Seagate storage technology could redefine datacenter architecture

Seagate takes first steps towards a distributed hardware infrastructure with its Kinetic Open Storage Platform.
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

The new Seagate Kinetic Open Storage Platform allows for the removal of the dedicated storage tier and replaces it with Ethernet attached storage hardware (hard drives in this first iteration) that allows applications to write to it directly. The result, says Seagate, is improved system performance and scalability, reduced overhead, and TCO cut by as much as 50 percent for appropriate storage.

Today's announcement reflects the availability of the Ethernet-enabled drives and the software development platform, with code libraries and APIs necessary to build devices using the new platform.

Seagate believes that the new platform will have a direct impact on the capital and operational costs of users who maintain large amounts of fairly static data, which is the current focus of most cloud-based storage.

Pictures, backups, archival information are the meat and potatoes of the cloud storage market and lend themselves to the economies of scale. The data is usually written once and read occasionally (Seagate's research reflected that over 90 percent of the stored data was static) and the primary requirement for providers is to provide as much storage space at as low a cost as possible.

By eliminating the purchase cost for traditional storage servers, flattening the storage architecture, and massively increasing storage density, Seagate believes that the overall costs associated with storage not only are significantly reduced, but that collateral benefits — in terms of reduced staffing requirements and a reduction in power required — will also accrue to adopters of this technology. Much of this is accomplished by the complete removal of the storage server requirement and the costs for server class hardware and its ongoing operational expense.

Image: Seagate

The expected performance improvements come from two key factors: data is streamed to the drives as written; and the application server no longer manages the write process to the hardware, offloading that task to the intelligence on the drives. 

Seagate sees the potential for a 400 percent increase in random write performance due to this. The second trick is that the drives do the space management, not the file system, which could result in a reduction of as much as 50 percent in the metadata associated with each drive write. Additionally, common tasks such as file copies, or anything that simply involves moving data from one location to another, can be handed off completely to the storage system, freeing up server CPU for other tasks.

Seagate is announcing a veritable "Who's Who" of cloud and storage providers that they have gotten on board, ranging from Amazon Web Services to Microsoft Azure to Google as well as a number of system builders and ISVs.

There's no word yet when the first commercially available products will be available from system builders; as of today, Seagate is not yet providing release level hardware to these customers. But by the times developers have stable, commercially ready software available to go deliver, Seagate plans to be in full production of the related hardware.

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