Linux Foundation to Create Open Object Storage Spec

Heavyweight founders bet on wholesale IT shift to object storage, currently domain of cloud

Michael Vizard

August 18, 2015

2 Min Read
Cisco Tetration
A bicyclist rides by a sign that is posted in front of the Cisco Systems headquarters in San Jose, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Looking to make it simpler to embrace a next generation of storage devices, the Linux Foundation this week launched the Kinetic Open Storage Project, which counts a number of networking, storage, and enterprise software heavyweights among founding members.

The project is looking to expand the scalability of storage by enable storage drives to be connected directly to an Ethernet interface in a way that enables software-defined storage applications to manage them directly. In effect, the goal is nothing short of decoupling hardware and software to make it easier to truly scale performance across petabytes of storage.

It assumes that the IT world as a whole will be making a major shift to object-based storage. Generally embraced by cloud service providers as a way to more efficiently manage cloud storage at scale, object-based storage requires developers to either move away from traditional file systems or deploy a file system that can be layered on top of an object-based storage API that makes the object storage system appear as a traditional network-attached storage (NAS) system.

The foundation made the announcement at its LinuxCon event in Seattle. Jim Zemlin, executive director of the foundation, said the way storage is accessed is facing fundamental changes in the very near future.

“Object storage means the way storage is accessed is changing,” he said. “We’re going to be able to access the drive directly.”

Specifically, the Kinetic Open Storage Project will provide common mechanisms for establishing Ethernet connectivity and defining a key value store that allows storage applications to access drives directly without the need to be managed by a storage server. The new project will manage all the associated open source libraries, APIs, and simulators that need to interface with Kinetic-based drives.

Developers of storage solutions are expected to use those vendor-agnostic open source libraries and APIs to create applications that invoke Kinetic-based drives rather than traditional storage controllers.

Cisco, Cleversafe, Dell, DigitalSense, NetApp, Open vStorage, Red Hat, Scality, Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital are among the project’s founding members.

While three of the top manufacturers of drives are among the founders, leading storage vendors, such as EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, and HP, are absent.

While new applications generally are written directly to object-based APIs, most of the cloud storage being invoked by enterprise IT organizations these days still relies on a traditional file system. However, the eventual development of drives that connect directly to Ethernet interfaces that are orders of multitude faster in terms of IOPs than existing NAS systems may finally force a greater shift towards native object-based storage both inside and out of the cloud.

Here's more LinuxCon coverage by Data Center Knowledge:

IBM Launches Linux Mainframes, Open Sources Mainframe Software

PlumGrid, Cisco, Others Launch Open Network Virtualization Project

And here's why data center operators should care about open source

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