Quobyte preps 2.0 Data Center File System software update
One startup's 'Google-style' software-defined storage upgrade features 'table stakes,' such as volume mirroring for disaster recovery and support for Mac and Windows clients.
Quobyte's updated Data Center File System software adds volume-mirroring capabilities for disaster recovery, support for Mac and Windows clients, and shared access control lists.
The startup, based in Santa Clara, Calif., this week released the 2.0 version of its distributed POSIX-compliant parallel file system to beta testers and expects to make the updated product generally available in January.
The Quobyte software supports file, block and object storage, and it's designed to scale out IOPS, throughput and capacity linearly on commodity hardware ranging from four to thousands of servers. Policy-based data placement lets users earmark high-performance workloads to flash drives, including faster new NVMe-based PCIe solid-state drives.
Software-defined storage startups face challenges
Despite the additions, industry analysts question whether Quobyte has done enough to stand out in a crowded field of file-system vendors.
Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, said Quobyte faces significant hurdles against competition ranging from established giants, such as Dell EMC, to startups, including Elastifile, Qumulo, Rozo Systems, StorOne and WekaIO.
Staimer called features such as shared access control lists (ACLs) and volume mirroring table stakes in the software-defined storage market. He said mirroring -- a technology that was hot 20 years ago -- protects against hardware failures, but doesn't go far enough for disaster recovery. He said Quobyte must consider adding versioning and time stamping to protect against software corruption, malware, accidental deletion and problems of that nature.
Steven Hill, a senior storage analyst at 451 Research, said it takes more than features to gain share in the enterprise storage market. He said Quobyte would do well to forge closer hardware partnerships to provide better integration, optimization, support and services.
"Even though software-delivered storage appears to be the trend, many storage customers still seem more interested in the fully supported hardware [and] software appliance model, rather than taking a roll-your-own approach to enterprise storage, especially when there can be so many different production requirements in play at the same time," Hill wrote in an email.
Quobyte CEO Bjorn Kolbeck and CTO Felix Hupfeld worked in storage engineering at Google before starting Quobyte in 2013. And Kolbeck claimed the "Google-style operations" that the Quobyte architecture enables would allow users to grow the system and run 24/7 without the need for additional manpower.
According to Kolbeck, fault tolerance is the most important enabler for Google-style operations. He said Quobyte achieves fault tolerance through automated replication, erasure coding, disaster recovery and end-to-end checksums that ensure data integrity. With those capabilities, users can fix broken hardware on their own schedules, he said.
"That's the key to managing very large installations with hundreds of petabytes with a small team," Kolbeck said.
Kolbeck said Quobyte made volume mirroring a priority following requests from commercial customers. The software uses continuous asynchronous replication across geographic regions and clouds to facilitate disaster recovery. Kolbeck said customers would be able replicate the primary site and use erasure coding with remote sites to lower the storage footprint, if they choose.
To expand data sharing across platforms and interfaces, Quobyte 2.0 finalized native drivers for Mac and Windows clients. Its previous version supported Linux, Hadoop and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) options for users to read, write and access files.
Kolbeck said adding access control lists will allow users to read and modify them from all interfaces now that Mac and Windows ACLs and S3 permissions map to Quobyte's internal NFSv4 ACLs.
Quobyte also moved to simplify installation and management through the creation of a cloud-based service to assist with domain name system service configuration. Kolbeck said the company "moved as far away from the command line as possible," and the system now can walk customers through the installation process.
Kolbeck said Quobyte currently has about 25 customers running the software in production. He said the company targets commercial high-performance computing and "all markets that are challenged by data growth," including financial services, life sciences, exploratory data analysis and chip design, media and entertainment, and manufacturing and internet of things.
Quobyte's subscription pricing model, based on usable capacity, will remain unchanged with the 2.0 product release.
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