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Cloudonomics Authors: Lori MacVittie, Skytap Blog, David H Deans, Shelly Palmer, Tim Crawford

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Object Storage Is THE Big Thing

We’re finally on cruise speed, ready to talk about what’s interesting: use cases, integrated applications and customer successes

In my opinion, Object Storage officially broke through this month. It went from being the “next” big thing to being “the” big thing. Why? Because Larry said so. Well, technically he didn’t: someone else had to do it for him as he skipped the Oracle Open World Keynote to see Team USA win the America’s Cup in the most exciting regatta of all times. So I’ve been told. I wasn’t there and I’m not a sailor. I kite surf, like Richard Branson.

What has Larry Ellison to do with Object storage and how is he an authority on the topic? Isn’t object storage about unstructured data, rather than databases? Well, correct: I don’t expect a whole lot from Oracle’s object storage technology. They are a database company and they are pretty damn good at that. But they haven’t been exceptionally successful with the Sun storage legacy other than the tape part of that business. Oracle’s object storage technology could have been good if they had recycled some of Sun’s honeycomb technology, but it doesn’t look like that is going to be the case. The little information that is out there points to OpenStack Swift, and we all know how well Oracle and open source blend! Also, Swift isn’t exactly storage-efficient: the technology was designed to run on cheap, commodity hardware – not really Oracle’s game.

Oracle could have owned the ecosystem that has been built around OpenStack. It was called the Sun Cloud, which was the first open alternative to Amazon Web Services. I was involved in the European launch of the Sun Cloud, and for many of us, we never doubted it would be a success. But, the compute cloud wasn’t all ready for launch when Oracle killed the project, despite the storage cloud (REST, WebDAV, buckets, multi-tenancy, the whole shebang) doing pretty well in the internal betas. Mind you, I’m talking 2009. Exactly one year after the Sun Cloud project was killed, the OpenStack initiative was started.

So, if not too much is to be expected from the Oracle Object Storage platform, why is it so important? Well, exactly five years ago, Larry Ellison had this to say about Cloud Computing. Those were the days when 80% of the cloud discussions were arguments around whether cloud computing was the right path forward or not. About two years later, when the Oracle marketing machine was cloudifying their product line at full speed, cloud conversations had moved to cloud and security, private versus public cloud, and cloud applications. No one doubted cloud computing anymore.

History does repeat, in spite of what these guys sing. There is no hilarious YouTube video of Larry saying object storage is just marketing buzz, but after two years of evangelization and discussions on whether object storage will replace file based storage or not, Oracle is now “re”joining the game. Coincidentally, that announcement was made just a week after two of my favorite object storage critics changed their tunes (they still need a few final proof points though, which I’m working on getting to them) and at exactly the same time when object storage conversations have shifted from object versus file storage to private versus public object storage, object storage security and the effect object storage has on bandwidth consumption.

It’s times like these that make a technology marketer’s heart beat faster.  We’re finally on cruise speed, ready to talk about what’s really interesting: use cases, integrated applications and interesting customer successes.

More Stories By Tom Leyden

Tom Leyden is VP Product Marketing at Scality. Scality was founded in 2009 by a team of entrepreneurs and technologists. The idea wasn’t storage, per se. When the Scality team talked to the initial base of potential customers, the customers wanted a system that could “route” data to and from individual users in the most scalable, efficient way possible. And so began a non-traditional approach to building a storage system that no one had imagined before. No one thought an object store could have enough performance for all the files and attachments of millions of users. No one thought a system could remain up and running through software upgrades, hardware failures, capacity expansions, and even multiple hardware generations coexisting. And no one believed you could do all this and scale to petabytes of content and billions of objects in pure software.