SkyHawk array swoops down, 136TB claws extended

Skyera offering more capacity, less power usage

All-flash array startup and packing density expert Skyera has got itself a new version of its skyHawk array, encompassing a threefold increase in capacity.

The first generation skyHawk was a 1U rack enclosure with 44TB of usable flash capacity inside it. Gen 2 skyHawk FS has 136TB (raw) and also delivers increases in data throughput and IOPS:

  • Up to 400,000 IOPS
  • Up to 2.4GB/sec
  • HW-assisted inline compression
  • 3 x 10GbitE ports
  • Unified SAN/NAS
  • SeOS v1.1 software

The actual usable capacity of its MLC flash is 100TB.

The new system has a 300W nominal power draw, one controller and power supplies, and scales to 4PB in a 40U rack. Skyera has said it has a 500TB, 1U skyEagle array coming next year, which would be a surprisingly high increase in density.

The company has recently changed its CEO to Frankie Roohparvar, with co-founder Radoslav Danilak giving up that position to become the CTO.

The SeOS v1.1 software sits atop a layered stack with System, RAID and the Controllers between it and the bottom layer of flash. It does the storage management, and Skyera claims there is minimal communication between the stack's sub-systems, which helps performance.

The RAID facility offers better than RAID 6 protection. Data reduction, meaning compression, is done in the hardware, as is the encryption. There is no deduplication.

Skyera is keen on pushing the low power draw, saying the amount of electricity needed by US data centres will double every seven years:

  • 2016: 7 per cent of total US electricity
  • 2023: 14 per cent
  • 2030: 28 per cent
  • 2037: 56 per cent

So, buy its flash arrays and save the planet.


skyHawk FS

Rooparvar said Skyera has been developing the software for its planned skyEagle array and decided to revamp its skyHawk product with extra flash and new software, offering a degree of high-availability — dual power supplies but one controller — and snapshots for example, and a unified SAN and NAS capability.

We're told Skyera's Life Amplification technology extends the projected life of the flash layer by 100 times, while proprietary RAID SE technology with just 4 per cent overhead, protects against any flash chip failure within the box.

How has Skyera ben able to pack so much flash in such a small space? After all, a flash SSD is a flash SSD and they come in standard sizes, so just packing them, like building blocks, should be easy enough, leaving space for cooling air flow and linking cable work.

Yet Skyera comprehensively out-packs the suppliers. How? Roohparvar talked about there being lots of mechanical and thermal challenges. We at El Reg think the thermal aspect is key. Skyera has a way, we believe, of running its flash so it generates less heat, meaning a smaller cooling air flow space, meaning more SSDs in the available space.

The company claims a 136TB Violin Memory configuration would take up 10 times the rackspace of SkyHawk FS and need 16 times as much power. An similarly sized Pure Storage array would need 29 times the rackspace and need 14 times the power draw. EMC's XtremIO does even worse — 78 times the rackspace and 36 times the power.

All this sounds impressive but Skyera is less mature in terms of funding — it now has around $100m gained in three rounds. However, Pure Storage acquired $470m in six rounds, while SolidFire has $150m from four rounds.

It is also inferior in its business development to Violin Memory, and indeed all the mainstream storage suppliers and their all-flash arrays.

Granted, it's got the flash packing density and power draw advantages but will these two features be enough of an advantage for its channel to ramp up the business as fast as management would want, and avoid being squeezed out by the competition?

Rooparvar claims Skyera is the price leader in the flash array market and is delivering products. Half of its customers are enterprises, and one customer has 4PB of its storage.

The skyHawk FS has been certified by DataCore and is, we're told, VMware-ready, being VAAI-compliant and having a vCenter plug-in. It's immediately available from Skyera resellers. ®

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