The startup Igneous Systems offers on-premises hyperconverged infrastructure that’s managed as a service on behalf of the customer. The company’s goal is to provide on-premises data storage and applications with the pricing and management models of the public cloud.
Igneous’s infrastructure, which combines compute, storage, and networking, is purpose-built for unstructured machine data, and supports customer-developed applications that analyze and extract value from that data.
Igneous owns and manages the hardware on behalf of customers, including updating software, applying security patches, monitoring infrastructure status, and troubleshooting. Customers pay a subscription fee to use the equipment on their premises.
Igneous’s goal is to blend compelling aspects of the public-cloud—relieving customers of the burden of monitoring and managing infrastructure, and reducing capital expenditures—with the peace of mind that comes from having critical data and applications sitting on premises.
Igneous is targeting customers that are working with large sets of IoT and sensor data, system logs, data from scientific instruments, and media content.
Inside The Infrastructure
The Igneous appliance (called a dataBox) is a 4U enclosure with 60, 3.5 inch hard disk drives with 6Tbytes of capacity each. Total usable capacity for the appliance is 212Tbytes.
Each drive comes with its own dedicated compute and network interface, which Igneous calls a nano-server. The nano-server on each drive includes a SoC with an ARM-based 32-bit processor with two cores that can run up to 1 GHz. Two Ethernet ports (each at 1Gigabit) are also included on the nano-server.
The nano-servers run Linux and can support container-based applications. These servers won’t blow anyone away with their power, but Igneous says having a distributed compute layer reduces I/O bottlenecks.
In addition to the nano-servers, each dataBox requires two dataRouters, which are 1U, Xeon servers. These servers provide data processing and indexing functions.
At present, the Igneous appliance supports object storage via the use of Amazon’s S3 API. It also supports FTP for data migration.
Multiple dataBoxes and dataRouters can be linked together to scale out capacity.
Organizations may be uncomfortable allowing access to sensitive infrastructure, even if the equipment in on their own premises. To address this concern, Igneous says it has separated its control and data planes, so that remote management functions are isloated from the actual data storage.
Pricing starts at approximately $40,000 per year for an annual subscription. The products are available through resellers, but it’s an Igneous team that comes on site to install the system.
While Igneous Systems makes a big deal out of its cloud-based management, I think its pricing model is what really stands out.
The company says that its $40,000 price tag is all-inclusive. On its Web site, it declares that all-inclusive means “…no upfront capital expenditures, no installation and deployment fees, no support renewal, and no heavy-handed hardware “refreshes.”
If that’s really true, that may be one of the most attractive aspects of this startup. IT and finance teams tend to spend a lot of time on price negotiations and contracts, which are often filled with gotchas and unpleasant surprises.
If this company is really delivering a decent product with a clean, straightforward price tag, that may be more compelling to customers than handing off day-to-day management tasks.
About Igneous Systems
The company has raised $26.6 million to date, which includes a seed round and Series A round. Investors include New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Madrona Venture Group, and Redpoint Ventures.
CEO and cofounder Kiran Bhageshpur comes to the startup from EMC, where he was VP of Engineering for the Isilon product. CTO and cofounder Jeff Hughes also came from Isilon, where he was Director of Engineering. Architect and cofounder Byron Rakitzis comes from NetApp.