Ex-VMware CEO Di Greene drops mystery storage system box, dares you to open it

You hadn't forgotten about Datrium, right?


Accessing applications see an NFS share, but that is only what the DVX Hypervisor SW presents to VMs in the hosts. The protocol between the Hypervisor host software and the Netshelf appliance is a proprietary API.

All management can be done in a VM-aware way, with no need to configure and manage LUNs or SAN zoning. All vDisks are managed independently. Datrium asserts that it offers VVOL-like functionality with its v5.5 and v6.0 vSphere support, and full VVOL support is coming.

Suggested applications include VM consolidation, VDI and test and development. These can take advantage of what it calls its massive server flash capacity for all "in-use" data.


Datrium says that DVX can perform faster than a shared all-flash array, and is cheaper and faster than dual-controller storage arrays.

A host's storage performance, with a Haswell 2-socket server, is 30,000 IOPS using 32KB IOs, and 32 hosts will deliver 960,000 IOPS, about a million in broad terms. Performance increases linearly as you add hosts.

If you want to increase performance then upgrade a server, for example, by buying SSDs, cheaply, from Amazon, to increase storage performance for applications running inside it. You could get more and faster cores or, alternatively, vMotion the app to a higher-spec server. In this instance the original server's cache is used for storage reads until the destination server's cache is "warm."

To increase performance generally add more servers.

The Netshelf bandwidth is said to be 800MB/sec, similar to a 12Gbit/s SAS shelf.

Some beta testers have said that DVX performance is phenomenal, and allows VDI to be offered alongside other storage-using applications.


Dual-controller storage arrays don't scale performance linearly and are expensive to upgrade, according to Datrium, as well as being generally unable to scale performance and capacity separately. Ones that don't support VVOLs or are not VM-aware are difficult for VM admins to manage.

Turning to hyper-converged infrastructure appliances (HCIAs), Datrium views them as having several advantages but lacking per-node (host) capacity. CEO Brian Biles says: "Blade servers typically don't have enough bays for capacity." They also don't observe the blade philosophy of being stateless.

The company asserts that, when a Hyper-converged server is down, data fault tolerance is weakened, and the data may require rebuild or migration; not so with DVX.

Also, with HCIAs you can't generally add performance without adding capacity, and vice versa, meaning you are paying for unwanted and wasted resource.

Lastly, Datrium makes the point that there is cross-talk between the nodes in an HCIA setup, because writes directly affect neighbor servers.

Datrium suggests that its system performs much better than a 100TB external storage array. And it's cheaper, with suggested server flash cost in the less-than-30 cents/GB area, and DVX plus Netshelf providing capacity at $1/GB, similar to a nearline disk shelf in storage arrays. These will be effective capacity pricing, after data reduction.

One beta tester, Joshua Rabe, a system architect at North Bend Medical Centers, said; "When I ran a head-to-head comparison, the Datrium system performed critical tasks in a quarter of the time compared to Nimble. During maintenance we saw a 5-10X saving, where tasks that used to take 10-20 minutes on the current SAN now take less than 2 minutes to complete."

Datrium history

  • 2012 – founded in the Fall by:
    • Brian Biles – CEO – ex-Data Domain
    • Hugo Patterson – CTO – ex-Data Domain and EMC fellow
    • Sazzala Reddy – ex-EMC distinguished engineer
    • Ganesh Venkitachalam – ex-VMware principal engineer
    • Boris Weissman – ex-VMware principal engineer
  • 2012 – A-round funding
  • 2013 – first staff hires
  • 2013 – B-round funding
  • 2015 – DVX product beta test
  • 2016 – DVX general availability

Total funding stands at $55 million and comes from individual investors; VMware cofounder and ex-CEO Diane Greene, Mendel Rosenblum, Edouard Bugnion, Frank Slootman (ex-Data Domain CEO) and Kai Li, plus two VCs; NEA and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Pricing and availability

DVX is available now from Datrium resellers in the USA for $125,000 list, which includes a 48TB (raw) Netshelf D12x4 appliance, and unlimited licenses for DVX Hypervisor software on vSphere hosts. Servers and SSDs must be purchased separately. International sales will start in the second half of 2016. ®

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