Open source storage vendor iXsystems restructures portfolio, unveils new flagship product

Their free FreeNAS product has been consolidated within the TrueNAS portfolio as the entry level (and still free) TrueNAS Core, which consolidates two platforms into one and accelerates R&D accordingly.

San Jose-based iXsystems has expanded its TrueNAS Open Storage portfolio, while also making a key rebranding that reflects and further enables a consolidation of their R&D efforts. They have unveiled their TrueNAS 12.0 OS, which also merges their TrueNAS brand with the FreeNAS brand, to provide a single code base and a more efficient development road map. They also announced the TrueNAS M60, their new flagship offering, which benefits from the new OS to add much more speed and efficiency. Finally, they announced new TrueNAS Mini-X storage appliances, new products optimized for storage at the edge, which is designed both for these use cases in the commercial space, and for the prosumer market.

iXsystems has been around for almost 30 years, and has been a key vendor in the open source storage space over that period. While their portfolio has been based on FreeBSD, with the consolidation of multiple open source storage platforms into OpenZFS 2.0, they have made that transition as well.

“We actually are agnostic at this point,” said Brett Davis, EVP Sales and Marketing at iXsystems. “That’s one of the big transitions. We are now portable to both BSD and Linux. We de-emphasize that today, because it’s less about the OS and more about what the software does. What we do on the TrueNAS Scale side with Linux is enable a whole different skillset, which enables containers and newer technologies.”

TrueNAS 12.0’s unification of the brands builds on iXsystem’s greatest strength and is critical to their strategy going forward.

“Unifying FreeNAS and TrueNAS into one brand is a major step forward for the software and the company,” Davis said. “TrueNAS is now our primary business, with a growth of 50%  year-over-year for the last several years. It is the world’s most popular open storage, and brings open source economics to enterprise storage.

“Bringing the brands together is about driving efficiencies at the end of the day on the software development side,” Davis added. “We had to maintain two different ones even though the code was similar. Moving them into one image made us more efficient, which is why the Time to Release for TrueNAS 12 was much more efficient than before.”

With the rebranding FreeNAS becomes TrueNAS Core, a free single node edition. TrueNAS Enterprise is the commercial product, offering High Availability and support.  Ahead on the horizon is TrueNAS Scale, a hyperconverged offering, which is still in development, in its Alpha stage. It is scheduled to be available in Q4.

“Later this year with TrueNAS Scale, we will enter the hyperconverged space, to serve four market segments through the same TrueCommand pane of glass,” Davis noted. “We already compete in the enterprise, midmarket and prosumer markets with the same OS.”

With the unification of the brands, Davis said that the company is launching a whole new messaging strategy.

“Overarching it is storage freedom,” he said. “With data growth of over 30% with budgets not growing, traditional enterprise storage costs are too high, and cloud storage increases the cost per TB. In addition, both these options lock a customer into a single vendor. We think the remedy is open source solutions. The open storage component gives the same advantage as general open source economics. We conservatively estimate open source will cut costs in half or give double capacity at the same cost.”

In addition to TrueNAS 12.0 bringing the benefits of consolidating Free NAS 11.3 and TrueNAS 11.3 and accelerating software development, Davis emphasized that it increases performance.

“It offers 30% performance improvement,” he said. “Fusion Pools of mixed SSDs and HDDs increase IOPS and fuses the performance benefits of flash and the economics of HDD. TrueNAS 12.0 also unlocks Persistent (Read) Cache. This adds bandwidth and promotes data to L2ARC based on access frequency, and removes the need for rehydration in case of disruption.”

TrueNAS 12.0 also enhances multi-layer security.

“We added some additional layers here such as the ability to encrypt individual data sets and not just the entire pool,” Davis said. “There is  also a new integrated VPN capacity available in all editions.”

The TrueNAS M60, which replaces the TrueNAS M50 as the flagship product, leverages TrueNAS 12.0 to achieve 20GB/s and 1 Million IOPS.

“This is the fastest ZFS storage as far as we know,” Davis indicated. “It provides extreme density with 20 PB of raw capacity [or 4 PB for all-flash.” It has 1.5TB RAM, 64 CPU Cores, and 128GB of NVDIMM fast write cache.

The  other new products are two new TrueNAS Mini-X storage appliances, the TrueNAS Mini-X storage appliances, designed for remote, branch and other office environments. They provide up to 85TB of storage in a compact (13.5L) chassis with seven hot swap drive bays (5 x 3.5” and 2 x 2.5”) which can be mixed as Fusion Pools.

The TrueNAS Mini-X includes 4 x RJ45 GbE ports, 4 cores, between 16-32GB of DDR4 ECC memory, USB 3.1 connectivity, and 1 x RJ45 IPMI remote management interfaces. The system uses less than 80W of power. The larger TrueNAS Mini-X+ includes 2 x RJ45 10GbE ports, 8 cores, between 32-64GB of DDR4 ECC memory, USB 3.1 connectivity, and 1 x RJ45 IPMI remote management interfaces. It supports up to 2GB/s of bandwidth at less than 100W per unit.

“These are professional grade products, but people do use them in their homes as well,” Davis said. They compete with products like Synology and QNAP, but are in a different class from them, with features like the OpenZFS file system, error correcting (ECC) memory, and IPMI remote management.

iXsystems has a channel-first Go-to-Market, with over 200 channel partners, including system integrators and VARs. Synnex does their distribution.

“We have a strong focus on specialty partners as well as the big ones, and the big ones are mainly fulfilment,” Davis stated. “Our best partners are those who understand how to win with our OS against Dell EMC and NetApp.

“We have a bunch of good regional VARs and quite a few vertical integrators around things like military, police and education,” said Morgan Littlewood, SVP, Products for iXsystems.