Gridstore has announced its entry into the UK market with its software-defined storage platform, optimised to meet the requirements of cloud and virtual infrastructure based on Microsoft's Hyper-V technology.
The US-based firm has been selling its combination of storage arrays and a software layer to optimise performance for about a year now, but lacked any UK channel partners to support customers on this side of the Atlantic until now.
Gridstore's differentiator is that it is able to optimise storage performance for each virtual machine served by a cluster of its storage nodes. This is achieved by splitting the storage controller into two parts, one of which is a virtual controller deployed as a software driver on the host server, Gridstore chief executive George Symons told V3.
"Sitting there, it can do some really useful things, such as clean up the ‘I/O blender' effect. This means that as I/O streams come from different virtual machines, we put them in queues and burst them to the controller instead of it getting random samplings from each of the virtual machines," he said.
Meanwhile, software in the storage array nodes means that Gridstore can offer end-to-end quality of service (QoS) control, including throttling of less important applications at the server end to prevent them stealing I/O bandwidth from critical applications.
Gridstore's arrays each hold four drives, with C-Class ‘capacity' nodes holding up to 12TB of spinning disk storage and the high-performance H-Class nodes fitted with flash cache to accelerate more demanding applications such as databases.
A deployment comprises a cluster made up of a minimum of three nodes, as the Gridstore software stripes storage across the nodes, according to Symons.
"Because we have a virtual controller, we can break apart each write into three chunks and write those in parallel. This is one of the ways we are able to increase performance with scale, as we don't have any single node that everything passes through," he explained.
Customers can also opt to do a very wide stripe across eight or 10 nodes, which delivers parallel access that is "great for applications doing streaming," he added.
At the moment, Gridstore's platform is optimised for virtual infrastructure based on Microsoft's Hyper-V platform. This is because Hyper-V is gaining market share rapidly, and also because these gains are mostly in the mid-size enterprise market that the company is targeting, Symons said.
"No other vendor has chosen to focus on Hyper-V, and this has opened a lot of doors for us with channel partners," he claimed.
It was also easier because Microsoft's platform is more open than VMware's ESX, Symons claimed. However, the firm expects to expand to include Vmware and other hypervisor support in future.
"KVM would be a straightforward one for us to go for next. We can and we will have VMware support, but we're not running to get there, we want to drive this Hyper-V strategy for as long as possible," he said.
Meanwhile, the Hyper-V integration means that Gridstore can take advantage of the storage technologies built into Windows Server.
"We leverage what's in Windows, using Microsoft's snapshot technology, their de-duplication and their compression support, but we also extend on that," Symons said.
Gridstore's C-Class arrays are priced at $1.5 per GB of storage capacity, while the H-Class arrays are priced at $1.80 per GB. Software licensing is included in the pricing.
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