Vast Data’s Universal Storage system, which has been in general release since last November, was publicly unveiled this week. The exabyte-scale platform combines technical and architectural advances to reduce acquisition costs of Flash-based storage to that of hard-drive based approaches, the company claims.
The company also announced a $40 million Series B funding round led by TPG Capital. That brings its total funding to $80 million.
Vast Data now is backed by Norwest Venture Partners, TPG Growth, Dell Technologies Capital, 83 North, and Goldman Sachs. Jeff Denworth, co-founder and vice president of products at Vast Data, said the new funding will be used to complete the feature set and scale up the platform.
Is Disk Dead?
Henry Baltazar, the research vice president for infrastructure at 451 Research, told SDxCentral that the company is promising a lot. “Vast Data’s claims are extremely bold,” he wrote in an email. “They are not shying away from saying ‘disk is dead’ in their messaging, which will likely draw a lot of criticism. Their early wins and the $80 million funding haul provide some validation, though they will need to continue to land deals like these to make a dent in the market.”
Ginkgo Bioworks and Zebra Medical are early customers.
The Universal Storage System uses NVMe (non-volatile memory express) over fabrics, storage class memory and quad level cell (QLC) flash, innovations that the company says were not available until last year. The result is a broad and disaggregated data-shared everywhere platform.
“We built a new, exabyte-scale storage architecture that decouples compute and storage to achieve previously impossible levels of scale — the media has been disaggregated from the CPUs that run Vast software,” Denworth said. “Now storage services can be run in any x86 appliance as a container as software-defined storage infrastructure and performance (CPUs) can be gracefully scaled independently from capacity.”
The company claims four advances for Universal Storage:
- 100 percent persistent global namespace, meaning that any server can access media in a cluster.
- Flash-QLC which is new and — because it is consumer-grade — inexpensive, Denworth wrote. This enables Vast to gain “an unnaturally high level of longevity from drives that most other systems won’t be able to use because they didn’t build their software to deal with the specific way these drives like to be treated.”
- A data protection scheme that vastly lowers overhead (from as high as 66 percent down to 2 percent).
- Data compression that “combines the global nature of deduplication (goes across all the files) with fine-granularity pattern matching that was only ever found before in local compression,” according to Denworth.
The key benefits, Vast claims, are flash performance at hard-disk cost, massive scalability, new analytic insights, and petabyte storage capability in a single rack. The platform carries a 10-year “endurance” warranty.
Universal Storage has been in alpha and beta trial since the end of 2017. The company announced general availability in November. Use cases include analytic and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads in the life sciences, hedge funds, healthcare, and manufacturing. These, Denworth said, are areas in which “performance and capacity often converge.”
Software-defined storage and data management is an active field. Baltazar identified Cohesity, Rubrik, and Pure Storage, as competitors. Success for any or all is not a given, however. “This area in general is still emerging and it will take time for these approaches to become mainstream,” Baltazar wrote. “Despite the benefits of going to flash such as higher performance, reduced maintenance (since flash drives do not fail as often as hard drives) — storage and infrastructure professionals are conservative and risk averse.”