Vast Data will offer containerised storage software, but not yet

by Jeremy

Vast Data will provide a containerized storage software version of its product. And that’s not too much of a stretch because the all-NVMe flash “universal storage” provider that claims to be the nemesis of the hard drive is indeed built on an architecture that includes a containerized control layer.

But the move to a containerized storage software product will not happen for some time because Vast is now focused on – in the grand scheme of things – smaller targets in enterprise storage.

At its recent live event, We asked Vast whether the company had plans to offer the container component of its product as a software-only offering.

Vast Data will offer containerised storage software, but not yet

The move would make sense because Vast’s architecture is based on providing QLC flash and 3D Xpoint storage hardware, with a software control plane comprising stateless Kubernetes containerized servers with a view of all the underlying storage. The software control plane could perhaps be re-factored to other media of the customer’s choosing.

“We have a lot of plans in this space,” said chief technology officer Sven Breuner. “But today, we have specific hardware dependencies at a relatively small scale. But we could build large infrastructures with commodity capacity.

“For now, we want to focus on our specific platform, although some customers are already running Vast as a containerized deployment on bare metal as proofs-of-concept, but not many.”

Vast Data’s architecture rests on bulk but rapid access storage provided by NVMe-connected QLC flash. QLC is relatively cheap for a second but is the least durable of all-flash generations and is best used for sequential input/output (I/O). To ensure traffic is sequential, seed as much as Vast possible and put in a layer of 3D Xpoint to shape I/O into fewer, less randomized patterns.

According to Vast, 18TB of XPoint (in 12 15.36TB drives) for every 675TB of QLC makes up about 2.5% of the system by capacity.

The result is a set of storage economics and uses profiles. Vast c.laims are the death knell for the spinning disk hard drive and tiered storage. It calls itself “universal storage” and “an extinction-level event for hard drive tiering”.

Despite being comprised of all-NVMe flash, Vast claims to offer storage cost per GB that is “within spitting distance” of HDD pricing and “less than the hardware cost”, according to CME Jeff Denworth. That’s because it uses QLC for the bulk of its capacity and by use of very granular data reduction – at the global namespace level – that packs more data into less space.

Vast aims to get customers to repatriate data from cloud storage and offers the promise of not dealing with capacity management. It targets use cases that include analytics and AI, HPC, transactional processing, VMware workloads, and container deployments.

Vast can provide storage for use cases in any sphere “that does not need block storage primitives”, said Denworth, namely “SCSI persistent reservations,” which is akin to file locking and allows only specified access nodes to access a LUN.

Despite building a slogan around “democratizing fast access to data, “Vast provides only file and object modes, including NFS, SMB, and S3, and direct access to memory via RDMA and persistent container storage via CSI drivers.

The company is happy to live with that for now, however. File and object are the best places to place flash infrastructure,” said Denworth. “We are consciously not targeting the block storage market. File and object are the ‘easy’ button. Also, most data is on file or object storage, and you can do most things with the file.”

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