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Vast Data upgrade boosts usable capacity, adds SaaS console

With improved data reduction algorithms, Vast has boosted its unstructured data storage offer, with 25% more usable data possible

Vast Data, which supplies high-capacity file storage based on QLC flash and fast cache, has upgraded its software to version 4.4, in a move that will boost usable capacity by 25%, while also introducing a software as a service (SaaS)-style admin console called Uplink.

“Usually, storage suppliers compress and deduplicate data based on similarities between fixed size blocks,” said Jeff Denworth, co-founder of Vast Data, during a recent IT Press Tour event in conversation with Computer Weekly sister publication LeMagIT.

“But, we can treat data as whole or floating point numbers and choose the best way to represent it as a short expression,” he said. “The result is that we can save something like $100,000 of storage per petabyte.”

According to Denworth, Vast’s customers buy an average of 12PB of raw capacity. With the existing system of data reduction, they could get around 36PB of useable capacity from that. Now, that’s augmented by about 25% to make 45PB.

Having said that, usable capacity varies according to the type of data. “For backups of SQL databases, for example, we are up to 70% more efficient than Dell’s [formerly Data Domain’s] PowerProtect archiving appliances, which deduplicate their contents.”

Vast, which aims mainly at unstructured and semi-structured use cases, reckons on being able to offer useable capacities 4x or 5x of raw in current products by the end of the year.

“Unlike other NAS solutions based on NFS that focus on optimising the network part, we are focusing our efforts on the file system,” said Dentworth.

More coherent for AI, quicker for restores

Vast aims to supply top-of-the-range offerings at reduced prices to customers such as banks, research labs, and media and entertainment organisations. It believes its market will expand hugely with the explosion in use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

“Usually, you optimise your storage costs by sharing data between tiers; the most-accessed data on the fastest SSD media and the bulk of production data on drives with the best performance/capacity ratio, and cold data on the least costly disk,” said Denworth.

“That’s fine if your organisation doesn’t work with AI algorithms where all your data needs to be at the same level. So, we offer unified storage that is 100% flash.”

More on unstructured data storage

Another argument for unified capacity on flash is the rapid restores possible with Vast’s Universal Storage arrays. That’s because data is restored from SSD rather than the spinning disk HDDs usually used for backup data.

“With the rise of cyber attacks, backup has gone from needing long-term storage where it is kept only as security, to where quick restores are required so production isn’t blocked,” said Denworth.

“In this context, what we offer is backups held on S3 object storage arrays. We are the only supplier to offer this on flash media.”

The speed of SSD at the price of HDD

When it comes to deployment, Vast provides the system and integrators to assemble the offering using white box servers. The hardware has to meet a set of specs, with the latest design offered by Vast being the Ceres platform in a minimalist 1U rackmount format.

Ceres comprises two controller cards based on Nvidia’s Bluefield data processing unit, which boosts data transfer rates, and eight optane-equivalent persistent memory modules from Kioxia, which function to offer RAM-like access to data. This controller media directs data to and from 22 QLC flash drives of 30TB each.

“If you fill 14 rack shelves with these modules, you’ll get useable capacity of 600PB at flash speeds but at the price of HDD,” said Denworth.

“That’s the usable capacity we have delivered to some customers. With our latest data reduction optimisations, that will be even higher.”

Vast has also added the Uplink SaaS console, which provides a graphical dashboard where key operating metrics are viewable. Uplink offers simple alerting and visualisation that range from impending power supply failure to user and application quotas being reached. It can also provide historical access charts for performance and access. Uplink can also be integrated with Zendesk to provide support.  

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