ClearSky Data smashes the latency obstacle of hybrid cloud storage with low-latency metro networks


Brute force technologies can be very persuasive. A strong argument can be made that the flash revolution in the storage industry is a brute force phenomenon and that NVMe will bring more brute force mojo to storage in the coming years. ClearSky Data figured out that if they brought brute force low-latency networks to hybrid storage storage that customers could get the benefits of pay-as-you-go cloud storage without the performance penalty. They layer important software on top of this base to build a hugely scalable, cost effective storage solution for their customers. Laz Vekiarides is one of the founders and Marc Keating is their alliances/solutions developer and they talk about it in this ridecast with Marc Farley (@GoFarley)


MF: Hi this is a technology ridecast, I’m Marc Farley and our special guests this afternoon are Laz Vekiarides and Marc Keating, back in the shadows. Both guys are from ClearSky Data and are here at VMworld2016.
LV: Yes
MF: So how’s the show going for you?
LV: Pretty good, I had something to do every day with respect to either a talk or presentation, a lot of customers, a lot of , you know as usual, networking going on.
MF: It’s the group, the gang. Yeah, so what was the topics of your discussion or your talk?
LV: So we were mentioned in VVols deep dive on Monday. I’m on a VVols panel discussion this afternoon.
MF: We should talk a little bit about your technology at ClearSky Data. I think about it as hybrid cloud  storage that actually works.
LV: Yes
MF: So how did you do that, what’s the secret sauce?
LV: So we deploy in metro areas like Akamai does. We have points of presence and we have caching infrastructure in all the metros where we sell and it’s not just the edge appliance that the customer gets but we plug them into a private network not the internet. Connections are very, very low latency so inside of a metro we’re under a millisecond in latency. So yeah, you get flash level performance even if you miss on the edge.
MF: The brute force network wins.
LV: Yes, well you know it’s one of the surprising things about starting the company is when Ellen and I started doing the research, we found that there’s this other commodity, which is network connectivity that’s going down in price considerably and private connectivity is much cheaper than the internet connectivity that you and I use at home.
MF: Really?!
LV: Yes on a per unit of bandwidth basis, it’s much, much cheaper. It’s on-demand, it’s pay-as-you-go, so you don’t have to buy huge chunks of storage that you’re gonna use in a year or two years or three years. It’s true on demand and that is very appealing to people.
MF: Amazon still only has so much storage.
LV: Well now, frankly, they have never run out and so we’re relying on that, you know Marc, if they run out the world is in deep trouble. I just wanted you to know that, so as a foundational premise, we said Amazon will not run out of space. Are we okay with that, Marc?
MK: Yeah.
MF: We’re good
LV:  So good. So in terms of the hot-edge tier, you can put more SSDs on that appliance and you can actually have up to four appliances, which would constitute well over a hundred terabytes of hot data. The backend obviously is backed by the cloud so we don’t have the constraints of a regular array, you know, if we run out of space we put stuff in the cloud and get it back whenever we need to across our network.
MK: The other thing is that you are only paying for what you use. So think about adding stuff on that you might need for temporary processing and then like running payroll, for example and then deleting it when you’re done with it – and you don’t pay again right? So think about that kind of like or a semester in a school Marc, we have educational universities where enrollment happens and  it’s busy for a month or two. If you need more storage and at the end of that period you delete it and you don’t pay for it again.
MF: Oh yeah, it’s great to be able to subtract it. So are you guys keeping a lot of metadata?
LV: Yes, actually we are in the business of managing metadata and, you know, that’s really how we get the performance that we are getting. It’s all about not just managing the metadata, making sure it’s in the right place so that we could speed things up. We can manage petabytes of actual customer data with a relatively small amount of metadata, a few terabytes and so we can keep that in locations where it’s really near to the users, so whenever the lookups happen, you get extremely low latency. There are a ton of use cases. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to poke around and….
MF: It might not take much imagination but I’m gonna ask you anyway. So are customers asking for cross cloud or multi cloud?
LV: So when we started the company, we didn’t think anyone would ask for that, but we kinda would throw it out and everyone shrugged, but I think as enterprises are actually adopting the cloud they’re realizing that it is a lock-in point. You can’t have just one cloud.
MK: I’ll give you a specific example, Marc. Johnson and Johnson was on stage this year at the keynote address, at VMworld. They stood up there and this is the fourth customer that VMware people had brought on stage and they said tell me what your strategy is, and all four customers – Johnson and Johnson was the last one – said we’re a multi-cloud strategy and we have on-premise and off-premise and need to be able to choose where to run those workloads. That was the big theme of the keynote address, and so to answer your question, we’re seeing it a lot now and that’s really where VMware is embracing it, we’ve been talking about it for years.  It’s a very powerful message, we’ve got really,  really cool story to enable customers to do that.
MF: So do you provide cloning services – data cloning services for data, so that it can be moved to cloud service provider and then, you know,used for other purposes, secondary purposes?
MK: Actually, the best thing about our technology Marc is that when you put data into the ClearSky network, you can access it from any kind of compute, anywhere you want to and here’s the key
phrase Marc, without having to clone or replicate it. That’s one of the big things that makes us different. So with everybody else, everybody else, I’ve got to copy that data, I’ve got to get the bandwidth, I have to pay for replication, all of those things, and then I gotta buy another copy of the storage, at least one, if not multiples. With ClearSky you just access it from somewhere else and I don’t even have to plan it ahead of time, I just say I want to move it over there. Great it shows up over there.
MF: That is really powerful. Yeah, that’s big.
LV: Yeah it is. It’s very unique functionality. I don’t think anyone else has that.
MF: Well it’s been great having you guys in the car today.
LV: Oh, it was great, we got to see parts of Vegas that I had never seen, from inside of an Infinity before, this is great man.
t’s great, thanks Marc. Appreciated.


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