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During the last Technology Live! London 2017 I’ve see some presentations about new features or new products and was interesting see how those company has changed from the past.

But last presentation was quite different for me: also because Symbolic IO was something new for me, but also because they really made an impressing presentation and demo!

The company was founded in 2012 by Brian Ignomirello, the former CTO of Hewlett Packard’s Global storage team, in an effort to transform the current enterprise storage industry from focusing on hardware, cards, chips and processors to embracing the way that big data works today and address the challenges facing companies with legacy systems.

But what was so impressing? Not only one aspect, but several aspects that are totally new and can become a game changer both in storage and computing area.

First how data are stored and managed: their solution is (probably the first) a computational defined storage. There is no need of compression or deduplication, bacause it’s focused on advanced computational algorithmic compute engine, which materializes and dematerializes data – effectively becoming the fastest, most dense, portable and secure, media- and hardware-agnostic storage solution. You can argue that it’s just a different way to describe a deduplication algorithm, but dedupe require that you look at the content data, in this case they are looking only at the data baheviews and its vectors.

Symbolic IO’s proprietary operating system, SymCE™ (based on an optimized version of Linux) is dependent solely on the power of the processor, therefore, it is truly media agnostic, enhancing the underlying media’s density and performance, beyond anything previously conceived by traditional manufacturers. The proprietary technology is based on patented algorithms that work seamlessly with the current workflow and instruction sets, allowing for an easy implementation and zero downtime.

Of course, there wasn’t enough time to describe their codification approach, but from the demo we seen the results and seems really briliant and effective. Yes, in the demo there were a lot of VMs with the same images, should be nice see how does it work with data more complex, like databases or big data. But this is only a piece of the beauty of their solution.

Another innovation is on where data are stored: in the most efficient storage layer (after the CPU registry and caches). Yes, direcly in RAM! There is no storage at all (or there can be, but only if you needed). You may think that it’s nothing new: maybe are just flashes mounted instead of DIMM modules, but the answer is no!

It isn’t like Diablo or Violin solutions. Data reside just in RAM and DIMMs are organized in two different parts: one with traditional RAM DIMMs and one with special (and custom) DIMMs but they are still like normal RAM, with the same speed and the same latency (remember that flash memory, also in the best case is still 50 time slower than RAM). But RAM isn’t persistent at all, how solve this problem? Like storage save they cache (if is not persistent), using super-capacitor (again with a different approach, one redundant super-capacitor for the entire system) just for de-staging data on a persistent area (included in the custom DIMMs). Just brilliant and again something totally new.

With an interesting side effect: if it’s all in RAM and there aren’t anymore differences between the storage layers, operating systems could be more efficient because all the techniques to move data across tiers are no more needed. There results is impressive: Windows systems that can run with just few recourses without any performance compromise, including doing soft 3D render (without any GUI card). Do more with less resources!

And what about if you need more space? You can add it and having and advanced auto-tiering option, there tier 2 could be NVRAM (crazy but true) and tier 3 SSD!

The products are called IRIS™ (the Intensified RAM Intelligent Server) offered in three variations considering also the tiering options:

  • IRIS Compute: offers full application interoperability, powerful compute, Symbolic StorModules™ and Advanced Non-Volatile Power control components with elegant management that enable a flexible general purpose server to run IO at DRAM speeds.
  • IRIS Vault: incorporates Symbolic’s SymCE™ to enable an easy-to-use, full media-agnostic solution, which includes two fully integrated type-1 proven virtualization engines, simplified management, media amplification, newGEN snapshot/cloning technology, full data security and BLINK™ backup (backup entire infrastructure in minutes). It also offers enhanced physical security features with the inclusion of IRIS™ Advanced EYE ASIC (a removable component).
  • IRIS Store: enables the flexible hardware to expand its capacity into multiple storage tiers:
    • TIER-1: Symbolic IO StorModules
    • TIER-2: any PCI storage
    • TIER-3: SSD and traditional disk

Fully populated, the solution holds over 380TB of capacity. When deployed in conjunction with IRIS™ VAULT, the solution holds upwards of 1.8PB of data in as little as four inches (2U). Could be enough? For most workload probably yes! But new products will be announced in the future with big surprise.

That’s all? Not really. In addition, the solution provide impressive secure options, providing high secure functions like remote system tracking (there is a GPS modules inside it), remote wiping, self-healing and self- check (it can recognize also if somebody is touching it using accelerometers). It’s like an eye (a big brother eye) also on what’s happen at physical level (that could be really important in each security approach). Again, something totally new on this kind of solutions.

And finally, the Symbolic’s SymCE™ provide both an integrated hypervisor (based on KVM) to run any workload and also an entire proprietary VDI implementation (included connections brokers and remote protocols). This is not so new but the results are impressive.

It seems too good to be true. It’s just all talk and no walk? Actually, if you are looking that their web site it does not help to really understand all the capabilities of their products. But I suppose that it will change soon with several technical references and, more important, with some user cases.

What I can see is that the demo has really surprise all the delegates with an incredible “wow effect” and it seems totally real. For sure a company to follow in the future.

Disclaimer: I’ve been invited to Technology Live! event by A3 Communications and they will paid for accommodation and travels, but I’m not compensated for my time and I’m not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than me.


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.