Innovation Trickles Down in the Storage Industry – Eric Slack

By Eric Slack, Wednesday, November 11th 2015

Analyst Blogs

Open Storage PlatformTrickle-down is a term we heard a lot in the early 80s. It was used to describe an economics concept whereby prosperity would translate from the upper to lower income brackets (trickle down), through general business expansion driving job creation and wage growth. Trickle-down occurs in technology as well, as innovation from the industry leaders drives some significant benefits in the larger commercial market, something we’re seeing today in the storage industry.

Trickle-down in high tech refers to the very real migration of ideas, processes and technologies from the biggest companies to the market in general or from the research institutes, including the government, to the commercial sectors. This kind of technology transfer is interesting and newsworthy, as the industry heavyweights do the development and the rest of the industry gets to enjoy some of the benefits.

During the cold war and the space race, the US developed huge amounts of technology, much of which made its way into commercial products. One example is drone technology developed by the Defense Department that’s being used in agriculture, traffic control and search and rescue.

Trickle-down in IT

In IT these days, the heavyweights are the web-facing companies; Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. These hyper-scale companies have developed a number of technologies in response to their unique data requirements.

The problem surfaced a decade or so ago when the hyper-scalers started to accumulate enormous amounts of data, driven by the proliferation of images, videos and rich media in their cloud-based enterprises, and the need to secure that content with 2 or 3 copies. These companies had to find a way to store petabytes of data economically. Traditional storage systems were out of the question, so they developed a new solution.

Commodity Hardware

Using industry-standard x86-based server chassis they had a platform to support large numbers of disk drives – cheap disk drives. By removing most of the sophisticated features that traditional storage systems have accumulated over the years, they further reduced the cost of these hardware systems. But this approach required that essential functions like efficiency, data protection and system resiliency be moved into a software layer, along with the ability to federate these individual nodes so they could be managed as a logical system.

Do-it-Yourself Software

This software layer didn’t exist in the realm of commercial products so the hyper-scalers developed it themselves, often using open-source distributions. This wasn’t an issue for these companies because they had been solving big infrastructure problems since they began. Most of these companies had the innovation talent to shoulder these kinds of development projects, and their IT organizations were accustomed to developing their own processes and tools on the fly. But for the traditional enterprise it’s a different story.

Hyper-scale Dream

The IT professionals in large companies read the papers and see the exciting things that hyper-scalers are doing. The concept of reducing cost with commodity hardware and improving flexibility through the use of specialty software components makes sense – at least ‘on the white board’. The problem is they’re not in a position to do that development. Fortunately, the Open Storage Platform is providing a solution.

Open Storage Platform

The Open Storage Platform (OSP) is an architecture for building storage and compute infrastructures with independent software and hardware components. Using a “roll your own” approach, instead of do-it-yourself, OSP provides a roadmap for leveraging some of the most popular concepts in IT – scale-out, software-defined and commodity hardware. OSP bring the benefits of flexibility, efficiency and compelling economics that the hyper-scalers enjoyed, to mainstream IT organizations.

OSP Webinar

In this informative webinar, Evaluator Group will discuss how to use the Open Storage Platform to design a flexible, economic storage infrastructure that can help companies realize their hyper-scale dreams. You can register for this November 17th webinar here.


Many products have long lists of features that sound the same but work very differently. It’s important to think outside of the checkbox of similar-sounding features and understand how technologies and products differ.

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