VAST Data guarantees no downtime, no data loss

VAST Data is making potential customers an offer it hopes they can’t refuse: guarantees on uptime and data loss, fixed price maintenance for a decade, and free access to future updates.

The startup made a big splash in February 2019 when it came out of stealth mode with its all-flash Universal Storage architecture. This serves all applications from a single storage tier at a cost claimed to be comparable with hard drives.

VAST Data NVMe enclosure

This would allow customers to potentially replace myriad storage systems from various suppliers with a single platform. This promise has apparently seen the company secure a number of big deals already and pick up $80m in two funding rounds.

So confident is VAST Data with the strength of its platform that it is now offering a ‘Zero Compromise Guarantee”.

It said the program demonstrates the company’s commitment to the concept of Universal Storage and safeguards the process of storage acquisition for enterprise customers.

Zero Compromise gives customers some key guarantees and services around reliability and endurance and is intended to eliminate the risks of adopting its new storage architecture.

These commitments include:

  • Guarantee against data loss and guaranteed uptime: The VAST system will never lose data due to system volatility, since it does not write data to volatile DRAM. The system will also never experience downtime due to a combination of controller hardware failures. Even in clusters of hundreds of controllers, as long as there is at least one controller online, a VAST storage cluster will remain online or VAST will provide one year of support at no cost.
  • A decade of operation and fixed maintenance pricing: Customers under an active VAST maintenance agreement benefit from up to ten years of warranty. This is not just for hardware and software issues, but for ten years of QLC flash endurance. VAST also offers a flat, ten-year fixed price model.
  • All-Access feature releases. any customer under an active maintenance agreement will get access to today’s and tomorrow’s Universal Storage cluster software features without having to pay additional licensing or capacity charges.
  • Unconditional right to return. Customers can return their system for any reason at any time up until 60 days after delivery.
  • Guaranteed best-in-class data reduction. If a VAST storage system does not deliver the best storage efficiency the company will provide additional storage to cover the difference at no additional cost.
  • Dedicated resource to ease deployment: For six months, VAST engineers will proactively monitor a customer’s clusters and provide guidance and support.

Leap of faith not required

It is easy to see why customers may be reluctant to invest in novel storage architectures from startups just out of stealth mode, even one founded by a former XTremIO vice president.

Hence Zero Compromise.

“Investing in emerging storage technologies has long been a leap of faith for customers who are willing to assume some amount of risk dealing with new vendors and architectures,” said Jeff Denworth, VAST Data’s vice president of products.

He said VAST Data’s architecture resolves many of the biggest challenges that have plagued storage engineering efforts for decades, eliminating complications around mechanical media, storage controller failures or volatile storage caching.

451 Research analyst Henry Baltazar told Blocks & Files that performance, reliability and storage efficiency guarantees are common in the flash storage space, so it is not too surprising to see VAST Data announcing its Zero Compromise offer.

However, he added that the ten year QLC flash endurance warranty is an important component given the low write endurance capabilities that come with that media.

The Universal Storage architecture (above) sees the compute nodes separated from the boxes operating as storage nodes. The are all interlinked using NVMe over Fabrics to deliver switched everything-to-everything access with DAS latency.

The storage nodes are little more than enclosures full of QLC flash drives, with Intel Optane 3D XPoint non-volatile memory used for buffering and metadata.