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Vast Data flash storage zeroes in on enterprises

Vast Data engineers improve storage services for cloud backup and encryption as the all-flash startup moves to target mainstream Windows and MacOS shops.

All-flash startup Vast Data fortified its storage management to try to broaden its appeal to enterprise customers.

Version 3 of Vast Data Universal Storage launched today specifically targets Windows and MacOS applications with support for SMB 2.1, file encryption and replication to any S3 object storage target. Vast now also allows failover of full racks of storage infrastructure with its Enclosure RAID advanced data protection, including unstructured and streaming data.

Universal Storage is designed to enable flash for all data and is engineered to handle petabyte-scale workloads. Vast's Disaggregated Shared Everything architecture combines Intel Optane storage class memory and quad-level cell (QLC) NAND within a single namespace. Storage services run in stateless containers via NVMe-oF connectivity.

The venture-funded startup has racked up $180 million in funding, including $100 million in April. Vast Data claims its valuation is $1.2 billion since its launch in 2019.

Vast places all data on flash

Many questions that first surfaced about all-flash storage have been addressed, such as improved drive endurance and closer price parity with disk. Vast Data views flash as both performance-driven primary storage and a replacement for high capacity disk-based workloads, including backup and secondary storage.

Vast Data Universal Storage will face off against all-flash Dell EMC Isilon NAS and Pure Storage FlashBlade systems in the enterprise market. Vast Data CEO Renen Hallak helped to engineer the XtremIO all-flash storage, which was acquired by EMC and is now part of the Dell EMC storage portfolio. Hallak left Dell shortly after it acquired EMC in 2015.

Eric Burgener, a research vice president at IT analyst firm IDC, said Vast Data's architecture has distinct differences from existing all-flash arrays. Vast Data is the only vendor pitching flash to serve both performance and capacity workloads, but Burgener said he expects other competitors to do the same, either newcomers or new products from established storage vendors.

Vast Data Universal Storage
Vast Data's all-flash arrays use high-performance NVMe drives and capacity QLC SSDs for secondary storage.

"Vast Data is purpose-built for massive scale. You could mix latency-sensitive and performance-sensitive workloads on the same platform. Other vendors may ultimately get in this space, but Vast is exhibiting excellent traction. That could make them tough to catch," Burgener said.

Vast Data claims several dozen customers deploy Universal Storage in production, including financial services and healthcare organizations. Enhancements in version 3 are aimed at more traditional data center applications.

"We view version 3 as the turning point for our engineering, where we start to round the corners and make Universal Storage into more of an enterprise product," said Jeff Denworth, a Vast Data founder and vice president of products.

Vast's SMB Server stack was written to provide high throughput to support dependency on Windows or Mac. Denworth said many Vast Data customers need seamless multiprotocol access to swap between NFS and SMB. The Vast SMB Server is resilient to allow failover of SMB clients.

Vast now encrypts data at rest using Advanced Encryption Standard 256 when it is stored on Intel Optane persistent memory and QLC flash. Customers also can replicate data to any S3-supported endpoint using Vast Data's Snap-to-Object cloud snapshot.

Vast Data said the latest edition includes more than 20 performance improvements and management features, including enhanced monitoring of user behavior and other data security.

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