What if you could have the performance advantages of local flash storage and the data protection advantages of hyperconverged infrastructure without the limitations of either? That is the goal of Datrium DVX, a unique product to say the least. We published a briefing note on Datrium when it first came to market and also invited them to discuss their solution in a ChalkTalk Video. Datrium recently announced some important enhancements to their product, so let’s take a look.
For those unfamiliar with Datrium, it is a unique offering that splits IO performance from data protection or persistence. It is the only company we know of that puts those elements in two completely different places.
As mentioned in our previous briefing note, Datrium software utilizes flash storage in the local server for performance, while synchronously replicating all writes to NVRAM on a separate data server. That data is then copied to erasure-coded permanent storage on the data server. The flash in the server accelerates performance since most IO remains local, and the data server acts as the protection and persistence tier.
Data is deduplicated and compressed prior to being written to the local flash, and erasure coding techniques are applied only on the persistence tier. Together this means there is no compute or storage overhead of data protection features on the local flash, and it means the product uses less flash storage than competing offerings and can get more performance out of it. Then, since data is immediately synchronously copied to NVRAM in the protection tier, you get the advantages of parity protected data in that tier without the performance disadvantages it creates.
When we were briefed in August, we mentioned that one thing we thought was missing was any native data protection features besides RAID. Specifically, it has become table stakes to have some type of snapshot and replication system built into your storage system. Customers are increasingly using snapshot-based recovery as their primary method of data protection, so storage arrays and hyperconverged systems missing those features tend to take a backseat to other offerings.
Datrium has now added multiple data protection features as a part of a broader vision called Datrium Data Cloud. It includes end-to-end encryption, advanced snapshots, and replication. Use cases for the new features span backup/restore, DR, and copy data management scenarios like test/development, analytics, and compliance. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Datrium offers what it calls blanket encryption, which means data is encrypted end-to-end. It is encrypted as soon as it is deduplicated, before it is written to local flash storage, and before it is transmitted to the protection tier. Datrium uses Intel’s built-in encryption instruction set so it can offer this feature with virtually no overhead. It appears it is the only company to offer encryption of data in use, in-flight, and at rest with data reduction.
Unlike most storage offerings, their snapshots are not based on a single LUN. Customers can create a protection group consisting of an arbitrary set of virtual machines that get snapped together. Timing, retention, replication, and consistency are all tied to that protection group. Snapshots are stored in such a way that they do not impact the performance of the live VM, and snapshots can easily be copied for cloning purposes. Datrium has added what it calls elastic replication. It supports any-to-any bi-directional replication with many-to-one and one-to-many support. Although not available yet, Datrium also plans to support replication into AWS.
Finally, Datrium is now offering their product in a hyperconverged-like configuration. Datrium compute nodes running ESX work with Datrium data nodes to provide a converged offering with a unique storage story—they can mix and match Datrium compute nodes with 3rd party servers in the same system. Their unique capabilities also mean they can offer similar or better performance than competing offerings, while using less flash to accomplish that performance.
It’s nice when it seems that a vendor actually listens to your input. The Datrium offering is interesting and unique, but prior to this announcement, its lack of other data protection features made me nervous. Datrium added all of the features we mentioned and more, including offering the product in a hypercoverged configuration. It now has a very unique open and converged offering with modern data protection features. This should allow the company to gain significant traction in the convergence and storage markets.