Skyera brings second generation of dense skyHawk flash array to market

In addition to being lightweight and energy efficient, the new skyhawk FS offers price parity with HDD systems "without tricks", at $2.99 per GB.

frankie Roohparvar Skyera 150

Frankie Roohparvar, Skyera’s CEO

San Jose-based all-flash array vendor Skyera has released the second generation of its solid state Skyera skyHawk FS product, a small form factor, light-weight, energy efficient system that offers flash storage at the cost of spinning disks.

Skyera is a startup which has a reputation for producing first-class hardware technology, but which has underperformed at getting it to market. It was founded in 2010 as StorCloud by Radoslav Danilak, who had previously founded MLC flash memory controller market SandForce, which was eventually sold to LSI. StorCloud changed its name to Skyera in April 2012, and then four months later launched the first generation of SkyHawk, a 1U, half depth SSD rack.

“This system had 57 TB of raw storage, and 44 TB usable, and we emphasized the usable as a service to the market, to provide more accurate numbers to customers,” said Frankie Roohparvar, Skyera’s CEO. “But what we found is that most folks buying storage are used to raw, and our competitors compared their raw storage against our usable, which was to our disadvantage. Now we are emphasizing our raw, which allows apples to apples comparisons with competitors.”

In 2013 Skyera announced SkyEagle, an even denser, high availability solution, with 500 raw TB in a 1U enclosure, which was aimed at enterprises with heavy duty requirements. It was originally supposed to be out this year, but has taken longer to design on the software side and is now projected to appear in the first half of 2015.

This August, Skyera did some senior executive shuffling. Danilak relinquished the CEO position and moved to the CTO job to focus purely on technology. Roohparvar, who had previously been Skyera’s COO, moved into the CEO role.

“We wanted to focus more on execution – underpromising and overdelivering,” he said. “When I was COO, everyone else except engineering reported to me anyway. Given Radoslav’s technical genius, a lot of the mundane stuff he had to do as CEO was a poor use of his time.”

Skyera hopes that the second generation of Skyera will catch the market’s attention and drive sales. It does have efficiencies that should appeal to buyers. Skyera’s small size and weight, and its very low power consumption provide measurable OPEX savings. At the same time, its efficient inline hardware-assisted data reduction minimizes storage costs.

“It is the smallest form factor in the industry by a massive amount,” Roohparvar said. “The power used is less than 300 watts, which is less than a hair dryer. We use 99% less power and cooling than legacy systems. We can actually make a real difference in energy consumption.”

In addition, the small size also translates into 93% less space than legacy systems, and Roohparvar said that at 25 lbs, Skyera weights 6 times less than its closest competitor.

“We expect this to be popular in mobile data centres because of the light weight,” he said.

The skyHawk FS supports both SAN and NAS in a single platform as well as both iSCSI and NFS protocols. It now features that very dense 136TB of raw flash in 1U, along with 100 TB of usable. It also has bandwidth speeds up to 2.4GB/s and up to 400,000 IOPS with microsecond latencies.

Roohparvar said the high performance and low latency lets the skyHawk FS target a broad range of application workloads, including file server consolidation, server virtualization, databases, Big Data, mobile data centres, test and development, disaster recovery, and public, private and hybrid clouds. They also expect interest from MSPs.

“Our price is a key differentiator for us,” Roohparvar said. “We can offer price parity with HDD systems without tricks. Our list price is $2.99 per GB.”

Roohparvar also stressed that the channel will be very important to the success of the skyHawk FS.

“We are a small startup, so we are using the channel in a big way,” he said. “It’s very important to us, although we also sell direct.”

The skyHawk FS is available now.