Kaminario’s Performance and 7-Year Flash Life Warranties

Kaminario LogoToday Kaminario added a performance guarantee and a 7-year warranty to its arsenal.  The company introduced its “Consistency Under Failure Guarantee” which ensures customers will see no more than a 25% drop in performance during a system failure.  This means that critical operations and applications can continue to run at near-standard performance despite the failure of an SSD or even an entire node.  Kaminario president Dani Golan told The SSD Guy last week that this is a conservative guarantee, and that few customers see more than a 10% degradation during failure tests in their own production systems.

As for the 7-year flash endurance warranty, no matter which SSD is used in a Kaminario system (and the architecture is SSD agnostic) the company guarantees that it will last for 7 years of operation under an enterprise workload, or 2-4 years longer than the SSD maker’s warranty.  Kaminario calls this its “Flash Endurance Booster”.

How do they do this?

It all ties back to Kaminario’s unique SPEAR technology and “scale-out” architecture.  By randomly dispatching data and mirrored copies across a number of nodes all data remains available even if any one node is taken offline.  In addition, Kaminario coalesces SSD writes in DRAM, only relocating them to the SSD when absolutely necessary, reducing SSD write activity often by an order of magnitude from the cluster’s write activity.  The usual worries about staging writes to DRAM are mitigated by the fact that even this DRAM is mirrored in a High Availability approach to staged writing.  The systems are designed to have no Single Point of Failure (SPoF) sensing both hardware and software errors to failover to a healthy node.

The new specifications are aimed square at the issues that keep IT managers awake at night: Performance guarantees and reliability.  Today’s world of System Level Agreements (SLAs) leave little room for performance degradation during failures.  As for reliability, perhaps the single greatest reason that SSDs have not already swept the market is the concern IT professionals harbor that an SSD will wear out and suddenly become unusable.  By addressing these two issues Kaminario clears a path for successful sales to the more skittish element of IT, which is a large part of the market.

Is Kaminario taking too big of a risk with these guarantees?  I don’t think so.  As I mentioned above, few of Kaminario’s customers have experienced more than a 10% performance decrease when a node is taken offline, so a 25% guarantee is amply covered.  As for the 7-year warranty, not only do the SPEAR architecture’s staged writes lower the burden on the SSDs, but SSDs themselves are generally specified very conservatively, and the flash they use is also conservatively specified, so it is quite possible that the SSD would have lasted much longer than 7 years even without the staged writes.

Here’s a tip of the hat for the company in its efforts to address IT manager concerns head-on.

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