Last week Pivot3 announced a new generation of its hyper-converged models. I took interest as I had noted this company was experiencing significant growth and wanted to see what they were all about. When I dug into it I uncovered an interesting story of product acquisitions and then the evolution of product integrations, definitely interesting as we see HPE’s Simplivity and Nimble acquisition evolve.
Doing Hyper-Converged before it was cool
Let’s start at the beginning Pivot3 are arguably one of the originators of the hyper-converged scene founded back in 2003, before it was even called hyper-converged. If you’re new to hyper-converged read storage and virtualisation in a box. Similar to how other hyper-covered platforms work each node has a VM that sits on the ESXi host and acts as the gateway to the storage. The storage across the nodes is grouped together to form a single pool of storage from which datastores can be carved. Pivot3 have until now called their OS vSTAC OS and the data is written across the nodes using erasure coding.
NexGen had a colourful history having been co-founded by one of the founders of LeftHand networks, later being bought by Fusion-IO which itself was subsequently bought by SAN disk. It was then detached from SAN Disk and acquired by Pivot3 in January 2016, simple right.
Prioritising the important stuff
The interest from Pivot3 in NexGen was in its PCIe flash and QoS functionality. QoS in a storage system, like its better known counterpart in networking, assures performance levels to certain workloads even when a system is busy. Initially Pivot3 sold the NexGen system in two ways as a standalone unit and secondly as a package with a Pivot3 hyper-converged system, they called this second approach vSTAC SLX. Physically vSTAC SLX consisted of a Pivot3 hyper-converged cluster connected to a NexGen PCIe flash array. This essentially allowed data to be tiered between the Pivot3 nodes and the NexGen layer for higher performance. The QoS software could control the placement of data dependent on the performance requirements.
The aim here was clear to present hyper-converged as a system that can run multiple workloads concurrently by assuring service levels with QoS. This would help to broaden the appeal of hyper-converged systems which today are predominantly focused on single use cases.
The latest release from Pivot3 drops the vSTAC name and becomes Acuity, it builds on the fundamental ideas laid out in the SLX release but rather than being a NexGen + Pivot3 bundle the QoS and PCIe flash functionality is available natively within the Pivot3 nodes. It would appear they have managed to pull the smarts from the NexGen box and package it within the Pivot3 nodes.
The line-up of available nodes is shown in the graphic below. As before there is the choice of all flash or hybrid nodes. But additionally now there are the accelerator nodes which are essentially the standard flash and hybrid models with an additional NVMe layer to give a performance boost.Those with the NVMe functionality can offer up to 3.2TB of NVMe flash per node, which Pivot3 advise will be 450% faster that SATA SSD and 119% faster than SAS SSD.
The QoS targets can be set to control minimum IOPs, minimum throughput and latency. These parameters are set through polices which can also be scheduled to change for example for month end reporting.
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