Storage Vendors go for broke with OpenStack Swift Storage

openstack logoOpenStack, the open-source on-premise alternative to Amazon S3 is heading into 2015 with a vast mount of momentum. VC’s are falling over themselves to invest in OpenStack related companies and there seems to be genuine enterprise momentum.

The OpenStack story kicked off in 2010 and was initially a combined project between Rackspace and NASA. Fast forward to 2015 and it is managed by the OpenStack Foundation which is a non-profit corporate entity that was established in September 2012 as a means to promote OpenStack software.

Most people may know OpenStack primarily due to it’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution, but it also has an object Storage solution, called ‘Swift’ (not to be confused with Apple’s new programming language, also confusingly called ‘Swift’) which also has garnered a momentum of its own.

Object Storage is a type storage architecture that manages data as objects unlike other storage systems which either manage data as a file hierarchy or as blocks within sectors and tracks (block storage).

The advantages of object storage architectures is that they offer unlimited scalability with a lower emphasis on processing and they offer access using Internet protocols (REST) rather than storage commands.

There is a momentum around Object Storage companies that include such commercial vendors as CleverSafe, Cloudian, Amplistore and Scality.

Vendors who are offering an OpenStack Swift distro as part of their offering include:

HP (Helion Content Depot)
IBM (Cloud Manager with OpenStack)
SoftLayer (Now owned by IBM)
SUSE Cloud
Ubuntu OpenStack
RedHat OpenStack
VMWare OpenStack

As an example of the sums of money involved, Mirantis recently closed a round for $100 million and SwiftStack a round for $16 million, taking both company to total investments of $120 million and $23.6 million respectively. IBM also purchased SoftLayer for a reputed $2 billion. It’s clear that VC’s and Software vendors see something special in OpenStack.

Amazon Web Services may rule when it comes to public cloud but a recent survey sponsored by GigaOM gave results indicating that half of private clouds deployed where OpenStack based.

OpenStack, like Amazon Web Services, is primarily supplied with REST API’s and toolkits  that developers can use to interact with the OpenStack infrastructure. As with AWS this creates opportunities for vendors at the Application level to provide Apps and tools.

Storage Made Easy is a company that has already make an impact on the OpenStack community with its Enterprise File Share and Sync product offering, which has been optimized for OpenStack Swift. The company, itself a startup, already has a growing number of service providers and customer using its enterprise application in conjunction with OpenStack Swift, and has partnered with a number of the key players listed above in a strategy focused around taking advantage of OpenStack’s growth.

Other companies are treading the same path and this itself creates an eco-system of enterprise ready Applications ready to take advantage of OpenStack’s foothold in the Enterprise to grow or to be acquired.

Of course, with OpenStack being an open-source initiative it is not just commercial Apps that have sprung up around OpenStack. There are  Open Source Applications such as Swift Explorer and CyberDuck, but strangely, given the Open Source root of OpenStack there seems to be more commercial offerings rather than open source offerings.

All in all OpenStack is an initiative that is in its ascendancy. It used to be said that OpenStack was more hype than reality but as we head into 2015 the money men have placed their bets and they tend to bet on reality rather than hype.



Vendors line up to use Cloud as differentiator

Vendors small and large are starting to see Cloud Computing as a great sales and technical differentiator. Three example of this are:

1. AMD pushed out press to let the world know it is saying “yes to cloud”. Whoopee ! To quote:

“Advanced Micro Devices CEO Dirk Meyer sees cloud computing as the next great investment for the enterprises and says AMD’s processors are going to be a big part of this type of future data center”.

Given the rapid progression of the public/private cloud and virtualisation markets, I’m sure the chip vendors must be salivating at the potential extra dollars to be made.

2. Ubuntu announced version 9.10 of their Linux Distro  which is codenamed Karmic Koala and also announced that it will have built in support for Cloud in their server edition.  Their aim is for Ubuntu to provide a standard set of AMI’s (Amazon Machine Images) to enable simplified deployment on EC2.  So far so what, but the developers also aim to integrate support for Eucalyptus, which we have discussed previously. This would enable organisations to use Ubuntu to make their own private clouds within their own data center. A real differentiator and a great way to create a value point differentiation against the likes of RedHat and SUSE.

3. Cobol and the Cloud….two things you probably would not expect to hear in the same sentence. However MicroFocus has identified a market in which customers can outsource their Cobol applications and MicroFocus can host them on the cloud. Micro Focus is supporting Amazon EC2 to increase the options customers have to reach the cloud and begin capitalizing on the cost savings associated with cloud computing.

Interesting times indeed…