Speed, Efficiency, Safety, Scalability, Deployability — Pick 5!

Andy Watson. October 15, 2018
Speed, Efficiency, Safety, Scalability, Deployability — Pick 5!

Early in its life Tesla Motors ran an ad campaign that has always stuck in my mind because of its compelling tagline:  Speed, Efficiency, Safety — Pick 3.  Oh boy, did that make me want to run out to buy a Tesla – which I subsequently did much to my delight.  Elon Musk wasn’t going to settle for a flimsy go-kart which had been engineered to be lightweight and quick for anyone who didn’t mind risking their lives to drive it.  Nor would he want to sacrifice performance just to avoid risk.  And it would have been irrelevant to bring an electric car to market with such poor efficiency that its range was limited to a 100 miles or less, or which delivered very little value for the incredibly high price tag.  Other EV car manufacturers settled for less, but not Tesla.

Fast forward to 2018 and the more I found out about WekaIO Matrix™ — the “world’s fastest file system” — the more I was reminded of that original Tesla tagline: Speed, Efficiency, Safety — Pick 3. And that no-compromise proposition subsequently let to my joining the team, much to my delight again.

But in the modern era, that trio of decades-old Storage Keywords would not be enough. So when the founders of WekaIO were designing Matrix, onto their proverbial “clean sheet of paper” they added two more: Scalability and Deployability.  Pick 5!

Speed. Over the many years I’ve been involved with storage infrastructure and data management, performance has always been an important consideration. Naturally, it’s almost never the only criterion. All those other Storage Keywords matter! The same people who insist on getting the lowest latency and maximum throughput from their file systems also need their data to be Safe—durable, protected against disasters, and always available. And until we live in an ideal utopian future of infinite free resources, it would be irresponsible not to care about Efficiency. That’s why the original trio of Storage Keywords has held true for decades.

However, in recent years data growth has accelerated beyond anything we have seen before, and it’s not unusual for data center planners to confront ExaByte requirements. This has elevated Scalability to become more than a bonus feature for a few specialty enterprises. It is fast emerging as a critical requirement for the majority because without it, the original three keywords fail. After all: What happens to Speed and Efficiency when you are out of space? Merely approaching full capacity significantly degrades performance on conventional storage systems. And efficiency will be negatively impacted when you are forced to split data sets to accommodate file system shortcomings, regardless of the complexity imposed on your application architecture and sysadmin procedures. These are non-issues for WekaIO’s Matrix. Scaling at a terrifying rate? Bring it on! After all, the company isn’t named for that cute little native New Zealand bird — weka is the Greek prefix which represents one million times zetta. A WekaByte = 1 million ZettaBytes = 1,000,000,000,000 PetaBytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 GigaBytes. Plenty!

And the final important new Storage Keyword is Deployability. For many in our industry, Cloud or On-Premises is the fulcrum for deployment decisions. I can’t disagree. It’s certainly become the most important place to start in your decision tree, and depending on what kind of Cloud choice you make, it might be enough, because the nature of the Cloud offering might shape the rest of your decision. WekaIO’s Matrix is designed to run happily both in the Cloud and/or on On-Premises, and it’s widely consumed by customers in both arenas. However, you can also consider more dimensions when evaluating your deployment options with WekaIO. You may choose containers with Kubernetes for elastic scaling, or VM’s to integrate with an existing framework. Configure Matrix as a local POSIX file system for the lowest possible latency — while still continuing to share the data among those clients. Plus you can still have shared access to your data via NFS or SMB for continuity with existing environments or for your ongoing primary application infrastructure.

As I learn more about the architecture there is much more that excites me, just as I found many wonderful surprises under the proverbial hood of my Tesla. But this comprehensive list of Keywords is what attracted me to join the team at WekaIO as I know it will change the industry just like Tesla did.

Speed, Efficiency, Safety, ScalabilityDeployabilityPick 5!

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