Category Archives: TUPodcast

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

EP22 – Excelero – NVMe Software-Defined Storage on Steroids – with Josh Goldenhar

In this 22nd episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we welcome Josh Goldenhar, VP of Products at Excelero. Prior to joining Excelero, Josh was responsible for product strategy and management at EMC (XtremIO) and DataDirect Networks.

Podcast co-hosts Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) and Arjan Timmerman (@Arjantim) talk with Josh about Excelero, the solution’s architecture, its use cases & differentiators.

Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Presentations & introduction to Excelero
  • 01:50 We learn that Excelero is software-based and uses NVMe drives. We ask Josh about whether there is a Hardware Compatibility List. Josh goes on to talk about custom built vs. co-engineered solutions (Dell, SuperMicro) and mentions a recently announced partnership with Lenovo.
  • 03:25 Josh explains how Excelero was built from the start to be hardware agnostic and provides a perspective about how each hardware vendor is looked at based on their own hardware specificities.
  • 04:46 Consuming Excelero: what customers need to do to get their Excelero storage up and running: either via pre-built appliances or via custom built hardware with installation of a couple RPM packages.
  • 06:40 Is Excelero block-based or file-based? Josh explains that Excelero is a block-based distributed storage and provides background about the rationale to go block-based only.
  • 08:40 We ask Josh about Excelero’s customers and their use cases. Low latency, consistency in response times, and ability to scale are key to those customers. Josh then goes on to explain some of the common challenges faced by web-scalers and how Excelero fits in the picture.
  • 11:25 The case of Technicolor, an Excelero customer – how the motion picture industry requires bandwidths akin to those used in HPC clusters
  • 12:35 Excelero storage deployment modes (disaggregated vs. converged) and their technical implications
  • 15:35 A look into network interconnects that are supported by Excelero and throughput capabilities
  • 19:20 Talking about HPC and Local Burst Buffer / Local Scratch – integration with SLURM job scheduler and local nodes
  • 23:50 Being mind blown and forgetting a question – the Venn Diagram of Happy and Sad
  • 24:20 Remembering a question – does Excelero supports different media / performance tiers (such as SATA SSD or HDD), or 3D XPoint. Josh provides a comprehensive view of what is supported backed by Excelero’s rationale about why things are being done or implemented in a specific way.
  • 27:30 How / where to purchase Excelero, and how is it licensed?
  • 30:15 Conclusion

EP21 – Discovering, the world’s fastest filesystem with Barbara Murphy

In this 21st episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we welcome Barbara Murphy, VP of Marketing at Weka was presenting at Storage Field Day 18 where Max had the opportunity to be physically present, and Arjan followed remotely thanks to the magic of the Interwebs(tm). claims to have the fastest, most scalable parallel file system for AI and for technical compute workloads. We set on a journey to ask Barbara Murphy some questions right about that topic.

Podcast co-hosts Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) and Arjan Timmerman (@Arjantim) talk with Barbara about her background and about  It’s been a privilege for us to talk with Barbara as she delivered a truly mind-blowing presentation at Storage Field Day 18. Barbara has more than 20 years of experience in the industry with past C-Level leadership positions in marketing at HGST, Panasas and others.Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Presentations & Introduction
  • 01:15 The architecture – a software-defined storage solution
  • 02:47 The filesystem and supported protocols
  • 04:06 What are the most common customer use cases for, and what is the adoption model? Are customers starting with AI/HPC and expanding usage to other use cases?
  • 06:10 What kind of storage media is recommended / supported with this software-defined storage system?
  • 08:30 Talking about the object store
  • 10:00 Scalability and performance – how to scale the filesystem, and is increase in performance predictable?
  • 11:52 What is the relationship between filesystem and other AI / HPC filesystems such as BeeGFS or GPFS?
  • 14:10 What is doing to stay ahead of the competition in massively parallel filesystems?
  • 16:01 Talking about Storage Field Day 18 and monster performance numbers
  • 17:42 Are benchmarks a truly reliable way to assess real world performance?
  • 19:18 Talking about partners, how can customers purchase the product and how it is licensed
  • 21:37 AWS was mentioned earlier, are cloud deployments supported? If yes, on which public cloud providers?
  • 23:35 How to install
  • 24:40 Conclusion

EP20 – Dell Technologies Netherlands – DataCenter Technology

During this podcast our host Arjan Timmerman talks with Tom van Peer who is the Enterprise Presales lead at Dell Technologies in the Netherlands. As the conversation is on the Datacenter technology that is provided by Dell Technologies, and thus focuses on things like Dell, EMC, VMware, Pivotal and other products in the Dell Technologies portofolio.

With Tom being someone that started his career at Philips, working on AI many years ago, we also focus on the AI trends that Tom sees these days, and what that means for a company like Dell Technologies. Also we talk about two upcoming events. One the Netherlands where Tom will talk about AI and also is focused around AI. You can find the (free) registration link below:

And the other event being Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas, where the TECHunplugged team will be as well. More information on that can be found at the link below:

Happy listening, and stay tuned for some awesome new content coming soon!

EP 19 – TECHunplugged preview of Dell Technologies World 2019

In this episode TECHunplugged hosts Max Mortillaro and Arjan Timmerman will do a preview on Dell Technologies World 2019 which they will both attend as analysts.

The conversation is on what we think about Dell Technologies, the past but also the road ahead for this great company. The companies under the Dell Technologies umbrella offer a great opportunity but need the right guidance and steering to act as one. Also Max takes us back to the Dell Technologies analyst event in Chicago late 2018 where he heard directly from Michael Dell and his team on the Dell Technologies vision.

We also talk about the opportunity we get to be at Tech Field Day Extra at Dell Technologies World 2019, and the awesomeness and opportunities provided by the Tech Field Day Team, which by the way celebrates its ten year anniversary (congrats team!!). Looking at their website we talk a little about the #TFDx sponsor Liqid and the composable infrastructure.

Last but not least we go into what we look forward on hearing at the event, as well as some of the #DTW sponsors like Komprise (listen to our podcast with them here) and Data Management and where we would like to see (and hear) Dell Technologies focus on the next couple of years.

Happy listening!

EP18 – Geeking out about Persistent Memory, 3D XPoint, 3D NAND and all things flashy with Rob Peglar

In this 18th episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we welcome storage & flash memory industry veteran Rob Peglar (@peglarr) who is also President of Advanced Computation and Storage LLC, and Member of the SNIA Board of Directors. For the younger ones, Rob is the former VP of Advanced Storage Memory at Micron (hello 3D XPoint) and former Americas CTO for Isilon (then EMC, today Dell Technologies).

Podcast co-hosts Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) and Arjan Timmerman (@Arjantim) talk with Rob about many exciting topics such as the evolution of the computer industry from a memory and architectural concepts perspective, to then discuss about the latest innovations in persistent memory, 3D XPoint, 3D NAND and other industry matters.

This podcast is the follow-up to a private discussion / peer review we have had with Rob following the publication of our industry research paper on “The Solid State Memory Industry in 2019“.

We’re glad to have welcomed Rob on this episode and we thank him for the very exciting discussion and geeking!

Show schedule:

  • 0:00 Introductions & Rob gives some background information about him
  • 2:56 The early days of computing, the TECHunplugged research paper on Solid-State Memory, and about what originally was solid-state memory
  • 04:25 Is ferrite core memory the ancestor of persistent memory?
  • 05:15 Parallels between old days persistent memory and today’s persistent memory, and the art of writing code
  • 07:01 Talking about the SNIA, persistent memory, and development frameworks on how to write code for systems with persistent memory
  • 09:47 Is persistent memory the tip of the iceberg? what are the drivers to persistent memory adoption?
  • 13:12 Will persistent memory be used as a cache layer to address denser storage? What about QLC? The case of VAST Data
  • 14:49 Looking at 3D XPoint and persistent memory from a non storage-centric perspective; going beyond cache
  • 17:44 Isn’t this brave new world of persistent memory just a redux of what existed 40 years ago?
  • 19:00 Talking about 3D NAND QLC / TLC, Storage Field Day 18 and Western Digital  – are 3D NAND density projections around 128-Layer and above realistic? What are the alternatives?
  • 23:00 What about the rise of 3D NAND manufacturing in China?
  • 25:36 Discussing about the future of 3D XPoint in light of the Intel-Micron split, and other « competing » (or rather emerging) technologies (MRAM, etc.)
  • 29:52 Conclusion

EP17 – Storpool: Being the best in Block Based storage – with Boyan Ivanov

In the 17th episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we’re joined by Boyan Ivanov, co-founder of StorPool Storage. Podcast co-hosts Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) and Arjan Timmerman (@Arjantim) talk with Boyan about the Storpool product offering, how the product has evolved, why customers are choosing for the Storpool product and what can we expect from Storpool in the future.

Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Max: Introduction
  • 00:40 Boyan: What and who is Storpool and what do they do?
  • 02:32 Arjan: What is the Storpool journey?
  • 03:08 Boyan: The history and a little future of Storpool
  • 04:25 Max: What is the primary driver of Storpool clients to choose them?
  • 04:50 Boyan: Storpool wants to be the best at block based storage and delivers on this
  • 6:34 Max: Could you tell a bit more on the Architecture of your product?
  • 6:47 Boyan: Started coding at the age of ten and does a bit deeper dive into the architecture
  • 8:48 Arjan: Not being a Silicon Valley company, how do you compete (or not) with them?
  • 9:38 Max: Another question on that, is the Storpool customer base European or Global?
  • 9:54 Boyan: Answer both questions on competing against Silicon Valley companies and being a global company
  • 12:08 Max: So Storpool being funded in much different way doesn’t feel the VC pressure as much?
  • 12:41 Boyan: Correct. Having a business that is resilient and self-funded is a much better sustainable way to grow a company
  • 14:04 Arjan: What is a feature your customer base is requesting at the moment?
  • 14:42 Boyan: Software approach first (SDS) and Backup and Recovery second (and everything in between)
  • 16:49 Arjan: Is that than something you’re building into the platform, or do you have partners helping you provide certain solutions?
  • 17:25 Boyan: Storpool is a pure software company, but also a storage team as a service
  • 19:15 Arjan: Can Storpool customers use on-prem and cloud data storage as one?
  • 19:48 Boyan: Not yet, but as the way forward is hybrid for Storpool this will be added
  • 20:53 Arjan: What about API’s, is Storpool as a software company API driven?
  • 21:03 Boyan: The Storpool product is entirely API driven
  • A last question from Arjan is on monitoring and Boyan answers this that Storpool provides its own monitoring as well as giving customers the opportunity to use the API and other tools to hook into their already existing monitoring tools.

TECHunplugged would like to Thank Boyan and Storpool for this very informative podcast and we’re looking forward to hearing a lot more from this great company!

EP16 – Rubrik: beyond Data Protection and into Data Management – with Filip Verloy

In this 16th episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast (recorded on 24-Jan-2019) we’re welcoming Filip Verloy, EMEA Field CTO for Rubrik. Podcast co-hosts Arjan Timmerman (@Arjantim) and Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) talk with Filip about a lot of things: his tenure at Rubrik, how the product has evolved, why customers are interested in Rubrik’s approach, what is that new Data Management trend, and what can we expect from Rubrik going forward.

Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:10 Is three years at a startup a long time?
  • 01:46 Rubrik’s mission statement in Filip’s own words
  • 03:17 Is Rubrik a sort of “iPhone revolution” for Data Protection?
  • 06:31 What is the most valuable reason why customers choose Rubrik over their competition?
  • 10:22 Polaris & metadata collection use cases
  • 13:53 Radar: the first application on top of Polaris; the concept behind Radar and how it helps Rubrik customers
  • 17:04 Beyond Radar: what can we expect next, and what about leveraging metadata to comply with GDPR?
  • 20:26 Rubrik and the cloud / multicloud story: what can customers do, what are the options?
  • 23:05 Getting a unified view of all datasets across multiple clouds with Rubrik Polaris, and helping move data between clouds
  • 25:30 How can customers consume the Rubrik products / platform, and are there any OEM Alliances / Partnerships?

EP15 – Promethium: a data context solution for governance and analytics – Kaycee Lai

In the 15th episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we’re recording we’ll be talking with Kaycee Lai, founder and CEO of Promethium. Podcast co-host Arjan Timmerman (@Arjantim) talks with Kaycee Lai (@MrDedupe) on the technology that Promethium provides for their customers. This solution provides analytics and the correct information for companies with data lakes. Things like GDPR and other governance and regulations needed by the promethium customers can be addressed by the Promethium software, and thus the question arises if Promethium is the next level data management platform.

Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:18 The challenge of massive data growth
  • 02:20 Understanding the context of data
  • 03:03 Are huge data lakes a requirement to use Promethium?
  • 04:20 Kaycee covers the complexity of IT environments and data fragmentation regardless of the existence or not of data lakes
  • 05:00 The challenge of knowing what to look for and how to handle the data after it has been found
  • 07:48 Extracting and handling the data is currently a manual process that is hard to scale
  • 09:03 Data types in scope for Promethium
  • 09:38 Is Promethium the next level of data management?
  • 10:19 What is needed to sort out the problem and how is it consumed?
  • 11:25 Has Promethium any customers yet, and what is their typical profile?
  • 13:40 What about the AI part – is Promethium really using AI, or is it just a fancy name for algorithms?
  • 16:20 What about partnerships and synergies with other companies?
  • 18:06 The Promethium team, growth and forecast for 2019
  • 19:17 Is Promethium available as a SaaS-only offering or are there any other options?
  • 20:45 Closing remarks

EP14 – AI / Technology and the Magic World of Regulations, Transparency and Ethics – Live at NetApp Insight with Greg Knieriemen (Part 2)

In this 14th episode of the TECHunplugged Podcast we’re recording again live at NetApp Insight 2018 in Las Vegas. Podcast co-host Max Mortillaro (@darkkavenger) talks with former Tech Field Day delegate and now NetApp Chief Technologist Greg Knieriemen (@Knieriemen) about AI, emerging technology and legislation, transparency, ethics matters in a discussion that goes pretty much in all possible directions. Excuse us for the background music / noise, this was recorded at the NetApp insight conference in Las Vegas in a public space because we couldn’t find a quieter place.

Show schedule:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:06 Greg and Max discuss the impact of AI as a potential next industrial revolution
  • 03:30 AI as an opportunity, and making sure we can assess -and prevent- the potential negative consequences
  • 05:05 Aren’t some of the last industrial revolution’s negative outcomes a matter of wrong policies?
  • 06:10 Should the industry take a leadership role in governance, or should that remain with legislative powers? And what about employees getting vocal about the ethics of the companies they work for? Greg talks about technology being neutral, being a principled person, and the legitimate need for transparency.
  • 11:30 Open societies and gag orders
  • 13:15 Are legislators able to catch up with the pace of technology?
  • 17:50 Plugging back into AI – Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics
  • 19:00 Science-Fiction or Dystopia? Greg isn’t scared about this 🙂