CacheIQ Rises From The Ashes Of StorSpeed

While I've gotten used to the vulture-capital-driven creative destruction of companies in the tech business, even I sometimes get whiplash at how fast the VCs will eat their young. While cloud storage gateway vendor Cirtas is the latest example, NAS caching startup StorSpeed set a new land speed record coming out of stealth in October 2009 and blowing up just five months later. Now StorSpeed founder Greg Dahl, and a new executive team, have re-entered the market as CacheIQ.

Howard Marks

May 9, 2011

2 Min Read
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While I've gotten used to the vulture-capital-drivencreative destruction of companies in the tech business, even I sometimes get whiplashat how fast the VCs will eat their young. While cloud storage gateway vendor Cirtas is the latest example, NAS cachingstartup StorSpeed set a new land speed record coming out of stealth in October2009 and blowing up just five months later.  Now StorSpeed founder Greg Dahl, and a newexecutive team, have re-entered the market as CacheIQ.

The founders of CacheIQ--including NetQoS founder JoelTrammell and sales wiz Keith carpenter, in addition to StorSpeed survivor Dahl--havetaken StorSpeed's basic concept of a network protocol-oriented read cache forNFS traffic and adopted it to run on commodity hardware. This avoids the costs, andlong production/test cycles that custom hardware like StorSpeed was usingentail.

CacheIQ's RapidCache joins products from Avere,Alacritech and Violin Memory in providing an external cache for NFS traffic such as VMware hosts and Oracle databases. Theseother caching systems mount the back-end storage system via NFS and present anew mount point to the servers and/or users that are accessing the data. While this allows the vendors to add additionalFAN (file area network)-style NAS virtualization, like Avere's new global namespace, it also somewhat complicates the configuration.

Instead of terminating the NFS connections, CacheIQ insertsits Flow Director, a 24-port 10Gbps Ethernet switch, in the data path betweenthe user systems and the back-end storage. The Flow Director "sniffs" the data passing on non-NFS traffic and referringNFS traffic to the cluster of data servers that store the cache. A typical RapidCache installation has a pairof redundant Flow Directors and up to eight data servers. Each data server is asix-core Westmere-based server with 144GBytes of RAM and up to 3.2TBytes of flash SSDscreating a two-tiered caching architecture.

Should the data server(s) fail, the system just forwards alltraffic to the back-end storage as a switch. In fact, you can even have someaccess go through the RapidCache and other access, like backup traffic, bypassthe cache. The system checks the back endfor updates, like client-side caching does, so users accessing data from thecache don't get stale data. And, since it doesn't cache writes, there aren'tquestions about whether the data on the back end storage is up to date. I'm intrigued by the whole external caching market and amglad to see a new player with a different approach. I wish CacheIQ good luck.

About the Author(s)

Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger

Howard Marks</strong>&nbsp;is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage systems, networks, management systems and Internet strategies at organizations including American Express, J.P. Morgan, Borden Foods, U.S. Tobacco, BBDO Worldwide, Foxwoods Resort Casino and the State University of New York at Purchase. The testing at DeepStorage Labs is informed by that real world experience.</p><p>He has been a frequent contributor to <em>Network Computing</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>InformationWeek</em>&nbsp;since 1999 and a speaker at industry conferences including Comnet, PC Expo, Interop and Microsoft's TechEd since 1990. He is the author of&nbsp;<em>Networking Windows</em>&nbsp;and co-author of&nbsp;<em>Windows NT Unleashed</em>&nbsp;(Sams).</p><p>He is co-host, with Ray Lucchesi of the monthly Greybeards on Storage podcast where the voices of experience discuss the latest issues in the storage world with industry leaders.&nbsp; You can find the podcast at: http://www.deepstorage.net/NEW/GBoS

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