Briefing Note

Eric Slack, Senior Analyst

Gluster is not a client of Storage Switzerland

The GlusterFS was originally distributed as open-source software for which users could purchase support. Now Gluster has released the Virtual Storage Appliance which allows nodes to run as Virtual Machines or as VMs on Amazon Web Services. Gluster’s pooled CPU, memory and storage resources can be dynamically allocated, ideal for supporting the fluid requirements of a virtual server infrastructure. POSIX compliant, the Virtual Storage Appliance integrates into the VMware environment and can be deployed in minutes, providing the flexibility to scale the capacity and processing power of the storage cluster on demand. Synchronous replication between storage servers also provides high availability and data protection for the cluster.

‘Google Storage’

Google is famous for its use of standard x86 servers to build a cost effective compute grid to deliver its wide variety of services. With the explosion of server virtualization and the cloud, Gluster sees storage looking more like the compute environment, a virtualized, central pool of resources that are allocated and consumed as needed, but can also be deployed using commodity hardware. With its software orientation, scale-out architecture and global namespace the Virtual Storage Appliance extends this ‘Google model‘ to storage.

Storage Swiss Take

For many storage hardware manufacturers, “the software’s the thing” (with apologies to Hamlet). For years we have heard storage vendors claim they’re in the software business - including some 3-letter companies (even though you still had to buy the hardware from them). The concept, of course, is that most of the functionality that has historically differentiated these vendors was in the software features they offered, like replication, virtualization, thin provisioning, etc. But as my colleague George Crump often says, this functionality is now “table stakes” in the storage business and the software that supports these features is widely available.

This is where Gluster has it right. They’re supporting a move away from storage systems that force you to buy hardware to get functionality that’s resident in the software. While Storage Switzerland’s stance remains that storage hardware does matter, the user should be able to judge (and buy) it separately from the storage software. Gluster is focusing on software that is run as a virtual appliance and letting users connect whatever hardware is required - or available - to create the (Google) storage they need, when they need it.