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Newcomer Datera aims for the cloud with storage fabric

Datera's Elastic Data Fabric is designed for small cloud providers that want to compete with Amazon Web Services and enterprises looking to build private clouds.

Datera came out of stealth this week with the Datera Elastic Data Fabric, which the vendor claims can deliver Amazon Elastic Block Storage-type storage to enterprises and smaller cloud providers.

According to Datera, Elastic Data Fabric (EDF) is scalable block (iSCSI) storage software that runs on commodity hardware. Datera is packaging it on Supermicro x86 servers now, and is working on partnerships with Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to also make the software available on their hardware.

CEO and founder Marc Fleischmann said Datera's goal is to "fundamentally change how storage is operated so it can keep up with how the cloud runs."

In other words, he wants to enable EBS for the masses.

"Think of it as Amazon EBS-like on-premises elastic block storage for everyone else," he said. "It's high-performance scale-out storage behind a RESTful API that makes infrastructure available as code."

By EBS-like, he means storage that is easy to provision, self-service, quickly scales out, and is tuned for cloud orchestration and microservices such as containers. Datera refers to its EDF as composable because it treats underlying storage as services.

"It's not just putting software on old boxes in the same static experience," Fleischmann said. "It's cloud storage on prem."

That is the goal of a lot of storage vendors these days, so Datera would have to make good on all of its boasts to have a chance to survive. Fleischmann said the vendor already has customers running EDF in production, and has $40 million in funding.

The first two EDF hardware configurations are 50 TB and 100 TB 2U nodes. Customers need a minimum of three nodes and can scale to 20 nodes (2 PB), Fleischmann said. The nodes have 10-Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The performance tier is NVMe flash. EDF can stream data to hard disk drives, and the roadmap also calls for streaming to 3D NAND.

"We are trying to hit a middle point between a hardware-centric-only play ... and supply software on any hardware," Fleischmann said. "Our value is all in software on white box hardware." 

Object storage and support for other protocols is on the roadmap, but Datera has given no timeframe for adding those.

Fleischmann said EDF is priced between $0.50 and $0.60 per GB. The target audience is cloud providers who want to compete with Amazon and enterprises looking to build private clouds.

EDF includes application templates for Cassandra, Hadoop, MySQL and test/dev, or customers can customize their own. The templates can be used to configure storage requirements for each application.

EDF handles storage provisioning for OpenStack, CloudStack, Kubernetes, VMware, Docker, Mesosphere, Flocker, CoreOS, Red Hat OpenShift cloud and container technologies.

A policy-built quality of service allows customers to set QoS by application, volume or data store.

Colm Keegan, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said he puts Datera in the composable infrastructure category, calling it a "next-gen web-scale, cloud-native play." He said Datera EDF is optimized to handle the real-time requirements of applications.

"This is designed for providing cloud-like capabilities to underlying infrastructure," he said. "It's all about application-intent, with support for containers, VMs, bare metal. It learns what the intentions are from the application, and does it on the fly. There's often a disconnect between the requirements of the applications and having to provision resources. When you have different applications running on different pieces of infrastructure, the data center can get fragmented and underutilized."

Datera's funding comes from Khosla Ventures, Samsung Ventures and individual investments from Sun Microsystems founder Andy Bechtolsheim and Juniper Networks founder and CTO Pradeep Sindhu.

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