The INFINIDAT InfiniBox storage system is an evolution of architecture from the Israeli-American company headed by Moshe Yanai, drawing upon experience learned in delivering EMC Symmetrix and IBM XIV systems previously. The InfiniBox has models that provide storage with disk drives and DRAM and Flash as cache. The system utilizes a three controller architecture with up to eight drive enclosures. The controllers are interconnected using InfiniBand with RDMA access between them.
The InfiniBox not only supports block storage but also includes NAS functionality with an INFINIDAT developed file system using the same underlying storage functions.
InfiniBox also supports mainframe attachment with models that have FICON interface cards rather than Fibre Channel but otherwise use the same hardware and underlying system software. Additional mainframe-specific software is included for those models.
While a notable design point for InfiniBox has been to utilize HDDs along with DRAM caching, in June of 2021, InfiniBox announced new SSD models focused on the most performance demanding workloads. These models, called InfiniBox SSA, include the same features and functionality of the traditional Infinibox models, however they replace HDDs for SSDs, and currently file support is not offered. Like the standard HDD-based models, neural caching with DRAM is still utilized, however the secondary SSD cache is no longer necessary, as the SSA models utilize a full SSD backend.
The design philosophy for all Infinibox models is for a very highly available system and uses an N+2 redundancy for toleration of failures. The architecture of the storage functionality is to deal with data as 64K sections and a 14+2 RAID groups where sections are written sequentially as log-structured across the 14 data devices.
The InfiniBox Storage System uses nodes of Intel-based servers and attached disk storage enclosures that are connected to the controllers with SAS. The nodes are identical and provide the host connectivity over Fibre Channel or Ethernet. The interfaces have floating World Wide Names and MAC addresses to eliminate any trespass or affinity requirements and allow for servicing of any I/O from any node. The device enclosure contains up to 60 top-load NL-SAS disks that are 7,200 RPM for a total for 480 disks per system.
The NAS function supports attachment with NFSv3 and SMB 3.1.1 protocol and can have 4,000 file systems for up to the entire physical capacity of the InfiniBox in a 42U rack.
With the InfiniBox 5.6 update, the system added support for NVMe over fabrics in the form of NVMe/TCP. NVMe/TCP support provides a significant reduction in network latency compared to standard SCSI connectivity. Also added in the 5.6 update, InfiniBox received support for concurrent 3 site replication. This solution allows for a consistency group within an active-active cluster to be asynchronously replicated to a third, or fourth infinibox.
Additional 3-site data protection is enabled with use of a local Axxana black box called InfiniSync for changed data and use of IP-based synchronous replication to another system. After a failure, data from InfiniSync is sent to remote system by cellular, wi-fi, Ethernet, or physically moving SSDs for recovery point of 0.
INFINIDAT also offers Neutrix Cloud as a managed cloud storage service powered by InfiniBox connected to major cloud providers. Another offering is InfiniGuard, which is an InfiniBox with deduplication nodes in front of an InfiniBox in a single rack as a backup to disk appliance.
InfiniBox systems can also be purchased in an “as-a-service” offering called InfiniBox FLX. InfiniBox FLX offers a scalable, pay-as-you-go consumption and managed hardware for InfiniBox storage. INFINIDAT also supports a similar Elastic Pricing model that they refer to as a hybrid between CapEx and OpEx, allowing customers to buy an initial base capacity, and rent additional boost capacity as needed. Boost capacity can later be removed, or purchased into the existing base capacity.
The INFINIDAT InfiniBox is targeted as a general-purpose block and file storage system for use in environments where scaling of capacity and performance is required up to the maximum capacity 480 disk drives can support. INFINIDAT has focused on the system providing storage for environments with high performance and high reliability with the low cost of using disk drives to store data. The InfiniBox with its easy to use HTML5 GUI fits in customers where IT generalists manage storage.
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INFINIDAT InfiniBox was initially offered as a block storage system using spinning disk for data storage. Filesystem software capability makes it a unified system. The NAS implementation with NFSv3 as the protocol supported. Most customers looking for NAS will require additional protocol and features such as file tiering.
The INFINIDAT system is designed for spinning disk. SSDs and DRAM are used for caching. At some point, INFINIDAT will use SSDs in the place of disk for storage and may introduce some optimizations for use of flash. Sales have targeted customers that previously purchased IBM XIV systems with a variety of messages, which has been effective. There are design changes from the XIV so it is not an evolution of that product.
The addition of NVMe/TCP provides a significant upgrade to the system by offering drastically reduced network latency. As end-to-end NVMe systems become increasingly common amongst storage vendors, the addition of NVMe/TCP in conjunction with DRAM will help INFINIDAT maintain its competitiveness as a primarily disk based system. In the future, Evaluator Group expects INFINIDAT to add additional NVME-oF support via NVME/FC and RoCE.
The InfiniBox SSA models open up a new door for INFINIDAT by offering a higher performance option using all SSDs. Meanwhile, INFINIDAT will also continue to be successful selling to enterprise customers familiar with disk-based designed systems. Offering the InfiniBox as a backup system (InfiniGuard) with deduplication engines is a good idea and will expand the opportunity.