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Cash and Burn: A Storage David Stalks Goliath

In his new column, NWC editor David Greenfield explores the best and brightest start-ups making pings on our industry's radar. First up, a new Israeli company aiming to be

Grid storage players have tried to undercut those prices, with mixed results. Features and performance haven't always been up to snuff. Now Ofir Zohar and his cadre of co-graduates from Talpiot--the MIT of the Israeli army's tech programs--claim to have produced a Tier 1 grid storage system, Nextra, with all of the replication, availability and hot swapability you'd expect from such a system, for just $5,000 per raw TB.

As for performance, Zohar says that in synthetic testing they held their own against EMC and 3ParData, but in the real world he's seen transaction performance gains of three to four times over the Series 3.

Granted that in 20 years in this business, I can't ever recall a vendor trumpeting slower storage speeds, but Zohar's claims carried more weight when a buddy of mine evaluating the system described performance as "phenomenal," and that testing had gone "beyond expectations."

Like other grid storage systems, Nextra's performance comes from a combination of fine-grained data chunking, mass parallelism, grid architecture and an advanced caching subsystem. Files are broken down into 1-MB increments, then written across volumes that span many drives. This massive parallel retrieval is further helped, Zohar says, by a unique caching design that situates more CPUs closer to cache, reducing latency--leading XIV to file some 50 patents.

The architecture helps in other ways. With data written across so many drives, a failed drive can be rebuilt within 15 minutes, and automatic recovery is possible even on a controller or processor failure. What's more, data replication does not impact performance, Zohar says. It also means storage planning becomes easier, with no need to define RAID groups and the like.

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