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Future storage tech should KILL all-in-one solutions, says CEO

DataCore boss waxes lyrical on software-defined storage

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El Reg had a conversation with DataCore president, CEO and co-founder George Teixeira about what’s likely to happen in 2014 with DataCore. Software-defined storage represents a trend that his company is well-positioned to take advantage of and he reckons DataCore could soar this year.

Some of his replies have been edited for brevity.

El Reg: How would you describe 2013 for DataCore?

George Teixeira: 2013 was the ‘tip of the iceberg’, in terms of the increasing complexity and the forces in play disrupting the old storage model, which has opened the market up. As a result, DataCore is positioned to have a breakout year in 2014 … Our momentum surged forward as we surpassed 25,000 license deployments at more than 10,000 customer sites [last year].

What’s more, the EMC ViPR announcement showcased the degree of industry disruption. It conceded that commoditisation and the movement to software-defined storage are inevitable. It was the exclamation point that the traditional storage model is broken.

El Reg: What are the major trends affecting DataCore and its customers in 2014?

George Teixeira: Storage got complicated as flash technologies emerged for performance, while SANs continued to optimise utilisation and management - two completely contradictory trends. Add cloud storage to the mix and all together, it has forced a redefinition of the scope and flexibility required by storage architectures. Moreover, the complexity and need to reconcile these contradictions put automation and management at the forefront, thus software.

A new refresh cycle is underway … the virtualisation revolution has made software the essential ingredient to raise productivity, increase utilisation, and extend the life of … current [IT] investments.

Server-side and flash technology for better application performance has taken off. The concept is simple. Keep the disks close to the applications, on the same server and add flash for even greater performance. Don’t go out over the wire to access storage for fear that network latency will slow down I/O response.

The major rub is obvious. It appears when local disk and flash storage resources, which improve performance, defeat the management and productivity gains from those same resources by unhooking them from being part of the centralised storage infrastructure. Software that can span these worlds appears to be the only way to reconcile the growing contradiction and close the gap. Hence the need for an all-inclusive software-defined storage architecture.

A software-defined storage architecture must manage, optimise and span all storage, whether located server-side or over storage networks. Both approaches make sense and need to be part of a modern software-defined architecture.

Why force users to choose? Our latest SANsymphony-V release allows both worlds to live in harmony since it can run on the server-side, on the SAN or both. Automation in software and auto-tiering across both worlds is just the beginning. Future architectures must take read and write paths, locality, cache and path optimizations and a hundred other factors into account and generally undermine the possibility of all-in-one solutions. A true ‘enterprise-wide’ software-defined storage architecture must work across multiple vendor offerings and across the varied mix and levels of RAM devices, flash technologies, spinning disks and even cloud storage.

El Reg: How will this drive DataCore's product (and service?) roadmap this year?

George Teixeira: DataCore will continue to focus on evolving its server-side capabilities, enhance the performance and productive use of in-memory technologies like DRAM, flash and new wave caching technologies across storage environments. [We'll take] automation to the next level.

DataCore already scales out to support up 16 node grid architectures and we expect to quadruple that number this year.

[We] will continue to abstract complexity away from the users and reduce mundane tasks through automation and self-adaptive technologies to increase productivity. ... For larger scale environments and private cloud deployments, there will be a number of enhancements in the areas of reporting, monitoring and storage domain capabilities to simplify management and optimise ‘enterprise-wide’ resource utilisation.

VSAN "opens the door without walking through it."

El Reg: How does DataCore view VMware's VSAN? Is this a storage resource it can use?

George Teixeira: Simply put, it opens the door without walking through it. It introduces virtual pooling capabilities for server-side storage that meets lower-end requirements while delivering promises of things to come for VMware-only environments. It sets the stage for DataCore to fullfil customers’ need to seamlessly build out a production class, enterprise-wide software-defined storage architecture.

It opens up many opportunities for DataCore for users who want to upscale. VSAN builds on DataCore concepts but is limited and just coming out of beta, whereas DataCore has a 9th generation platform in the marketplace.

Beyond VSAN, DataCore spans a composite world of storage running locally in servers, in storage networks, or in the cloud. Moreover, DataCore supports both physical and virtual storage for VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix, Oracle, Linux, Apple, Netware, Unix and other diverse environments found in the real world.

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