E4 Computer Engineering and Excelero: a partnership for the future!
Today we take you to Israel, more precisely to Tel Aviv, where we interviewed one of the most important partners of E4: Excelero.
Excelero delivers low-latency distributed block storage for web-scale applications. Founded in 2014 by a team of storage veterans and inspired by the Tech Giants’ shared-nothing architectures for web-scale applications, the company has designed a software-defined block storage solution that meets the low-latency performance and scalability requirements of the largest web-scale and enterprise applications.
We have collected the answers of Oded Avital, VP Sales and Lior Gal, the founder of Excelero.
Oded and Lior tell the story of Excelero, how they found the right wave of innovation and how they started their adventure.
(Excelero has been interviewed by RADIO IT, in Italian, that’s why we publish below the written version of the interview in English).
Have a good reading!
Tell me a little about Excelero: what was the spark, the idea that gave birth to it, and who were the pioneers?
The spark was the rise of NVMe Flash storage and the need to deploy NVMe in a distributed and scale-out fashion. We wanted to enable companies to make maximum use of the NVMe storage they already own, with our own unique capabilities such as using it across the data center with local performance. We decided to build software that enables integrated, end-to-end NVMe storage solutions that partners can provide to their customers almost without needing us. This is huge, because we don’t force either the customer or the partner to change the data center environment – and we don’t sell our solutions in any other ways but through partners like E4.
Change is risk to any sizable organization. Other solution providers sell a similar value-add, but require that the customer change just about everything. With NVMesh, if a customer wants to keep the same file system as the interface to their application when deploying NVMesh – they can do that, while boosting performance and future-proofing their infrastructure at the same time.
The earliest pioneers of NVMe arrays were DSSD, who got acquired by EMC. Dell has discontinued the product as this pure hardware based solution was too expensive to sell. This confirmed the need for software-defined NVMe solutions like Excelero. We were the earliest pioneers together with E8 storage, who were acquired by Amazon.
This podcast is called “digital innovators”, and for us they are like surfers always looking for the right wave. How did you understand what your “right wave” was, the wave that made you understand the innovative power of your idea and your product?
I have been surfing since middle school. Almost anything passionate about my life growing up surrounded the ocean. I have surfed Australia, Hawaii, CA, Costa Rica and many other locations looking for my own perfect wave. As a surfer you need to be aware of your skills and limits. It is dangerous (or at least painful) to deal with the wrong brake at the wrong time. The search for the perfect wave can only start when you know who you are and what will make you enjoy your full potential.
Founding a company and helping it grow in some ways feels like looking for that perfect wave. We started six years ago to build the best product we can and find the market where mission-critical applications would gain a sizable advantage using our solution. However we were a startup. Even with solid financial backing we couldn’t be everything to everyone. In a surfing world, the equivalent is looking the right brake at the right time – the timing in the wave’s strength, size and speed is just right for your skills to align with. So many waves. Which to choose? So many locations.
We developed the company by preparing our product, sales & services for our special waves, in the form of demanding, tough to address use cases. We knew there are markets where our technology solves a problem that can’t be better addressed in any other way – with advantages in product, price and integration.
Our experience also framed several important takeaways on business waves that we rode successfully to get us there, and that can lead anyone to business growth. Know your target. Aim to the center and lean forward with all of your resources to solve a problem that needs to be solved for the market. Hyper-focus on your area of value so that you can shine with minimal to no effort – instead of competing where the currents are too strong.
Ride the trends carefully. Today the magic is in software, not appliances based on proprietary hardware, and in scale-out options. Know the market well so you are part of the upswing.
Also. partner wisely. Selling point products is so yesteryear. Enterprises need integrated solutions that are tested, work as advertised, and readily deployed. They will find it easier to buy a solution coming out of an emerging technology company if it solves a real problem that needs to be solved now and it is significantly better than other solutions. That said, choose the partners that can take you to market and influence your future customers with care. Remember who you are. Sell only what you can deliver, and target those who need it most.
By the way, your office is in Israel: how is surfing, the real one, there?
I’m glad you ask. Israel actually has a very long surfing history. It was Dorian Paskowitz who brought the first surfboard to Tel Aviv in 1956. His plan originally was to join the Israeli army, but it looks like the surf he found was too good to ignore. He later gave the board to Topsea Kantsapolsky and Shaul Zinner, who were the first Israeli surfers.
Israel sits at the far Eastern end of the Mediterranean sea and this location means any swell generated anywhere in the sea reaches the Israeli coastline at some point. The surf is mainly wind swell, occasional mid-period swells light up the breaks with wave-height easily reaching 6 feet-plus.
Israel has about 190 kms of coastline and boasts reefs and points like the world’s top surfing locations. There are over 30 regularly surfed spots across areas such as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ashdod and Nahariya, and a few hidden ones. But local surfers are very welcoming and keen to share info as they want everyone to know the quality breaks they have.
And then, coming to the heart of your work, what is a storage acceleration technology? And what advantages does it bring to the solutions where it is implemented?
Excelero delivers Elastic NVMe software that enables partners to build end-to-end, high-performance storage solutions for AI training and analytics workloads at any scale. With our partners, we enable customers to massively improve their ROI across the entire datacenter: use standard servers, maximize component utilization (NVMe, GPU), minimize overhead and reduce software license costs.
NVMesh is distributed block storage that connects CPUs and GPUs to NVMe flash to create a significant improvement in price/performance from entry level to any scale. NVMesh was designed as a storage layer that eradicates data bottlenecks: access data at any speed in any location. NVMesh delivers 20x faster data processing for multi-server, multi-GPU compute nodes when working with massive datasets for Machine Learning, Deep learning and complex analytical workloads.
Excelero’s Elastic NVMe software allows applications to access NVMe flash across the network as if it was local flash. This technique allows applications to gain access to the full performance of NVMe media at any scale, starting from a few drives in a server, to thousands of storage nodes. Deployment flexibility allows tuning the optimal ratio of storage to compute for the specific use-case without having to quantify it up front – and to tweak the ratio as technologies evolve, without sacrificing performance, efficiency or reliability.
NVMesh, was designed to meet performance and scalability requirements of the most demanding applications – and as such, enables AI data scientists to process massive amounts of data in minutes, rather than hours or days. By providing GPUs with direct access to an elastic pool of NVMe, data scientists can feed far more data to the applications. They no longer face data bottlenecks and can achieve better results, faster.
How is the local Israeli market towards a solution like yours?
We haven’t been more or less active towards the Israeli market than other markets. We are an international company and have been winning with customers across the globe. That said, we’re seeing good success in the Israeli market, which is the world center of AI innovation, a use case that benefits particularly from low-latency storage for GPU’s.
But we are also seeing success in more traditional markets such as telecommunication and service providers. One such example is Bezeq, the leading telecommunications provider in Israel, offering a variety of services to business and private customers. These services include phone and internet services, smart devices, cybersecurity and cloud backup services. Its massive data warehouse in Tel Aviv holds vital data on sales, services, financial transactions, engineering devices and customer interactions. Information extracted from that data helps management to streamline operations and make decisions on expansion into promising new lines of business such as high-performance computing and hosted cloud services. Bezeq chose Excelero NVMesh® as the centerpiece of a new scale-out storage architecture to power its mission-critical data warehouse. With the new NVMe-powered storage infrastructure, Bezeq achieved a 2x to 3x throughput improvement and cut query run times by up to 90%.
From one side of the Mediterranean to another, from Israel to Italy: how did you hear about E4? What does it mean for you to have a partner in the EU and specifically in our country?
Some of our major partners, such as NVIDIA and Mellanox, introduced us to E4. Italy is a key market where there are many innovations, and having a partner like E4 who knows very well our main vertical markets, such as HPC, AI and Cloud Computing, is essential for us. We were very happy to see the first results of our partnership quickly and look forward to gaining market share together.
To listen to the podcast of the interview, only in Italian, click below!
If you want to know more about Excelero products and how they are implemented within E4’s solutions, please, contact us!