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Qumulo storage adds NVMe cache to NAS stash

The Qumulo storage software code was written to operate in containers in microservices environments. The vendor swapped SATA SSDs for NVMe to cache data in front of capacity disk.

(This story was updated Nov. 19 with information about HPE's packaging of Qumulo's new software)

NAS vendor Qumulo has incorporated NVMe solid-state drives for caching to make its performance platform faster, and added other enhancements to its software to increase scalability and security.

The rollout started in mid-November with Qumulo-branded appliances that place NVMe as a read/write cache in front of capacity disk. Qumulo has since added a software-only option for use of NVMe on HPE servers, and the NAS vendor intends to extend that to other OEM partners.

This is the latest effort by Qumulo to support customers moving file workloads to the cloud. New Qumulo storage features include native software encryption for data at rest, transparent node compatibility, and instant hardware upgrades with no performance impact. The enhancements help data centers simplify storage management, said Randy Kerns, a senior strategist for storage at Evaluator Group.

"This is an example of Qumulo continuing to make incremental improvements. That's one of the biggest things you look at with a [startup] company. Then, you look at whether they make significant improvements on at least a six-month cycle, and Qumulo is doing that. They continue to invest in research and development and improving the product," Kerns said.

Qumulo's second NVMe storage product

Qumulo storage founders helped engineer the scale-out Isilon technology that Dell Technologies absorbed through its 2015 acquisition of storage giant EMC. Its NAS hardware includes Q-Series and P-Series product families, and HPE also sells Qumulo Core software on HPE Apollo servers in the U.S.

The new NVMe-based Hewlett Packard-Qumulo NAS offering bundles Core on an HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen10 Plus server. The system is available with 34 TB or 145 TB of raw NVMe capacity per node. Customers may also opt for a Qumulo configuration with hybrid SAS/SATA SSDs on HPE Apollo 4200 servers. HPE's Silicon Root of Trust encryption and HPE InfoSight predictive analytics are standard features. HPE also sells Qumulo Core software as a GreenLake consumption license.

While it competes with Dell EMC Isilon, Qumulo Core also is qualified to run on Dell PowerEdge servers, although the two vendors don't have a formal reseller partnership. Other Qumulo competitors include Pure Storage FlashBlade and NetApp FAS.

For its new branded products, Qumulo tuned existing C-192T and C-432T P-Series hybrid appliances to replace SATA SSDs with NVMe flash. Machine learning-enabled intelligence manages data placement on flash or disk for optimal performance.

Other vendors package NVMe and disk as separate tiers, but Qumulo organizes the hybrid capacity in the same namespace within the node. Rather than tiering, all writes are cached on NVMe SSDs with extended residency time. Qumulo said it boosts performance by delivering a higher percentage of reads from NVMe.

Qumulo Core's machine learning-enabled placement engine removes the need for users to craft policies or rules. Ben Gitenstein, Qumulo's vice president of product management, said the changes are designed to make it less burdensome to manage unstructured data.

Encryption and dynamic clusters

Qumulo Secure is the name for the vendor's always-on automated software encryption for data at rest. It builds on Qumulo array-based encryption using self-encrypting hard disk drives. Qumulo uses Transport Layer Security to encrypt in-flight data.

"Doing encryption in the software allows Qumulo to make it easier to be installed on a broader number of device platforms," Kerns said.

Qumulo Dynamic Scale allows customers to incorporate new memory, processor and storage technologies on the fly. Customers can attach new nodes to a cluster transparently and migrate data as they decommission older nodes, without outages. For instant upgrades, the Qumulo Core code operates in containers to avoid rolling reboots.

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