reading time 4 minutes

….that stands it out from the crowd but to understand them we need to go back a year or two.

A recap from Graham Norbury, RNT Business Development Manager & Techie by heart

How it all started

One of our clients needed an enterprise-grade appliance for the sub 150TB market on which they could run erasure-coded based Software-Defined-Storage (SDS) to provide maximum data security especially for archiving and backup type services. The client evaluated a broad selection of available products in the market but only came to the conclusion that no vendor had an architecture available that would make erasure coding available for smaller capacity needs at a reasonable price point.

So he picked up the phone and called RNT.

The Genius Inventor’s head spun around and hissed steam for a few days while his team captured the output and started to build to the design brief.

There was one overarching requirement for this new appliance: it had to meet the needs of the client(s) which the RNT design team translated into the following key set of design requirements:

  • Simplicity – a turnkey solution that just works and has everything included (hardware, software, support)no hidden cost and minimum set-up as well as admin time
  • Appliance – one box to do it all, one box to rack up
  • Small form factor but high density – saves cost because rack space is expensive
  • Enterprise – must have only quality components inside
  • Max data security and protection – focus on business continuity even without being a security expert or senior sysadmin
  • Min 5 nodes – most efficient number of nodes to allow 3+2 erasure coding for data protection
  • Minimise power – and therefore cooling to protect the environment and reduce CO2 emissions
  • Minimise resources – no unnecessary or excess components inside
  • Hot-swap and serviceability – more than just a convenience because customers hate disruption and want a reliable and easy to service appliance in the unlikely event of a failure

This list of core requirements drove the novel design we see today, a 3U RNT designed chassis with 5 nodes, 15 HDDs and 10 SSDs and obviously dual platinum power supplies. The 5 nodes give good redundancy with 3+2 erasure coding and much better disk capacity utilisation than x3 replication. Why is this important? Because this is where the company data resides and without quick access to their data, no company can make the right decisions.

Design work complete, the day came that we saw the result of many hours of work. The first pilot chassis arrived at our German factory! Now I had my hands on the real unit. Would the physical appliance match all the design and theory right down to the modeled airflow and heat dissipation? There was only one way to find out, I had to build it.

The Brits are usually good at queuing but not this day! My German colleagues were elbowed out of the way (quietly satisfying) and I was let loose with a screwdriver, mainboards, HDDs, cables, etc.

A couple of hours later…

Power applied, the fans spun, LEDs lit up and most importantly there was no smoke! Much to the chagrin of my colleagues who were wondering why a BDM was building the latest custom storage platform from RNT.

With the first 53H HDD prototype running we began the exhaustive testing and monitoring while generally pushing the appliance to its limits. During this testing phase, we closely worked with our client’s engineering group to further tune the wizard-driven installation process and the entire SDS solution.

As part of the testing, the RNT team carried out evaluations on a variety of mainboards and CPUs. At the end of the testing phase, we could demonstrate that we had developed a unique multi-performance 5 node 3U platform for delivering SDS and other compute services efficiently while minimising power utilisation and reducing components to the max.

Yowie®? What the heck is Yowie?

We’ve designed, built and delivered more than just a storage box. We’ve ticked off all the initial design requirements and have a simple, compact, efficient and integrated appliance built for SMBs and SMEs. For those needing more I/O, we kept the design principles, took the chassis and built the 53F all-flash series with 40 flash SSDs and 10 NVMe drives across the 5 nodes with support for a range of CPUs. Keeping the need of the customer at the front of our minds at all times, RNT delivered a unique appliance designed for the task.

While we popped a bottle to celebrate, the marketing team stepped up and pointed out there was more work to do because our new family member needed a name. 53H and 53F series were not good enough (too dry and boring, they said). I’ll let the marketers write an article about the decision-making process to find a new name and keep it short at this point: Our new turnkey storage appliance family is called Yowie®.

So, what is it about Yowie?

I’ve seen too many products and solutions over the years that were and still are built around existing technology forcing the customer to adapt rather than the other way round. Yowie bucks this trend and has been built to deliver simplicity, density, eco-friendliness and security at an affordable price. Why is this so important? Because the data it protects is the most valuable asset any company has; no access to data – no business.

Today one of the biggest dangers every company faces is the rise of ransomware. The criminals behind this digital plague care nothing for the targeted company. Big or small doesn’t matter, they just want to extract as much cash as possible. This is where Yowie’s simplicity and reliability come to the fore. Whether Yowie is powered by Cloudian or Acronis it offers a range of powerful data protection capabilities albeit Object Lock making storage immutable or notarisation via blockchain. We take ransomware immunisation seriously and want to ensure that your data is always protected and recoverable should the ne’er-do-wells befall the company or other disasters strike.

So what is it about Yowie? It was designed to deliver highly secure data storage at both the hardware and software level in the sub 150TB market. Every part of Yowie brings needed enterprise-class features like object storage, erasure coding, object lock, full S3 compatibility, and more to the SMB/SME market. And that’s it. About time, don’t you think?