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StorPool tests high-end block storage software in AWS

StorPool Storage's block storage software can now run on AWS for enterprise applications that demand hyperscale performance.

Block storage specialist StorPool Storage will make its distributed storage software available on AWS* for the first time since the product's initial release a decade ago.

The service, called StorPool on AWS, offers a high-performance option to enterprise customers with specialized needs and big workloads but few choices in this market. It is now available as a technology preview.

StorPool recently released a general update to the core StorPool software as well, adding two significant features: support for provisioning storage volumes using NVMe/TCP and support for running Network File Systems (NFS) servers in StorPool storage clusters.

The NVMe/TCP support lets storage administrators use software and a standard Ethernet connection to provision storage, adding additional flexibility to infrastructure configurations. NFS servers created in StorPool can provision up to 50 TB of file data within a cluster for workloads, such as video rendering and editing, according to the company.

Although StorPool may offer fast and available block storage for enterprises databases, the AWS version of the product could be a tough sell in a market that has historically kept data on premises. Scale-out block storage remains niche for specific enterprises migrating to the cloud, according to Dave Raffo, a senior analyst at Evaluator Group.

"I don't think it will fundamentally change [StorPool's] customer base," Raffo said.

An EBS competitor

StorPool sells virtual storage array software that runs on any hardware. It enables distributed block storage for demanding database workloads on traditional hard drives, as well as flash and NVMe drives.

The company typically sells to MSPs and managed private clouds that use VMs. Enterprise businesses that look to use block storage are potentially in industries with large and organized databases, such as those used for medical and financial applications, that those users wish to keep in a private cloud.

Enterprises that need cloud block storage today may already use Amazon's Elastic Block Storage (EBS), but enterprises and MSPs might want to push storage speeds that much faster, said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

"[AWS EBS doesn't] scale out," Staimer said. "It's not really designed for a large-scale implementation."

The performance of AWS EBS services is limited due to a lack of options for storage flexibility and movement, Staimer added. Many EBS volumes become dedicated to specific workloads, which can result in siloed storage.

Best-in-class by default

StorPool technology may offer improved performance, Staimer said, but there is a lack of direct competition that makes any comparison difficult.

This is particularly the case among the major public cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. The performance of block storage among the three hyperscalers is ultimately bound by connection latency and the available services, he said.

StorPool's one-time closest competitor was Excelero, which sold high-performance block storage through Microsoft Azure NVMesh on Azure, Staimer said. Excelero's technology was absorbed into Nvidia when the chipmaker purchased the vendor earlier this year.  

Other storage providers, such as Vast Data Inc. and DataCore Software, offer cloud and on-premises configurations. But these companies target the significantly more popular object and file storage services, Raffo said.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated StorPool could be purchased through AWS Marketplace.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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