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Datera storage software trains for long run on HPE servers

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and startup Datera combine on block-storage appliances and expect to compete against Dell EMC's ScaleIO-based VxRack Flex hyper-converged systems.

Startup Datera has corralled Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a distribution partner, attempting to woo IT shops that want software-defined storage packaged on HPE ProLiant servers.

The vendors unveiled HPE Complete Datera Solution, a set of four HPE ProLiant DL Gen 10 server nodes that run the Datera storage software. Product SKUs are expected in the first quarter from HPE resellers.

Datera storage mostly targets organizations that develop cloud-native applications. The vendor's iSCSI block storage provides connective tissue to create a scalable server farm from industry-standard hardware. Datera Data Services Platform is a set of automated data services that includes data compression, snapshots and replication to manage the data across nodes.

Three 2U Datera HPE Complete nodes are planned, topping out at 96 TB of hybrid flash. Two all-flash models -- one with SATA SSDs and the other with NVMe drives -- scale from 20 TB to 64 TB. A 1U all-flash building block provides up to 38 TB.

HPE and Datera position the integrated systems as competitive to Dell EMC VxRack Flex hyper-convergence product based on ScaleIO software and Dell PowerEdge servers.

Datera software was previously qualified to run on HPE servers, but HPE will now resell the Datera software.

Customer pilots under way

Datera jumped into the market in 2016 to provide local storage that is provisioned and managed like Amazon Elastic Block Store. That's a feature claimed by numerous legacy vendors and storage startups.

Datera initially bundled its software on branded Datera storage nodes -- which are being phased out -- or as a software-only license on leading servers.

The HPE reseller deal indicates a new strategy for Datera, which changed CEOs last month when former EMC executive Guy Churchward replaced founder Marc Fleischmann. Fleischmann remains with the startup as president.

Churchward said the HPE partnership is a blueprint for similar arrangements with other server makers.

Datera software has also been qualified by Cisco, Dell Technologies, Fujitsu, Samsung and Supermicro.

 "This [approach] is going to become very strategic for us. Customers buy outcomes, not just individual technologies," Churchward said.

Datera uses a symmetric control plane to ensure consistent latency and performance characteristics at scale. The minimum number of Datera storage nodes is three. Fleischmann said the HPE-Datera integrated system scales to 64 nodes. Customers could mix different server hardware and add nodes to a Datera cluster with a single click.

Fleischmann said Datera has proofs of concept under way with roughly half a dozen cloud and software-as-a-service companies, including Morae Global, Packet and Ultimate Software.

IDC analyst Chris Kanthan said Datera storage appeals to enterprises with high-performance production workloads.

"They are focusing on very large customers at the high end that have very highly complex data center requirements. You can specify how many IOPS an application will need for reads or writes," Kanthan said.

He said Datera's claim to provision cloud clusters within minutes is "impressive" if true. "But they will probably need another funding round if they really want to take off," Kanthan said.

Datera's new approach is the opposite of Dell EMC's strategy to limit its ScaleIO software to PowerEdge servers. Churchward said Datera wants the flexibility to package its software on any vendor's hardware instead of tying it to its own appliance.

"Datera was served quite a gift when Dell EMC decided to put ScaleIO on an appliance," Churchward said.

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