Lightbits gets NVMe/TCP certification, enters enterprise software-defined storage ring

Startup Lightbits has gained NVMe/TCP certification from VMware with vSphere 7 Update 3 for its LightOS software and is now competing head-on with other NVMe/TCP storage suppliers.

LightOS is a storage array controller product, featuring NVMe/TCP, and provides independent scaling of compute and storage on commodity hardware. It supports Intel’s Gen-3 Xeon SP processors, Optane persistent memory, and 100Gbit/sec Ethernet NICs, and QLC SSDs. A single LightOS cluster can deliver over 40 million IOPS (random Read) and 10PB of user capacity, with less than 200μs latency.

Kam Eshghi.

Kam Eshghi, Chief Strategy Officer at Lightbits, provided a quote: “We are super-excited to have a high performance, highly available storage solution also for VMware users, with in box support for NVMe/TCP. Organisations with private clouds and hybrid clouds, as well as cloud service providers and financial service providers, can now realise the performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency benefits of a combined solution from VMware, Lightbits, and Intel.”

Performance and cost

Basically Lightbit’s message is equivalent or better data services and faster storage access performance at lower cost. We understand that In general, Lightbits NVMe/TCP scales linearly with over 6x more IOPS vs iSCSI at the same thread counts while attaining as much as 4x lower latency vs iSCSI (on the same hardware).

It will be revealing more performance data this week at a VMworld event.

The company tells us it reduces a customer’s storage TCO by:

  • QLC SSDs, ~30 per cent lower cost than TLC SSDs;
  • Higher density per storage node, amortizing the fixed cost of the storage server over larger capacity;
  • Compression reduces flash cost (workload dependent);
  • No hypervisor required on storage node (no license fee).


Since NVMe/TCP is becoming table stakes in storage networking — witness the array of vendors supporting it — Lightbits is competing in the level playing ground of the software-defined storage market, looking for greenfield wins and iSCSI upgraders. 

It is in competition with other NVMe-oF suppliers such as Excelero, as well as QLC flash and Optane supporting suppliers such as StorONE and VAST Data. On the NVMe/TCP front it is facing up to to Dell, NetApp, Infinidat and Pavilion Data, and may find attacking HPE accounts fertile ground as that company does not have NVME/TCP support — yet. Ditto IBM. The iSCSI upgrade market in the two installed bases may provide a fertile hunting ground.

Just being a fast access NVMe/TCP target is not enough. Lightbits has to match competing suppliers with their various data services. LightOS supports multi-tenancy, thin-provisioning, snapshots, clones, remote monitoring, dynamic rebalancing, SSD-level Elastic RAID, per-volume replication, cloud-native applications, Kubernetes orchestration, and more. Its SSD management improves flash endurance by up to 20x, which is good as it supports low-endurance QLC flash drives. 

LightOS is listed in the VMware compatibility guide and LightOS software-defined storage with Intel high-performance hardware for VMware ESXi 7.0U3 is now generally available.