As someone who follows the storage industry with interest, this episode was a great insight as to the history and decisions which have led us to where we are with flash storage today, as well as some fascinating facts and figures.
I don’t want to preempt or spoil the episode, but for example did you know:
Nanometer scale productions actually mean working at the scale of millionths of a millimeter
Fabrication plants cost around $8 Billion each to make, and the machines involved in creating the chips cost about $100 million each!
It takes 3 months to create a single chip from the raw materials!
These, and other interesting things can be found on the episode, below – I highly recommend you check it out (and dont forget to subscribe to their podcast)!
I listen to about 20+ podcasts on a regular basis (the one and only good thing about commuting every day to the office!). I need to do an updated article on them, but in the mean time, here is a list of some of my recommendations:
We are currently living in the fastest period of innovation in the technology space which there has probably ever been. New companies spring up every week with new ideas, some good, some bad, some just plain awesome and unexpected!
Take for example the iPhone. It was not the first smart phone. It was not the first mobile phone, the first touch screen, or the first device to run installable apps. However, Apple recombined an existing set of technologies into a very compelling product.
We also reached a point a while back where clock speeds of CPUs are no longer increasing, and even CPUs are scaling horizontally. Workloads are therefore typically being designed to scale horizontally instead of vertically, taking advantage of the increased compute resources available whilst avoid being locked to vertically scaling clock speeds.
Finally, another trend we have seen in the industry of late is inexpensive and low power CPUs from ARM, being used in all sorts of weird and wonderful places; often providing solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had. Up until now, their place has generally been confined outside of the data centre. I am, however, aware of a number of companies now working on bringing them to the enterprise in a big way!
So, in this context of recombination, imagine then if you could provide a scale-out storage architecture where every single spindle had its own compute directly attached. Then combine many of these “nano-servers” together in a scale-out JBOD form factor on subscription pricing, all managed from a Meraki-style cloud portal… well that’s exactly what Igneous Systems have designed!
One of the coolest things about scaling out like this, is that instead of a small number of large fault domains based around controllers, you actually end up with many tiny fault domains instead. The loss of any one controller or drive is basically negligible within the system and replacements can be sorted at the convenience of the administrators, rather than panicking about replacement of components asap. Igneous claim that you can also scale fairly linearly, avoiding the traditional bottlenecks of a dual controller (or similar) system. It will be interesting to see some performance benchmarks as they become available!
It’s still early days, so they are doing code deployments at some pretty high rates, around every 2 weeks, and to be honest I think there is a bit of work to be done around clarity of their SLAs, but in general it looks like a very interesting platform, particularly when pricing is claimed to be as low as half the price of Amazon S3.
Now as you might expect from a massively distributed solution, the entry point is not small, typically procured in 212TiB chunks, so don’t expect to use it for your SMB home drives! If however you have petabyte-scale data volumes and are looking for an on-prem(ises!) S3 compatible datastore, then its certainly worth looking at Igneous.
The future in the scale-out space is certainly bright, now if only I could get people to refactor their single-threaded applications!… 🙂
You can catch the full Igneous session at the link below – it certainly was unexpected and interesting, for sure!
Disclaimer: My flights, accommodation, meals, etc at Tech Field Day 12 were provided by Tech Field Day, but there was no expectation or request for me to write about any of the vendors products or services.