VAST Data extends HDD-killer solution to containerized applications

VAST Data’s Universal Storage system, which puts all types of data on a single, easily managed flash tier, has been enhanced with a new Container Storage Interface that responds to customer demand for this capability.

Jeff Denworth, VAST’s co-founder and VP of Products

A year ago, VAST Data emerged from stealth with a new kind of enterprise storage designed to accelerate the demise of the hard drive. Their Universal Storage system combines QLC flash, 3D Xpoint and NVMe over Fabrics  with their own algorithms into a single tier of storage that manages all data at great speed, allowing heavy data users to economically put all their data on flash. Now they have extended the solution further, with the general availability of their new Container Storage Interface [CSI]. CSI allows the programmatic deployment and management of storage services for container platforms that have adopted the CSI standard.

“We went to General Availability over a year ago,” said Jeff Denworth, VAST’s co-founder and VP of Products. “This is an extension to work in container environments. We can now put it in Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift.”

VAST’s value proposition is accelerating the decline of HDD by making it easier and less expensive for enterprises to use flash everywhere, eliminating the need to tier data with an ultra-scalable and cost effective solution.

“A report published just the other day by Aaron Rakers of Wells Fargo on HDD trends noted that there was a 50% drop in the number of units shipped between 2012 and 2019,” Denworth said. “Pretty much everything is in decline – except the big bulky HDDs in the data centre. Those big bulky disks are 20% of the industry. We don’t expect a continued gradual decline there, because if the low-end market disappears for flash, the HDD data centre market will fall off a cliff. What VAST is trying to do is pull in that inflection point where this happens. IDC estimates it at 2025, and we want to bring that into 2020.”

Denworth said that since they hit GA, Vast has been selling where they expected – very large users with complex systems that use lots and lots of data.

“We are selling very large systems, where the average price is a million dollars a system,” he noted. “VMware’s sweet spot was around $100,000. This reduces our sales and marketing costs, especially since large customers operate at a critical mass where it’s less compelling to move to the cloud, where you have hundreds of PB of data on thousands of servers.”

Denworth emphasized that the new CSI announcement will extend this further

“For the customers we go after with their large data workloads, they are being quickly refactored into cloud native, so a CSI driver from VAST is almost table stakes now just to get a deal over the line,” he said. “It’s not a unique capability, but it is necessary table stakes.

“We also do two things that are unique in the container market,” Denworth stressed. One is our support for RDMA, which allows you to bypass the CPP stack and get NFS feeds at 4-5 times the speed of a traditional NAS product.”

VAST’s NFSoRDMA interface can stream data into single containers at nearly 9GB/s. That’s a level of performance the company deems essential for next-generation machine learning and deep learning applications.

“It accelerates the benefits of flash,” Denworth said. “We open up the pipe.”

The second capability provided is the ability to offer superior quality of service for multiple tenants by pooling VAST Servers into resource groups that can be dynamically allocated to container pods.

“In containerized environments, you have multiple applications on a grid, a clustered architecture, where everything is disaggregated and shared. With our system, you can allocate the CPUs of the cluster to specific applications. That’s important if you have competing applications. A specific application won’t overrun a system because we can compartmentalize it.”

The VAST Data CSI driver is available now, and can also be pulled from Docker Hub at https://hub.docker.com/r/vastdataorg/csi.

Out of the gate, VAST has pursued a 100 per cent channel strategy, where the partner not only makes the introduction, but provides the long-term support. The focus is on working closely with a limited number of technologically advanced partners.

“We have about 50 channel partners signed up today,’ Denworth said. “Some of them did exceptionally well last year, and exceeded what we planned. Others are still working their way out of the obligations they have to IT suppliers.” The latter point is critical, because VAST is an unabashed rip-and-replace solution, not one designed to play well with others.

One thing that’s not fully appreciated is that we are selling to the degree that we are,” Denworth said. “Partners who get it know that if a customer hears our story, it results in an immediate opportunity.”

Denworth said that some other announcements of significance are nigh.

“Kubernetes is a huge market and we are getting a huge interest in it,” he noted. “We will be making some announcements at the end of the quarter that will be very significant in terms of market exposure.”

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