SAN JOSE – Startup SimpliVity (Westborough, Mass.) comes out of stealth mode today debuting an integrated server, storage and networking system packed into a single 2U box. The OmniCube uses VMWare’s virtualization software to deliver a stackable system that does not require complex distributed file systems used in traditional clusters.
The system takes a new twist in an ongoing trend of convergence of enterprise infrastructure. For years, OEMs have been shipping blade computers that put servers, storage and networking in a single cabinet, each box typically running separate copies of an operating system. Meanwhile other vendors have been proliferating a variety of appliances to add flash storage and other networking and recovery features to the rack.
SimpliVity aims to consolidate the functions of all those systems, stepping up to a higher level in the software stack by using VMWare’s virtualization software. Each system acts as a virtual agent on the network, keeping virtual machines local and linking to other OmniCubes at the virtualization layer.
The OmniCube compresses and de-duplicates data coming into the system using a proprietary accelerator card running its code on an FPGA and buffering operations to a bank of DRAM and flash memory. The startup’s patent-pending techniques—and the presence of 20-40 Terabytes of disk and solid-state memory on the system—reduce the need for access data on a separate OmniCube.
“Disaster recovery is going to be a big market for us early on,” said Jesse St. Laurent, director of technology and product strategy at SimpliVity. “You deploy a few OmniCubes in each data center and they handle all the backups, each system typically holding as much as six months of back up data,” he said.
The systems use two six-core Intel E5-2640 processors running at 2.5 GHz, as much as 800 Gbytes of solid-state storage and 24 TBytes in rotating disks and two 10 Gbit/s Ethernet ports. The systems scale up using one of the Ethernet ports as their interconnect.
DRAM and flash buffers on the FPGA card enable fast write commits, eliminating the need for distributed locking mechanism used in typical clusters. “The system is designed to keep as much data localized as possible, only replication traffic goes over the wire,” he said.
The dense, 70-pound box uses two 750W power supplies. The system will be available in the fourth quarter for prices starting at $54,990.
Founder Doron Kempel sold an earlier startup in data de-duplication, Diligent Technologies, to IBM in 2008. He left Big Blue months later, founding SimpliVity in 2009. It has received $18 million in funding to date from Charles River Ventures and Accel Partners.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.