Burlywood enhances novel approach to drive optimization with TrueFlash Insight

TrueFlash Insight enhances the SSD drive optimization solution that Burlywood quietly brought to market last year, by adding the ability to analyze traffic at the drive controller level in a productized form that partners can use.

Today, in advance of next week’s Flash Memory Summit, which they are attending for the first time, Longmont CO-based Burlywood is announcing the enhancement of what they term their next-generation flash storage software that reinvents flash. A year ago, they introduced their TrueFlash storage software solution. Today, they are supplementing it with TrueFlash Insight, a solution that is unique in the market in the way that it analyzes traffic at the drive controller level. That analysis lets Burlywood see how the flash is being used, and allows them to custom design an application-optimized drive environment that improves performance and extends drive life.

“Last year, we announced our TrueFlash software firmware and the architecture that controls the SSDs – the overarching architecture,” said Mike Tomky, Burlywood’s Director of Marketing. “Now we are announcing a component of that, TrueFlash Insight. It assesses how the drives are functioning, and is something that we have been using  internally.”

The company has kept a fairly low profile up to now. Last, October, they completed their Series A funding, of $10.6 million.”

“Until this time last year, we were still fairly stealthy,” Tomky said. “Our Go-to-Market has been direct to large cloud providers, so there hasn’t been a need to have a lot of information out there. We now have a couple products complete and more customer engagements.”

Burlywood is addressing a common problem in the industry, but their approach to handling it appears to be distinct.

“The problem is that growth of complexity and applications is growing so fast, that legacy storage can’t keep up,” Tomky said. “We consider NVMe drives part of that legacy storage. Everything else in the cloud data centre has been software-defined except the storage components themselves. The basic drives haven’t changed in decades.”

Burlywood is all about optimizing SATA and NVMe drives, something that Tomky says is still critical to the market even though SATA is now an older technology.

“There’s still a tremendous amount of SATA bring consumed,” he said. “It will account for 40-50 per cent of cloud storage flash consumption for several years into the future, and this is still HDD-architecture based.”

Burlywood addresses optimization with a software-defined approach to SATA.

“We use our software and tools to work with customers and analyze their needs, with product designed for them and not a one size fits all solution,” Tomky said. “TrueFlash lives in SSD. It’s all commonly available, with no custom ASIC, so it’s feasible for customers of any size to build their own drives with us as the design team to make that happen.”

TrueFlash Insight is the suite of tools that facilitates this.

Mike Tomky, Burlywood’s Director of Marketing

“The real key, which we didn’t talk about last year when we first announced TrueFlash, was the ability to analyze flash behavior at application controller level, and engage in analysis with customers,” Tomky noted. “TrueFlash Insight works at the drive controller level, and monitors traffic patterns there. This requires our Insight-enabled SSDs, which collect a huge list of metrics. Great visualization tools give the layman an idea of what’s happening. We take this, and create an application-focused flexible solution for customers that better meets their needs.

“Understanding the real workload at the drive level and tuning for it is challenging, and that’s what we do,” Tomky said.

Their market to date has been Tier One and Tier Two service providers.

“With the larger customers, we give them a reference design and they just pay us for the software,” Tomky indicated. “For the Tier Twos, who don’t have the same access to supply chains or the desire to do so, we tend to work with them, along with our contract manufacturers.”

Burlywood’s business model to date has been made to order for the direct model, as they fulfil an advanced solution provider’s role in customizing the drives for customers. So why have a channel at all?

“We are productizing Insight for partners’ use, because the channel would greatly expand our reach out into the market,” Tomky said. “We are a small startup, and we can’t touch as many customers as these large integrators.”

These kinds of partners tend not to be impressed with startups in the market, but Burlywood believes that what they do is so unique in addressing a common problem, that it will have appeal.

“Over time, we will improve our ability to parse the data so partners can generate it themselves,” Tomky said. “Until then, they will have to rely on us for the data. Large integrators will want to manage the whole transaction and supply chain.”

For partners who don’t want to do this, Tomky said that there will be referral-based opportunities as well.

Burlywood will by demonstrating TrueFlash Insight next week at the Summit in the Santa Clara Convention Center. They will be at Booth 649.