The News: Three vendors presented at the A3 Communications Technology Live! event in London, which is focused on enabling the discussion between the industry and its influencers, providing an update on business and products. The presentations covered the company status and direction including their target market and programs. For more on the A3 Communications Technology Live! events and upcoming Technology Live! events, see the A3 website.
Panasas, Hammerspace, and StorMagic Featured in London at A3 Communications Technology Live!
Analyst Take: At the A3 Communications Technology Live! event in London recently, I got the opportunity, along with other industry analysts, to hear presentations from Panasas, Hammerspace, and StorMagic. A vendor presentation is never complete without what is new in their product – capabilities and features, which is of interest to analysts. Of course, a vendor cannot seem to resist informing about how much data is being created. I think I might have heard that before.
An interesting and welcome change in this Technology Live! event was that not one of the presentations focused on how their product would solve the customer problems with ransomware. That very present, top-of-mind topic has had solution claims seemingly from every vendor who can tangentially have some effect. For me, it was very welcome to not hear claims that may not apply. Here’s a look at some of the vendor updates shared by Panasas, Hammerspace, and StorMagic.
Jeff Whitaker, VP Marketing and Product Management for Panasas, presented an update and a quick review of the Panasas offerings. These include:
• A parallel file system with a long history of complete solutions in the High Performance Computing (HPC) market.
• Previously, the Panasas solutions included custom hardware and software. Now, Panasas positions itself as a software company with their parallel file system delivered on SuperMicro systems.
• Panasas’s new software features include data movement and management capabilities.
The Panasas company strategy Whitaker presented was to expand beyond the HPC market into the commercial space. He shared that Panasas believes that with deployment of AI/ML projects in enterprises, the performance intensive calculations will need the Panasas Parallel File System – PFS. Whitaker pointed out that data has gravity — meaning that the large amount of data makes it difficult to move between environments — such that customers will want their high performance storage on premises. The cost of storing data will be a major factor as well for customers in making decisions regarding AI/ML deployment.
A challenge for Panasas brought out in the discussion was that much of the development for AI/ML software is done in a public cloud and Panasas does not offer its Parallel File System on the public cloud. Whitaker’s response was that developers can use AWS File Cache to an on-premises system for testing.
Whitaker noted that future offerings noted by for Panasas include support for S3 as primary storage and Kubernetes support.
While Panasas does have loyal customers in the HPC market and the company has made the transition from custom hardware and kernel mode driver to a much more flexible implementation, entering into the enterprise market will require understanding IT operations and the personas involved, which are quite different than any of the HPC markets.
Some of our coverage in this area includes:
Panasas ActiveStor – Product Brief
Scale-out File Systems EvaluScale Comparison Matrix
Molly Presley, SVP of Marketing for Hammerspace, provided analysts a business update on Hammerspace, which included the following highlights:
• 38% of customers are in Europe
• $120M has been spent on R&D investment thus far
• Some key relationships have been developed, including Seagate Lyve and Microsoft Azure.
During the Hammerspace presentation, an interesting discussion was in the market category discussion. Presley said their category is Data Orchestration, which changes the discussion with customers, moving it away from devices to the data and how it is accessed. “Data centers are no longer at the center of data” was the statement Presley used to illustrate that a change in thinking is required. This is attacking the infrastructure as the defining element for Information Technology convention, which creates data silos and must instead move to considering how and where data is accessed. We put the Hammerspace solution in the Global File System with local caching space. This is evidenced by the ability of Hammerspace to move data where it is used in a globally distributed environment. The challenges for this are in the global lock management and consistency of data.
Interestingly, Presley identified Hammerspace’s ideal customer — the one with the most benefit but certainly not limited to only this type — as one with multiple data centers, remote workforce including satellite operations, and heavy (intense) data usage.
She also pointed out that Hammerspace was unique in the capabilities provided today, but noted that other vendors would see the value to customers and add capabilities to their products in order to compete at some point.
The evolution of Hammerspace has been very interesting and it’s something our team has watched closely – many great people are involved. Trying to create a case for a new category is very difficult and the storage space is littered with companies that did not embrace the customers’ knowledgebase and methods for determining which solutions fit their needs. Focusing on solving problems that are common and relating to the evolving customer environments as they transition with containers, etc., will be a continuing effort. This will not be an “A” versus “B” decision between products for IT and business owners for the most part, but rather a choice between approaches.
Some of our coverage in this area includes:
Global File Systems as a Solution in Challenging Times
File Storage Selection – NAS vs Global File Systems
Global File Systems Help Overcome Cloud Challenges
Hammerspace Global Data Environment – Product Brief
Bruce Kornfeld, CMO & CPO and Mark Christie, Director of Technical Services, presented for StorMagic. Kornfield began by explaining that the markets being targeted by StorMagic are Edge Computing and SMB. Explaining further, he shared that these were locations where there is a small amount of IT but onsite applications are running on a computing system. According to Kornfeld, StorMagic has 2,000 customers and many well-known names were shown to illustrate that. He also noted that StorMagic’s original success came as an OEM product to HPE as a replacement for the discontinued StoreVirtual.
The competitors to StorMagic noted during the discussion were vSAN in VMware environments and public cloud. Kornfeld said that customers saw vSAN as too complex and too expensive. Regarding cloud usage, customers shared that it was too expensive also and, in many environments, network interruptions were common and would be a major impediment to operation.
In describing the product, SvSAN, which is software defined storage for VMware, Windows, and KVM environments, Kornfeld said that more than 80% of customers had two node environments. The potential split-brain problem when a node fails or loses communication was handled with a remote witness function offered by StorMagic. Other technical details shared during the course of this presentation were focused on capabilities around synchronous replication, encryption, and configurations.
StorMagic has an understanding of where their opportunity lies and, so far, the company has not coveted a space that may bring greater competition and risk for the company. This is exceptional – many times investor and executives aspire to take over the world when that is just not where the strength of the product is. StorMagic is successful and needs to continue building on that success, understanding transitions that will occur in the market. All in all, for StorMagic, so far, so good.
Some of our coverage in this area includes:
Software Defined Storage EvaluScale Comparison Matrix | Evaluator Group
Software Defined Storage Evaluation Guide | Evaluator Group
Disclosure: Evaluator Group, wholly owned by The Futurum Group, is a research and analyst firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article. Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually.