Interview We interviewed Storpool CEO Boyan Ivanov, who thinks all-flash arrays are missing the point these days. Storage is broken and needs a new concept to fix it.
He didn’t wait to be asked anything, starting things off:
Boyan Ivanov It’s disruption time and the storage industry is turning on its head.
El Reg Er, okay. What do you mean?
Boyan Ivanov Storage customers realise that the old way of doing things is not sustainable anymore. They do not want to pay crazy amount of dollars for something, which is becoming a commodity. They do not want to be locked-in. They want seamless scalability. They want simplicity. They care about their data. They do not care about a supplier’s box. Most of all – they want their dignity back – to feel they are a “customer”.
El Reg What do you mean?
Boyan Ivanov That they have a voice, and are not going to be bullied around any more.
El Reg Right. And you have the answer?
Boyan Ivanov They do not get these things they want with a proprietary box. This is why the trend towards “software-defined storage” took the industry by storm. Or call it however you like – “server SAN”, “software-enable storage”, “software driven/lead storage”. It Doesn’t matter. It’s the paradigm that shifts, and analysts and industry pundits try to dress it up in a term they coined. Regardless, it’s the changing nature of business demands, use cases and customers’ needs that drives the market.
El Reg Let’s say “yes” to that; where are you going with this?
Boyan Ivanov We do not need another storage product – we need a new concept of storage altogether. And then this new concept is going to be delivered as new products. We do not need another proprietary storage box. Be it “all-flash” or “all-SSD”. It’s still vendor lock-in. It’s still expensive. It’s still single purpose, a specialised piece of hardware. You still have to migrate data from an old box to this new box.
El Reg You’re going too far. All-flash arrays are revolutionising storage access. What’s the problem?
Boyan Ivanov Oh alright. But wait: it has only SSDs inside! Big deal. Now every box can be an “all-SSD box” – any Dell/HP/IBM (well, Lenovo) server. Any Supermicro and Quanta, any white box. Not a differentiator anymore. Sure, some of the “all-flash” folks have clever software in the box, some don’t.
And it’s the software that makes the magic. All-flash arrays are just a short-term flick, part of the transition. Storage arrays in all forms will become the next mainframes – niche and rare. As for for what will be the drives inside – HDDs, NAND flash, memristors, XPoint – it’s not that important. The latest type of media will be adopted, as any new media is, each year. But a master trend is happening as we change our whole approach to storage and this will last decades.
El Reg And that trend is?
Boyan Ivanov It’s all going to be storage software running on standard hardware, eventually. And “eventually” is happening now and it’s happening faster than you might expect. Because people want something new. Something for themselves.
This is a variant on the Nexenta, Swiftstack, Maxta, Caringo. Scality, DataCore, FalconStor, OSNEXUS software-defined storage schtick, with the storage software available completely separately from the hardware. Commodity hardware represents the nuts and bolts with storage software providing the intelligent design.
StorPool provides a sever-centric, scale-out virtual SAN, using Linux KVM servers as a base, and with either disk drives or SSDs or both as media.
If storage hard times are coming then there could be a flight away from high prices and vendor lock-in towards lock-in-free storage hardware and vendors like StorPool. Ivanov says StorPool is arguably the fastest and most efficient block-storage software on the market today. Check out a trial of his software here. ®