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Valence brings storage virtualisation for the cloud era

Startup 22dot6 launches Valence, software-defined storage that throws a virtualisation layer over any backend storage via multiple nodes that split metadata and storage services

Startup 22dot6 has launched its Valence storage virtualisation platform, with bold claims that it can transcend all existing third-party storage to provide a single view of all an organisation’s data on any media, from high-performance flash storage to Glacier-like cold storage in the cloud and even off-line tape.

The launch centres on 22dot6’s software-defined Transcendent Abstracted Storage System (Tass) architecture and its Valence software. The claim is that Valence allows enterprises to access, move and manage data assets transparently no matter the storage resource on which they reside, like a storage virtualisation product.

Valence is multi-protocol (SMB, NFS, S3) access and also offers advanced storage services including snapshots, replication, migration and cloning. It has CSI drivers to provide persistent storage for containers.

Valence is a Linux-based software product that can be deployed on bare metal or in a virtual machine environment. Key advantages cited are the ability to access stored data in any location to provide greater availability, by unifying an organisation’s infrastructure globally and to allow for zero-impact migration and decommissioning.

The product looks remarkably like the storage virtualisation products that were commonplace around a decade ago. Examples that are still in existence are IBM’s Spectrum Virtualise (formerly SAN Volume Controller) and DataCore SANSymphony. 22dot6 would claim its products go way beyond these in capability, with the addition of the ability to abstract cloud and offline data sources too.

Valence comes as two different types of node that handle metadata from the stored data (VSR nodes) and data services (DSX nodes) while the data remains on the existing storage. VSR and DSX can be built into clusters of multiple nodes in an architecture that CEO Diamond Lauffin – formerly of Storbyte and Nexsan – said provides huge performance advantages over existing storage array products.

“Look at Pure and Nimble. The idea of active-active dual controllers is a 1998 architecture,” said Lauffin. “It’s effectively active-passive, because it only allows you to use one controller at a time. And the truth is, when did a RAID controller last fail? I speak to about 75 companies a week and I’ve not heard of any that had this happen to them in the last five years. Why be limited by two-controller access where the user can’t use 50% of the throughput?”

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Valence provides a single global namespace with “file-granular capability”. Access isn’t limited to volumes or LUNs and is based on user-defined policies that aggregate backend storage into tiers based on performance and capacity requirements.

Nodes can be user-selected commodity hardware or pre-configured by 22dot6. Pricing depends on the class of storage and capacity. “There would be a delta of 5x to 10x between the most and least performant storage,” said Lauffin.

In the Tass schema all sites can be considered as active sites, sharing data in real time to any other site, and all sites can act as a primary site.

According to Lauffin the scale-up and scale-out nature of the architecture allows for throughput of up to 1,200GBps with up to 60 nodes per location.

Valence supports off-line data management for archives like Amazon Glacier and tape.

Tass separates metadata management, data analytics/profiling and data services from the processes of providing IOPS and managing throughput. Valence assigns these different tasks to dedicated CPU and RAM resources across different nodes. Valence monitors performance in real time with predictive analysis and reporting to guarantee user defined objectives – including read/write bandwidth, IOPS, and latency.

Data protection can be configured at an application, user and sub-file level. Meanwhile, Valence can be configured for multi-tenancy with potentially thousands of independent customers or internal departments isolated from each other through a unified, multi-location management console.

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