Gluster brings clustered NAS storage to VMware

Interview: Gluster CTO AB Periasamy discusses how virtualization and cloud infrastructures impact storage

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InfoWorld: Talk about some of the IT trends that you have seen that have helped push the adoption of virtualization technologies.

Gluster: Data center managers recognize that the utility model for computing is the most efficient way to deliver services. Virtualization is the key ingredient for flexibility and automation. The promise of decreased costs and increased manageability is the driving force behind any enterprise adopting virtualization/cloud computing technologies. Cloud computing is the primary driver and is an architectural evolution of the data center that when tightly coupled with the need for virtualization is now the focus of innovation.

InfoWorld: And how are enterprises handling things today?

Gluster: Existing infrastructure is strained, particularly on the storage side as noted as that element has lagged behind, but many new technologies are emerging. Several trends, such as the explosion of unstructured data and the emergence of cloud computing, have shined a spotlight on the gap and woken many to the realization that it is holding the industry back from achieving a fully virtualized data center. The virtualization vendors are doing their part to rapidly adopt themselves to the cloud requirements with improved management tools and new APIs.

Many enterprises are moving to public cloud platforms such as those provided by Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. New players such as Eucalyptus and are introducing cloud management software stacks. Storage vendors, both existing and new, are making major investments to close the server-storage virtualization gap. Storage was often considered an afterthought and systems designed for transaction-oriented databases were a poor match for new demands.

The storage layer has to scale linearly in capacity and performance; throwing hardware at the problem is not a solution. Storage virtualization demands an entirely new software-based approach that leverages a scale-out architecture to deliver petabytes of capacity and gigabytes per second of throughput.

InfoWorld: What are some of the questions enterprises should be asking while they are trying to figure out how to address their virtual machine storage?

Gluster: The key to a utility or cloud environment is how effectively resources can be pooled and shared, so this is the first criteria enterprises should address. Scalability is critical as well -- not just the ability to store large amounts of data, but the ability to respond to dynamically changing workloads. Also, manageability is extremely important; enterprises need to look for simple management that automates operations as much as possible. Finally, the economics need to be addressed; commodity storage solutions are now enterprise ready and should be considered for enterprise deployment. There is growing evidence that cloud infrastructure will rely heavily on commodity hardware and open source software.

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