Shared storage solutions StorPool

StorPool: How and why we started

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The StorPool Story

We started StorPool at the very end of 2011. At the time our management team was running two other IT companies – one doing ultra-high performance networking software (now some of this is called software-defined networking or SDN). The other company was doing Data Warehouse consulting (now Big Data is the cool word for essentially the same thing). We were not directly in the shared storage solutions business, still in most customer meetings the topic of storage reappeared time and again:

“storage is too complex”, “storage is hard to scale”, “storage is too expensive”, “storage is not flexible”.

Coming from a deeply technical background, with practical knowledge spanning across the whole IT stack – from servers, network and storage, through rack-level design, power and cooling to software and application stacks – we knew that the storage piece was broken. The whole concept of running data storage on single-purpose, specialized SAN storage arrays was becoming a limiting factor. It was not keeping up with the evolving business demands.

We believed we could solve this challenge – and solve it better than others – and thus we took a white sheet of paper to design the storage solution of the 21-st century. As a result StorPool was started at the very end of 2011 to make storage simpler, yet more effective and affordable. Exactly how storage should be! This was about two years before buzzwords like “software-defined” were born…

We believe in focus. This is why we focused on StorPool exclusively. When we designed StorPool, we decided to focus on a particular set of use cases as a start and build the best solution for them, instead of going wide and boiling the ocean.

We wanted to deliver a block-level, fully distributed storage system, which was implemented as intelligent storage software running on standard x86 servers (and standard hardware) together with applications. It had to be extremely fast, extremely efficient and of course – extremely reliable. Again at 2011 nobody was publicly speaking about this approach.

We started working on this concept and quickly realized that no one had ever done anything similar.

There were just a couple of research papers, sketching how a system like this would work. Good. Except for they couldn’t be implemented in practice, as they were abstract and theoretical and did not take into account…basic laws of physics. They were good for about 1% of the solution, while we also needed those 99% missing in order to find a way to solve some deadlocks that no one had solved before.

It took us roughly 3 years of development and thousands of versions to make StorPool the perfect of all shared storage solutions.

As a result we have arguably the fastest and the most efficient block-level storage software on the market today. It is more flexible and better thought-out than all alternative storage systems and especially shared storage solutions we’ve seen.

Initially people didn’t understood what we were doing, nor why we were doing it. Some thought it is not a good idea, some were focusing on the problems alone. Others thought it was impossible. In 2013 we had a meeting with the CTO of one of the largest virtualization companies in the world.

We showed what StorPool’s early implementation was able to do in terms of performance:

  • “But this is impossible”, was his comment.
  • “Well, maybe it’s impossible for you, but we didn’t know that, so we just built it! And here it is.”, we replied.

As any good idea – it needs to come at a certain time. Come too early and you’ll fail. Come too late and you’re left behind, no matter how much you struggle to push your “me-too” product.

As mentioned above StorPool was designed from the ground up. It has unique architecture and outstanding implementation of this architecture. This is the reason why it is arguably the fastest and most efficient software-defined storage solution on the market today. It replaces traditional SANs, all-flash arrays (AFA) or other less-efficient storage software products with a breeze. StorPool relies on standard servers to build a fast, scalable and reliable shared storage solutions. It is highly flexible and can be deployed in both converged setups (on compute nodes, alongside VMs and applications) and on separate storage nodes. This approach not only makes the entire IT stack less expensive, it also makes it simpler and more flexible.

Most companies which build public or private clouds still struggle and use specialized storage arrays to store the data. Our mission is to help these cloud-builders to build simpler, smarter, more efficient clouds, at much lower costs. We deliver on our mission by developing the fastest and the most efficient distributed storage software. We are also making it available on a global scale.

StorPool is the best storage solution when building a cloud.

However we’re not our software. We’re a team, who wants to help other companies succeed. We truly believe in win-win situations. Most vendors operate in this win-lose world (in their head) in which for them to win, someone else has to lose. Their competitors have to go out of business. Their customers’ wallets have to be “squeezed”.

We believe that the storage industry has used its power to push the scales too much in their favour. We talk to many companies who still use local/DAS storage since they cannot afford a proper shared storage solutions. Even the companies that use proper SAN now realize the business case no longer works, because “the margin of my service is already eaten-up by the big vendors providing the infrastructure”.

We are bakers

We do not believe in eating someone’s lunch. We believe in producing more, so everyone is better off. We believe that by providing an outstanding storage solution at a fair price, we’ll create new markets. Companies, that never had proper storage will now have a resilient, fast, scalable and yet affordable solution. Everyone will win. Market is vast, data is skyrocketing. Do not lock-in. Empower.

Of course we would not get so far without help from many, many people.

We have a great team who is professional, ambitious and result-driven. We funded the company by venture money, invested in 3 rounds by angels, LAUNCHub and IT Web. We had numerous formal and informal advisors from companies like Amazon, Brocade, Cisco, Google, GreyLock, Lazard, SiteGround, Telerik, VMware and many more. We had the full support of our friends and family and without their support one cannot build a great company.

Now, four years later, thousands of iterations, 3 funding rounds, tens of customers, we’re just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible. Be welcome to join our journey in delivering “How Storage Should Be”!

Boyan Ivanov, Co-founder and CEO

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