Dan's Take

The Painful Problem of Growing Datacenter Complexity

Cohesity claims to have a solution with its data platform.

Suppliers have noticed that moving from a physical to a virtual (sometimes called software defined) datacenter isn't easy. Tools are needed to virtualize access, applications, processing, storage and networking. Management and security solutions are needed to monitor functions operating in a virtual world, keeping them safe. One vendor promising that is Cohesity, which recently announced their new Cohesity Data Platform. I've also enjoyed conversations with other players in the space, such as DataCore and VMware.

Mohit Aron, the co-founder of Nutanix and one of the designers of the Google File System (GFS), has launched a new storage startup, Cohesity. In the company's words, the company is offering "the industry's first product designed to consolidate all secondary storage workflows onto a highly flexible, Google-like scalable architecture." To that end, the company just launched the Cohesity Data Platform.

The Cohesity Data Platform
The Cohesity Data Platform is positioned as a tool to simplify secondary storage by combining software and hardware components to provide a "web-scale storage foundation" that can efficiently handle a wide range of workloads. The platform includes the following components:

  • Cohesity's operating environment, known as OASIS (Open Architecture for Scalable, Intelligent Storage). It combines a scale-out storage architecture with built-in enterprise storage services and quality of service management to consolidate multiple use cases -- data protection, DevOps, file services and analytics -- on a single platform.
  • Two new hardware platforms in the C2000 Series, with each 2U block containing four clustered nodes. Cohesity clusters can mix hardware generations and types in a model to grow from four to 400 nodes.
    • The C2300 offers 48 TB raw HDD capacity and 3.2 TB raw PCI-e SSD capacity
    • The C2500 offers 96 TB raw HDD capacity and 6.4 TB raw PCI-e SSD capacity

OASIS is the foundation of its solution. It's designed to provide Web-scale storage and what the company calls "enterprise data management features." The company points out that separate products from other suppliers are typically pressed into service to provide these features.

Cohesity says that the Cohesity Data Platform was designed to work in conjunction with pre-existing enterprise data storage solutions, allowing companies to start with a configuration that fits their environment without the high up-front costs associated with "rip-and-replace" solutions.

Dan's Take: Complexity is the Enemy
Storage virtualization appears to be the focus of quite a number of industry players. Cohesity, like several others, offers some interesting technology, but in the form of yet another appliance server. Others, such as DataCore, offer many of the same basic capabilities, in a software-only form.

One of the problems keeping IT executives awake at night, if my conversations with some of them proves broadly applicable, is that the datacenter has become so complex that it's very difficult to keep everything up and doing what the organization needs. Adding new functional servers to support each new virtualization offering isn't a way to reduce that complexity.

While Cohesity's solution appears to be useful, making organizations find space for more servers to support a virtualization function may not be the best approach.

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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