Igneous Systems says bye-bye to proprietary hardware, hello to data management services

Helped along by Pure, Isilon and Qumulo


Igneous Systems has set its sights on becoming a data management supplier using commodity hardware.

Data protection vendors, especially ones like Igneous with proprietary hardware, face stronger competition from players treating data protection as an entry to the wider data management market, offering analytics and insight, and using commodity hardware.

Igneous offers hybrid cloud features (on-premises hardware, replication-based tiering off to the public cloud) with a proprietary on-premises hardware product using nanoservers – disk drives with added Arm computing power.

The company protects primary data-handling filers, basically offering NAS backup. It has always had data services ambitions beyond this and is now preparing a move into data services while also deepening its integration with three key filer players – Pure Storage and its FlashBlade array, Dell EMC Isilon and Qumulo.

Igneous' competitive necessity is to separate itself from the relatively pure-play pack of backup suppliers, and from the rampantly growing unstructured data management startups like Cohesity and Rubrik. Three new hardware integrations*, on top of the existing NAS filer integrations, help with both needs.

  • Pure Storage FlashBlade – NFS, SMB and S3 object integration
  • Dell EMC Isilon – direct API integration with OneFS providing concurrent multi-protocol support for NFS and SMB, with switching of ACLs and permissions
  • Qumulo QF2 – direct API integration via a strategic alliance

Igneous classifies the market into customers with structured data sets (database and VMs) up to 100TB, and unstructured data sets up to 10PB or so and larger.

For the first group, an Igneous spokesperson said Cohesity and Rubrik provide more modern and resource-efficient data protection than legacy backup software tools (such as Veritas and Commvault) similar to Igneous.

Traditional backup engines can capture NFS and SMB file permissions like Igneous "but they're based on the NDMP backup protocol, which may take too long to complete and may impact filer performance".

"Neither Veritas nor Commvault supports Isilon multi-protocol (NFS+SMB) permission protection, API-level integration with Qumulo, or Object support with Pure FlashBlade."

Igneous has claimed it can protect customers with unstructured data out beyond tens of petabytes, and do this more affordably and with simpler management. This is vague as there is no simple unstructured data capacity level crossover point and Igneous is claiming tricky-to-prove advantages.

The company is rebranding its product set from the Hybrid Storage Cloud to something that will better reflect the component data services it offers in this cloud. It will be extending its public cloud support, possibly adding Azure alongside AWS.

Other NAS supplier integrations are coming, such as, possibly, WekaIO.

It is also developing a generic hardware strategy for its on-premises appliance, and becoming more software-focused. This will involve close relationships with some hardware partners who, we might imagine, provide popular capacity-focused file storage boxes.

Igneous is also looking at using a web-crawler approach to check through NAS data sets, building up metadata such as an index and analysing that indexed data. It may also extend its data provisioning abilities.

Igneous is still in product development mode, beginning a pivot away from proprietary hardware. It's extending both its data services capabilities and NAS array integration capabilities in order to grow against strong data management services competition from the likes of Actifio, Cohesity, Druva and Rubrik, with object storage suppliers also hastening into the NAS access, data management area.

Like lava, Igneous has to settle on and find its way across an existing landscape before it cools, solidifies, and can flow no more. ®

* Pure Storage customers must be running Purity for FlashBlade version 2.1.3 or higher with API version 1.1 or higher in order to protect Object shares with Igneous.

Dell EMC Isilon OneFS 7.2.0 or higher can begin importing and protecting multi-protocol shares with Igneous.

Customers using Qumulo QF2 version 2.7.6 or higher can protect their system with Igneous.

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