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Could Scality gain scale from IBM buying Cleversafe?

HP might well become a key partner

Interview With IBM buying Cleversafe, one of the two leading object storage startups, and the other being Scality, we asked Scality CEO Jerome Lecat half a dozen questions about the potential impact of this acquisition.

El Reg Does this imply that the shared storage model (Spectrum Scale aka GPFS) for hyper-scale storage is not sufficient?

Jerome Lecat There are many limitations as the shared storage model (Spectrum Scale aka GPFS) for hyper-scale storage is not based on an object architecture; namely, inodes, raw capacity of file system storage, etc. That type of model simply cannot scale as much as OBS architecture. Several of our customers have GPFS experience, and choose the RING when it comes to very large scale.

El Reg If you need both shared storage and scale-out storage how can you best decide which is best for which use cases?

Jerome Lecat We view Scality RING, and other software-defined storage as “shared storage”, since the storage can be shared by multiple application.

If I should interpret “shared storage” by SAN, I would say that our view of the world is that storage needs are going to polarise based on latency requirements:

  • Use-cases with low latency requirement (below 1ms) will use All Flash Array (SAN), converged and hyperconverged systems,
  • Use cases which can tolerate latency barely higher than 2ms, will use the lowest cost, most effective architectures, i.e. shared-nothing distributed software-defined architecture (object is the best we know today). These use cases include: storage for cloud applications, user generated data (photo/video/document/emails), video, active archive, backup, Big Data and IOT.

We fully agree with the perspective of Wikibon expressed here except we think the limit is at 2ms and not 500 micro seconds.

El Reg At the same time as IBM bought Cleversafe, Rozo Systems emerged with its Mojette erasure coding. How does Scality view Mojette, its strengths and weaknesses?

Jerome Lecat We have no particular opinion on Mojette, but I would expect it is a good mathematical optimisation tool for simple CPU.

Now, the question is whether implementing Mojette delivers a better storage system. Our observation is that our own implementation of erasure code is not limited by CPU performance (current Intel CPU can process mathematical operations much more complex than a simple addition), and that what truly defines value for end user are the following attributes: performance, interfaces (i.e. NFS and S3 API), ease of use, hardware freedom and scalability. We believe that the erasure-coding algorithm is an important but small piece of the puzzle.

Scality prides itself in having a solution already adopted by many customers at 10PB+ scale, for very high performance workloads, native scale-out file systems, total hardware freedom, and incredible scalability.

El Reg Cloudian and its HyperStore have emerged. How does Scality rate that technology?

Jerome Lecat Cloudian is S3 focused; which comes with the same fundamental problem as we see with other vendors. Customers need S3, but they also need traditional POSIX file-systems. In addition, their solutions require a hardware appliance that locks in customers. Scality operates with a hardware agnostic model. Our customers have complete choice of hardware: from HP, Dell, Cisco, Seagate and other open x86 server vendors, all running on standard Linux.

El Reg How is the relationship with Dell progressing and do you anticipate that strengthening with Cleversafe becoming part of IBM?

Jerome Lecat Dell has been a very active partner, and we have been working with the company on numerous customer deployments. As a reseller, they have considerably extended our market reach, and have allowed us to provide enterprises with a joint-solution to meet their large capacity storage demands.

Dell was already exclusive with Scality, so I expect Cleversafe’s acquisition to have a moderate impact on our relationship with Dell.

It is a bit different for HP, who was reselling both Scality and Cleversafe. I expect HP to become more active with us.

I’m confident that we’ll see all of our partnerships strengthen, as a result of this acquisition. In many ways, this clears the field for Scality. In 2013, The IDC Object Storage Marketscape positioned Cleversafe as the market leader. In 2014, Scality was named the market leader. Many have already speculated that Cleversafe’s hardware partnerships will dissolve, leaving Scality as the obvious choice for future deployments. From day one, we have always been committed to staying a software vendor open to multiple hardware partnerships.

El Reg What are the main trends driving the object storage market now and where is the technology headed?

Jerome Lecat When we first started out, our customers were mainly in cloud services. We serve that market very well, and it continues to deliver very healthy growth for us. Today, we’re also seeing rapid and rising demands in video and content distribution, as well as active archive and private clouds for Global 2000 enterprises.

IDC has projected that the consolidated file and object market will be $21.6bn in 2015 (the fastest growing storage market) and believes that Scality is the only petabyte-scale player that actually supports a consolidated file and object approach. And that is why we’ve chosen to develop our technology with that in mind.

Wikibon agrees, projecting a $16bn market for Capacity Storage in 2015. I made many of these assumptions a year ago, in my Future of Storage report. Looking to the future, we’ll continue to do the same; to anticipate customers’ storage needs, create software solutions to address them, and disrupt the traditional storage landscape by introducing new methodologies.

El Reg Lecat now sees Scality as an undisputed object storage market leader with hopefully consequent beneficial effects on its revenues. News of the Dell EMC acquisition broke between receiving the answers to our questions and publishing them. We think that the period of uncertainty between now and the deal closing in mid-20126 could further benefit Scality even if Dell and EMC ultimately settle on EMC object storage products. ®


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