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Compose yourselves: Western Digital chucks some bucks at Kaminario

Membership of WD's OpenFlex club has its perks

Western Digital has invested in all-flash array supplier Kaminario, which supports WD's composable systems technology.

Western Digital's OpenFlex Software Composable Infrastructure (SCI) initiative envisages NVMe-over-Fabrics-connected OpenFlex hardware with E3000 and D3000 flash and disk drive enclosures, Kingfish open APIs to orchestrate and manage the SCI systems, and a bunch of ecosystem partners, which includes Kaminario.

Kaminario announced it was supporting OpenFlex with its composable K2 flash array in August.

How much WD invested in Kaminario has not been revealed. However, in August 2018 WD's capital investment unit put in a possible $5m into NVMe fabric flash array supplier Excelero as another strategic investment. We wouldn't be surprised if it was a similar amount for Kaminario.

Kaminario changed its business model in January, exiting the hadrware business and having its array software run on certified Tech Data K2 and K2.N hardware. As a result, it said it became cash-flow positive in the third 2018 quarter.

Recently acquired customers include payments provider Payoneer, Telefónica and two SaaS businesses – Clearwater Analytics for financial data and analytics, and the SSI Group, which offers insurance revenue cycle management.

Kaminario said its business is growing but has not supplied any revenue numbers to show this, only relative percentages.

Kaminario and composable systems

We asked Kaminario CTO Eyal David how the firm viewed other composable system suppliers such as DriveScale and HPE with its Synegry products.

He said: "Kaminario is delivering composable solutions at the storage layer by completely disaggregating storage capacity from storage controller compute. Kaminario's software platform delivers composability on end-to-end NVMe/NVMf hardware stack (aligned to our K2.N architecture) that:

  • Runs on commodity hardware,
  • Scales to any size data centre,
  • Provides a simple path to future compute and storage memory technology,
  • Provides seamless connection to hybrid cloud implementations."

David claimed DriveScale focuses on the use case of "remote DAS" and was primarily intended for "shared nothing" architectures – which are not easy for many organisations to build.

HP Synergy is a proprietary architecture based on a closed ecosystem not open to other vendor technologies, which makes it inherently tied to the HPE hardware stack. David reckoned it is not intended to interact with higher-level data centre orchestration platforms.

He said the Kaminario-supported WDC OpenFlex/Kingfish has a unique open design, and is built to accommodate the current generation of memory technologies while staying open to future innovation. It's also optimized for resource utilisation.

WD, through its capital investment arm, has two irons in the NVMe-over-Fabrics flash array technology area. WD also has its acquired Tegile flash and hybrid array technology. How this will develop in the future and whether WD will make more acquisitions are open and interesting questions. ®

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