What Capabilities are Needed for a Startup Storage Company?

January 10, 2017 2 By Eric Shanks


At this point I assume everyone is tired of hearing about storage arrays. They seem to have saturated the market to the point where the new storage companies have all but evaporated, or got bought by a larger company. Couple that with a focus on moving to public clouds and the storage array seems to have been beaten to death.

While I was at Tech Field Day 12 I had the opportunity to see the folks over at StorageOS present on their fancy new storage solution. I was fully prepared to be lulled to sleep with another storage device but StorageOS had an interesting new take on the storage array. Their solution is to use containers to provide a global namespace to a clustered file system. Having a lightweight 40MB container acting as a controller for your virtual storage array could be an interesting topic all by itself. Off of the top of my head the use cases would include:

  • Using containers in public cloud environments to provide enterprise features
  • blue/green storage array upgrades to ensure compatibility
  • spinning up a storage array along with your application even.
  • add a storage array to a local desktop for testing a solution before moving to prod. (Think of that build, ship, run strategy)

StorageOS was tackling the idea of portability of the underlying storage systems and how flexible you need storage to be with a container application farm.

What struck me the most about their TFD12 presentation was something completely glossed over. Clearly, there are technical challenges with creating a distributed storage array leveraging a container operating system, but don’t forget that we need to have all of those enterprise capabilities to make it usable.

All travel expenses and incidentals were paid for by Gestalt IT to attend Tech Field Day 12. In addition, Igneous Systems provided a gift to all delegates but with no expectations about the coverage through this blog or social media.

The list of capabilities that the solution already has, blew me away. The company started in 2013 and has only recently started selling a product. Despite this fact the following is a non-exhaustive list of capabilities that the storage solution has already.

  • Block Level De-Duplication
  • Compression
  • Volume Resizing and Thin Provisioning
  • Replication
  • Snapshots
  • Cloning
  • Volume High Availability
  • Volume Encryption
  • Advanced Erasure Coding
  • Caching
  • SSD Optimization
  • Cluster Scale Out
  • Restful API (There better be for a container OS)
  • Role Based Access Control
  • Reporting
  • Tag Based rules and placements

There are capabilities that the enterprise demands in today’s era, but most storage companies I’ve seen go to market with a subset of the capabilities listed above. If you’ve got a storage array in your environment, you’ve probably seen some of these features added through upgrades but not as part of the initial release, I know that I have.

So it begs to have the question answered from the title of this post: “What Capabilities are Needed for a Startup Storage Company?” Is this the new standard? If you take a storage solution to market in 2017 can you even survive without these capabilities? I’m interested in hearing what you thing, post your feedback in the comments section for this post.


Find Out More about StorageOS

If you want to find out more about StorageOS and their solution, go sign up for a free version of their product. You can use their AWS AMI, Azure Marketplace VM, Downloadable OVA or Native Container. If you’re looking for some of their advanced features, try the professional version which gives you up to 1TB of storage at $29.95 per month. You can also check out what the other TFD12 delegates are thinking by visiting their blogs:

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