Heretical Seanodes Shares Storage With No External Hardware

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Shared storage needs NAS and SAN hardware doesn’t it? Not if you listen to Jacques Baldinger, CEO of Seanodes, a radical storage start-up based in Paris.

Truly “disruptive” companies are rare, but Paris-based Seanodes might be one – not because it has a new concept, but because it takes an older idea and refines it for today’s virtualised IT world.

That’s correct. It requires no external storage hardware. No storage box, no controller, no SAN or NAS – nothing. There are no distributed software agents; every node in the system with an IP address gets discovered and accounted for, and the storage it contains flows into the central pool for production.

An enterprise’s data becomes tucked away in chunks throughout a system, including in production and non-production database servers, Web servers, and dedicated application servers. IT managers can choose which servers they want to use for storage and which ones they don’t.

This pooled-storage concept was used in some systems in the mainframe days of the 1960s through ’80s, but not to the extent that Seanodes uses it.

“Most of a data centre system’s storage capacity is wasted, just sits there, and is never utilised,” Seanodes CEO and founder Jacques Baldinger told me. “It’s overhead disk space that never gets used because the conventional wisdom is to always have much more than you actually need to get the work done.”

Seanodes’ Exanodes was originally designed as an architecture for high-performance computing and enterprise environments.

Seanodes, which totals only about 100 employees – in its development centre in Colomiers, France, and at its corporate offices near Paris and in Cambridge, Massachusetts – also brings to the table an intriguing green IT concept: It puts to work virtually all of a system’s wasted spinning disk capacity for a hugely smaller power draw than a typical storage set-up that spins up numerous NAS, SAN and SATA disks and cools them in racks.

Naturally, conventional storage companies dismiss the whole concept of jettisoning external storage racks to move it over to internal production capacity.

“I’ve never heard of a dumber thing in my life,” one marketing rep from a prominent data storage company told me. “Why would anybody want to mix up dedicated application and DB servers with tiered storage? Two different animals, totally. Talk about mixing oil and water!”

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