Storage software

StorPool tests high-end block storage software in AWS

Block storage specialist StorPool Storage will make its distributed storage software available through AWS Marketplace for the first time since the product’s initial release a decade ago.

The service, called StorPool on AWS, offers a high-performance option for enterprise customers with specialized needs and large workloads, but few choices in this market. It is now available as a technology preview.

StorPool also recently released a general update to the core StorPool software, adding two important features: support for provisioning storage volumes using NVMe/TCP and support for running NFS servers. (Network File Systems) in StorPool storage clusters.

NVMe/TCP support allows storage administrators to use software and a standard Ethernet connection to provision storage, adding additional flexibility to infrastructure setups. NFS servers created in StorPool can provide up to 50TB of file data within a cluster for workloads, such as rendering and video editing, according to the company.

While StorPool may offer fast, available block storage for enterprise databases, the AWS version of the product might be a tough sell in a market that has always kept data on-premises. According to Dave Raffo, senior analyst at Evaluator Group, scalable block storage remains a niche for specific businesses migrating to the cloud.

“I don’t think it will fundamentally change [StorPool’s] customer base,” Raffo said.

A competitor of EBS

StorPool sells virtual storage array software that runs on any hardware. It enables distributed block storage for demanding database workloads on traditional hard drives, as well as flash and NVMe drives.

The company typically sells to MSPs and managed private clouds that use virtual machines. Companies looking to use block storage are potentially in industries with large and organized databases, such as those used for medical and financial applications, that these users want to keep in a private cloud.

Businesses that need cloud block storage today may already be using Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage (EBS), but enterprises and MSPs may want to push storage speeds a lot. faster,” said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

Almost everyone is better than EBS.

Marc StaimePresident, Dragon Slayer Consulting

“[AWS EBS doesn’t] evolve,” Staimer said. “It’s not really designed for large-scale implementation. Almost everyone is better than EBS.”

Performance of AWS EBS services is limited due to a lack of flexibility and storage movement options, Staimer added. Many EBS volumes become dedicated to specific workloads, which can lead to siled storage.

Best in class by default

StorPool technology may offer improved performance, Staimer said, but there’s a lack of direct competition that makes comparison difficult.

This is particularly the case with large public cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Block storage performance among the three hyperscalers is ultimately tied to connection latency and available services, he said.

StorPool’s closest competitor was Excelero, which sold high-performance block storage through Microsoft Azure NVMesh on Azure, Staimer said. Excelero’s technology was absorbed by Nvidia when the chipmaker bought the supplier earlier this year.

Other storage vendors, such as Vast Data Inc. and DataCore Software, offer cloud and on-premises configurations. But those companies are targeting the significantly more popular object and file storage services, Raffo said.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. It covers cloud and data storage news.