Before I begin brain dumping my thoughts from yesterday I’d like to take a moment not only to thank Satyam Vaghani (PernixData CTO & Co-Founder) but also to Jane. Much like yourselves I receive invites to meetings, ‘free’ events, conferences, WebEx demos, etc… most days of the week but there seems little sincerity with these. So what’s the point? There’s too many other things to be doing and quite frankly a saturation. However, when an invite arrives from Jane it’s time to sit up and take note. Why? Her clients are typically the ones to keep an eye on. They’re the industry shapers, influencers and challengers to the mainstream. So when I was asked to meet Satyam I didn’t even check my calendar – I just accepted the invite.

How the afternoon unfolded

Our meeting took place at Cohn and Wolfe, Tavistock Square in London. It was an invite only affair and upon arrival it was great to see that I was definitely to be in good company for the afternoon with some of the more prominent virtualisation community names. Name dropping time…

Ed Grigson ~ Craig Kilborn ~ Gregg Robertson ~ Julian Wood ~ Matthew Bunce ~ Archie Hendryx ~ Simon Eady ~ Luca Dell’Oca ~ Jane Rimmer

A quick round the table of introductions kicked things off to prepare Satyam of his audience then we began. Satyam set the scene of PernixData as a company now, how it came about and supported the conversation with his career history. Many anecdotes were dropped in which opened the conversation into others areas sparking non-PernixData conversation. So what did we chat about? Well here are some excerpts that I recall…

There’s no question that the flagship product is FVP and the uptake of adoption is rapidly increasing, globally. The product, if you weren’t already aware, specifically focuses on storage I/O caching using server side SSDs to take the hit away from the underlying storage platforms. Aggregating the SSDs introduces redundancy and resilience to mitigate data loss or corruption. That’s it, in a nutshell.

So you may ask what’s the difference between having SSDs local to having them deployed within your enterprise class SAN? Well, quite a bit. First of all, the intelligence is not the same. Storage vendors use tiers of varying performant storage and apply their custom algorithms from trend analysis to locate the data as it thinks best. There’s no doubt this works well in many situations, but not all. Add to the fact that not all storage vendors do this on-the-fly presents a small flaw in the ability to adapt to peak workloads. There’s also the extra overhead that data has to leave the physical server and find its way to the storage layer. Where PernixData FVP comes into its own is that it sits within the storage layer of the hypervisor and doesn’t need to leave the server. Whether you’re a skeptic or not, it’s quite clear cut as to the difference.

So what do the storage vendors think? Industry rumbles suggest they’re somewhat unhappy with the idea but there’s no need to be. PernixData’s FVP is focussed on the return to the customer of their existing (perhaps incumbent) investment. Their product is designed to accelerate application performance and not replace storage. The monolithic enterprise SAN may well be sized correctly on day 1 of deployment based upon the known and expected workloads at that time but after year 2 or 3 it’s more than likely it’ll be up for some form of review. If storage capacity is the requirement then that’s usually straight forward to address but performance can require an upgrade to storage processors or platform uplift. That’s expensive. Why not treat storage as a commodity? It’ll expand as it always does but accept that there is something else available to address performance.

To date the top 3 use-cases for FVP have been reported to be:

  1. Database
  2. Microsoft Exchange
  3. Infrastructure

Looking at these use-cases I don’t see these focussed on disrupting storage vendors. When applications perform and deliver to the business they’re happy. As business grows and capacity requirements increase why not buy more disk and let FVP deal with the performance?

Taking a step back from the storage discussion for one moment perhaps cast your mind back to when x86 virtualisation came to the scene. Compute hardware vendors weren’t exactly over the moon with the idea that 5 physical servers could be consolidated into 1. However, look where we are today. More and more companies are running their infrastructures virtualised and still looking to the hardware vendors to provide greater performance in smaller form factors. Hardware vendors didn’t go bust, they adapted to the market trend and I believe storage vendors need to do the same.

My thoughts and wrapping up

Customers are now looking at their options when creating or updating their reference architectures. Consider the approach that Nutanix and Simplivity bring to the data centre – small form factor boxes that contain compute, network and storage. Then there’s storage acceleration appliances targeting virtual machines from the likes of Tintri and Nimble Storage. How about virtualised networking… Which hypervisor and product suite is best suited for the platform required? There’s an awful lot of technology to choose from.

In short. Every solution incorporates use-cases. Identify these and design accordingly and whether vendors like it or not, there’s no one silver bullet in their product and they need to accept this.

Final thank you

To Satyam, it was a pleasure to meet and discuss technology with you.

Satyam & dawoo

Satyam & dawoo


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