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22dot6 Exits Stealth, Promises Unlimited Storage Across Any Arrays, Clouds

‘We completely abstracted storage resources regardless of what storage hardware or which clouds the data resides on. I could turn the entire world into a single disk drive. But we needed a modern architecture. So we redid the code with Valence. Now we’re ready for commercial release via integrators,’ says 22dot6 Founder and CEO Diamond Lauffin.

A new storage vendor, 22dot6, on Tuesday came out of stealth mode with a software-defined storage technology it promises will work with any data on any hardware or cloud.

While 22dot6 is new, it was founded by long-term storage and channel innovator Diamond Lauffin, who previously co-founded Nexsan and is credited with developing the concept of deal registration which is now a key plank in nearly every channel program.

The name 22dot6 came from the density of chemical element Osmium, which at 22.5872 grams per cubic centimeter makes it the highest-density naturally occurring element, and reflects the density of the storage the company’s Valence software provides, Lauffin told CRN. The term “valence” in chemistry is also a measure of capacity to unit, he said.

[Related: 2021 Storage 100: The Data Conversation Starts Here]

22dot6’s Valence technology is based on technology Lauffin and his partners built several years ago, Lauffin said.

“We completely abstracted storage resources regardless of what storage hardware or which clouds the data resides on,” he said. “I could turn the entire world into a single disk drive. But we needed a modern architecture. So we redid the code with Valence. Now we’re ready for commercial release via integrators.”

Valence provides a bridge between virtualization, hardware abstraction, data services, and storage accessibility, Lauffin said.

“We basically integrate users, applications, and data services with physical, virtual, and cloud-based architectures both globally and transparently,” he said.

Valence aims to provide a true service to sunset existing storage platforms, Lauffin said.

“We can support rocket ship speeds, but we have a cost-correct pricing model so the software not only is priced right for rocket ship speed, but also for digital archives,” he said. “This allows the users to purchase the right resources for the right price and the right reason.”

The software-defined storage technology behind Valence is also available as an appliance, but will most likely be sold as software that can be used to build storage systems that are not restricted by CPU or memory, Lauffin said.

It features file and storage management supporting NFS, SMB, and S3 object storage protocols that can take advantage of data on any manufacturer’s hardware, he said.

“This is important,” he said. “Storage companies don’t want to fully integrate with each other. Even if a vendor says it can work with two or three other vendors, those are still siloed environments.”

Valence also offers a scale-out parallel architecture which allows the ability to create systems that initially scale to 60 controllers per cluster, and is slated to rise to 120 controllers per cluster in the next version, Lauffin said.

“There is no maximum capacity or object count,” he said. “We have tested to trillions of objects. Object count is really the limiting component in any system. Virtually anyone should be able to support an exabyte of data the same as if they were supporting only four files. But there are systems that die with only 10 petabytes because they have over 500 million objects. Capacity is easy, object count is the real issue. We are good to over 2 trillion objects in a single name space.”

Valence is available with two performance levels, either standard performance of 600 GBs per second to the same file or 1,200 GBs per second to the same file level, he said.

Valence also lets users manage and undelete down to the individual file level, and offers file level fall back in case data is corrupted, Lauffin said. It also includes version control to eliminate the need for backups.

“If a file is lost or corrupted or is subject to ransomware, why do you need to restore it,” he said. “Valence lets you just automatically go back to the previous version. It replaces restore with reacquisition, and it replace disaster recovery with disaster prevention. The customer can have multiple devices in line so that if there is an issue, it automatically fails over to the next device.”

Valence also includes data profiling and analytics to eliminate the need for third-party file indexing, Lauffin said. This lets users search and manage data at any level transparently, he said.

A very important capability is data mobility, which allows data to be tiered between any hardware or cloud environment, Lauffin said.

“The key here is master file control,” he said. “Valence knows what is the first copy of the data and all the other copies. This lets users manage security and data sprawl. So for data mobility or data protection, you can tier to any level, and get zero RPO (recovery point objective) disaster recovery. You can survive the loss of an array, a data center, or even a country and still get immediate access to data. If someone promises you 10-minute RPO, you are dealing with 1990s technology.”

Valence provides graphical user interface, command line interface, and API interface to let customers access data in any way they prefer, Lauffin said.

Customers can also set performance objectives for specific users, he said. “The can create a new objective with five, ten, or 15 policies and not impact any other objectives,” he said. “And they’re not limited to a single device. We virtualize any number of devices in any location.”

The 22dot6 concept and name are both great, said Darren Hepburn, solutions architect at Data Partner, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based solution provider and early adopter of the Valence technology.

“The Valence file system is a game-changer,” Hepburn told CRN. “I can go to customers and have different conversations with one product. When you peel back the layers, you see four to five products built into one.”

22dot6’s idea of taking the hand cuffs off storage arrays from different vendors is important, Hepburn said.

“This gets rid of vendor lock-in,” he said. “It’s assimilating other vendors into a single global namespace.”

22dot6, while a startup, has legs because of Valence, Hepburn said.

“At the end of the day, it will run on anything, and it’s completely user-definable,” he said. “There are people who like to tinker with these things. And it has a nice GUI or command line interface. If you can think it up, Valence can do it. I can’t think of anything it can’t do.”

Valence has as its primary target just about any type of storage customer, Hepburn said.

“It can be used for storage as a service and backup as a service,” he said. “I believe in something that Diamond told me: If you need to talk about backup and restores, that’s 1998 technology. Valence can be used as a cloud managed service. this is more about data re-acquisition. If you have to wait to restore data, then you need to worry about RTO (recovery time objectives) and RPO (recovery point objectives). But with Valence’s data reacquisition, an application just points to a file, and boom, no time is spent on recovery.”

22dot6 will bring the Valence software and its appliances to market 100 percent via indirect sales channels, a move which Lauffin says is in line with his history in the storage business.

“I’ve never ran a company where I went direct,” he said.

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