Your occasional storage digest, including Dell, IDC on HCI, Intel Optane, Nebulon and more

There are several news items about Intel Optane in this week’s roundup, as Intel’s Optane software ecosystem building efforts pick up. But Cloudera, first.

Cloudera’s cloud data warehouse

Cloudera is now competing with Snowflake and Yellowbrick Data. The company has launched the Cloudera Data Warehouse, a cloud-native service for self-service enterprise analytics on the new Cloudera Data Platform (CDP). It enables quick deployment and easy administration of cloud data warehousing, moving on-premise workloads to the cloud with consistent security and governance. It ingests data anywhere, at massive scale, from structured, unstructured, and edge sources.

Anupam Singh, GM of data warehouse at Cloudera, said: “Hundreds of users can simply provision their own resources at the click of a button and analyse all data together, wherever it is on-premises or in the cloud, without breaking the bank, without breaking metadata and security, and lastly, without locking data into proprietary formats and silos.”  

Dell Analysts’ day

William Blair analyst Jason Ader attended a Dell Analysts’ Day last week and sent subscribers this summary;

  1. Dell believes that given increasing IT complexity, customers will look to consolidated strategic vendors, with Dell uniquely positioned to serve that role; 
  2. Dell’s focused execution in the storage market could allow the company to reclaim lost market share and increase competitive pressure on pure-play vendors like NetApp; 
  3. Continued integration of VMware’s portfolio positions Dell to be a leader in private/hybrid cloud infrastructure, though Dell will continue to support VMware’s open structure, allowing it to partner and integrate with many of Dell’s competitors; 
  4. Dell is betting big on AI/ML technologies and integrating them into its products, leveraging Dell Technologies Capital to gain exposure to emerging companies (e.g. it has invested in and Graphcore);
  5. Dell remains focused on improving profitability and deleveraging (core debt remains at $36.4bn; leverage ratio of 3.6 times), which will limit Dell’s ability to use spending to spur growth and/or its balance sheet for major M&A activity.

Ader points out Dell’s storage business has reclaimed 375 basis points of previously lost share. Dell believes that it is well positioned to continue reclaiming share, targeting a reclaim of roughly two-thirds of previously lost share as feasible.

Dell has made structural changes, including cutting down the number of products from 88 to 22, increasing sales-and-marketing spend, and reorganising R&D to be more collaborative and focus on newer products.

It has integrated VxRail with vSAN and put them on the same release schedule, which has simplified the company’s HCI offering and messaging. The stronger integration of Dell EMC and VMware could put more pressure on Nutanix.

Ader thinks that room remains for both Dell/VMware and Nutanix to be successful (currently a two-horse race competitively).

Hazelcast in-memory software and Optane

In-memory software business Hazelcast has agreed with Intel to use Optane for real-time applications, artificial intelligence and internet of things systems for enterprises. Its Project Veyron is focused on running Hazelcast technologies on Intel second generation Xeon Scalable processors and Optane DC Persistent Memory (DIMMs). Hazelcast said Project Veyron will accelerate the completion of parallel in-memory tasks, complex analyses for more sophisticated models and the use of structured and unstructured data sets.

Raker’s take on IDC HCI report

Wells Fargo senior analyst Aaron Rakers has added more intelligence to the bare bones IDC storage tracker HCI report, published last week. He told subscribers that IDC estimates that the total HCI market revenue at $1.825bn, saw continued deceleration of y/y growth in 2Q19 at +24 per cent y/y, compared to +69 per cent, +57 per cent, and +47 per cent y/y in 3Q18, 4Q18, and 1Q19. 

Is HCI growth tailing off?

Rakers thinks the most notable takeaway is VMware’s continued strength with total vSAN + Ready Nodes revenue totaling $694M in C2Q19, +39 per cent y/y and equating to a ~38 per cent market share.

This compares to Nutanix‘s software + hardware revenue (including third party OEMs) which totaled ~$522M in C2Q19, +5 per cent y/y and implying a ~29 per cent share (vs. 34 per cent a year ago). NetApp’s HCI revenue was estimated at ~$39M, up 113 per cent y/y, but was down 15 per cent q/q.

Hmm. NetApp isn’t exactly experiencing soaring growth with its Elements HCI product.

HP SimpliVity revenue grew 30 per cent y/y to $125M, while Cisco’s HyperFlex revenue stood at ~$114M, up 47 per cent y/y.

Blocks & Files notes that IDC put Cisco in the top 3 HCI supplier revenue space and not HPE. Weird.

Intel’s Stratix FPGAs and Optane

Intel has started shipping Stratix 10 DX field programmable gate arrays (FPGA). They support Intel Ultra Path Interconnect (UPI), PCI-Express (PCIe) Gen 4 x16 and a new controller for Intel Optane technology to provide high-performance acceleration.

Stratix supports select Intel Optane DC persistent memory dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs). They increase bandwidth and provide coherent memory expansion and hardware acceleration for upcoming select Xeon SP CPUs. 

Intel Stratix FPGA.

The Stratix memory controller supports up to eight Optane DC persistent memory modules – Intel doesn’t like using the DIMM word – per FPGA (up to 4TB of non-volatile memory).

Intel said the UPI interface in combination with future select Xeon SPs should deliver 37 per cent lower latency (than Xeons without UPI) and improve overall system performance via coherent data movement and a theoretical peak transfer rate of 28 GB/sec.

The PCI Gen 4 x 16 interface delivers peak data bandwidth of 32 GB/sec. Apps should realise about two times more throughput.

VMware is one of many early access participants, and aims to develop coherent FPGA and CPU acceleration solutions.

Intel and penta level cell flash

At its Memory and Storage day in Seoul, Sep 26. Intel talked about penta level cell flash (5 bit/s cell). This is its slide.

The slide above shows PLC flash with 32 separate voltage levels that are detected by some read function in the chart on the right.

Intel is not committing to delivering a product but hints strongly at the possibility. A PLC SSD would have 25 per cent more capacity than QLC (4 bits/cell) flash and should have a lower cost/TB. With QLC flash having endurance around 1,000 write cycles, then PLC flash could be in the sub-500 range and be even more limited to read-centric workloads than QLC.

What Nebulon and its Nebunerds are building

In November 2018 Nebulon, a California startup founded by four 3PAR veterans, announced itself to the world as a ‘cloud-defined storage startup’. We covered the birth announcement at the time but no other details were forthcoming.

Since then we have gleaned some information about the company via Twitter and Linkedin posts made by company execs and also from recruitment ads.

The company has secured $14.5m from unnamed sources and employs at least 85 people – who it calls Nebunerds. It aims to drastically simplify storage and to deliver secure, scalable and powerful data insights by building cloud-defined storage.

This is the company’s term for software-defined storage and boils down to building a cloud back-end enterprise-class store for IoT edge devices. The store will be a scalable, efficient, secure and highly available cloud data platform for data ingestion, transformation, storage and computation.

Nebulon’s software will provide real-time monitoring, analysis and automation of its operations and of the data inside it. It is cloud-native, built from micro-services, and will run on AWS in the first instance.

We don’t know if there will be Nebulon agent software in the edge devices or if they transmit data to the back end via the S3 protocol. We anticipate early product news in the second half of next year.

Packet, Formulus Black and Optane

Developers using Packet’s cloud platform will be able to test, validate, and optimise data-intensive and real-time application workloads on Forsa.

Made by Formulus Black, Forsa OS runs application software re-encoded into bit markers and in memory.

Formulus Black has devised algorithms that optimise I/O between Optane DC persistent memory memory and CPU. Based on initial testing, the net result includes decreased CPU usage, more TPS/IOPS and lower latency under maximum load conditions

Forsa can pool memory from multiple CPU sockets on a single system or across systems. For instance, on a four-socket server, memory on all four CPU sockets can be pooled together. It can stitch memory from CPU sockets on a second server, creating memory-based storage devices with 12-24TB of capacity (assuming 512GB x 24 Optane DC persistent memory modules per server). 

Forsa’s BLINK feature enables users to backup and restore data and system settings from Optane DIMMs to local SSDs, or a network storage target.

Also Forsa can increase the size of persistent memory block devices that are at full capacity, create clones and snapshots, and manage persistent memory resources on multiple nodes from one management console.

You can sign up for a free trial of Forsa on Packet.

Quest updates NetVault

Quest Software’s V12.4 of NetVault Backup adds support for SAP HANA and Nutanix’ AHV hypervisor and better support for Office 365 Exchange Online and OneDrive. HANA and AHV support is via plug-ins.

Office 365 users can backup and restore user mailboxes to any cloud, disk or tape system. -based storage. Restoration is quite granular, down to files and emails which can be placed in particular Outlook folders.Users can  back up and restore data from OneDrive user and group files and folders. Office 365 Active Directory and SharePoint Online support should arrive by the end of the year.


The bloggers at cloud storage service provider Backblaze are celebrating 10 years of operations with this post “Petabytes on a Budget: 10 Years and Counting.” The company has also blogged why raising prices is hard.

Microsoft ranks first as the most strategic vendor for customers, according to a double-blind market survey conducted by Dell in the first half of this year, Microsoft’s portfolio of Azure, Office 365, Teams, and DevOps is resonating with customers who view it as a one-stop shop for many of the technologies that underpin their digital transformation.

In the Dell survey Microsoft garnered 20 per cent of votes for most strategic vendor, IBM took second place with 13 per cent of votes and Dell placed third with 10 per cent (8 per cent attributed to Dell-EMC and two per cent to VMware),William Blair analyst Jason Ader reported in a note to subscribers.

Tom Bish, an IBM Systems Storage Subject Matter expert, introduces a YouTube video about “On Premise Storage Options for an OpenShift, Kubernetes environment.” He describes various Block and File Storage solutions, the tools available to manage them along with back-up and resiliency considerations. You can also learn about how the Container Storage Interface provides a conduit between your clusters and the storage devices you’ve selected.

Micron’s Crucial unit has announced the X8 Portable SSD with 500GB and 1TB capacities, sequential read/write speeds up to 1050 MB/sec, and a 3-year limited warranty.

Serverless search and analytics company Rockset announced the capability to analyse raw events from Apache Kafka in real time. Rockset’s tech enables SQL on NoSQL data.

The National Library of Scotland is using Scality RING object storage software to preserve and protect collections. It’s digitising 120 miles of shelving. There will be one copy in each of two on-premises RINGs in their Edinburgh and Glasgow data centres and a third copy in AWS Glacier Deep Archive.

Supermicro’s high-performance 4-Way MP SuperServer is available as an Intel select solution for SAP HANA. It enables customers to use Intel Optane DC persistent memory for SAP HANA scale-out servers.

Toshiba Memory America said its KumoScale storage software for NVM Express over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) v3.11 now supports Graphite and Prometheus telemetry frameworks. These integrations are built on the KumoScale REST API architecture, with adapters added for each new framework.

WANdisco has launched LiveAnalytics, a technology that makes migrated and migrating data immediately and continuously available for analysis. LiveAnalytics works in tandem with WANdisco’s LiveMigrator, so business operations and analytics can continue as data shifts to the cloud.

Zerto has announced the availability of Zerto 7.5 with expanded functionality with Azure, including support for Azure Managed Disks, scale-sets and Azure VMware Solution (AVS); integrations with HPE StoreOnce Catalyst; certification and support for VMware vSphere APIs for I/O Filtering (VAIO); and advanced analytics for reporting, planning and customisation of disaster recovery and long-term data retention.


Paul Forte

Actifio has a new sales boss, Paul Forte, who is called its Chief Revenue Officer. He was CRO at Channel Advisor and an EVP for North American Sales at Monster before that. Actifio told Blocks & Files that Ranajit Nevatia, SVP & GM Global Sales for Actifio GO & cloud business development, continues in place reporting to CEO Ash Ashutosh.

SaaS backup startup Clumio has poached Chad Kenny from Pure Storage and appointed him as VP and chief technologist. Kenny was VP for Products and Solutions at Pure. His responsibilities at Clumio will focus on building the Clumio technology partner ecosystem, guiding the longer-term product roadmap and promoting the right way to leverage the cloud for data protection.

Jai Menon, a former Dell and IBM exec, has joined Fungible as its chief scientist “to accelerate customers’ transition to a data-centric infrastructure.”

NetApp CMO Jean English left in August and is now CMO at Palo Alto Networks. Jeff McCullough, NetApp’s VP for the Americas channel, has also left, according to reports.

Nutanix has promoted Cyril VanAgt to lead iChannel and OEM activities in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Tintri by DDN has hired Anand Ghatnekar as VP of engineering and Mario Blandini as chief marketing officer and chief evangelist.

Lorenzo Flores has been appointed as Vice Chairman for Toshiba Memory Holdings, effective in November, 2019. TMH is going to become Kioxia Holdings on October 1. Flores was Xilinx’s CFO and an Intel exec some time before that.