Matt That IT Guy

Racking And Stacking In A Cloud-Based World

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Tech Field Day 14 Primer: ClearSky Data

ClearSky DataClearSky Data was founded in 2014 with the goal of simplifying primary storage by turning it into an on-demand service. They set out to accomplish this by leveraging both on-premises and cloud technologies, and by tossing a bit of flash storage in there, they came up with a fairly nifty solution.


Prior to being invited to Tech Field Day 14, the name ClearSky Data did not ring a bell, but some research has turned up an interesting product / service offering. What ClearSky Data offers is a tiered storage solution: an on-premises appliance (handily enough called the Edge), warm storage (located ‘nearby’), and cold storage (AWS S3). The Edge appliance, which is the caching / performance tier, is located alongside your compute. It contains a pool of up 24TB raw of flash storage used for caching hot data and can scale up to four appliances.

ClearSky NetworkThe Edge appliance then connects to the cloud portion of their offering. As many of us know, there are a lot of variables that come into play with the cloud, such as latency. Because of that, ClearSky partners with datacenters (also referred to as Points of Presence) in various large metropolitan areas, and houses the capacity tiers in these locations. A dedicated leased line is required to get your Edge appliance talking to the cloud portion. With this leased line in place, you should see a very consistent experience. As data is cycled between hot and warm, the bits will continually fly up and down between the two sites, thus making sure that the data you want is in the optimized spot. When the data is deemed cold, it will be shifted off to Amazon’s S3 service.

ClearSky Data very recently announced (March 28th) that there is now a cloud version of the Edge appliance. The appliance, which is virtual, behaves in the same way as its physical counterpart in that it contains a hot cache of data. This will allow cloud-based workloads to take advantage of gains provided by the high-performance storage.

So what’s the attraction to a model like this? Well for one, you can switch your storage costs over to an operating expense from a capital expense. Data sets are by no means shrinking. Even in the smallest of SMBs out there we are seeing consistent growth. One of the not-so-fun aspects about storage is figuring out how much you’ll need in the future. If I spend $X on a new array now and I am planning on getting 3 years out of it, then I am paying for all 3 years up front. With a ‘storage as a service’ offering, I just pay incrementally more as I use more – I don’t need to foot the entire bill upfront.If I end up deleting data, then my cost will also automatically go down.


One of the first things that came to mind when I was researching ClearSky was ‘how do I protect my data?’. Well, as it turns out, ClearSky recently rolled out a new data protection offering. Some of the interesting points include:

  • RPO of less than 15 minutes for cross-metro; a RPO of 0 for in-metro
  • Thousands of recovery points to choose from
  • Integration into vCenter
  • Eleven 9s of durability (%99.999999999)

I don’t have an agenda for Tech Field Day 14, but something tells me we’ll be hearing more about their data protection offering then, so I am not going to dive too deep into it yet. You can catch the live stream over at on May 11th and 12th.

Disclaimer: I was invited to participate in Tech Field Day as a delegate. All of my expenses, including food, transportation, and lodging are being covered by Gestalt IT. I did not receive any compensation to write this post, nor was I requested to write this post. Anything written above was on my own accord.

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