Startup Launches Radical Inside-Out SAN

The French company finds a way to utilize spare storage capacity in application servers.

Seanodes, a startup based in Paris, introduced storage software Nov. 20 that enables organizations to make underutilized internal application server storage available for the first time as a virtualized storage pool.

Using a new architecture designed for high-performance computing and enterprise environments, Seanodes new Exanodes software identifies unused storage capacity in application servers and puts it to work in a companys production process.

"We are doing for storage what VMware has done for applications," Seanodes CEO and founder Jacques Baldinger told eWEEK.

"Exanodes is the exact symmetric: When VMware aggregates, organizes and consolidates CPUs in application servers, Exanodes aggregates, organizes and consolidates storage devices in application servers," he said. "With Seanodes Shared Internal Storage, server virtualization is pushed one step ahead to provide full storage infrastructure virtualization and full storage infrastructure consolidation."

Exanodes transforms the storage components inside commodity application servers into high-end virtualized storage pools, enabling businesses to quickly identify and take advantage of underutilized internal storage capacity, Baldinger said.


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"It sounds radical, I know, but companies that fully utilize our software will not have to buy storage hardware, period," he said. "There is a vast amount of capacity within regular [application and Web] servers that is generally never touched—its all just going to waste. Our software recovers and utilizes that wasted capacity."

Implementing Exanodes reduces management costs and minimizes the need for additional external network storage arrays, saving data center floor space and reducing power consumption, Baldinger said.

"The success of VMware Xen, and Microsofts Virtual Server, has been built by answering a very simple question: Why would I buy a large number of new servers when I already own so much unused processing power in my infrastructure?" said Seanodes Director of Business Development Frank Gana.

Shared Internal Storage, Gana said, takes advantage of what storage analyst firm IDC has called an "inside-out SAN (storage area network)." Exanodes architecture creates a self-healing, self-organizing, highly resilient storage infrastructure that enables each node in a system to function as both an application and a storage server, he said.

This eliminates the need and expense of dedicated storage servers, Gana said.

"The concept and benefits of an inside-out SAN are pretty obvious once you see them," said Laura Dubois, program director of storage software at IDC. "All the aggregate formatted capacity is available to all the application computers. No stranded capacity exists, and there is no single point of failure, since mirroring across computer systems would be employed. The inside-out SAN architecture helps to validate the converged IT infrastructure model for reduced complexity and lower TCO [total cost of ownership]."

Exanodes does not have to be deployed exclusively, Baldinger said. It will work alongside any block storage devices, hard disk drives, SSD, RAID and external DAS and is the only any-to-any connect shared internal storage software on the market today, he claimed.

"It is not intrusive in any way," Baldinger said.

Exanodes uses the parallelism of its infrastructure by allowing a sustained read or write performance of several gigabytes per second at a fraction of the cost of a traditional high-end NAS storage device, giving high performance without the addition of any dedicated storage hardware, he said.

The scalability of the Exanodes platform simplifies enterprise storage management by enabling high numbers of internal disks to be managed as a single shared storage pool. Exanodes supports ultra-fast RAID rebuilds by intelligently distributing the RAID set across multiple network nodes so that 1TB of data can be rebuilt in under an hour, minimizing the risks of a second disk failure during the rebuild window, Baldinger said.

A similar rebuild with conventional disk arrays can take days, he said.

"Shared Internal Storage is a true paradigm shift in network storage technology," Baldinger said. "Exanodes shatters the SAN/NAS platform with the affordable, highly scalable, high-performance Shared Internal Storage platform that radically alters the economics and metrics of shared storage. If you have an unlimited budget, IT resources, floor space and no problem with power consumption or concerns with the environment, Exanodes is not for you."

Privately held Seanodes was founded in 2002. The company, which has about 25 employees, has received several awards, including first prize in the "5eme Concours National de Creation dEntreprises de Technologies Innovantes," which honors the most promising French startup of the year for its patented technology.


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...