Superfast StorPool start-up widens market with iSCSI, Hyper-V and VMware

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StorPool Storage’s Linux-based StorPool software-defined distributed cloud storage solution is now available to a wider market, including VMware and Windows with Hyper-V. This will especially benefit those with a mix of these leading platforms wanting to deploy one cloud.

Designed from the ground up for public and private cloud environments, it runs on commodity x86 hardware, and purportedly knocks the socks off all competitors. This is achieved partly through multi-threading to concurrently execute multiple processes, this update increasing per-node performance from c100,000 to c180,000 IOPS, and costing below 10 cents per IOPS.

StorPool’s clusters can each scale to over 1PB, and perform at millions of IOPS and 10s of GB/s. As standard, the software uses 2xCPU cores and 8GB RAM, producing 0.2ms latency.

StorPool also maintains high availability, and this release adds high performance scale-out iSCSI support, including auto-failover to a redundant target – all tailor-made for building clouds. With clusters in two or more locations, users can carry out long-distance data backup or virtual machine (VM) migration across the world, transferring encrypted snapshots over the public internet. This can also be used as a low-cost disaster recovery (DR) capability to obviate the need for separate data protection software. (After first synchronisation, StorPool only backs up new or changed data, reducing backup time by an estimated 60%.)

CEO Boyan Ivanov told me, “We are now seeing unprecedented cloud demand” which obviously presents opportunities but, for StorPool, “Growth is organic with functionality being added in small steps.” The company’s top priority (above wide functionality for example), is “It’s got to be good” (i.e. at what it does do).

As two examples of this being achieved, he said: “It outperforms everyone” and, as confirmed by users: “It just works”. He believes that companies will buy because this translates into significant business cost savings and added value.

The five-year-old Bulgarian start-up does not use VC funding so, with limited marketing, it has relied heavily on word of mouth for new users. Potential competitors may invest more to try and catch up; however, the core architecture needs to be right, and in this it is very advanced; it also contains no third party elements, so royalties to pay to push up prices or arguing over “whose fault it is” were the software to fail.

Meanwhile, the IT storage industry is in turmoil. SMEs are moving inexorably towards SaaS applications with cloud-based storage, as they seek lower costs and more agility – in line with Bloor’s own vision of “The Mutable Business” that is able to adapt and evolve rapidly to ever-changing business imperatives.

For now at least, larger enterprises typically go for a hybrid of public and private clouds, keeping some storage in-house to control performance (affected by latency and bandwidth) for mission-critical applications where security is also key.

Even in-house, the trend is away from “old fachioned” SAN and NAS solutions (from “legacy” solution providers) towards a StorPool type of approach – software-defined scale-out storage in a single namespace running on low-cost commodity hardware, as pioneered by Amazon and Google.

Increasing use of flash for mission-critical performance carries its own costs, with bottlenecks moving (e.g. to the network), not eradicated; so the whole environment must be considered together. The StorPool Storage developers had to consider all of these factors in their product. So, for example, typical SSD (flash) performance may be achieved with a mix of SSD and HDD for more like an all-HDD price.

To date, StorPool’s sales have been 100% direct, with 24/7 phone support, but a channel is now beginning to be built. The company has just signed a UK partnership deal with Vesper Technologies which will also facilitate business across Europe. Ivanov conceded that there was a need to educate the channel, and there was some product packaging work to make the software easier for resellers to pick up.

That done, its biggest challenge could prove to be coping with rapid global growth.