Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, July 14, 2024

Excelero Software-Defined Storage Now Ready for Azure Public Cloud 

Software-defined storage vendor Excelero has been helping customers share NVMe storage across networks both on-premises or in private clouds for years, but now, for the first time, the company is bringing its NVMesh storage to the Microsoft Azure public cloud.

For Excelero, the move follows a growing number of customer requests to bring their I/O intensive workloads including AI, machine learning, deep learning, HPC and data analytics to the diverse range of available public cloud services that are available.

Excelero’s latest NVMesh software-defined storage software on Azure delivers up to 25x more IOPS and up to 10x more bandwidth while reducing latency by 80 percent, according to the company’s beta testing results. Excelero’s distributed block storage allows customers to share NVMe storage across any network and supports any local or distributed file system, according to the company.

Edo Ganot of Excelero

The customer requests for the public cloud capabilities came in the last two years, Edo Ganot, Excelero’s chief business officer, told EnterpriseAI. Users came to the company and said they were trying to move I/O intensive workloads into public clouds on their own. But they ran into challenges trying to do so with databases, analytics, AI training and more, he said.

“They were typically just limiting their public cloud activity to the less I/O intensive workloads” because they couldn’t make it work on their own, said Ganot. And when they would try to run their intensive workloads in public clouds, they would have to revert them back to their private clouds or on-premises systems due to lag issues they were experiencing.

Over time, Excelero spoke with customers and ecosystem partners about what was needed and came up with plans to bring NVMesh to public clouds in response, he said.

While Microsoft Azure is the first public cloud to be supported, Excelero also has plans to support Google Cloud Platform and AWS later in 2021, said Ganot.

Using Excelero NVMesh, database and analytics workloads and high performance computations can be run on CPUs and GPUs with dramatically improved I/O, according to the company. The Excelero NVMesh on Azure product also mirrors data across local NVMe drives, allowing it to be spread across availability zones for extra data security.

Yaniv Romem, Excelero CEO

Yaniv Romem, Excelero’s CEO and co-founder, told EnterpriseAI that the new Azure cloud capabilities allow the company to further leverage existing cloud services.

“It's a big deal for us from a marketing perspective and from the way we do business,” said Romem. “From a technical standpoint, it's an extension of what we do, it's a new capability in our product they can now work on these environments. It’s not radically changing the output or the outcome of what our product provides.”

Excelero’s NVMesh uses Azure’s InfiniBand-enabled H- and N-series virtual machines to provide a scalable, protected storage option for high-growth segments of the market, including HPC and AI workloads, according to the company. The H-series VMs have both NVMe and Infiniband for high performance, while the N-series VMs have GPUs and Infiniband and can access storage in H-series VMs running NVMesh targets and clients or with NVMesh clients on N-series, said Romem. The H-series nodes have many fast cores, so they are good for running both applications and their storage together.

Analyst Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, said Excelero’s latest offering makes the company competitive with other data storage vendors who are already providing public cloud storage services.

“The issue in the cloud usually isn't the storage,” said Staimer. “It is usually the instances you're running your application on. And it comes down to price performance in the cloud.”

The biggest impact of the new capabilities will be seen by customers who need to run high-intensity, high-throughput applications, said Staimer. “Let's say you're running with a parallel file system in the cloud, then yeah, they make a lot of sense.”

Eric Burgener of IDC

Another analyst, Eric Burgener, a research vice president in the infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies Group at IDC, said the new Azure service will give Excelero customers another deployment option in addition to being able to buy the company’s software-defined storage software to run in a data center or on an appliance purchased from an Excelero partner.

“With this additional deployment option, a customer would get all the Excelero advantages – support for a variety of different storage devices, NVMe over Fabrics transport options, enterprise-class data services, etc.,” said Burgener. “That could be a good thing for a customer that has a workload that requires all or some of that and wants to run it in the public cloud, but it could also be a good thing for a public cloud provider who might want to license the software from Excelero and create their own high performance, enterprise-class infrastructure service.”

For customers, the two largest reasons for making such a move are performance and availability, as well as the flexibility of NVMesh to accommodate heterogeneous hardware used by different public cloud providers, he said. “For customers who can now deploy Excelero in the public cloud, they may be able to move workloads that otherwise could not have gone to the cloud there, while public cloud providers might be able to advertise a more ‘enterprise-like’ storage service than they’ve had in the past.”

Plenty of other storage products already do something like this, said Burgener, including IBM Spectrum Virtualize, NetApp ONTAP, Pure Storage Purity and others.

“Excelero is not leading the industry here, although they may be able to make a case for why their software provides a lower cost, high performance option than a customer licensing NetApp Cloud Volume Services or Pure Storage Cloud Block Storage and running it in the cloud,” he said.

“It’s good that Excelero will be bringing this to Amazon and Google going forward, although I’m not exactly sure why Amazon would want to do this, since they’ve already got E8 [a flash-based storage vendor it acquired in 2019],” said Burgener. “Perhaps it allows them to appeal to a customer that needs a high performance NVMe-based storage service and specifically wants Excelero.”

It could also help public cloud providers by allowing them to acquire customers they otherwise would not have been able to by providing a higher performance, more highly available public cloud-based storage capability than they have had in the past, he said.