During Storage Field Day 7 we had the privilege to get a presentation from the founders of Springpath. Springpath is a start-up which came out of stealth a couple of weeks ago and is trying to solve one of the major problems in the datacenter, storage, through a software only solution. Surely it still needs hardware, but Springpath is one of those few companies which provide you with an excellent peace of software to put on top of the hardware you choose, although there still is a HCL for supported hardware. Please watch the Springpath HALO Architecture Deep Dive below for a deep dive into this solution (promise it is worth your time):
Springpath HALO Architecture Deep Dive from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.
In the datacenters around the world companies are struggling with the datagrowth and it’s related cost. Where a lot of companies were used to buying server hardware seperate from storage, the price of scaling both silos independantly creates a lot of friction between the people managing these silos within the IT department. A lot of the older SAN’s are purely Scale Up and we all know that might be effecient enough for capacity, but the problems arise when the need excists for an increas storage performance.
The solution is in the software!?
The last two years, or so we’re hearing that the solution for all are datacenter problems are in the software. Software Defined Everything (which off course includes Software Defined Bacon :D) is the credo these days. Building upon this believe Springpath made their choice to only provide software for their customers, which can then leverage their own hardware, either already in place or newly bought. For now, and to be honest I don’t know if this will change at any given time, but the HCL now includes Cisco, HP, Dell and SuperMicro. Which is a large piece of the datacenter pie, if you ask me…
To leverage the full potential of hardware we always needed the versatility that software could give us. Only in the last couple of years it seems that there finally is a synergy between the two. Let’s be honest, a great Software Defined DataCenter can only be build with great software that leverages great hardware. Why would there otherwise be HCL’s still in place for almost all of the software suppliers.
Back to Springpath
Springpath is the next in anever growing line of vendors trying to leverage the storage problems through software. Although not that many provide you with a software solution only, there are still a couple of companies trying to provide a (kind) of similar solution. With services like inline deduplication, inline compression and the chance to use 7200 RPM SATA disk along with Flash and DRAM, is something we see more and more in the industry. So you have to bring other or better solutions to differentatiate from competitors. First bringing a software only solution is a different solution than most of the other players in this market, although Maxta does the exact same thing.
Looking High level at the DataPlatform gives you a feeling of the great potential this platform :
If you look at the whole picture, you’ll see a solution that will serve legacy as well as future applications as well as legacy as future storage protocols. Again, this is where Springpath takes a different approach to many of it’s competitors. Let’s dive a little deeper into the HALO architecture;
All Application data is striped across the servers in a server pool, and not only to the server the application is located. This way the applications can use all compute resources within the springpath Platform Software (SPS). Utilizing this kind of Data distribution leverage scaling performance as well as capacity when servers are added, and removing I/O bottlenecks on single server.
Like competitors like VSAN and Maxta reads and writes are cached at the Flash layer, giving a high performance rate. A write is acknowlegded as soon as it lands on FLASH and is replicated to the other flash resources in the SPS cluster, to make sure written data is secure. Hot data sets are kept in cache (Flash and DRAM) and only written to the capacity tier (which can be any type of disk, even 7200 SATA) when it becomes cold.
With HALO you’re able to seperate the performance and the capacity. Making it easier to scale independently tiers is a big gain that comes with these hyperconverged storage pools and it’s a great thing to be able to add capacity if you run out of space and and performance if that’s resource you’re getting short in.
HALO does inline deduplication as well as inline compression. The inline compression is done in variable sized blocks. Doing an inline variable sized block compression is one of those competitve edges Springpath has, using the sequantial data layout used in the HALO architecture.
HALO provides many Data Services like snapshots and clones. As all of you probably know these services can be very efficient and in the HALO architecture they can grow to very large numbers. These services help companies to recover data quickly and deliver applications rapidly.
Log Structured Distributed Object
As already mentioned the data layout within the HALO architecture is done in such a way that data is packed into smaller objects which in turn are layed out across a pool of servers in a sequential way. This kind of layout provide better endurance on the flash layer as well as better performance throughout the system. Replication is done in the same manner to make sure data is written in a secure way.
Where to use Springpath technology
There are a lot of ways to use this solution. But (I know there is always a but) as this is a 1.0 solution you may just want to wait a bit before depolying this in your production environment. This doesn’t mean you would not be able to leverage the great benefits the solution brings and spin this software up in parts of your datacenter that aren’t as critical as your production environment. Springpath sees there solution a good fit for the following enviroments:
- Test and Dev
- Remote office/Branch office
- Virtualized Enterprise Applications
- Big Data analytics
I’m not sure if these would all be the best fit for the software, but I can see a couple of them being a great fit for exploring the springpath software.
Call home functions
The last thing I want to mention is the call home function (and the Springpath support cloud leveraging this) which springpath calls autosupport. I have a strong feeling they’ve looked at NimbleStorage’s Infosight, which in my opinion is a good thing. Although I hope you have the opportunity to opt-out of this solution, I think this is a very strong feature, as it provides a solution which gives Springpath the power to proactively monitor your system, and thus provide a solution for a problem you even didn’t know you had or might occur when you didn’t take action. As well as give you an insight, through their big data analytics engine to provide insights on configurations, trends and best practices. This would give you a much better insight into your environment making sure it is always performing at is best as well as never running out of capacity.
Make sure to watch the entire #SFD7 Springpath presentation HERE, as well as read these great blogs by my fellow SFD7 delegates:
- A short intro by Enrico Signoretti: It’s storage showtime! #SFD7
- Another short intro by Keith Townsend: Springpath – Storage Field Day 7 preview
- Chris M Evans wrote his findings: Storage Field Day 7 – Initial Thoughts
- And Aussie Dan Frith wrote: Storage Field Day 7 – Day 2 – Springpath