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November 9, 2020

Qumulo Adds Dynamic Scalability to Distributed File System


With the new dynamic scale feature that Qumulo added to its distributed file system today, customers can add any type of storage node to the cluster, and its software will automatically bring it in. The company also bolstered security by making encryption a standard feature.

Qumulo is a software company, and it certifies vendors’ hardware storage to work with its distributed file system, which is used for storing massive numbers of files for advanced analytics, HPC, and AI workloads, among others.

If a Qumulo client see new a newly certified storage type and they would like to use it because it is faster, cheaper, or bigger than what they’re currently using, it’s a simple matter to pop the new hardware into their current cluster. Ben Gitenstein, the vice president of product management for Qumulo, calls it “node compatibility.”

“You don’t have to build a new cluster. You don’t have to build a pool of the new thing and combine the new pool with the old pool,” Gitenstein says. “You just add the new node to your old system, and we take care of the rest. We balance your data and all that good stuff.”

The company’s simplicity mantra was also on display with its new encryption feature. Instead of making customers worry about whether a particular piece of data is encrypted, it decided to just encrypt everything that is on its file system.

Encrypting everything by default helps Qumulo customers by eliminating the complexity that’s inherent with managing different levels of security, Gitenstein says.

“When you go talk to customers, one of the things they’ll tell you is increasingly they’re getting yelled at by the chief security officer that everything has to be encrypted at rest,” he says. “It could be because of malicious attacks coming from outside or fear that somebody might get access to the data center or just that you have to comply with audit. But they’re all getting that requirement dropped on them.”

Instead of forcing Qumulo customers to juggle different pools of data with different encryption requirements, Qumulo decided that just automatically encrypting everything was the best solution. There is no additional cost to getting AES-256 encryption for data at rest, Gitenstein says, and it’s transparent to the end-users, who won’t even know they’re working with encrypted data.

The company also improved the speed of software upgrades. With the latest release, upgrades of container-based Qumulo file systems will be completed within 20 seconds, regardless of the size of the data environment, the company says.

Qumulo also improved its interoperability with AWS S3. While the company’s file system is designed for SMB and NFS workloads, Qumulo customers occasionally want to interface with the S3 object store, particularly for storing large datasets that aren’t expected to change much.

In a past release. Qumulo added the capability to replicate a directory from the Qumulo file system directly to an AWS S3 bucket, where it would be stored as a native S3 object that can be accessed in any manner that AWS allows.

With this release, Qumulo has added a nifty GUI on top of this feature, which is called Qumulo Shift. The new GUI makes it easier for users to access the feature, Qumulo says.

Gitenstein sees a need for Qumulo to co-exist with object stores like S3, even if Gartner is forecasting that distributed file systems and object stores will eventually merge into a single “universal storage” layer. Object stores and file systems are good at different things, and customers invariably will use both of them going forward.

Just as Qumulo is making it easy to add hardware of different vintages into the same Qumulto cluster, making that integration with object stores as painless as possible is Qumulo’s goal at the moment, Gitenstein says.

“Our job in that world is simplicity,” he says. “It is possible with other products to put together an infrastructure that will serve those applications, but you’ll never get home to see your family, because it’s so painful to use.  Whether it’s cobbling together different types of hardware or creating complicated tiering systems or running different storage or file product for each application, your brain explodes with the complexity as a manger of all that stuff. We see our job as making all of that really, really simple. That’s our big focus.”

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