Open source software has had a profound impact on just about every aspect of IT, with the notable exception of storage. Open Source Storage is aiming to change that with the unveiling this week of a 3u storage appliance capable of providing access to up to 16TB of storage using open source technologies such as the Zettabyte File System.
Open Source Storage founder Eren Niazi says the hybrid Z1C appliance, priced starting at $21,000, can deliver 50 to 80 percent better performance than proprietary platforms because, in the case of Open Source Storage, all the unnecessary storage software modules that commercial vendors include in their offerings have been stripped out. The appliances that Open Source Storage builds are themselves based on a custom chassis housing standard motherboards from Intel or Super Micro and magnetic and solid-state drives (SSDs) manufactured by several vendors, says Niazi.
Niazi says that about 75 percent of the revenue that Open Source Storage generates today comes from providing the core software-defined appliance, the associated management console, and the support services provided around them. But Open Source Storage also provides a managed cloud service around its appliances. In three years or less, Niazi says that cloud storage service will generate 75 percent of the company’s revenue as more IT organizations move to embrace storage-as-a-service.
At this juncture, Niazi contends that the reasons that more organizations have not moved to an open source storage platform have more to do with inertia than technology. In fact, Niazi says most of the major storage vendors are “hiding behind their brands” because most of them are simply repackaging open source code in their commercial offerings.
As IT organizations look for ways to reduce costs at a time when the amount of data they need to manage is increasing exponentially, it will be interesting to see what impact open source technologies will have. In the meantime, the day when storage vendors could expect to make money by marking up and wrapping some software around commodity hardware appears to finally be coming to a close.