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SwiftStack 2014 Predictions: Cloud storage technologies become even more open in 2014

VMblog 2014 Prediction Series

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2014.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Joe Arnold, CEO of SwiftStack

Cloud storage technologies become even more open in 2014

Open storage technologies are not new.  Odds are the cloud storage that you and those you know are using today is open source software on standard hardware. To say more business data will go to the cloud is not so much a prediction as it is a certainty. I predict we will see new options feeding the certain growth of cloud storage in businesses, especially around open cloud storage.

Adoption of Swift API for object storage

No lock-in is what users want from cloud storage - they want the flexibility to choose between different products and services and to have their choices work together. OpenStack Swift is the engine that runs the world's largest storage clouds, so it makes sense that vendors building cloud storage products have adopted its API. For the ecosystem of products that use cloud storage, like backup applications and cloud gateways, the only practical way they can serve any cloud is to have a set of standard interfaces they can develop to and support. EMC, Oracle, and Red Hat are a few of the largest vendors who announced support for Swift API in 2013.  I expect the trend of vendors adopting the Swift API to continue.

Abstraction with storage policies

Abstracting hardware has always provided breakthrough efficiencies, which open up new use cases and prompt increased adoption. Server virtualization was initially driven by lowered hardware costs, but the biggest benefits in adopting the architecture has been flexibility, improved service levels, and higher availability. In cloud storage, hardware abstraction will be provided by storage policies for new private cloud use cases. This abstraction will deliver breakthrough value beyond lowering cost. Mixing erasure coded and replica data in the same storage cluster will allow for efficient optimization of storage to the needs of applications. The same ability to define policies enables flexibility for higher performance storage with SSDs where they are the best fit, and larger HDDs for higher capacity storage with value drives or even new technology like Seagate Kinetic drives.

Mainstream storage with standard server hardware

The big cloud operators have been using open software on standard hardware for some time, proving the combination to be the best fit for cloud storage. Customers looking to build their own private or hybrid storage clouds can use the same approach, but they no doubt will wonder, what about the existing storage they have today? Standard servers with hard drives at market cost have a much lower acquisition cost than mainstream storage. If already paid for in past budgets though, that existing mainstream storage can offer capacity as part of priming a new private storage cloud. In 2014 we will see open storage systems take advantage of existing mainstream storage hardware as part of a transition to lower cost standard hardware.

Naturally 2014 will be the biggest year ever in open source storage technology. The exciting part will be the contribution and support of new companies and well-known storage vendors to open standards and architectures


About the Author

Joe founded SwiftStack to deploy high-scale, open-source cloud storage systems using OpenStack. He managed the first public OpenStack launch of Swift independent of Rackspace, and has subsequently deployed multiple large-scale cloud storage systems. He is currently building tools to deploy and manage OpenStack Swift with his firm, SwiftStack.
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013 6:27 AM by David Marshall
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