With so many businesses prioritizing analytics, relying more on containers and adopting next-generation databases, speed and price/performance are taking center stage. Finding an economical way to store and quickly access and process growing amounts of disparate data is a challenge in this environment.
While many are adopting cloud-based storage, this option can be slower than optimum for some workloads, and costs can mount as volumes increase. A new company with veteran storage experts (formerly from 3PAR) is just emerging from stealth, and it says it has a better way.
Nebulon uses a method called cloud-defined storage, but that's something of a misnomer. It's actually on-premises, server-based storage that is defined and managed by an application-based control plane in the cloud.
The controller, which Nebulon calls the Services Processing Unit (SPU), is a PCIe card that resides inside servers from either Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) or Supermicro, although the company expects to announce more vendor partnerships soon. It allows organizations to deploy infrastructure as needed. According to the company, the SPU provides enterprise-class data services such as compression, encryption, deduplication, erasure coding, snapshots and data mirroring.
"The SPU replaces the RAID card or Fibre Channel HBA [host bus adapter] in customers’ application servers," explained Nebulon co-founder and COO Craig Nunes. "Think of the SPU as effectively a modern, cloud-managed PCIe card that transforms the internal drive capacity in the server to hypervisor, container or bare-metal application-agnostic storage with the enterprise data services traditionally only available with external storage arrays."
The second part of the solution is a cloud-based as-a-service control plane called Nebulon ON, which automates storage operations and delivers infrastructure and application insights. Nebulon ON uses AIOps (AI for IT operations) and distributed time series database technology to handle scale and analytics quickly and reliably. One of the benefits of this approach is the ability to query all assets across an enterprise in seconds, as opposed to many cloud management tools, which can take minutes or hours, Nunes said. With this combination of technologies, Nebulon collects tens of thousands of server, storage and applications metrics per hour for AI-based analysis.
By combining the management console and metrics with AI analytics data, Nebulon says organizations can take advantage of capabilities not usually associated with on-premises storage solutions. These include fleet management, automated software updates, predictive maintenance and faster troubleshooting.
Camberley Bates, a managing director at Evaluator Group, said Nebulon may be onto something with its cloud-defined storage solution. Its speed—made possible because the action is happening right on the servers, which can be clustered—gives it an edge over true cloud-based storage.
It can also be significantly less expensive to use this approach. In fact, according to the company, the cost of this type of solution can be about half that of a traditional storage array.
And then there is performance. Nebulon said businesses can expect at least a 30% improvement in virtual machine density, which translates into performance.
"One of Nebulon's theories here is that if you have a bunch of stuff in the cloud, you can rapidly iterate on that capability without having to touch the data services that are physically on the machine," Bates said. "That could result in less disruption, better control, better speed and better performance."
The Nebulon solution will be available directly through HPE and Supermicro.