Weekly digest of storage news featuring IBM, Dell, Box, Toshiba, NVIDIA and Kioxia plus a flotilla of smaller items

The themes this week are containers, flash, flash arrays, enterprise file-based collaboration and disk drives. Everything seems to be selling more, growing more, shipping more, developing more — except Box revenues, which is why activist investor Starboard Value is upset. Really upset.

IBM developing OpenShift storage product

IBM’s RedHat acquisition has led to its deciding to build a storage product around OpenShift, Red Hat’s Kubernetes orchestrator software. An IBM job-spec for a software product management team reads “This position will be leading a new OpenShift focused Software Defined Storage product to market. As Product Manager, you will work cross-functionally within IBM and Red Hat teams to drive the product success; coordinate roadmap priorities across IBM stakeholder Brand teams; and play a key role in managing third-party relationships. The ideal candidate for this role will have considerable technical and market understanding of OpenShift and Container workloads.”

We might expect a late 2022/early 2023 product announcement.

IDC publicises Dell AFA success

IDC has charted five AFA suppliers’ revenue rises since their products were launched. Dell has made the chart public: 

It shows the suppliers’ revenues normalised to months following product launch, not in real calendar time. Dell is by far the leader — with its lead growing — followed by NetApp and then a group of three: HPE, Pure Storage and IBM.

It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know, but it would be most excellent if VAST Data could be added to the slide. Perhaps Jeff Denworth, a co-founder and its chief marketeer, could oblige?

Starboard declares war on Box board

Activist investor Starboard Value has had enough of delay, obfuscation and alleged deception at file-sharer and collaboration company Box, by its board and CEO Aaron Levie. It says Box has consistently failed to deliver on vital business targets whilst the self-interested board entrenches its own interests at the expense of shareholders.

Starboard has gone public with its concerns, appealing to shareholders via an extraordinary 184-slide PowerPoint presentation — diatribe, really. It’s literal death by PowerPoint, with the intended victims being Box board members. 

Reading between the lines it seems to us that Starboard wants co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie gone.

The deck repeats itself again and again, almost as if saying when you have a hammer then (a) everything is a nail, (b) get another hammer, and (c) get a third one to really get that nail hammered down. The points it makes do seem quite powerful. Read it yourself and see.

Toshiba disk ship data

Toshiba posted a massive 30 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise in nearline disk drive shipments in the second 2021 quarter, with 2.79 million units and 34.25 EB in capacity shipped — sequential growth of 32 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.

According to TRENDFOCUS, Toshiba’s four-quarter average unit and capacity shipped growth rates for nearline HDDs led all companies at 35 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively — higher than the industry average and showing Toshiba is taking percentage revenue market share from competitors Seagate and Western Digital.

Total nearline HDD shipments topped 19 million units in 2CQ21, compared to 17.19 million set in 2CQ20. Nearline HDD exabytes shipped reached 243 EB for the quarter.

Toshiba is the third-ranked supplier in the industry, but it is making progress and not being left behind.

NVIDIA GPU Direct limitations

GPU supplier NVIDIA has listed quite a long set of known limitations for its GPU Direct Storage (GDS). For example:

  • The RTX series of GPUs supports only compatibility mode.
  • With any NVIDIA software components installed, downgrading from RHEL 8.4 to RHEL 8.3 is not supported.
  • For DDN EXAScaler, checksum is disabled in the read/write IO path.
  • For WekaFS, checksum is disabled in the read/write IO path.
  • cuFile APIs are not supported with applications using the fork() system call.
  • GDS Compatibility mode works on GDS qualified file systems — EXAScaler, ext4, IBM Spectrum Scale, VAST, and WekaFS.
  • GDS with IOMMU enabled or ACS enabled are not guaranteed to work functionally or in a performant way with all non-DGX based platforms.

IBM Spectrum Scale limitations are documented here.

The presence of these limitations is not that surprising in a complex new product with multiple third parties integrating their products with GDS. Expect them to be sorted fairly quickly.

Kioxia’s UFS performance numbers kept secret 

Kioxia has announced new UFS v3.1 memory cards using its 5th generation BiCS flash — meaning 112-layer flash, thought to be TLC (3 bits/cell). There are 256GB and 512GB capacities in 0.8 and 1.0mm-high packages respectively. Kioxia will not publicly reveal performance numbers. We asked, and were told they were only available under a non-disclosure agreement.

All Kioxia publicly says is that the new drives improve performance by 30 per cent for random reads and 40 per cent for random writes.

We calculated sequential speeds from a previous Kioxia UFS product — a UFS v2.1 product from December 2017 — and applied Kioxia’s percentage uplifts with subsequent generations. We also noted the announcement in March of a 1TB 112-layer UFS v3.1 drive being sampled by Kioxia, which did have sequential performance numbers supplied. This data was tabulated:

On this basis we think that Kioxia’s latest 256/512GB 112-layer UFS drives output around 2GB/sec sequential read bandwidth and 1GB/sec sequential write bandwidth. That’s just our guesstimate.


Civo, a cloud-native service provider, has a Civo Academy — a free, full Kubernetes learning programme, consisting of over 50 videos from in-house developers at Civo. It is available now and needs email registration to access. 

The ninth Coldago Research Storage Unicorn Note edition June 2021 lists 15 private storage companies with a $1 billion valuation minimum. It includes companies belonging to private equity firms — ie not all of them are startups. Companies listed in alphabetic order are: AcronisBarracuda Networks, CohesityDDNDruvaInfinidatKaseyaNasuniOwnBackupQumuloRubrikVAST DataVeeam SoftwareVeritas Technologies and Wasabi Technologies. Will WekaIO join this list?

Cloud data protector Datto reported Q2 CY2021 revenues of $151.6 million, up 22 per cent year-on-year, with profits of $16.9 million, up 93 per cent year-on-year. CEO Tim Weller said: “Our second quarter results mark one of the strongest quarters in our history and are a clear indication of the power of the MSP model”. Subscription revenue growth accelerated to 21 per cent year-over-year and it added 500 net new partners in the quarter. Datto has new product launches in cloud and security planned for the second half of 2021. 

Data warehouse opponent Dremio has released a survey saying data warehouse users are dissatisfied. It says “A staggering 94 per cent of data leaders voice serious concerns over data warehouses and only 22 per cent saw a full return on investment. In order to run analytics, enterprises are making multiple copies of their data — 12 copies on average.” Dremio says they should use a data lake instead.

FileShadow announced an iOS smartphone app that connects data repositories from the cloud — such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and Slack — with local storage — macOS, Windows Desktops, Windows Virtual Desktops — and network and direct-attached storage devices. Users can manage collections, apply tags, view and publish files, and manage their accounts from the app. With machine learning, data can be searched or organised based on file content, OCR results, GPS location or image analysis. A search for sailing can find images with a sailboat or the word “sailing” in a document. Check Apple’s App Store for a copy. 

Chinese server supplier Inspur and market researcher Omdia have released an Open Computing White Paper at the the third OCP China Day 2021 summit meeting. Omdia predicts that 40 per cent of servers worldwide will be based on open standards by 2025. The paper takes a look at computing’s environmental impact. Download the paper here.

Micron announced the launch of its Crucial P5 PCIe NVMe SSD for the consumer PC market. It uses Micron’s latest 176-layer 3D NAND, enabling lower power consumption, higher speeds, and increased density than prior 96-layer product. The P5 delivers up to 6600MB/sec sequential read speeds — nearly double the prior generation — as well as 66 per cent faster sequential write speeds, 67 per cent faster random read and 40 per cent faster random write speeds over the prior Crucial Gen-3 (96-layer) SSDs.

Model9, which produces VTL software writing to on-premises or public cloud object storage, announced the availability of its Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe in the Azure Marketplace.

Phison has introduced its PS7101 PCEe 5.0 Redriver integrated circuit (IC), claimed to fix signal attenuation and signal noise caused by the the transmission process on the motherboard or riser card in PCs and Servers. The PS7101 has high gain and high linearity which counterbalances attenuation and noise in the motherboard. Phison is also developing a PCIe 5.0 Retimer IC to suit different product environments in addition to the PCIe 5.0 Redriver IC.

Semiconductor IP developer Rambus has an HBM3-ready memory interface subsystem consisting of a fully-integrated PHY and digital controller supporting data rates of up to 8.4Gbit/ses and 1.075TB/sec of bandwidth, more than double that of high-end HBM2E memory subsystems. Rambus has interposer and package reference designs to speed customers’ products to market.

Redis Labs, which supplies an open-source in-memory NoSQL database, is rebranding to just Redis. This will not affect the licensing of open source Redis, which will continue to be BSD licensed, nor the governance model, which was introduced last year.

Scality’s RING object storage software running on HPE 4510 Apollo servers is being used by Australian broadcast service vendor MediaHub. It’s using this to offer Storage-as-a-Service aimed at the Australian broadcast market. HPE and Scality will be supporting ArkHub — MediaHub’s new low-cost data storage service — providing customers with storage and access to their expanding archives, without additional ingress, egress and retrieval fees.

SIOS announced the GA release of its Protection Suite for Linux v9.5.2 clustering software, with enhanced automation and application failover orchestration to make operating high availability (HA) clusters in complex SAP S/4HANA environments easier and more reliable. It also recently released SIOS Protection Suite for Windows v8.8.0 clustering software, making HA clustering in the cloud faster and easier.

Lend me your ears — Secondary storage systems supplier Spectra Logic says it’s starting up a podcast series called The Spectra Current. These will be fronted by its VP for Corporate Marketing, Betsy Doughty, and she bigs up the podcast, saying: “We’ve lined up a variety of remarkable guests who have agreed to share their unique stories and individual insights with our listeners.” The first episode, covering the The History of Spectra Logic, is posted on the Spectra Logic web site. In it, Betsy says she could not be more excited. Excellent.

Talend’s Data Fabric provides data integration and governance with a trust score indicating a dataset’s reliability. It has been updated with high-performance integrations to leading cloud intelligence platforms, a self-service API portal, collaborative data governance capabilities, and private connections between Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure to ensure data security.

Data warehouser Teradata announced strong adoption in the first half of 2021 of its Teradata Vantage cloud data analytics platform. It listed 20 customers including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Gap, Jupiter Networks, Kobe Steel and MGM Resorts. With Vantage, enterprise-scale companies can eliminate silos and query all their data, all the time, regardless of where the data resides — in the cloud using object stores, on multiple clouds, on-premises or any combination thereof.

TerraMaster U12 storage server.

Chinese supplier TerraMaster has launched its U12, a 12-bay storage server with a quad-core Xeon E-2224G processor and 8GB of DDR4 memory upgradeable to 64GB. There are four gigabit network interfaces and two PCIe Gen-3 x 16 slots, with support for 10Gbit NICs and RAID cards. The U12 delivers up to 3000MB/sec with over 500,000 IOPS. The CPU is upgradable.

Toshiba says its 18TB MG09 disk drives work with all common Adaptec host bus adapters (HBAs) and RAID adapters from Microchip.