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Recap of 44th IT Press Tour

with participation of 9 companies

The recent 44th edition was the opportunity for journalists to visit 9 companies – iXsystems, Lightbits Labs, Liqid, Nasuni, Quantum, Spectra Logic, Veritas, Vast Data and Weka – covering data management, cloud, NVMe, file storage, composable environments, primary and secondary storage, tape and open source.

Here are the technologies of the participants as described by the organizer of the event.

iXsystems’ – we should say iX – meeting was the opportunity to realize the company annual revenue is around $100 million and it represents probably a surprise for many readers. TrueNAS has a 40% penetration rate within Fortune 500. The team has clearly made progress with TrueNAS 13.0 helping TrueNAS Scale to finally be ready addressing the scale-out model asked by firm’s customers. The company worked on a global distributed storage approach based on a P2P/blockchain design, inviting users to bypass public cloud and storage and share data from multiple storage entities present as various private production sites.

Lightbits Labs’ session was also interesting as we were able to measure the progress made by the team. The company now articulates its message around the cloud data platform angle promoting very low latency – up to 160𝝻s, 75 millions IO/s, high endurance and flexible data protection. As a full and only software solution, delivering such high performance on TCP is a real achievement aligned with the huge Ethernet installed base. The software stack got very rich features list and more are coming becoming a serious alternative solution against usual players. Intel was invited and we’re still wondering why it invests so heavily in storage, here with the NVMe/TCP champion but also with its DAOS. Is it just to support Optane and potentially other CPU and networking components? In that case why did they sell their NAND and SSD business to SK Hynix? Clearly, for Lightbits Labs, it’s a major partnership that should impact its destiny.

Liqid visit at their Broomfield, CO, HQ was the opportunity to learn more about the data center composability company. We understand that CDI – Composable Disaggregated Infrastructure – represents the next step after HCI to build dynamically virtual server to honor and address dynamic changing workloads. Built around firm’s EX 4400 Series and coupled with its Matrix software, the solution finds its ideal footprint with GPU-based configuration able to compose, decompose and recompose on-demand any configuration. Beyond this, Liqid has extended its technology with ioDirect, a peer-to-peer GPU connection to boost bandwidth. And being a strong Nvidia partner, Liqid supports GPUDirect. The various configurations deployed at customers’ sites shown during the session were impressive. The industry now expects soon the next step, the capability to support DRAM disaggregation and composability via CXL.

Nasuni organized the session at the beautiful new Microsoft EBC in Mountain View. Its mission is clearly ambitious with the goal to serve file data from any point and protect them from anything. Results also have improved and demonstrated a real adoption acceleration. The company sees a split in the file storage market with a TAM opportunity of $5 billion in the coming years. Having shifted its message, It has found its spot fueled by a new VC round, key new functionalities like an advanced ransomware protection and 2 recent interesting acquisitions with DBM Cloud Systems and Storage Made Easy. In addition, it offers for a few months extended services via its Labs entity being open source solutions offered to customers to use and customize. These new services are present on GitHub.

Quantum, met at their EBC in Englewood, CO, delivered a presentation as we measured all the progress made by the company for a few years. We can easily align this with the arrival of Jamie Lerner as CEO 4 years ago. Fueled by acquisitions like CatDV, Pivot3, EnCloudEn or Atavium and coupled with internal developments, the storage company has made the transition to a software machine as illustrated by the image below. The 2nd key point was the work done for hyperscalers having designed a new tape library line – the Scalar i6H – to support their demanding needs. The company equips today 5 of the top hyperscalers with football fields full of tape libraries. It clearly gives Quantum a new credibility with these biggest storage needs on the planet.

Spectra Logic, also met at their HQ in Boulder, CO, gave a company’s and product ‘s update around BlackPearl, StorCycle, VAIL and of course its tape libraries line. The secondary storage champion has made some developments for unstructured data with BlackPearl NAS, its integration with StorCycle and VAIL. StorCycle has been updated to support multi-billion files aligned with large data center needs and integration with AWS, GCP and Azure among other features. It helps Spectra plays a role beyond the storage destination becoming active in the data management. On the BlackPearl side, the gen 2 accelerates the chameleon aspect of the solution and delivers new capabilities around encryption, S3 and Glacier-like approach beyond NAS and gateway role. The company also realized that public cloud is inevitable with S3 being the natural access method delivering a real U3 – Universal, Unified and Ubiquitous – model. VAIL leverages on-premises and public cloud to maximize capabilities of both worlds delivering a multi-point access to data becoming global.

Veritas has chosen to present its new data management strategy around its autonomous flavor fueled by the NetBackup family. NetBackup business represents at least 65% of the revenue of the company so we understand this choice even if InfoScale should have been a good addition for the session. The idea is to extend what automation can offer with real independence, with some capabilities to analyze, take decision and execute operations without any human intervention thanks to AI and cloud learning. For Veritas, this model has 3 components: automated cyber-resilience with seamless air gap, multi-cloud optimization and intelligent protection. Clearly the base for that is NetBackup 10 with its cloud scale architecture coupled with some AI/ML extension to make things transparent, rich and rapid. It has also to be agnostic to the environment able to run on-premises but also in the cloud with bare metal, VM or Kubernetes deployments. An interesting approach for the leader for enterprise data protection.

Vast Data covered Ceres, 4.3 and gave a preview of some 4.4 features. Clearly the company is moving fast with contracts proving that advanced scalable NAS has entered a new dimension thanks to its DASE architecture, container, SCM, QLC flash, NVMe and its network companion. The product now supports 30TB drives, NVidia BlueField SmartNIC and Kioxia SCM delivering a new density reference. With a lot of new features, the company has accelerated filling the gap with other established NAS and even going beyond what we can find on the market. This is the case for the new data reduction approach with 4.4 release promoting a new adaptive variable chunking to find similarities. This new engine delivers a high reduction ratio making full flash NAS a very compelling story at every level.

Weka shared its story confirming its market footprint acceleration for a few quarters and its recent VC round. Playing in a very conservative world with a parallel file system model with some open source pressure, the company has introduced a new architecture where everything is shared and parallelized to gain performance and resiliency. Implemented as container, every instance can serve as metadata and data services able to sustain very high IO/s and throughput for various needs, well beyond classic HPC. In fact the firm targets AI and next gen workloads exposing all kind of interfaces such a Posix but also NFS, SMB, S3, CSI and GPUDirect. The Weka 4 news with the support of AWS, supported for several years, but above all GCP, Azure and OCI confirms Wekafs as a U3 – Universal, Unified and Ubiquitous – data platform. In addition a data reduction engine is also introduced with new UI and incremental continuous snapshots.

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