND-based SSDs for PCIe-attached NVMe flash cards. Kaminario is banking its Flex orchestration will prove enough of a differentiator to gain a foothold in the market.

IDC defines rack-scale flash as those with PCIe-connected NVMe SSDs, a native NVMe backplane and communication fabric, along with drivers for host connectivity. Few end-to-end NVMe storage systems are on the market, and most are limited deployment of products by E8 Storage, Excelero and other startups.

A single K2.N c.node is rated by Kaminario to handle 400,000 IOPS, with deliverable throughput up to 5 Gbps. Each m.node scales effective capacity to 600 TB, with 8 TB NVMe SSDs.

Kaminario K2.N arrays are built on AIC’s dual-port HA202-PH active-active NVMe system, Broadcom NetXtreme Ethernet network interface cards, Brocade and  Mellanox switches, and Supermicro X11 SuperServer hardware. Kaminario’s VisionOS operating system provides data management, data reduction, snapshots, RAID and replication across a cluster. David said K2.N is targeted mainly at web-scale enterprises running mixed workloads with variable response times, including data analytics and transaction processing.

Flash array vendor Nimbus Data drives into OEM channel

Nimbus Data, an all-flash array pioneer that failed to make it big, now has its sights set on supplying custom flash drives to OEMs.

Nimbus, maker of the ExaFlash all-flash array, has waded into the OEM supply chain with its ExaDrive solid-state drive reference design aimed at drive and server vendors. ExaDrive foregoes traditional SSD architectures that are based on a single monolithic chip. The multiprocessor ExaDrive SSD packages NAND flash and software intelligence internally in 3.5-inch form factor.

ExaDrive uses a distributed parallel architecture to incorporate data features and functionality in a grid of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). The drives offload error correction and flash management to a series of embedded microcontrollers. An intelligent processor delegates capacity management and wear leveling across the multiple ASICs.

The processor presents all the flash capacity to a host as a dual-ported enterprise SAS SSD that can fit into disk-based storage environments. Nimbus Data buys its NAND flash from chipmaker SK Hynix under a supplier agreement the companies signed last year.

ExaDrive SSDs are the same solid-state drives used in several of Nimbus Data’s ExaFlash all-flash arrays that launched in August 2016. ExaDrive SSDs are available in 25 TB and 50 TB capacities, making them a better fit for archiving than high-performing primary storage, where flash usually shows up.

Nimbus Data’s goal is still to replace hard disk drives with flash; although, the approach is different.

“The adoption of flash in the data center is very much in its infancy,” said Tom Isakovich, CEO of Nimbus, based in Irvine, Calif. “There are 40 million units of 3.5-inch hard disk drives still shipping per year. It’s an enormous market. Our goal is to bring flash into that market and begin eating away [at disk sales.]”

Viking Technology, a division of publicly held Sanmina Corp., started shipments of its UHC-Silo SSDs based on ExaDrive technology in July. Smart Modular Technologies this month became the second OEM to introduce branded ExaDrive SSDs. Smart Modular’s Osmium family incorporates multi-level cell NAND.

“The Nimbus product is really a plug-and-play replacement for existing hard drives. We have been asked by our customers to supply larger capacity drives, and the partnership with Nimbus will help us build out the product line,” said Victor Tsai, director of marketing for Smart Modular’s flash products.

Nimbus Data's ExaDrive SSD
ExaDrive is Nimbus Data’s OEM high-performance SSD aimed at archiving and cloud service providers.

Nimbus Data: ExaDrive ‘reinvents’ SSD design

ExaDrive SSDs are the same SSDs used in Nimbus Data’s ExaFlash C-series and D-series all-flash arrays. ExaFlash C-series is geared toward cloud service providers, while the dense ExaFlash D line packs up to 4.5 PB of raw flash in a single rack.

ExaDrive SSD also will be marketed to cloud service providers and enterprises that run high-capacity flash in standard servers; although, Isakovich said Nimbus does not plan to market its own branded SSDs directly to end users.

Nimbus Data claims a 50 TB ExaDrive consumes 0.14 watts of power per terabyte. A standard rack packed with ExaDrive SSDs provides 52 PB of raw capacity. The drives have an implied life span of 10 years and promise data retention up to six months. The capacity and scale, if achieved, would represent a dramatic improvement over SSDs currently available from legacy drive manufacturers.

Dennis Martin, president of computer analyst firm Demartek LLC in Golden, Colo., whose lab ran performance tests on ExaDrive SSDs, said hyperscale data centers have started placing more data on flash “because it’s the only thing that can keep up.”

“I wrote an article [in 2013] called ‘Horses, Buggies and SSDs,’ in which I [predicted] we would see flash getting used as an archive device. That’s sort of what ExaDrive is going for,” Martin said. “The performance isn’t superfast, but it’s competitive. The big thing is the capacity. This is a standard 12 gigabit per second SAS drive, but it’s a 3.5-inch SSD with 50 TB.”

Flash storage offers performance and latency improvements over spinning disk. All-flash arrays concentrate management intelligence either in an operating system or inside array controllers. But even flash systems struggle to keep pace with soaring data growth and the accompanying demand for increased computational power to deliver inline data services.

Nimbus has run lean and eschewed outside investments, other than a $2 million angel round at its inception in 2007. The ExaDrive project is part of a corporate reboot. Although an early entrant in the all-flash array market — it launched its Gemini product line in 2010 — Nimbus Data quickly got overshadowed by venture-funded competitors with larger marketing and sales budgets. The company slipped out of view in 2014, leading some in the industry to assume it had ceased operations. The vendor returned a year ago with the ExaFlash, and it went quiet again until last week’s ExaDrive revelation.

Isakovich said the original goal of the ExaDrive project was to develop an exabyte-scale array and bring it to market by 2020, but that plan was foiled by the limitations of existing SSD designs. Instead, he developed ExaDrive in tandem with the ExaFlash nodes unveiled in 2016.

“There was no way to build it using off-the-shelf SSDs. We set out to reinvent everything about the way SSDs are built,” Isakovich said.