EP23 – Lightbits Labs: NVMe Flash Performance Commoditization via NVMe over TCP – with Kam Eshghi

In this 23rd episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we welcome Kam Eshghi, VP of Strategy & Business Development at Lightbits Labs. This episode was recorded live at Dell Technologies World 2019 (early May 2019) in Las Vegas.

Lighbits Labs have developed a software-defined storage solution leveraging NVMe over TCP. Their solution allows the disaggregation of storage from compute by offering DAS performance with enterprise-class data services, combined with massive scalability.

A sizeable part of the founding team was behind DSSD, a storage solution which was later purchased by Dell EMC. DSSD was one of the very first storage architectures leveraging NVMe drives, which gives some confidence about Lightbits Labs NVMe over TCP concept. Lightbits Labs was founded 3 years ago and went out of stealth mode in April 2019, so we’re really thrilled to get prime time with them!

During the course of the discussions, podcast co-host Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) talks with Kam about the product architecture, its concepts and the use cases for NVMe over TCP.

Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Presentations, introduction to Lightbits Labs and NVMe over TCP
  • 02:00 Addressing the challenge of scalability of DAS and performance of traditional architectures
  • 03:30 The genesis of NVMe over TCP, and why NVMe over TCP is relevant today
  • 05:20 Kam states that no specific drivers are needed, and that Lightbits Labs made its source code available
  • 05:45 All of the intellectual property of Lightbits Labs resides on the target side; Kam also mentions that Lightbits Labs sell a hardware solution called SuperSSD, and that they also have an optional accelerator card
  • 06:22 Max & Kam discuss about partnerships & go to market strategy: software-only, via Dell OEM, or via the Lightbits SuperSSD appliance
  • 08:00 Kam: « All you need to get started is a server with NVMe drives and a standard Ethernet NIC »
  • 08:30 Let’s talk architecture and data services
  • 09:45 Kam mentions a « Global FTL » – that has Max interested in understanding how the internal logic of NVMe SSD drives is managed
  • 12:30 More insights into data services
  • 13:45 Understanding the customer base and use cases for Lightbits Labs: SaaS companies, Service Providers, etc.
  • 15:40 Talking about data protection, replication, and availability
  • 16:30 Application use case: distributed databases (Cassandra, MongoDB, etc.) and High-Performance Analytics workloads, and over all anything that requires high performance and operates at scale
  • 18:00 Max’s usual « WOW » / speechless moment; Kam shares his excitement about adopting customers, not only Hyperscalers but also Private Cloud initiatives in with Enterprise IT organisations
  • 19:00 Since Lightbits Labs is block-based, Max raises the question as to whether there are any plans to offer managed services in the plan, if it makes sense at all
  • 20:15 Covering the topic of licensing models
  • 21:09 What about the optional acceleration card? Kam explains that the card sits on storage nodes, and the decision points about why it may make sense to use the acceleration card. This offers flexibility to customers who may want to select entry level CPUs to keep costs in control.
  • 23:30 Thanks and Conclusion