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Seagate Kinetic hard disk drive object storage platform shoots for the clouds

Seagate says its Kinetic hard disk drive object storage platform eliminates file system and storage server tiers.

Seagate Technology took the wraps off its Seagate Kinetic Open Storage platform for cloud-based object storage this week, making 4 TB hard drives available with Ethernet connectivity and an open source object application programming interface.

The near-line Seagate Kinetic hard disk drive (HDD) marks the formal launch of the object-based platform Seagate announced with industry partners in October 2013. Seagate claims Kinetic will reshape storage architecture by eliminating the need for proxy file systems and storage servers traditionally used to manage the translation of data objects for block and file hierarchies.

The Seagate Kinetic HDD features dual Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of SAS pins. The application programming interface is supported by OpenStack Object Storage for integrating libraries within the Seagate software stack. The configuration is designed to allow a drive to assume the behavior of a server, using software libraries to directly talk to any storage device.

Hyper-scale data centers, cloud services providers and other enterprises that need to flexibly scale out storage are among the potential use cases, according to Seagate.

System handles storage logic remotely, uses drive as key value store

The Seagate Kinetic scheme separates storage software from the underlying complexities of HDD block layout. Servers and storage are decoupled, enabling both to scale independently.

Storage applications are mapped to the IP address of a Kinetic HDD, similar to the way a URL is used to retrieve a webpage. Storage system logic is handled remotely. Applications assume functions such as replication, erasure coding, metadata overhead and policy management. The drive itself becomes a key value store that handles space management.

"We eliminated the immediate tier of storage servers that sits between the TCP/IP cloud and the device," said Ali Fenn, Seagate's senior director of advanced storage. "You now can effectively scale out storage anywhere you want and do it cost effectively, since you no longer are overprovisioning compute."

Ripping out the storage server tier could cut total cost of ownership in half and boost drive- and rack-level performance fourfold, Fenn said, noting several proofs of concept are under way with hyper-scale and cloud services providers.

The Seagate Kinetic platform initially is available from four hardware vendors: Hyve Solutions, a division of Synnex Corp., Newisys, Super Micro Computer and Rausch Netzwerktechnik GmbH.

Software partners include SwiftStack and Scality Inc., which is tailoring its Ring object storage system for use with Seagate Kinetic. Basho Technologies' Riak and RedHat Inktank Ceph are among other operating system codes that will be added in future iterations, Fenn said.

Analysts: Cloud providers among early adopters

The Seagate Kinetic platform could make it easier for cloud storage providers to scale, said Ben Woo, a managing director at analyst firm Neuralytix Inc.

"It's about simplicity of deployment. All the major cloud providers are using object storage on the back end, so Kinetic makes sense for them. They no longer have to go out and buy object storage controllers; they can simply add more disk drives and be done," Woo said, adding that his firm predicts at least one-third of organizations will have some form of object storage in place by 2020.

Dave Reinsel, a vice president at research firm IDC, said companies are likely to gravitate methodically to Seagate Kinetic. That's in keeping with Seagate's plan to enable enterprises to avoid a rip-and-replace approach and implement the Kinetic architecture as their storage needs evolve.

"Legacy IT infrastructure is a slow-moving ship. When you have something as new and different as Seagate Kinetic, you're not going to see a massive rush to it all at once," Reinsel said. "But does it have the potential to change storage architecture in the future? Absolutely."

Next Steps

Seagate Kinetic plans continue to roll out

OpenStack Summit allows Seagate to extoll its high-capacity Kinetic drives

Dig Deeper on Cloud object storage

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Will the availability of Seagate Kinetic speed adoption of cloud-based object storage in your organization?