Your occasional storage digest, featuring Brexit, Tsinghua Unigroup and more

Brexit, China, the cloud and 3D NAND are the main themes in this week’s digest. We also have a multitude of smaller items, including a large customer going all-in on AWS and recovering media file storage manager Quantum making a prominent hire.

Brexit and Data Storage

Brexit is looming, deal or no deal. We ran a quick vox pop to gauge the sentiment of the data storage industry. Our respondents were pretty phlegmatic

Henk Jan Spanjaard, VP EMEA at Quantum: “The storage industry as a whole is unlikely to be profoundly affected by Brexit, especially with its software-as-a-service demand and supply chain. It’s on the hardware side where things might get a little tricky. We expect some delays as shipping lanes will become busier than usual, partly due to Brexit and also the available freight capacity being used to transport future Covid-19 vaccines and other medical supplies. 

“We’ve actually anticipated this as a company and made sure that all shipments in UK that are due by the end of this year will go out early. … To sum up, it’s unlikely that Brexit will affect the supply of storage hardware to the UK from the EU and outside as we, including Quantum as a company and the industry as a whole, have been preparing for this for a long time.”

STX Next is a software development house specialising in Python. The company is based in Poland, but a large proportion of its clients are UK-based.

Szymon Piasecki, STX Head of DevOps, said: “Based on our experience with clients, we can mainly speak about the approach to cloud storage services. Theoretically Brexit shouldn’t have much of an effect; GDPR still applies and providers like AWS are adamant that services will be stable in 2021 and that they are compliant with both UK and EU regulations. Despite this, some of our UK clients have specifically requested for us to move their data to the London region. They aren’t sure what’s going to happen and they’d rather be cautious.

“However, most of our clients are ready for Brexit. They know what to expect in terms of data storage and which data should stay in the UK vs which can be processed in the EU. That’s because discussions about the right way to store data in light of Brexit have been ongoing since as far back as 2018.”

Florian Malecki, Senior International Director of Marketing for StorageCraft, told us: “Brexit has been looming for several years now. Many of the issues will come down to compliance. The entire IT industry has been preparing for this. While post-Brexit, businesses selling products and services into the UK will need to comply with both the GDPR and the UK version of the GDPR, there is substantial, if not virtually universal-overlap.

“Moreover, what I am hearing in discussions with our UK partners indicates that, based on what is known, they expect minimal, if any, impact on IT storage hardware and software products and as-a-service supply between the UK and Europe.”

Tsinghua Unigroup bond defaults

China’s Tsinghua Unigroup, with subsidiaries involved in DRAM and NAND manufacturing, has defaulted on several bond repayments. Nikkei Asia reports that Tsinghua Unigroup will default on $2.6bn of offshore bonds as well as failing to repay a $450m Eurobond on 10 December. It has also not made a 260 million yuan ($39.72m) interest payment due on an on-shore bond issued in Shanghai, saying it is suffering from strained liquidity.

This Eurobond default will cause cross-defaults of three other offshore bond  issued by Tsinghua, valued overall at $2bn. The South China Post reports Tsinghua previously defaulted on a $199m debt in November.

Tsinghua is looking into ways to solve its current liquidity issue by trying to raise funds through multiple channels.

Zhao Weiguo

These four non-payment events throw a shadow across Tsinghua’s future.

Tsinghua Unigroup is a conglomerate 51 per cent owned by Tsinghua University and 49 per cent by chairman Zhao Weiguo. Tsinghua in turn is the  majority owner of Yangtze Memory Technology (YMTC) which builds NAND chips. YMTC is a designated Chinese national champion in the Made in China 2025 project. Tsinghua’s cash problems may inhibit YMTC’s activities.


Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, to migrate all of its data, platforms, and business-critical applications to AWS and close its data centres, which will reduce its infrastructure total cost of ownership by 25%. It is working with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) – an AWS Partner Network Premier Consulting Partner on the migration.

DDN said its AI-focused EXAScaler storage system has been adopted as the dedicated storage of the “AI Bridging Green Cloud Infrastructure” supercomputer system, being developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Fujitsu.  AIST’s Green Cloud Infrastructure expands the existing Fujitsu-provided AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI), which has been in operation since August 1, 2018. 

ChaosSearch has closed a $40m B-round of VC funding, taking total funding to $50m. Founded in 2017, ChaosSearch indexes all data as-is, without transformation, so customers can run queries and analyses against a single unified data lake, with unlimited capacity and data retention time.

Brian ‘Beepy’ Pawlowski.

Quantum has appointed Brian ‘Beepy’ Pawlowski as Chief Development Officer. He comes from a near three-year stint at composable systems house DriveScale where he was CTO. Prior to that he spent 3 years at Pure Storage, initially as a VP and Chief Architect, and then an advisor.  Before that he ran the Aborted FlashRay development at NetApp. That project was canned in favour of the SolidFire acquisition. Beepy actually joined NetApp as employee number 18 in a CTO role. He was at Sun before NetApp.

Datadobi and Wasabi have teamed up with a service that integrats DobiMigrate and DobiProtect with Wasabi hot cloud storage. Channel partners and end clients get an enterprise-class solution for migrating unstructured data from anywhere to Wasabi, with protection against accidents, ransomware, and other cyberthreats, at a cost that is as much as 80 per cent less than competitors, the companies say.

NVMe-oF storage supplier Excelero‘s NVMesh now supports Intel’s new P5800X Optane SSD. The software delivers at least a 2.5x performance boost for storage bandwidth and throughput with stable low with 60TB total capacity.

Filebase, which supplies decentralised object storage based on a blockchain network, has announced GA of its Filebase 2.0 release, providing on-demand object storage scaling across multiple decentralised storage networks. It integrates with Storj’s Tardigrade storage network. Filebase looks to support additional storage networks and has plans for private on-premise cloud systems using decentralised technology. has updated the Ascend Unified Data Engineering Platform with the addition of flex-code data connectors, a first-of-its-kind connector framework for data ingestion in the Apache Spark ecosystem. It has added support for 40+ new connector types. These flex-code data connectors connect not just from, but to, any data system in the world.

iXsystems has introduced the  TrueCommand Cloud cloud-based service to simplify TrueNAS management and lower operational costs and improve productivity through increased asset utilisation, system optimisation, real-time system monitoring, and on-demand provisioning. TrueCommand manages TrueNAS CORE, Enterprise, and SCALE instances and can be used by MSPs, Enterprises, smaller organisations, and other TrueNAS users.

LucidLink, a supplier of cloud file services, has announced single sign-on (SSO) with Okta, an identity and access management (IAM) provider. Administrators and root users can create the LucidLink application within Okta and assign and manage users and groups to the LucidLink application. Azure AD support will be added, providing coverage for the bulk of LucidLink’s customer base.

Pure Storage has announced the availability of Pure as-a-Service in AWS Marketplace and a new Cloud Block Store Efficiency Guarantee. This is backed by Pure’s promise to reduce cloud storage consumption with no feature trade-offs. Pure’s FlashArray and Portworx by Pure Storage have both achieved AWS Outposts Ready designation.

SMB backup supplier StorageCraft has announced ShadowProtect SPX v7 which can recover files, folders, and entire systems in seconds, and boot backup images as VMs using patented VirtualBoot technology. VirtualBoot allows partners to instantly recover larger data set sizes up to 4TB.

WekaIO announced that Weka File System (WekaFS), with its Kubernetes Container Storage Interface (CSI) plug-in, has completed interoperability testing with Rancher Labs’ Kubernetes management platform. WekaIO and Rancher Labs will offer enterprises an integrated, end-to-end tested system. Rancher Labs (now a SUSE company) and Weka have joined each other’s Technology Alliance Partner Programs.

XenData has joined the Active Archive Alliance. XenData provides storage systems optimised for video, medical imaging, video surveillance and other applications. Its digital archive systems scale to 100+ petabytes and provide cost-effective, secure, long-term retention of file-based assets on RAID, LTO, optical cartridges and the cloud.