In this final blog entry from our interview with Nimbus Data CEO and Founder Thomas Isakovich, we discuss his company’s latest product, the Gemini X-series. We explore the role of the Flash Director and how it Gemini X-series appeals to enterprises as well as cloud service providers.
DCIG: Tell us more about the role of the Flash Director. Does it have a role in how deduplication functions?
Thomas: The Flash Director does not have a role in deduplication. The IOs come into the switchboard on the Flash Director, and it’s just giving them out based on how many nodes are active behind it–and it’s doing so in a balanced kind of striping manner. But the Flash Director also has another cool feature, which is the ability to stripe with parity, in either single or dual parity. This is for customers who want to be able to survive a complete node failure in the cluster.
Our approach to this is very cool because you don’t have to mirror. You can do it with a RAID5 algorithm, as opposed to having it mirror the data. Again, I’m not sure how many customers are going to want to do that because every node is inherently HA; but if they want to, that ability is there. The Flash Director would handle that.
DCIG: That’s a RAID-style technology or erasure codes
Thomas: It’s RAID. If we went with erasure codes, we’d have to potentially have more capacity, or you’d have more overhead.
DCIG: So deduplication is offloaded to the controllers on the Flash Nodes?
Thomas: Yes. Behind this RDMA port is a CPU and everything that’s dedicated to doing those hardware offloading functions.
DCIG: The reason for choosing RDMA was low latency and high data rates?
Thomas: Exactly that, yes. The latency is key. RDMA allows you to keep the CPU out of the data transfer process. And that keeps latency down.
DCIG: Are you looking at FICON at all?
Thomas: The direction that we’re going in is more the RDMA protocols. We currently have SRP, but we’re also going to be introducing iSER which is the iSCSI RDMA transport. The other big thing we’re working on is SMB 3. You’ll see that in the HALO 2014 announcement. And that allows us to kind of target the Hyper-V space where Microsoft wants to realign everyone away from iSCSI back to SMB. There are very few native SMB 3 implementations out there.
DCIG: Could you talk about what developments were tailored to the enterprise versus the cloud service provider?
Thomas: I think the key was to provide the multiprotocol services, because an enterprise customer is going to have a diversity of storage requirements and we didn’t want to diminish that. If you try to name the multiprotocol scale-out storage systems in the market, there really aren’t any.
So, I think the fact that we can deliver very painless scale-out with full multiprotocol services and data services, so it plugs right in and it looks and smells just like the storage you have now from a connectivity and functionality perspective, but of course is way faster and way more efficient — I think that’s what’s going to be appealing to the enterprise customer.
Cloud customers may look at this and talk about their desire to use NFS. Because there are a lot of cloud providers that really like NFS. And NFS is high enough performance, especially if you combine it with flash and you’re using it in kind of a cloud context.
And so here by providing a single name space, near-petabyte flash repository that is VMware certified and fully offloaded, with all the VAAI integration and so on, I think that’s going to be another real big win. There isn’t anyone else that’s got that–at least that I’m aware of–because all the other flash arrays are pretty much block. There are maybe a couple here or there that are file, but certainly not scale-out file, so that’s another big advantage of the Nimbus Data Gemini X-series.
In the Part 1 of this interview series, Thomas Isakovich guided us through the development of the Nimbus Data Gemini X-series, and where he sees it fitting into the current market.
In the Part 2 of this interview series, Thomas Isakovich described how the Gemini X architecture delivers highly available inline deduplication and consistent low latencies at scale.