2 exabytes down, 998 to go…

For those of you who have been tracking the rise of Universal Storage into the market, you already know that our growth trajectory has been nothing short of meteoric. It has been both a delight and a wonder to watch the efforts of our engineering and operations team as we bring up massive clusters all over the world. To date, our customers have acquired roughly two exabytes of all-flash infrastructure that our team is now busy delivering, maintaining, expanding…and while this feels like a landmark accomplishment, the reality is that we’re just getting started.

A zettabyte is 1,000x the capacity of an exabyte. As we plan for the next wave of VAST adoption, a zettabyte isn’t a bad north star to keep us focused. To get there – we’ve been thinking through the mechanics associated with turning things up to 11, and one of the topics we have been continually looking to improve is the Universal Storage supply chain.

It’s a bit funny for a software company to talk about supply chain. In April of this year we announced VAST’s Gemini storage and software consumption model, pioneering a new way for customers to consume, scale and refresh storage. With Gemini, customers can now buy commodity hardware infrastructure directly from the contract manufacturer partners. The hardware is an engineered system that is an ideal vehicle for our software, and is delivered to customers along with our software as a true, turnkey enterprise appliance. Here, when we think and talk in terms of supply chain – we’re not speaking of our supply chain but rather our customers’ supply chain as they purchase the hardware we prescribe.

An exabyte-level selling motion establishes VAST as a real business. The stakes are now very high and we have customers that depend on us to support the lifeblood of their business. To support the needs of these customers – it’s time to streamline and diversify the Universal Storage hardware supply chain. Today we wanted to discuss some of our efforts to improve how hardware is delivered to our customers from our partners:

  1. Multi-Site, International Manufacturing. We want to diversify and de-risk the locations we manufacture as to not have any one specific concentration of activity.
    1. Since Avnet has exceeded the capacity of their first production line in California, they’ve taken the opportunity to establish a second production facility out of Chandler, Arizona.
    2. As our international team ramps up, there are other shipping, tax and fulfillment advantages to having production in Europe. As such, the Avnet team will be establishing its third VAST integration facility in Germany later in 2022.
  2. A Multi-Vendor Hardware Ecosystem. Just as with our manufacturing sites, it’s equally important for us to support (at least) a dual-vendor strategy for all of the components that comprise a Universal Storage cluster. This move will create a competitive sourcing environment for our customers and will derisk dependencies on single vendors. This is a long-range effort that will involve several elements of our architecture. While our software simply uses commodity technology, our QA investments are very large so we’re working with different component providers to diversify the supply chain without compromising on quality.
We have already worked with Avnet to select a second NVMe enclosure supplier that will launch into the market next year. Mellanox has already made some statements about our work with BlueField DPUs and we’ll provide more details about this later next year when Avnet is ready to ship.
We have also recently finished qualification of our second storage class memory device, the Kioxia FL6 Series enterprise NVMe™ SCM SSDs. Announced in September of this year, this drive uses a strain of ‘fast flash’ to deliver performance that is comparable to Intel Optane SSDs in the Mavericks (56-slot) enclosure our customers use. From a customer experience, our system’s performance delta is non-discernable.

As customers have started to appreciate all of the applications and advantages of storage class memory, SSD manufacturers have brought to market a number of alternatives to Intel’s Optane SSD technology. While we’re happy to announce our partnership with Kioxia – it’s important to note that our partnership with Intel has never been stronger, and we’re not stopping. VAST and Intel are planning a number of significant additional collaborations in the future. Going forward, we will promote a balance of trade, the Universal Storage supply chain will simply spread the business between our partners so they can all participate in our success.

That’s the update for now, but we still have more work to do as we race toward the zettabyte milestone. Going forward, we will continue to update as we extend and enhance the capability of the Universal Storage supply chain. If you have any questions about our technology partnerships, our hardware specifications or our customer’s commodity supply chain options, just reach out.