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Kaminario K2 users get performance consistency guarantee

Startup promises its Kaminario K2 all-flash array will experience no more than 25% performance degredation; extends SSD warranty to seven years.

All-flash array vendor Kaminario this week added a performance guarantee that its Kaminario K2 system will run at a certain level -- even on its worst day -- and extended the warranty for the SSDs used in the array.

Kaminario's Performance Consistency Guarantee promises no more than 25% performance degradation during a system failure. Kaminario CEO Dani Golan said K2 performance degradation rarely drops below 10% because of its redundant hardware, load balancing software and a data integrity capability that automatically detects failures and initiates self-healing.

Golan said vendors like to quote peak performance numbers, but customers often ask about how the system performs in the worst conditions.

"When we talk to customers, we tell them the most important attribute is the performance consistency," Golan said. "We tell customers, 'This is exactly what you're going to get out of a K2. It doesn't matter what combination of applications you put on Kaminario [and] it doesn't matter if the application behavior changes over time; you will get the same performance.' And that performance consistency is everything to them."

If degradation goes below 25%, Kaminario said it will give customers enough new hardware to improve performance to meet the guarantee.

"The only reason we can do this is our scale-out architecture," Golan said. "Without a scale-out architecture, if you have two nodes and one goes down, you just lost more than 50% of your performance and you cannot spread the load. With our architecture, even if a node fails -- which is a severe failure -- we hardly get impacted. We shift the load to other nodes. Our sophisticated algorithm optimizes how to spread the load and other elements in the system take loads from the node that just went down."

Kaminario's Flash Endurance Booster extends the warranty offered by the drive vendors, which is typically three to five years, to seven years. Again, Golan claimed Kaminario's architecture makes this possible. "We can spread the load in random behavior across all nodes to prevent hotspots," he said. "We move loads around and have a write-buffer. We will not keep writing to a block again and again."

Golan declined to name the vendor that Kaminario buys its solid-state drives (SSDs) from, claiming Kaminario can extend the lives of any drives. In April, Kaminario switched from PCIe Express flash cards to Serial-Attached SCSI multi-level cell SSDs.

Kaminario K2 all-flash nodes come in K-Blocks that can be clustered into larger systems. Each K-Block ranges from 6 TB to 24 TB and includes dual processors, two host ports per node and between four and eight active-active Fibre Channel ports or 10-Gigabit active-active Ethernet iSCSI ports.

George Crump, president of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland LLC, said Kaminario is unique in addressing the question, "How well will the box perform in a degraded state?" in a performance guarantee. "That's more important with flash drives because you'll push them harder in doing things like running more virtual machines [and] supporting more users on a database, so when something breaks it has a greater ramification," he said. "The interesting thing about their guarantee is they're realistic about seeing some degradation. I don't know anybody else that gives that type of guarantee."

Crump said the seven-year warranty is not as significant because few organizations intend to use a storage array for seven years. However, he said the warranty shows Kaminario's commitment to the effectiveness of its scale-out architecture.

Kaminario's guarantee and extended warranty come as the flash array market is heating up. Kaminario and other startups such as Nimbus Data, Pure Storage, Whiptail and Violin Memory have been selling all-flash arrays for several years. Now EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and NetApp have all-flash arrays that are shipping or will be soon.

Golan said Kaminario's arrays are designed for mainstream storage use rather than focused only on specific applications such as virtual desktop infrastructure or high-performance databases.

"There are three elements in storage performance -- latency, throughput and IOPS," he said. "We went after all three."

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