October 28, 2020

KubeCon 2020 Q&A: Hammerspace Showcases Software-defined Hybrid Cloud File Storage

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KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2020 goes digital.  Will you be in attendance?  If the event were physical, we would have looked forward to visiting with Hammerspace.  So we reached out to them digitally instead.

Read this exclusive pre-show interview between VMblog and Trip Hunter, SVP of Corporate Marketing at Hammerspace, the software-defined hybrid cloud file storage company.


VMblog:  Are you sponsoring this year's KubeCon 2020 digital event?  If so, can you talk about what that sponsorship looks like now that things are digital?  How will it be different? 

Trip Hunter:  Well, we finally have a two-story booth so that is exciting! Apparently virtual space is a lot less expensive per square foot. Like any show, in order to be successful  you need to have compelling content to draw in their attention, and then once you have their attention you need to get them hands on with your technology, and try to make it fun along the way.

VMblog:  What type of things will people be able to do and find at your virtual booth this year? 

Hunter:  We are still working some of that out-we are developing some fun things that attendees can put in their virtual swag bag, but we also have lots of new content that we believe will be the real draw to our booth, demonstrating how easy it is with Hammerspace to manage and protect file data.

VMblog:  Are you giving away any prizes at your virtual booth or participating in any prize giveaways? 

Hunter:  I think that the physical prizes are limited to the Gold sponsors, which, at least for now, we are not one. One day. But we do have some things we are doing to entertain people that stop by.

VMblog:  Have you sponsored KubeCon in the past?  If so, what keeps you coming back as a sponsor of this event? 

Hunter:  Hammerspace sponsored for the first-time last year and it was one of the best shows we went to.  Everybody we would want to talk to from developer, to IT director, to CIO is trying to learn more about Kubernetes and how it can help their company.  It also attracts virtually every industry.  Kubernetes is a game-change technology platform that is already  beginning to dominate the landscape and fortunately for Hammerspace, we are well positioned to address one of the nagging gaps in the technology, namely how persistent data should be managed and orchestrated. 

VMblog:  Do you have any speaking sessions during the event?

Hunter:  Unfortunately, at our sponsorship level, we do not have any speaking sessions this year.

VMblog:  With COVID-19, we've seen a lot of changes in the tech world.  One big change has been the disruption of physical trade shows.  Many, like KubeCon, have become digital in 2020.  What are your thoughts on digital events compared to traditional physical events? 

Hunter:  The advantage of digital shows is the focus on content and the ability to do more detailed tracking of attendees' behavior, like what did they watch and how long did they watch it.

The downside of course is that you miss out on the personal touch, where you can read a person's body language and help guide the conversation to a topic that resonates more with them. 

VMblog:  What do you attribute to the success and growth of this industry and the KubeCon event itself? 

Hunter:  Kubernetes is growing because it's the open-source container orchestration platform backed by the biggest companies in the industry.  It also has the double benefit of helping customers reduce their dependence on IT to provision resources and being feature rich enough to tie together all the different venues an app might run on, automating the infrastructure enabling app portability.

VMblog:  What are you most interested in hearing about at this year's KubeCon event? 

Hunter:  I want to see how the storage and data management landscape is developing.  There have been a few acquisitions lately and it's always interesting to see how new products, technologies, and teams get rolled into the larger portfolio of products.

VMblog:  How does your company or product fit within the container, cloud, Kubernetes ecosystem? 

Hunter:  As a true software-defined data orchestration platform for Kubernetes, Hammerspace provides hybrid cloud storage that is dynamic, efficient, automated, and seamless.

VMblog:  Can you give us the high-level rundown of your company's technology offerings?  Explain to readers who you are, what you do, what problems you solve, etc. 

Hunter:  Hammerspace is a software company that is challenging the assumptions for how data is stored and protected built up by decades of conventional wisdom.  But in the era of hybrid cloud and Kubernetes, these legacy storage approaches no longer work and have become problems that need to be worked around.

Hammerspace sees a future defined by storageless data that eliminates the direct connection between infrastructure and the data it stores.  This is already happening with serverless compute the liberated apps from specific compute resources, now we must do the same for data stuck in storage silos.

Hammerspace overcomes the siloed nature of the hybrid cloud using technology that makes complicated enterprise storage obsolete. Hammerspace is a global file system, stretching across any storage or service to orchestrate data at scale. This makes app data portable, protected, and high performance.

VMblog:  And while talking about your products, can you give readers a few examples of how your offerings are unique?  What are your differentiators?

Hunter:  Hammerspace is an authentic data orchestration platform that manages data through the metadata data.  This makes app data instantly portable, protected by enterprise data services, fully automated by machine learning to optimize and manage data at file-level granularity, and natively integrated into Kubernetes so that users can self-service their data needs without knowing anything about the infrastructure in the background.  Hammerspace eliminates the data gravity problem created by storage companies.

As a software-defined data platform, Hammerspace can serve and manage data from any storage platform or service, so there is no need for purpose-built container storage or modification to any app.  Everything operates over standard protocols for block, file, or object.

Nobody else can do this.

VMblog:  Normally at the KubeCon event, sponsors are showcasing new products or new product updates and features for the first time.  Do you have anything new that you've either recently announced or plan to discuss in more detail at the event?  Can we get a sneak peek? 

Hunter:  Hammerspace will be showcasing its global filesystem that ties together multiple clouds, clusters, and storage platforms so that data can be instantly served, backed up, and recovered for any app running anywhere.

VMblog:  At what stage do you feel we are at with regard to containers?  Is there anything still holding it back?  Or keeping it from a wider distribution?  

Hunter:  The community hasn't figured out how to make storage easy for DevOps teams, especially for persistent data.  This breaks the agile flow of development as it requires Devs to work with IT to copy data around.  As long as users still have to understand and navigate storage infrastructure to get their work done, then Kubernetes will not achieve its full potential and be plagued by issues of scaling and complexity.

VMblog:  There will be plenty of interesting topics covered during the KubeCon keynotes.  But can you take this opportunity to share your own thoughts about any big changes or directions you see for this industry? 

Hunter:  We are going to see more vendors making plays on the storage side of things.  There are already a lot of companies trying to innovate block storage technology, but there is a lot of room to improve performance and scale issues for file.  The first big use-cases for file are not surprisingly backup and disaster recovery, but once those are working well then, we will see more workloads demanding high-performance at massive scale, distributed geographically to share huge amounts of data.  That's when things will get interesting.

VMblog:  Finally, without a crystal ball, what do you think trade shows look like in 2021?  Do we go back to thousands of people in person at an event?  Or do things stay virtual for the near term?  Is your company prepared to sponsor a physical event next year should they return?

Hunter:  We are social creatures, and nothing can replace the human interaction you experience at a show, but,  I think it will be a long time before we go back to how things were before and it's not just because of COVID.  Tradeshows produce enormous amounts of waste, they take up huge amounts of time, and they can be hard to cut through the noise to find the nuggets of information that are important for your needs.  These are all things that can be improved upon with a virtual setup.  Of course, as I said,  you lose the human interaction, but we will see how much that really matters when we review our return on investment for marketing activities early next year.

David Marshall

David Marshall has been involved in the technology industry for over 19 years, and he's been working with virtualization software since 1999. He was able to become an industry expert in virtualization by becoming a pioneer in that field - one of the few people in the industry allowed to work with Alpha stage server virtualization software from industry leaders: VMware (ESX Server), Connectix and Microsoft (Virtual Server).

Through the years, he has invented, marketed and helped launch a number of successful virtualization software companies and products. David holds a BS degree in Finance, an Information Technology Certification, and a number of vendor certifications from Microsoft, CompTia and others. He's also co-authored two published books: "VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center" and "Advanced Server Virtualization: VMware and Microsoft Platforms in the Virtual Data Center" and acted as technical editor for two popular Virtualization "For Dummies" books. With his remaining spare time, David founded and operates one of the oldest independent virtualization news blogs, VMblog.com. And co-founded CloudCow.com, a publication dedicated to Cloud Computing. Starting in 2009 and continuing all the way to 2016, David has been honored with the vExpert distinction by VMware for his virtualization evangelism.


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