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NVMe scale-out NAS: Qumulo P-series targets Isilon and Pure

Scale-out NAS specialist Qumulo unveils P-series all-flash systems based on NVMe, and aims to be an alternative to high performance NAS hardware from Isilon and Pure Storage

Scale-out NAS specialist Qumulo shipped its first all-flash NAS hardware. The P-series family also claims to be the first NAS product to use NVMe flash storage.

P-series systems add to the company’s existing hybrid flash C-series and to its software products that can be deployed on HPE servers or in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

The all-flash NAS arrays will compete with Pure Storage’s FlashBlade products and the F800 series from Dell EMC’s Isilon family. Qumulo’s P-series will also be an alternative to all-flash clusters made with scale-out file system software such as that from Elastifile or Compuverde.

Head of product management at Qumulo, Joel Groen, said: “We can offer better value for money than Pure and Isilon because we are not tied to proprietary hardware.”

Qumulo has not, however, announced pricing for the P-series. Qumulo expects initial customers to come from the media and entertainment sector due to the growing need for increased storage performance in these industries. It is also likely the P-series will interest those in the emerging areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

According to Qumulo, its Qumulo File Fabric (QF2) file system, which powers the appliances, was conceived with the arrival of NVMe flash in mind.

NVMe is a new protocol designed for flash, and could speed flash performance by tens or hundreds of times. It allows flash drives to communicate without use of the SCSI protocol, which was devised in the spinning disk era for mechanical drives.

That has pushed the bottleneck in the server-storage unput/output (I/O) path to the storage controller. A number of products that use NVMe have emerged, but no common way of providing controller functionality with advanced storage features has been settled on.

According to Qumulo, the P-series offers throughput of 4GBps per node or 16GBps per four-node starter cluster and up to 1.6TBps in a configuration of 400 nodes.

Each P-series controller is powered by Intel Skylake processors with storage based on NVMe flash drives and with Ethernet connection options of 40Gbps or 100 Gbps.

Read more about NVMe

There are two variants in the P-series. These are the P23, with 23TB of capacity in 12 NVMe drives of 1.92TB each and the P92, which offers 92TB via 24 NVMe disks of 3.84TB capacity.

To adapt to all-flash systems, Qumulo has modified the way QF2 writes data to the cluster. In its hybrid nodes, QF2 writes data initially to flash and gradually drains off that data to persistent storage on spinning disk hard drives.

In the P-series nodes, QF2 uses flash capacity as persistent storage, so the system doesn’t move data once it has been initially written, except in cases where data is moved following a node failure or additional nodes are added. As with its hybrid flash systems, QF2 offers file access via NFS and SMB.

All the usual storage features are available and can be managed through RESTful application programming interfaces (API), CLI or GUI, including replication and snapshots, capacity quotas and analytics. Data can be replicated from QF2 in a P-series deployment to a cluster in the AWS cloud.

For now, it’s not possible to mix Qumulo’s all-flash and hybrid flash nodes in the same cluster. That functionality is, however, on the company’s roadmap. Qumulo is also working with HPE to build all-flash systems on the company’s server nodes, but no data has been given for the appearance of those systems.

Read more on Cloud storage

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