Dan's Take

Software-Defined Storage: The Challenge of Finding a Niche

The new Atlantis product, HyperScale, works with existing storage to make it more efficient.

Atlantis Computing's Bob Davis, vice president of marketing, dropped by to present an update on what the company has been doing since our last conversation. He also spent a bit of time discussing the company's philosophy and the fact that it has to become expert at "dancing with elephants."

Atlantis has a vision of offering virtualized storage that's simple to use and highly optimized for most workloads. The company understands that most clients already have a number of storage products from several vendors; its philosophy is to blend in without causing disruption.

Dancing with the Elephants
When asked how the company is able to collaborate with established storage suppliers, Davis said it was a bit like dancing with elephants: They have to constantly seek areas to add value while not "getting stepped on" when the bigger players change technology or strategy.

During my last conversation with the company, the center of discussion was Atlantis ILIO and its successor, Atlantis USX. ILIO is aimed at accelerating VDI applications and used RAM for caching, while USX is about making more efficient use of storage. This conversation centered on the new Atlantis product, HyperScale, which is designed to help channel partners configure, deliver and optimize virtual storage solutions for their clients.

HyperScale is a server appliance that can be installed and put to work in as little as 60 minutes. It's based on USX, but is preconfigured to work with specific system configurations from SuperMicro, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Cisco. USX provides software-defined storage (SDS) -- the ability to pool SAN, NAS, DAS and flash-based storage resources to optimize application performance. To simplify deployment and configuration, the HyperScale appliance is all flash only. Like USX, HyperScale offers a REST API to automate provisioning, performance monitoring and availability. Both offer in-line data reduction to increase performance, increase storage utilization and reduce overall cost.

Storage is treated like a pool of storage. Deduplication, what Atlantis calls "HyperDup", is used to reduce the size of storage required, accelerate I/O and simplify provisioning of storage for applications, making it easier to move data and increase levels of availability and security.

Dan's Take: Worth a Look
A number of suppliers, including Atlantis, Cisco, DataCore, NetApp, Sanbolic and others, are doing a lot with SDS. Typically, SDS products focus on improving the performance, reliability and manageability of the vendors' own storage products. A few, including Atlantis, DataCore and Sanbolic, offer products that support storage products currently installed in a datacenter. Supporting what's already installed, as one would expect, is a big plus.

Most of these suppliers boast of the performance improvements their products offer, and how they make it possible to separate management and storage functions to reduce administration costs. By offering its SDS product as a storage appliance and providing end-to-end support for its channel partners, Atlantis hopes to gain some level of marketing advantage over the competition.

ISVs, VARs and other channel partners would be well advised to talk with Atlantis and see a demo of what both USX and HyperScale can do for their customers.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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