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Sick of storage vendors? Me too. Let's build the darn stuff ourselves

Do a good job, you won't need to buy it. Do a great job, you've got a startup

StorageBod Any half-way competent storage administrator or systems administrator should be able to build a storage array themselves these days.

It’s never really been easier and building yourself a dual-head filer that does block and network-attached storage should be a doddle for anyone with a bit of knowledge, a bit of time and some reasonable google-fu skills.

I built a block-storage array using an old PC, a couple of HBAs and Linux about five years ago; it was an interesting little project – it could present LUNs via FC/iSCSI and file-share via SMB and NFS. It couldn’t do object storage but if I was doing it again today, it would.

And it was a single-head device but it was good enough to use as a target device to play about with Fibre Channel and generally support my home devices. I only recently switched it off because I’m not running FC at home any more.

But if I could build a storage array five years ago, you can do so today. I am not that good a storage/server guy – I’m a tinkerer and dilettante. You are probably much more competent than me.

Another factor that makes it easier is that FC is slowly going away; it’s slow progress but iSCSI is making headway for those who really need block, and 10 GbitE is coming down in price. I’m also interested to see whether some the proposed intermediate speeds of Ethernet have an impact in this space. Many data centres are not yet 10 GbitE and there is still quite a cost differential but 1 GbitE is not really good enough for a data centre storage network. However, 5 GbitE and maybe even 2.5GbitE might good enough in some cases. And as FC goes away, building your own storage endpoints becomes a lot simpler.

Throw in commodity flash with one of the "new" file-systems and you have a pretty decent storage array at a cost per terabyte that is very attractive. Your cost of acquisition is pretty low, you’ll learn a whole lot and be positioned nicely for a "Infrastructure as Code" tsunami.

If you do a great job, you might even be able to spin yourself out as a new flash startup. Your technology will very similar to a number of startups out there.

So why are you sitting here? Why are you still raising purchase orders against the three- or four-letter name vendors?

Imagine never having to speak to them again. What a perfect world. ®

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