Skyera is one of the world's top 4 most important SSD
companies (ranked by search metrics of 200,000 approx StorageSearch.com
readers in the 1st quarter of 2013.)
The company's primary products are
which leverage Skyera's IP leadership in
SSD design efficiency,
controller architecture and
profile -(emerging from stealth edition)|
The profile below is the August 14,
2012 edition which introduced the company to the readers of
(which was initially called StorCloud) today emerged from stealth mode.
company's founder -
was previously the founder and CTO of
Skyera's product is a rackmount
SSD. It doesn't yet have true
- but its internal data integrity and chip optimized RAID - are good enough for
a wide class of enterprise uses today.
Texas Memory Systems -
Skyera has a big
SSD controller architecture.
But unlike those 2 companies - Skyera
is using (in Rado's words) "cheap crappy flash" - which it brings into
line with many integrated design techniques - including
write management (similar to
Nimbus Skyera has its
own software stack.
Pure Storage -
Skyera integrates inline compression and dedupe as features which can push the
cost per SSD terabyte even lower (below $1/GB at time of product launch.)
solution will be attractive to users looking for scalable and cost effective
proprietary - rather
than open (array oif COTS SSDs) approach will limit the company's initial
uptake with more conservatively minded users - who would prefer to see an array
of SAS or
PCIe SSD modules
inside a rack.
However, the low latency which is achieved by using a
proprietary array design and the efficiencies (in cost and reliability) which
accrue from integrating many leading edge SSD design techniques concurrently in
a reinforcing manner within a single rack system - are just not possible using
so called "open" designs.
As with any new generation of
SSD controller - which
pushes the boundaries of what you can do with cheap memory - there are risks -
because the product reliability and life cycle and
model is based on extrapolated predictions and models - and isn't yet market
That should bring some comfort to Skyera's competitors in
the rackmount SSD market in the next few quarters.
In August 2011 - in a
paper presented at the Flash
Memory Summit -
founder of StorCloud
said that RAID / RAIS
technology and the other clever
techniques that the industry has learned to appreciate in the past few years
"...will not sufficient for advanced node MLC to be used in
enterprise... But - StorCloud has identified technical solutions for next 10x
and enabling 1x nm MLC
in enterprise storage systems..."
In April 2012 -
StorCloud changed its
name to Skyera.
- Skyera moved into
its new (81,000 square feet) headquarters at 1704 Automation Parkway, San Jose,
In August 2012 -
launched its first product - a 1U half-depth 10GbE
SSD rack with 44TB usable capacity ($131,000 approx), 3.6GB/s throughput and
upto 1 million IOPS using under 800W electrical power. Integrated software
includes inline dedupe, compression, snapshots, clones and various management
In February 2013 -
$51 million in financing led by
Dell Ventures and including an
investment by WD.
launches industry changing enterprise SSD|
|Editor:- August 14, 2012 - Skyera today
launched its first product - a 1U half-depth 10GbE
SSD rack with 44TB usable capacity ($131,000 approx), 3.6GB/s throughput and
upto 1 million IOPS using under 800W electrical power. |
software includes inline dedupe, compression, snapshots, clones and various
Skyera will demostrated the new
Skyhawk next week at the
Flash Memory Summit.
comments:- last week I spoke to Skyera's founder and CEO Rado Danilak
and some key people in his team - which in addition to core members of the team
who designed some of the early
SandForce controllers -
also includes talented and experienced
people from other well
known chip and enterprise storage companies.
Skyera make a big thing
about their cost value proposition.
They deliver fast SSD storage
at a system list price under $3 / GB (uncompressed) and about $1 / GB (with
compression and dedupe). That not only beats best of breed SSD systems but
seriously challenges HDD based storage too.
Designed from the ground
up the Skyhawk can be summarized as using
controller architecture (proprietary rather
than an array of COTS open SSDs) and with an integrated
software stack which
screws the efficiency of
as tight as can be - by intervening at multiple levels (high
intelligence flow symmetry.)
In any given year in the SSD market
there are maybe 2 or 3 industry changing announcements - which illustrate what
the shape of the future could be.
Skyera's Skyhawk is one of those
in the year we're already in. And would be just as significant if the launch
had been delayed into next year too.
Here's some more stuff I learned
from talking to Skyera.
Rado said Skyera has
one strategic investor - which he didn't want to name right now. The company is
mostly owned by its management. That gives them an incentive to design a product
which can make money as soon as possible.
FPGA rather than ASIC -
for Skyera's hardware controller
The FPGA versus ASIC tradeoff
debate in electronic design goes back to the mid 1980s. With FPGA you buy a
chip that's got arrays of logic and common functions already in it. You
define what your FPGA does by programming the interconnections in a way
that's similar to writing to flash. With ASIC you have almost total freedom to
decide what functions your chip does - but the chips are made in a factory
that's making a lot of other chips - not just yours. You're buying time in
someone else's multi-billion dollar factory. There are set up fees, learning
curves and queues involved.
Skyera implements its controller using
That gives flexbility (also
explained to me as
a factor by Holly Frost at competitor
Texas Memory Systems
- which uses both ASICs and FPGAs in different places - while
Nimbus prefers to use
exclusively its own ASICs and
Fusion-io is still
staying mostly with FPGA.
In a rack system - the recurring unit cost
is not a big deal - whereas it is a
in a single small drive - which is why
STEC made much of
switching to ASICs in its enterprise SSDs last year. Where the VC factor comes
back into the equation is that each design costs hundreds of thousands of
dollars - and months of delay. So if you have the realistic choice of either
FPGA or ASIC in the form factor and power budget - which is not an option if
you're designing a 1 inch
embedded SSD for example - then the FPGA route means you can ship products
sooner with less initial outlay and your revenue stream can contribute to
earning profits faster.
Having said that - my guess is that after
their launch - if Skyera said they needed another $500 million or so to do
something - like remodel the executive car park - VCs would rush in to supply
the cars too. But Skyera probably doesn't need that much money.
On the SSD architecture side I've already written
about the strategic importance of large architecture, adaptive DSP, SSD
between flash capacity and reliability and performance and the benefits of
integrating them at a high level. So I won't repeat those points here.
said he wanted to get the best performance and reliability possible out of "cheap
crappy flash". He said if you use a traditional
RAID 6 array - then the
latencies start to mount up - and you end up doing 3 writes cycles to get the
parity protection. That's bad for endurance and bad for latency too. He said
that Skyera's way of doing RAID-like protection means that the write
amplification for a 4kB write is an average of only a factor of x1.04.
That's a 3x reduction on write amplification compared to arrays of
2.5" SSDs for
example. There are many different levels in the hardware and software - where
the self knowledge about the system is used to good advantage.
controller technology can be adapted to work with any flash. In theory they
could populate production systems with the cheapest flash they can get and
even mix up the sources in the same SSD and still get a working system.
Nevertheless the company's deep knowledge of flash - means that (in my words)
there's little risk of cooking the memory cells to get the performance. And they
know which suppliers are better.
Earlier this year
to me how using adaptive DSP meant that you could get 60% faster write
performance out of MLC flash because the DSP gave you the data integrity when
using shorter write pulses and lower energy - which also leads to better
Anyway Rado explained - that once they
decided that they had to design a proprietary memory array - they knew they
also had to invest in the software layers to make it work within the enterprise
Internally their box is like an array of memory
connected to a switch. In that respect - it's similar to the RamSan systems from
Skyera's initial system isn't a
availability SSD - and although it has many essential enterprise features -
this will limit the appeal of the product in some applications. Nevertheless, I
know that many super users of SSDs would prefer to use their own cloud like
wraparound software - and all they need is a low cost scalable rack which they
can use as a component to build multi-petabyte SSDs.
Skyera said they
see traditional enterprise SSD apps like analytics being a good fit for the
HA is in the product roadmap and has hooks in the system
architecture. It will come later.
suggested to Skyera - that given how
company had been with SSD readers while they were still in stealth mode - the
problem they might have after this product launch would be too many inquiries.
That would place a burden on marketing to filter out the type of SSD leads
which were a good fit and those which were just curiosity.
Maybe we can
recycle the leads we don't want and sell them to other SSD companies - said
The SSD market will be watching Skyera with interest to see
if stacking all these new technologies together for the first time in a
system really works.
|"iSCSI used to be a
yawn zone for SSD developments. But no longer. These 6 companies are worth
knowing about if you have any iSCSI related plans.|
|Editor:- June 10, 2013 -
iSCSI SSD market|
|Skyera unifies 19nm MLC
arrays with 100x life |
|Editor:- May 21, 2013 - Skyera today
it has added unified storage operation (concurrent NAS and SAN) to its
pre-existing SSD box
comments:- this was already anticipated and factored in by potential
systems competitors that I've spoken to in the past several quarters.
interesting for me - is the "100x MLC life amplification" figure
recent blog by Skyera's CEO.
When you're asking what's possible
from combining controller
with software efficiencies
(don't do things which are unnecessary to access the true app data - as opposed
to emulating every just-in-case-we-need-it lookahead or spurious
hard drive traffic
request) the 100x figure is a useful competitive metric and shows what
you can integrating array level system software with already optimized drives.
It's all about being at the leading edge of the system
SSD price curve.
MLC Seniors live longer
in my SSD care home
|WD invests in Skyera|
|Editor:- March 12, 2013 - WD was one of the recent
investors in Skyera
- it was
We see companies like Skyera as offering a dramatic improvement
over traditional approaches to emerging storage challenges said Steve
Milligan, president and CEO, Western Digital.
people on this planet really understand the complex mix of technologies which
Skyera has mastered to architect one of the world's most efficiently
engineered SSD arrays - almost anyone can easily appreciate the results when
they're presented with the resulting price and performance."|
|Editor:- January 11, 2013 -
the Top SSD Companies
in Q4 2012|
significant emerging technology in 2012 was adaptive R/W DSP flash
in SSD - (December 20, 2012)|
a little more about its SSD software|
|Editor:- October 16, 2012 - Skyera today
a few more features of the software which supports its
rackmount SSDs - along with an overview
and some pretty pictures. |
Among other things - which were new to
me - administrators can allocate LUNs according to 3 different classes of SLA
for capacity and performance.
"A true solid-stage storage solution
must be more than simply sticking flash media and controllers in a box"
said Skyera's founder and CEO Rado Danilak.
comments:- as I said in the
SSD survivor's guide - "Software used to be SSD's enemy. Now it can be
SSD's best friend."
SSD design efficiency
articles worth seeing|
top 100 SSD
articles and blogs (updated monthly) is based on reader popularity. |
beginnning of the SSD search is a different place for everyone. Just as every
day someone is hearing the music of the
Beatles for the very first time
- so too do some old classic SSD articles and themes seem to endure.
if I had to suggest just 3 SSD articles - depending on who you are - it would
for experienced enterprise SSD readers
if you're new to the SSD market
- where are we
now with SSD software? - and how did we ever get into this mess? In the next
few years the software for SSDs will have as much impact as hardware
architecture did earlier. Don't expect this to be an orderly top-down process.
- the SSD Buyers Guide - will take you to groups of
articles and directories which are organized by technology and market theme.
- the Top 20 SSD
Companies - whatever your interest in SSDs - these are the companies which
are attracting the most interest amongst your peers.