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Igneous Systems delivers IaaS with hyperscale nano servers

Igneous Systems offers IaaS that uses nano servers to store data on- premises and is managed by the vendor remotely on a cloud subscription basis.

Startup Igneous Systems is out of stealth mode with the Igneous Data Service, a managed infrastructure-as-a-service platform that provides an Amazon S3-based cloud and resides on premises.

The service is based on Igneous' proprietary hyperscale technology. The key piece of the infrastructure is a nano server, which is a consumer-grade disk with an ARM-based CPU and Ethernet connection. The "system-on-a-chip" contains a Linux-based Marvell 32-bit Armada 370 processor with two Cortex-A9 cores running at up to 1GHz. Each nano server is enclosed in a 4U dataBox that holds 60 drives and includes redundant Ethernet switches. A 1U dataRouter connects the nano servers to protocol endpoints. A minimum configuration consists of one dataBox and two dataRouters.

Igneous is going after customers who can't or don't want to send data off to a public cloud, but who also don't want to manage their own infrastructure.

"The infrastructure resides on the customer's premises, behind the firewall," said Steve Pao, Igneous Systems' chief marketing officer. "We install it. We monitor our equipment remotely over the cloud so the customer doesn't have to worry about it."

All data stays on the customer site and Igneous Cloud software manages the system remotely. Pao calls the Igneous Data Service "zero-touch infrastructure."

"Because customers are consuming our infrastructure as a service, they generally don't need to worry about the details of the hardware or the management system we are using," he said.

Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said by compressing storage, controllers and memory into a small device, Igneous' nano server technology provides a "failure in place" configuration. He said the nano servers help minimize the consequences of a failure by preventing it from affecting the entire infrastructure.

"If you are always dealing with failures, especially in large environments, you run into the rebuild process," Sinclair said. "It becomes a management nightmare. Igneous is able to keep the failure domain small and contained. The failure is minimal in terms of the scale."

Each data box holds 212 TB of capacity, and customers can scale in 212 TB increments to exabyte capacities. Customers pay via an annual subscription model that is based on installed capacity for the infrastructure as a service (IaaS). A 212 TB increment costs under $40,000 per year.

The Seattle-based startup closed $23.6 million in a series A funding round in 2014 led by New Enterprise Associates and Madrona Venture Group, as well as Sujal Patel, who co-founded Redpoint Ventures and Isilon Systems. Igneous had previously raised $3 million in seed money.

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