ioFABRIC adds cost optimization capability to pooled automatic data fabric solution

Toronto startup ioFABRIC has refined its messaging to focus on customer concerns about clouds and hybrid clouds, and backed that up by extending their solution’s capability with Vicinity 3.0.

Andrew Flint, ioFABRIC’s VP of Marketing

Today, Toronto-based software-defined storage startup ioFABRIC is announcing Version 3.0 of their Vicinity multi-site, multi-cloud data fabric. It offers data protection and data availability, and solves data management issues while reducing capacity and cost across all storage, sites, and clouds. It does this by pooling storage together into a vendor-neutral automated data fabric.

“This team has been together for 15 years, and this is our fourth company together,” said Andrew Flint, ioFABRIC’s VP of Marketing. At NEVEX [an SSD caching software company that Intel bought in 2012], we saw the need for something broader than solving the performance needs of the application server. Just as compute has moved to a compute fabric, storage needs to do the same, with one data platform that supports everything.”

Until this release, the ioFABRIC messaging around Vicinity had focused on the granularity of what it did — ensuring that the most important apps have top priority for I/O resources by letting admins assign quality of service levels to apps, and then optimizing storage resources to meet those levels.

“We found that customers were still thinking of storage like Henry Ford said people used to think of horses, that to get more speed, you needed a faster horse, not realizing they could have a car,” Flint said. “That led us to simplify our messaging, and to get back to the level that buyers are thinking.”

That, Flint said, is summed up in the new ioFABRIC tagline — Always Available, Always Protected, Always Evergreen.

“It’s about having a virtual pool of storage resources that you have when you need it,” he said. “It’s really that simple. It completely eliminates the need for forklift upgrades. You hot swap an array and the data centre still runs, in the same way as RAID handles disks. It’s not a migration solution, because it cures the need for migration.”

The core functionality remains the same as before.

“Policies are set up policies for applications,” Flint said. “When workloads change, we adapt to that. We route around failures, and change the storage media being used. If you don’t have storage resources to deliver, we will tell you and you either get more hardware or relax the policies. We can only deliver up to the limitations of your storage infrastructure, but we optimize that. An admin can make very general policies, or be much more specific. You can get as granular as you need to, requiring for example, that an application never leaves the U.S., or that it never leaves these two SANs.”

Flint said that the enhancements in Vicinity 3.0 focus on completing the ‘Always’ story. They have also added cost optimization, and added a branch of AI called swarm intelligence to make that work.

“Swarm intelligence is a recognized branch of AI,” Flint said. “It’s based on the principle that a single bee has nominal intelligence, but a swarm works together to do things that are more intelligent. We have applied it on two levels, on a per application workload basis, and on a management swarm that optimizes over all applications, optimizing for cost over the entire data fabric to use the least expensive media while adhering to SLA policy.”

That’s a key ingredient in being Always Available, Flint said.

“The entire data fabric is now like a raid array,” he said. “You can lose a disk, an array or a site, and the data will still be available. The data expands across sites and clouds for continuity, so even if a whole data centre goes down, data will be available at other sites.”

The Always Evergreen concept is designed to deal with customer confusion around clouds.

“In discussions with storage buyers, we found that many don’t understand the real meaning of terms like hybrid cloud storage, and private cloud,” Flint said. “Vicinity transforms local storage into an on-prem private cloud, with both multi-site, and multi-cloud capability, for true hybrid could storage. You can hook up another cloud and auto-move other data to it, so there is no manual migration, ever.”

Always Protected revolves around the improvement of their snapshotting with Immutable Snapshots, as protection against ransomware.

“We had snapshotting from the start, but ransomware made us look at snapshotting more closely, and we improved it substantially,” Flint said. “We can now store more snapshots with closer restore time in a smaller format. They are also not directly accessible through the disk, and are saved in an immutable format. It’s not complete protection against ransomware, but our snapshots will recover up to a point. We also added data residency controls.”

During the last year, while developing Vicinity 3.0, ioFABRIC has also placed considerable focus on its distribution strategy. The company, which sells entirely through channel partners, engaged SYNNEX a year ago as its distributor.

“The distribution channel is turning results for us,” Flint said. “We are also looking to add high-end technology partnerships, which are important because we are a startup. We are also looking for OEM relationships, now that we have distribution channels in place.”