Datrium DVX Manages Server SSDs, External Disks As One

Datrium, a startup whose technology turns industry-standard servers into high-performance hybrid flash array solutions, has finally started shipping its first model that brings the cost of flash storage to as low as 10 cents per gigabyte.

Datrium, which came out of stealth late last year, this week unveiled its first solution, the Datrium DVX, which separates flash and disk storage by tying large amounts of SSDs in a server to a separate hard disk-based appliance as a way to get maximum application performance.

Datrium DVX is the first solution to separate host-based performance resources from network-based disk capacity resources, said Brian Biles, CEO of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage startup.

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"We sell our durable capacity appliances, which work like an array to store the data but are not used to provide any storage services," Biles told CRN. "Above that, the performance is in the server host's processors and flash storage. We don't sell that part. But we do everything on the host using our external solution for the durable capacity."

The Datrium DVX software works on any server certified to run VMware software, Biles said. The servers can be configured with any processors or SSDs. Channel partners load the software on the server and then connect it to the NetShelf disk appliance.

Each NetShelf is configured with 48 TBs of raw capacity, or up to 180 TBs of effective capacity after deduplication and compression, and can connect to up to 32 server hosts, with the addition of extra servers causing performance to increase, Biles said. "Over time, we will expand the NetShelf's capacity," he said. "However, there is no need for a second NetShelf to get redundancy."

Depending on processor and SSD performance, total bandwidth of the Datrium DVX solution can be up to 1 Gbyte per second per host, with each host supporting up to 30,000 IOPs. The NetShelf supports throughput of up to 1 Gbyte per second, which Biles said compares to a standard 12-GBps SAS-attached drive shelf.

List price for the Datrium DVX solution is $125,000. "That's $1 per Gbyte in the NetShelf, similar to nearline disk array shelves, and 10 cents per Gbyte in the commodity flash using in-line deduplication," he said. "We've flipped the cost of storage. This is the first time the cost of flash is lower than the cost of disk."

The Datrium DVX solution is pretty impressive, said Chris Saso, executive vice president of technology at Dasher Technologies, a Campbell, Calif.-based solution provider and an early Datrium channel partner.

"We've had a box in our office for several weeks," Saso told CRN. "It installed in 45 minutes. We assigned one of our senior storage guys to it, and he was impressed."

When Datrium first did a whiteboard presentation of its DVX technology, it was the first time Saso saw someone present something that was not just another storage array with flash.

"Putting an agent on the server to communicate with the external storage was completely unique," he said. "It carries a real promise of scale. Customers can increase performance of the entire environment by adding more servers? That's pretty unique. With the agent in the server, and the disk storage in a separate box, users can look at both servers and storage to find possible issues. No one else can do that."

Dasher found some unexpected capabilities in its Datrium DVX, Saso said. "Our engineer implemented VMware vCenter on the storage, even thought it was not designed to run in the storage," he said. "He set up an environment the way he would like to do it in the field, running vCenter in a virtual environment, not a physical one."