Storage Morphs From Boring to Exciting

While most of the technology stack involved in enterprise computing has undergone profound changes over the last several years, led by adoption of cloud infrastructure and virtualization, storage technology remained relatively unchanged, until fairly recently. Storage today is undergoing a revolution with the adoption of all-flash — going from a lagging technology to one that is able to keep up with changes in applications delivery and analytics-heavy workloads.

“Storage used to be boring—not anymore,” said Kaminario CEO and founder Dani Golan as he summed up the state of storage during an interview at VMworld in Las Vegas. Golan, along with Josh Epstein, Kaminario’s VP of Global Marketing, sat down with Stuart Miniman, a senior analyst with Wikibon and co-host of theCUBE from Silicon Angle Media, for a discussion of how storage technology is adapting to changes in applications delivery and infrastructure, and helping drive digital transformation. You can read more about their views here.

Golan and Epstein said storage is undergoing rapid transformation to flash after decades of reliance on legacy, disk-based systems and storage management solutions architected 25 years ago.

“It’s exciting times,” said Golan “We believe this [adoption of flash] is not just the biggest revolution in storage … [but] the biggest revolution, maybe, since cloud and virtualization.”

While Golan acknowledged all-flash storage was somewhat controversial back in 2008 when Kaminario was founded and cost of flash was very high —today, not only is the cost of flash far lower, the right platform can be agile and cost efficient in the way it scales. This combination makes flash appealing to companies, especially software-as-a service (SaaS) providers who have mixed workloads, dynamic growth, and need one common platform that can grow with them.

“We scale with a customer’s needs seamlessly, and we do it a very cost efficient way,” said Golan.

The interview delves into several elements of all flash storage, including:

  • Next generation storage must excel at handling mixed workloads, meaning a combination of online transactional processing (OLTP) and online analytical process (OLAP) loads. SaaS providers especially need storage that can handle both types of loads, since much of their competitive advantage springs from the performance of real-time analytics that is essential to adding value to the user experience.
  • Next-gen storage needs to scale in a cost efficient way. Platforms that can both “scale up” and “scale out” and Kaminario does that.
  • When asked whether the competition for an all flash provider today might actually be Amazon and its Amazon Web Services (AWS) rather than the big traditional storage vendors, Golan said the key point of comparison to AWS revolves around ease of acquiring capacity. Deploying storage should be as easy to buy more capacity from AWS, remarked Golan, rather than the “complex” and “convoluted” acquisition experience many users have had with traditional storage. Newer all-flash platforms have the scalability to make acquisition easy, commented Golan, while assurance programs can guarantee predictability around cost, performance and availability.
  • When asked about customers, Epstein said about 50 percent of Kaminario’s customer base is SaaS providers, such as Emergency Communications Network and SpotOption. These companies want a single all-flash platform for both OLAP and OLTP workloads, and the quality and performance of embedded analytics that gives them a competitive edge. As SaaS vendors grow to a certain size, explained Epstein, “they see application delivery infrastructure as part of their core competence.”

The all flash array (AFA) market that Kaminario is part of growing rapidly, according to 451 Research. The analyst firm estimates 27 percent of enterprises have deployed AFA already, and further 28 percent plan to deploy an AFA within the next two years. While these figures weren’t part of the interview, Golan pointed out that Kaminario has tripled its business over the last five quarters.

It’s clear, Golan summed up, that adoption of all flash is happening quickly, and that companies should “jump into the water” rather than try to face next generation challenges with older, less adaptable technology.

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