Zadara Storage, a company specialising in STorage-as-a-Service (STaaS), has added Docker-based Container Services to its Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) software. Primarily, this will boost performance when VPSA is used over a large public cloud such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or CloudSigma.
Using the modular VPSA architecture, its containers allow applications to run within the storage itself rather than in computer servers. This produces very high performance with low latency, not least because of hugely reduced server to storage traffic. To bring up a new container also takes a fraction of the time needed for a virtual machine (VM).
"AWS and Microsoft are huge and very virtualised, and latency is not great," Zadara COO Noam Shendar told me this week. "Two milliseconds [response time] is fine for many applications but not for those with a very high transactional rate." Two milliseconds means no more than 500 operations per second and even 10 streams means only 5,000, he said.
Another benefit is to free up disk resources. Containers effectively replace VMs but multiple containers share one instance of the (Linux) operating system instead of each using its own, and (optionally) share the storage. Whereas performance impact is less for private (in-house) clouds, containers also reduce total system resource needs, so the same hardware goes further.
Zadara operates a remote, subscription-based managed service for customers whether or not they use a public cloud. For in-house, in what Zadara calls "On Premises as-a-Service" (OPaaS), it ships pre-configured starting hardware with its own firewall free of charge, along with "self-install" instructions. Once a remote link to its support centre is established, usage is metered and actual usage billed; this may initially be for a small proportion of the delivered hardware. As demand grows, Zadara will upgrade resources on the fly, and new hardware can be introduced without halting live running.
"We have 50 different installations to which we did not have to travel" said Shendar to confirm that this approach works. The company also uses partners as needed to access some countries (e.g. China), and this has facilitated rapid world-wide expansion for the privately-held company.
This so far unique STaaS method means Zadara can manage VPSA for very small businesses through to large enterprises in the same way. This has massive potential "as-a-service" appeal because business applications need to access storage.
STaaS is gaining traction because it: a) provides flexibility to handle unpredictable provisioning fast and securely, and b) overall cost-savings - fitting well with the agile storage approach to achieve competitive business edge. The Zadara approach also takes the headache away from businesses' concerns over support and equipment procurement for their in-house clouds.
Zadara has announced two other enhancements. It has added Backup to Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) - or B2S3 - an automatic snapshot-based incremental backup from Zadara VPSA storage to Amazon S3 object storage. Zadara says it is both low-cost and enterprise-grade, and able to combine multiple storage vendors in their data storage architecture. Data can be restored to any storage medium including Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). Two new hardware options (which customers can specify) are: 800GB SSDs and 6TB SATA drives (an industry first). Bigger capacities reduce the cost per MB and increase configuring flexibility.