Open Source Gluster Touts Software to Commoditize Storage

For many enterprises mulling their cloud strategies, storage remains a stubborn problem. Costs and latency stand as principal drags on adoption of cloud-based storage solutions, while the rise of unstructured data has further complicated the landscape.

Gluster thinks it has the answer with its open source, scale-out software that runs on commodity hardware, allowing businesses to access storage as an on-demand resource in a fashion similar to how they harness computing power.

“We are speaking with organizations that are really desperate to reduce their storage costs. This comes from the well-publicized explosion of unstructured data,” explained John Kreisa, Gluster’s vice president of marketing. “Some of the customers and prospects we speak with frequently tell us that they have tried storage clouds–or early forms of cloud storage. However, network latency continues to be a nagging problem.”

Gluster’s software solution offers a network-attached storage (NAS) technology that can cater to public and private clouds as well as in-house virtualized environments.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Gluster describes its filesystem, GlusterFS, as an open source, distributed and modular offering that cuts out metadata in its server architecture as a way to boost performance, reliability and scalability.

“Customers can start with traditional enterprise storage in their data center, and then when they are ready to virtualize their storage, they can do that with ease,” Kreisa said. “When they want to move to the cloud, public or private, they can do that rapidly, given Gluster’s software-only approach.”

When implemented as a virtual appliance, Gluster claims its technology carries a flexibility that allows data to grow, shrink and migrate without interrupting the availability of applications, and that configurations of a couple hundred terabytes can be set up in a half hour.

For firms looking to tap into the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud, Gluster integrates with Amazon Web Services and the GoGrid environment. The company’s GlusterFS, an open source distributed file system, is available as an Amazon Machine Image, a RightScale Server Template or a Gluster GoGrid Server Image. Gluster announced its partnership with GoGrid in early July.

To simplify the migration to the public cloud, Gluster’s solution is compliant with the POSIX standard, a certification that allows customers to avoid having to rewrite applications as they transition to the cloud.

Included in Gluster’s portfolio of more than 100 enterprise clients worldwide are the streaming music service Pandora and the media site BrightCove.

“The biggest challenge right now is raising awareness that there are better, more flexible and more cost-effective approaches … for today’s storage needs in the data center and the public cloud,” Kreisa said.

Gluster sells support and services for GlusterFS through direct channel sales and a network of value-added resellers.

Later this month, Gluster plans to begin beta testing its next release, which Kreisa said will pair the feature sets of file and object storage.

“While many traditional hardware vendors are struggling to unify NAS and storage area network (SAN) technologies, Gluster is leaping ahead and unifying NAS and object storage technology,” he said. “This is an important new capability because many of today’s applications store and retrieve data as objects and now they can use one unified storage mechanism for all of their data–file and object.”

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