The drumbeat of solid-state storage announcements continued today, as Kaminario introduced the next generation of their DataProtect operating system. New features like snapshots and replication extend the companies K2 storage systems further into the mainstream, while a new data protection scheme dubbed RAID 10HD and availability enhancements will likely please customers as well.
A Little Background on Kaminario
An Israeli/Boston hybrid, Kaminario was founded in 2008 with a focus on I/O performance. Kaminario entered the high-performance solid-state storage market in mid-2010 with the K2, a scale-out DRAM-based storage array. K2 competed with existing products from Violin, Texas Memory Systems, and perhaps even Fusion-io.
Although initially focused on maximum-I/O applications like database servers, Kaminario added “hybrid” storage capabilities in 2011, mixing NAND flash and DRAM to make the K2 more accessible to buyers with more modest budgets. The high cost of all-DRAM arrays has hobbled their acceptance by enterprise buyers for over 20 years, so it is wise for Kaminario to adopt NAND flash to broaden the appeal of the K2.
The K2 system is all about software: Kaminario’s “Scale-out Performance Storage Architecture“ (SPEAR) is all about distributing I/O across multiple nodes and storage devices. The K2 array itself is built on Dell M1000E blade server hardware and uses Fusion-io “Duo” PCIe cards for storage. Kaminario uses 10 Gb Ethernet internally, but front end hosts see only 8 Gb Fibre Channel interfaces on a Brocade switch.
Each “DataNode” features a solid-state storage device (DRAM or flash) for primary storage along with a second storage device (flash or disk) to protect data from other nodes. On the front end, “ioDirectors” virtualize storage access and present 8 Gb Fibre Channel interfaces to connected hosts.
The Kaminario K2 lineup consists of 3 models: The K2-D (all-DRAM), K2-H (flash and DRAM), and K2-F (all-MLC flash). Performance ranges from up to 1.5 million IOPS in the K2-D to a more reasonable 100-600,000 IOPS in the K2-F.
Introducing Kaminario DataProtect
Kaminario K2 has always been all about performance in high-end enterprise workloads, so it was excusable that the array was light on features. Today, Kaminario is unveiling DataProtect, a new operating system for K2 that adds high-availability and data protection to broaden the appeal of the array. Like Violin, Kaminario appears to be moving into the mainstream “disk replacement” market to challenge Whiptail, Pure Storage, Nimbus Data, GreenBytes, and the rest.
DataProtect is a major upgrade for Kaminario, and addresses some of the shortcomings seen in the K2 product. What Kaminario calls “self-healing”, many would expect from a high-end storage array. K2 now has N+1 hardware redundancy with the ability to automatically fail over in the event of hardware failure. Since the content of every DataNode is mirrored to another, with a spare node available as well, the system can recover when one fails.
DataProtect also adds “redirect on write” snapshots and consistency groups. Each group can contain 512 snapshots, and the system can maintain up to 16 groups at once. These snapshots are thin provisioned, although the array itself is not. Kaminario supports Microsoft Windows VSS for application initiated snapshots, and one expects VMware VAAI support is in the works. Around midyear, Kaminario will add asynchronous replication to DataProtect as well.
Data layout with DataProtect uses something Kaminario refers to as “RAID 10HD” (for “Hybrid Distributed”). In the company’s illustrations, this technology appears to stripe data across multiple nodes to balance I/O while keeping a backup of each block on the different node. It really bears no resemblance whatsoever to RAID 10 apart from the fact that it uses both striping and mirroring. It is disappointing to see a specific term like “RAID 10” go down the path of non-specificity already traveled by the meaningless term, “RAID 6”.
The DataProtect K2 appears to be a “dual active” array, with storage “owned” by a single ioDirector and DataNode. In Kaminario’ s demonstration of failure recovery, the array suffers a short outage followed by a period of slight performance degradation while I/O is rebalanced. When the system is running smoothly in this demonstration, the K2 is able to handle nearly 500,000 IOPS.
Pricing is competitive at $20/GB for the MLC-based K2-F, including all DataProtect software. K2 systems start at 3 TB of capacity, with maximum capacity of 100.8 TB using six 16.8 TB enclosures in two cabinets.
- Fast, purpose built solid-state architecture
- Leverages Dell global hardware support
- 8 Gb Fibre Channel matches enterprise needs
- Dual-controller high-availability (dual-active) architecture
- No capacity optimization features (thin provisioning, deduplication, compression)
- All-commodity hardware might turn off some buyers
- No VMware support
Kaminario is wise to move from the small but lucrative “maximum performance” market to the broader but more competitive “disk replacement” segment. DataProtect adds important features required by mainstream buyers, but Kaminario still lacks capacity optimization features (deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning) that their competitors boast. Like all small companies, Kaminario faces an uphill battle to improve the feature set, attract customers, and support systems. But it certainly is exciting to watch so many companies apply new ideas to the field of enterprise storage!
Disclaimer: Kaminario is part of Storage Field Day in April, an event I organize. But this post has nothing to do with that event and was written based on interest in the product and the market segment.
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