September 14, 2011

Kaminario goes (mainly) flash

Kaminario, which used to be in the business of solid state storage via DRAM, now is emphasizing hybrid DRAM/flash storage appliances instead. The reason is evidently price. Per terabyte of primary storage (before mirroring onto disk and so on):

Kaminario positions DRAM as where you focus your most write-intensive/ bottlenecking loads, such as logging or temp space, with the primary benefit being performance and a secondary benefit being slowing the wear on your flash.

If you want even your mirrors to be on flash — which Kaminario says greatly reduces the temporary performance hit in case of a failure — there will be an additional charge. Perhaps Kaminario will dig up a price number and post it in the comment thread.

The flash comes in via Fusion-io cards. Kaminario stresses that it sells a SAN (Storage Area Network) kind of offering, as opposed to the shared-nothing way one might otherwise use Fusion-io cards in servers’ PCIe slots. Kamanario further asserts its built-in high availability is both smoother and less costly than Texas Memory Systems or Violin Memory alternatives; Kaminario is generally proud of its high availability features, down to redundant uninterruptible power supplies. Apparently the sweet spot of Kaminario’s market is single-chassis 5-6 TB systems, but Kaminario asserts seamless elasticity even if you grow into a second chassis.

Price resistance seems to have gotten strongly in the way of Kaminario’s growth, although the company was evasive about customer counts and the like. But it does now have 60+ employees and an aggressive hiring plan, vs. <50 when I wrote about Kaminario a year ago. I do believe that many enterprises would benefit from throwing solid-state storage at certain performance problems, at least as a band-aid, while they contemplate software changes.* But evidently Kaminario has had difficulties — especially at the DRAM-only price point — getting customers to agree, or at least to agree that Kaminario K2 was a sufficiently cost-effective way to address the issue.

*If you like, you can regard this as deferring repayment of your technical debt.

Kaminario’s comments about how its technology is or will be applied are all over the place (again, I think part of this is due to having a small number of customers overall, and wanting to conceal how small that number is). But in general Kaminario has seen more OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) than analytic uptake, which contributes to them thinking that low latency is a bigger deal than raw IOPS (Input/Output Per Second). Certainly Kaminario is focused on database applications of some kind or other, generally running on big-name DBMS such as Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server


6 Responses to “Kaminario goes (mainly) flash”

  1. Igor on September 14th, 2011 9:20 am

    What’s the storage capacity and speed (IOPS and Gbps) of their DRAM, flash and hybrid appliances?
    Price by itself is rather meaningless – for example, 100K$ would be a great price for 2+TB of RAM and very bad price for 256GB or less.

  2. Curt Monash on September 15th, 2011 10:24 am


    I addressed price/TB in the post.

  3. Tom on October 28th, 2011 9:57 pm

    This whole SSD thing scares me still…

    What if two or more Fusion cards were to fail in the array? Wouldn’t Kaminario loose data…

    Or perhaps if certain data was erased off the flash &/or DRAM portion of the system and written to the spinning disk, as your Architectural White Paper states the system does to not frequently used data, wouldn’t you be susceptible to the same “disk” limitations that have preceded us for all these years when that data is needed quickly…

  4. Curt Monash on October 28th, 2011 11:09 pm


    A small chance of temporary bad performance or even down time is a lot more tolerable than than a small chance of data loss, so I wouldn’t equate the two scenarios at all.

  5. Tom on October 29th, 2011 10:39 pm

    But Curt…. I have to be somewhat firm here. If the application I manage goes down people loose money. I loose money. My bonus would be directly & proportionately affected. I CAN NOT be down at all & Fusion cards fail all the time. They just do. And so doesn’t Dell blades. Come on… Dell?

    I don’t know. I get that they are close. But they are not financial industry tier 1, as the marketing suggests.

  6. Curt Monash on October 30th, 2011 9:00 pm

    Well, if it’s financial trading then, yes, going down means missing the opportunity to make money.

    If it’s just taking orders that could be placed an hour or day later, however, I suspect that some of the demands for uptime are overstated …

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