Tuesday 18 april 2017, Patrick van Helden, Director of Solution Architecture at Elastifile was at Metis IT to tell about Elastifile. We had the chance to try a real-life deployment of the Elastifile software.
Elastifile is a relative new name in the storage area. Since this month, the company is out of stealth and has presented its Elastifile Cloud File System. The company is founded in 2013 in Israel by three founders with a strong background in the virtualization and storage industry. In three funding rounds the product raised $58 Million. In the last round $15M came directly from Cisco. Other investors in Elastifile are leading flash Storage vendors and Enterprise Cloud Vendors.
What is Elastifile?
The goal of the founders is to have a storage platform that is able to run any application, on any environment, at any location. Whereby any location means really any location: Cloud or on premise. The product is developed to run with the same characteristics in these environments. Therefor Elastifile wrote from scratch a POSIX compliant filesystem that supports file, block and object oriented workloads and is optimized for flash devices. You can store your documents, user shares, VMware VMDK files, but also use it for big data applications, all stored on the same Elastifile Cloud File System.
But what is the difference with a NetApp storage for example? A NetApp system can also provide you the same capabilities and is already doing this for years. The first thing in which Elastifile’s approach is different than NetApp, is the way the product is written. It’s written for high performance and low latency. Elastifile only supports flash devices and the software knows how to handle the different types of flash devices to get the best performance and extend the lifetime of flash devices. Furthermore, ElastiFile is linearly scalable and can be combined with compute (Hyperconverged Solutions).
Another difference is that the Elastifile Cloud File System can run inside a (public) cloud environment and connect this to your own on premise environment. The problem with (public) cloud environment is that it gives you not the same predictable performance as in your on-premise environment. The Elastifile Cloud File System have a dynamic data path to handle noisy and fluctuating environments like the cloud. Due to this dynamic path Elastifile can run with high-performance and most important with low latency in cloud-like environments.
Elastifile’s Cloud File System can be deployed in three different deployment models:
- Dedicated Storage mode
The first deployment model is HCI, where the Elastifile software runs on top of a hypervisor. Now, Elastifile supports only VMware, additional hypervisors will be added in future releases. You can compare this deployment with many other HCI vendors, but when connecting and combining the HCI deployment model with one of the other deployment options it gives you more flexibility and capabilities. Most other HCI vendors only support a small set of certified hardware configurations, wherein Elastifile supports a broad range of hardware configurations.
The second and in my opinion the most interesting deployment model is the dedicated storage mode deployment. In this model, the Elastifile software is directly installed on servers with flash devices. Together they create the Elastifile distributed storage. With this deployment model, it is possible to connect hypervisors directly to these storage nodes using NFS (and in the future SMB3), but also connect bare-metal servers with Linux, Oracle or even container based workloads to this same storage pool.
As we already discussed earlier the latest deployment is the In-Cloud deployment. Elastifile can run In-Cloud in one of the big public cloud providers but is not limited to public clouds. Elastifile can also run in other clouds as long it delivers flash based storage as infrastructure. The Elastifile can use the storage to build its distributed low-latency cloud file system.
When combining these three models you get a Cloud ready file system with high performance, low latency and a lot of flexibility and possible use-cases.
HCI file services
A great use-case for the Elastifile Cloud File System is that you can decouple the operating system and application from the actual data of the application in a HCI deployment. You can use the Elastifile Cloud File System to mount a VM directly to the storage and bypass the hypervisor. And because the Elastifile Cloud File System is a POSIX filesystem it can store millions of files with deep file structures.
Linear scalable in cloud-like environments
A second use-case for the Elastifile Cloud File system is that the performance with any deployment of Elastifile delivers a predictable low-latency performance. When expanding the Elastifile nodes each node will add the same performance as any other node. When adding additional storage, you’re also adding additional storage controllers to the cluster. This result in a linear scalable solution even in cloud-like environments.
The last use-case of the Elastifile is that it could automatically move files on the filesystem to another tier of flash storage. This could be a cheaper type of flash or a less performing type of flash storage, for example consumer grade SSD’s. Movement will be based on policies. The Elastifile software can further offload cold data to a cheaper type of storage, like a S3 storage. This can be a cloud based S3 storage, but can also be an on premise S3 storage.
How the future will look like is always difficult to say, but from all what I already tried is this a very promising first version of the Elastifile Cross-Cloud Data Fabric. In the session with Patrick, I deployed the software myself and Patrick showed us the performance on these deployed nodes without any problems. The idea’s around the product are great and on the roadmap, you find the most important capabilities which are needed to make it a real mature storage product.
During Storage Field Day 10 we had a very interesting presentation by Datera on their Elastic Data Fabric. They say its the first storage solution for enterprises as well as service provider clouds that is designed with DevOps style operations in mind. The Elastic Data Fabric provides scale-out storage software capable of turning standard commodity hardware into a RESTful API-driven, policy-based storage fabric, for the enterprise environments.
The Datera EBF solution gives your environment the flexibility of hyperscale environments through a clever and innovate software solution. In a fast changing application landscape being fast, flexible, agile and software defined is key. Cloud native is the new kid on the block and more and enterprises are adapting to these kinds application development.
Datera seems to be able to provide enterprises as well as cloud providers the storage that is needed to build these applications. The way this is accomplished by Datera is be defined in four main solutions:
What is Intent defined? I had a bit of a struggle on that question myself, so just lets stick to the explanation Datera provides:
Intent defined is a ochestrated play between storage and application. An application developer will know what he would like from storage, and can define these to the storage application programming interface. This is DevOps at its best. When storage is able to be scriptable from a developer perspective and manageable from a storage adminstrator perspective you know you hit the jackpot.
API first approach
Already mention the API a couple of times, but this is one of the key features of the Datera EBF, and therefor very important. Datera aims to set a new standard with the elegance and simplicity of their API. They intend to make the API as easy usable as possible to make sure it used and not forsaken because it so hard to understand.
The API is a well though and extremely hard peace to do right creating something as difficult as a storage platform for the customers Datera is aiming for. The API first approach and the approach Datera took developing the API seems to be a real seldom seen piece of art in this space.
Things always need to come together creating something like a storage platform. One of these things is that the companies buying your solution want the opportunity to mix and match. They want to buy what they need now and if they need more (capacity or performance or both) they want to add just as easy. At Datera the you can mix and match different kind of nodes without impacting the overall performance of the solution, making it one of these rare solutions that is truely hyper-composable.
This is where a lot of software solutions say they are, but…. When you start using their products you find out the hard way that the definition of Multi-tenant is used in many ways, and true multi-tenancy is hard to get.
Is this different with Datera? They say it is, but to be honest I’m nit really sure of it. I’ll try to figure this out and reach out to the Datera people. And although they do not have a lot of official customers, a couple of them are well known for their multi-tenant environment, so my best guess is that the multi-tenancy part is OK with Datera, if not I’ll let you know.
I was very impressed with the information provided by Datera during Storage Field Day 10. Due to a ton of work coming back after SFD10 and TFD11 I didn’t really have time to do a deep dive into the technology, but that is where my fellow SFD10 delegates are a big value to the community, so here are their blogposts:
The Cool Thing About Datera Is Intent by Dan Frith
Defining Software-defined Storage definition. Definitely. – Juku.it by Enrico Signoretti
Torus – Because We Need Another Distributed Storage Software Solution by Chris Evans
Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Datera by Chris Evans
Storage Field Day 10 Next Week by Rick Schlander
And as always the Tech Field Day team provides us with an awesome site full of the information on Datera here
And just to make sure you have a direct option to watch the videos of the SFD10 presentations, here they are:
1. Datera Introduction with Marc Fleischmann
2. Datera Docker and Swarm Demo with Bill Borsari
3. Datera Architecture Deep Dive
4. Datera OpenStack Demo with Bill Borsari
And make sure to visit the Datera website as well:
If you are interested in these kinds of topics, please join us for the TECHunplugged conference in Amsterdam on 6/10/16 and in Chicago on 27/10/16. This is a one day event focused on cloud computing and IT infrastructure with an innovative formula, it combines a group of independent, insightful and well-recognized bloggers with disruptive technology vendors and end users who manage rich technology environments. Join us!
Two weeks ago I attended the TechUnplugged in London. For whom doesn’t know what TechUnplugged is. TechUnplugged is a full day conference focused on cloud computing and IT infrastructure. The conference brings influencers, vendors and end users together so it is possible to create interaction between these people. If you want more information, look at techunplugged.io.
All speakers had a slot of 25 minutes to tell their story. First I thought it was very little time to tell a story, but after a day of presentation I think it’s sufficient to do the job. If the subject of the presentation is not in your area of interest, it will only cost you 25 minutes of your time. The presentations of the influencers are interspersed with the vendors so you have varied subjects and presentation styles.
The majority of the presentations were storage oriented. These presentations addressed subjects like: the history of storage, winners and losers in storage solutions, multiple vendors and secondary storage. Besides the storage presentations there was a session about OpenStack, Clouds and Containers and the presentation about the Software Defined Data Center from my colleague Arjan Timmerman with stroopwafels and chocolate. I gave, or it was the intention to give it live, a technical overview about vRealize Automation, but because of the bad Wi-Fi connection it was only a movie.
The last part was an ‘Ask Me Anything’ panel consisting of influencers and vendors. Everybody could ask any questions got their answers from different perspectives. It seemed as a nice concept, but it’s always difficult to create this kind of interaction. After the ‘Ask Me Anything’ panel it was time to start the social part of the conference (beer, wine and networking).
I’m looking back at a well-organized event with a broad pallet of interesting subjects and people involved. I think the combination of vendors and influencers and the presentations is perfect formula to be “updated” and involved in the last developments. For me some new products were introduced and I got some new insights in the fast changing world of cloud, storage and SDDC. I sincerely hope I meet you all at the next TechUnplugged in Amsterdam!