A Storage Framework for the Future Page 3


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Continued From Page 2

Now All We Need Are OSD Products

Of course, someone still has to build an OSD system with a file system, HBAs, switches, storage managers, disk and tape.

The standard must still be implemented end-to-end, which means that file system vendors have to talk OSD, OSD storage manager vendors (RAID controller vendors) have to talk OSD, and most importantly, disk drive vendors like Seagate and Hitachi have to build OSD disks. Without the disk drive vendors building disks, current RAID storage vendors cannot build object storage managers, and without object storage managers, file system vendors cannot create object-based file systems.

A number of companies have developed OSD-based products without the disk drives being completed. Panasas, for one, has developed an OSD hardware platform. This is just one of many hardware and software products that are starting to appear on the market. Sounds similar to how RAID products evolved, and then Fibre Channel products, which is not surprising, since before standards are finalized and completed, many vendors develop products to develop (and corner) the market.

OSD's future is in question, however. The factors threatening the standard are lack of availability of disk support, and lack of a complete end-to-end understanding of what OSD provides.

By a wide margin, the second factor is the biggest risk. Management at organizations need to understand what OSD can provide on both the performance and security fronts, but that does not come for free. If all they are concerned about is cost of storage, which for many is the current mode of operation, then we are in big trouble. We all need to look beyond the current cost per MB, GB, TB — and soon PB — and start looking at storage as an integrated service, not as a commodity device. For without this change, we cannot scale, and we will not be secure. This depends on both vendors and industry educating customers and it will not happen overnight. We all need to help and become more open-minded in this area, and we need products to move from R&D to reality.

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