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Kaminario gives all-flash storage systems HA, data protection

Kaminario is the latest all-flash and DRAM storage vendor to go beyond performance by adding high availability and data protection features to its systems.

Kaminario today added high availability and data protection features to its DRAM and all-flash storage arrays to try to win greater acceptance among enterprises.

Kaminario brought out its new capabilities as enhancements to its SPEAR (Scale-Out Performance Storage Architecture) operating system. The startup calls the series of features DataProtect, which are built into all the systems Kaminario ships. The company’s products include a K2-D all-DRAM SAN, a K2-F multi-level cell (MLC) flash SAN, and a K2-H hybrid that mixes DRAM and SSD.

“We believe fast storage is not enough,” Kaminario VP of marketing Gareth Taube said. “You also need to keep data safe, available, and backed up.”

The new features include a striping and mirroring scheme that Kaminario calls RAID 10HD (hybrid distributed), non-disruptive operations with redundant components, and hot-swappable modules that keep running if a drive fails. For data protection, Kaminario added point-in-time snapshots and asynchronous replication for DR and remote backup.

Taube said RAID 10HD distributes data equally across nodes. It always puts primary data in flash or DRAM, while backup data is placed on flash or hard drives. Every configuration has an extra node that serves as a hot standby. If a node is lost, the system can handle read requests from the backup node. The system will populate the spare node as a background task.  Performance will suffer during the rebuild, but Taube said a drive can be reconfigured in seconds and IOPS will return to normal in a few minutes. Kaminario calls this rapid rebuild feature “self-healing” high availability.

Kaminario also added support for more than 8,000 snapshots on a system. Kaminario uses thin provisioning for snaps to expand the volume of snapshots, and redirect-on-write instead of copy-on-write snapshots for faster performance.

Taube said early Kaminario customers often use snapsot capabilities built into their applications, such as Oracle or SQL databases, and array-based snapshot has been a frequent request. He said Kaminario will add array-based replication in the second half of the year.

The new features are part of a trend of all-flash vendors which add management and protection features to distinguish their systems. Over the past few months, Texas Memory Systems added its first high availability all-flash SAN and Nimbus Data added a dual controller version of its all-SSD system.

“If flash arrays are to make progress, they have to be at least as functional as the systems they replace,” said Mark Peters, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group. “You can’t just add performance. If you want to be more than just a turbo boost, you have to add functionality as well as speed.”

Taneja Group consulting analyst Arun Taneja agreed that as the list of flash arrays grows, the focus on all-SSD systems is shifting from pure performance to functionality.

“In the first volley of all-flash or all-DRAM arrays it was crucial to focus on performance,” he said. “But as soon as that baseline was set, customers started asking why there wasn’t HA or protection and why could they not manage several arrays from a common management tool, just like they do a regular array. As an industry, we are already in the second phase of maturity. This rounding out of what I call ‘soft features’ will give Kaminario a solid standing.”

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