At its core, the Kaminario story is simple:
- Throw out your disks and replace them with, not Flash, but actual DRAM.
Your IOPS (Input/Output Per Second) are so high* that you get the performance you need without any further system changes.
- The whole thing is very fast to set up.
In other words, Kaminario pitches a value proposition something like (my words, not theirs) “A shortcut around your performance bottlenecks.”
*1 million or so on the smallest Kaminario K2 appliance.
Kaminario asserts that both analytics and OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) are represented in its user base. Even so, the use cases Kaminario mentioned seemed to be concentrated on the analytic side. I suspect there are two main reasons:
- As Kaminario points out, OLTP apps commonly are designed to perform in the face of regrettable I/O wait.
- Also, analytic performance problems tend to arise more suddenly than OLTP ones do.*
*Somebody can think up a new analytic query overnight that takes 10 times the processing of anything they’ve ever run before. Or they can get the urge to run the same queries 10 times as often as before. Both those kinds of thing happen less often in the OLTP world.
Accordingly, Kaminario likes to sell against the alternative of getting a better analytic DBMS, stressing that you can get a Kaminario K2 appliance into production a lot faster than you can move your processing to even the simplest data warehouse appliance. Kaminario is probably technically correct in saying that; even so, I suspect it would often make more sense to view Kaminario K2 appliances as a transition technology, by which I mean:
- You have an annoying performance problem.
- Kaminario K2 could solve it very quickly.
- That buys you time for a more substantive fix.*
- If you want, you can redeploy your Kaminario K2 storage to solve your next-worst performance bottleneck.
On that basis, I could see Kaminario-like devices eventually getting to the point that every sufficiently large enterprise should have some of them, whether or not that enterprise has an application it believes should run permanently against DRAM block storage.
*Indeed, if you look at the four actual production examples on Slide 7 of an abridged Kaminario slide deck, at least three look like ones that really don’t need to live in RAM, the one possible exception being simulation. The same goes for other production use cases Kaminario shared.
In a bit of an oversight, I forgot to ask Kaminario about pricing.
Highlights of the Kaminario technical story include:
- Kaminario K2 appliances are network block devices.
- I.e., Kaminario K2 appliances look to applications or DBMS like any other kind of storage.
- Kaminario K2 appliances will happily be used for multiple applications at once.
- Kaminario K2 appliances store everything in DRAM.
- All data on Kaminario K2 appliances is mirrored twice on hard disk — once on the local node, once remotely.
- A Kaminario K2 system has two kinds of nodes – I/O Director and Data Node.
- Both start with single 2-socket blades, off-the-shelf from undisclosed hardware suppliers. (Kaminario wants one to be believe these are big-brand companies shipping their latest and greatest stuff.)
- A Kaminario Data Node also has a little more than 256 GB of RAM – i.e., 256 GB for data, plus a few percent more for the actual Kaminario software.
- A Kaminario Data Node also has two cheap SAS hard disks.
- A single Kaminario enclosure has 4 TB of DRAM for data. I guess that means 16 Data Nodes, but I find that a bit confusing, because …
- … the recommended ratio of Kaminario Data Nodes and I/O Directors is application-specific, typically somewhere in the 2:1 to 4:1 range.
- The Kaminario K2 uptime and recovery story includes:
- Kaminario K2 has no single point of failure.
- There’s always a hot spare node.
- As you might think, the off-node copy of a Kaminariio Data Node’s contents isn’t in one place; rather, it’s distributed more or less evenly among the other Data Nodes.
- Kaminario K2’s failover and all that is automatic – you don’t have to initiate anything to make it happen.
- Kaminario asserts that K2 enough bandwidth so that recovering from drive or node failures doesn’t hurt performance.
- Kaminario further notes that K2 hard drives aren’t stressed too much – no reads – so hopefully they won’t fail too often.
- Kaminario says that its core technology is a lot like an operating system, and that data distribution is pretty sophisticated, but I didn’t drill down into those claims.
Kaminario company highlights include:
- Kaminario started 5 years ago on Wall Street, whatever that means.
- Kaminario has close to 50 employees.
- Kaminario development is near Haifa, Israel. Kaminario headquarters are in Newton, MA.
- Kaminario K2 went GA in July. A dozen Kaminario customers are already in or near production. Kaminario claims it is already “far ahead” of plan.
- Early Kaminario vertical markets are financial services, telecom, web, and government. (That sounds a lot like the typical set of verticals for an analytic DBMS company.)
- Kaminario customers are supposedly so enthusiastic that some customers went from beta to production without Kaminario’s consent. (In a pattern other vendors have reported as well over the years, one classified customer didn’t even tell Kaminario it was doing this.
One last thing — it seems that DRAM often is classified as “solid-state” memory or storage. I’m OK with that.