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Seagate Kinetic: A Disruptive Force in the Storage Market

It’s been just over one year since Seagate announced its Kinetic Open Storage vision, and in those 12 months, the company has taken some significant strides toward making that vision a reality. As a refresher, the Kinetic Open Storage Platform is a new architectural approach to HDD storage, which puts Ethernet on to Seagate drives and employs a key-value method for managing data. The platform allows functions such as cluster management, data replication and volume management to happen in software rather than in hardware. This largely software-defined approach eliminates many of the intermediate layers—such as RAID controllers, volume managers and file systems—found in the stacks of traditional storage systems, and enables applications to talk directly to storage.

Since the original October 2013 launch, Seagate has progressively laid out additional elements of the Kinetic Open Storage platform, while taking steps to build an ecosystem of hardware and open source software suppliers. In January 2014 Seagate contributed key development tools to the Open Compute Foundation to facilitate community design and testing for the Kinetic platform. In May the company unveiled an API and interfaces to enable software and hardware partners to use the key-value interface in their cloud software stacks, devices and systems, and open source vendors such as SwiftStack and InkTank announced their support. And this week, Seagate is socializing specific proof-of-concept benchmarks and early customer use cases that help to validate the Kinetic value proposition, including advantages such as an up to 50% increase in rack density, 30% to 70% reductions in OPEX (power and staffing) costs, and an acceleration in storage device innovation enabled by the open, streamlined and software-driven architecture.

Seagate has recruited major suppliers such as Dell and Supermicro to build Kinetic systems. Seagate is maintaining SAS brick form factor and pin compatibility, allowing these manufacturers to leverage current SAS array enclosures and take advantage of current HDD economics in building Kinetic systems. The open sourcing of API, protocol and system drivers will enable suppliers to differentiate their offerings and add value in areas such as security and storage services.

To be sure, Seagate must overcome some challenges to make the platform successful. For example, as my colleagues point out, Seagate must prove that they can stay ahead on the innovation curve and beat new SAS systems to market with each new generation of drives. They also need to ensure that Kinetic systems successfully manage things like load balancing and space management. Though Seagate can rely on a vibrant ecosystem for some of this functionality, they will need to continue to add value through at least baseline, open software enhancements that can benefit all participants.

Despite these challenges, we think that Kinetic Open Storage will help breathe new life into HDD storage, making it an efficient, cost effective platform to service the needs of scale-out object storage in cloud and enterprise enviroments.

  • Premiered: 11/03/14
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): Seagate Open storage HDD Cloud Enterprise software-defined storage


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