EVault at OpenStack Summit

By Mikey Butler, Vice President Research & Development, IaaS, EVault

I’m sitting on the couch in my hotel room, smiling. I detest rain and yet here I sit in Portland and it’s raining cats and dogs. I smile because I’m reminded of a proverb said by one much wiser than me, “for love, we will do anything”. I’m here in spite of the driving rain because of my love of technology.

Today the Spring OpenStack Summit starts and in the 2.5 years since it’s founding, OpenStack has taken the tech world by storm and quickly has become the dominant cloud operating system. Its object store, Swift, has become my latest technology love!

That love is not altruistic, it’s based on need. Digital data is a now a tsunami.   Since the dawn of the digital age fifty years ago, the world has created just over 1 zettabyte of data; we’ll create the second zettabyte by the end of 2014!! Not only is data being created at an accelerating rate it’s becoming richer and more complex. The days of needing only flat files and block and file-oriented interfaces are over. The world of data is moving rapidly toward highly complex, multi-format objects and object stores.  More data, richer content–all good news–with one painful exception: the world’s creating all this data much faster than it’s creating places to put it!

This is especially true for long-term preservation of digital assets. What a wonderful problem to tackle!  This is why I jumped at the chance to join the OpenStorage team at EVault last October. Since then, we’ve been taking a good, hard look at the problem of holding digital data for the long haul. Here are some of our early findings.

  1. The cheaper storage is, the more it will be consumed.
  2. Historical analysis of storage data shows that the exponential increase in consumption is directly linked to a logarithmic decrease in price. Extrapolation of storage consumption data suggests that if storage were absolutely free the world would consume an infinite amount.
  3. The digital data tsunami will asymptotically approach infinity over time and therefore storage cost must asymptotically approach zero over time
  4. The world’s appetite for data is unbound, so our storage costs will always need to decrease. The daughter of our Principal Architect captured this lemma perfectly when she said,  “We want God in a box for a dollar and the dollar is negotiable!”
  5. Long-term digital asset preservation is predominately an exercise in ongoing, long-term storage cost reduction.

Ah yes, money! It always seems to the be  first-order term in infrastructure efforts so, unsurprisingly, the economics of long-term storage is the 800-pound gorilla.  Our research over the past several months with an elaborate multi-variable, datacenter econometric model adds considerable detail and color to the cost reduction problem and suggests these dominant drivers:

  1. Scale–Very, very large scale is a must.
  2. Storage Density–Maximize spindle/CPU ratio, the purer the storage play,  the better.
  3. Power Conservation–The #1 OPEX driver by far, up to 70% of ongoing cost.
  4. Self-Healing Infrastructure–Because of massive scale, the system must fix itself.
  5. Low Human Touch–Humans make mistakes. They should be required minimally.
  6. Low Cost Data Durability–We must have data copies, how cheaply can we make them?
  7. Open Systems–Open source software and OCP hardware are the most cost effective.

Oh, it’s late and I almost forgot to mention that if you are looking to work on OpenStack projects, EVault  is definitely a great place. Our OpenStorage project has the energy of a startup and yet is backed by a multi-billion dollar corporation, our parent company, Seagate. Plus our location could not be more exciting, in the heart of the SoMA district in San Francisco. Email us at openstorage@evault.com or check out our careers page.

Plus, if you’re in the Portland area and attending the OpenStack Summit, and want to chat about OpenStorage, EVault or technology then stop by the Seagate booth Wednesday afternoon between 3-4pm or shoot me an email at the address below to set up a meeting.

I can’t wait to reveal details on how Team EVault’s product will tackle these drivers in subsequent posts! Until then, I’ll just leave you with the above-mentioned teasers. ;-)

Cheers until the next time,


Mikey can be reached at mikey.butler@evault.com.