Seagate Releases Open Source API to Eliminate Data Storage Complexity

Michael Vizard, October 23rd, 2013

Seagate wants to make it a whole lot easier for developers to invoke storage resources via a new open source API. The providers of magnetic and solid state drives today announced the Seagate Kinetic Open Storage platform, which provides an API designed to allow applications to interact directly with storage devices without having to directly invoke a file system.

Based on a key/value API, Ali Fenn, Seagate director of advanced storage, says Seagate Kinectic Open Storage not only represents an effort to dramatically reduce the cost of storage in the age of cloud computing; it should substantially reduce the amount of time it takes for developers to create applications by providing a standard interface for invoking storage. Fenn says the API itself is an Amazon S3 style API where the ‘key’ is the name of an object, and the ‘value’ is the object or shard of an object itself.

Rather than present the new Seagate to a standards body, Fenn says Seagate decided to try and foster its adoption by making it available as open source code that anyone could use. Among the first software vendors to announce support for the Seagate API is Basho Technologies, a provider of a distributed NoSQL database.

Via Ethernet, Fenn says Seagate is essentially using its new API to expose drives at a higher level of abstraction that developers can call directly from within their application; in effect making any piece of data available via an IP address. This allows organizations to add storage incrementally, completely independently of compute resource, whether that be across the aisle, elsewhere in the data center, or in a completely different geography.

Fenn says this approach should reduce the amount of metadata involved in calling storage resource by as 50 percent, which should increase random write performance on conventional magnetic storage by a factor of four.

At the moment Seagate is recruiting software developers to make use of the new API with a goal of launching actual storage devices that support the API between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015.

Initially, Seagate will provide Java, Erlang, Python, C, and C++ libraries. But developers are also free to write their own libraries to facilitate integration with Kinetic API.

While it will take some time for this API transformation to play out, and it’s unclear how much support the Kinetic API will garner across the IT industry, Seagate is pointing the way to a new state of what’s possible when it comes to marrying APIs to underlying storage. Given the reduced complexity that promises both developers and IT operations teams, perhaps the Seagate API could be that one rare instance where both constituencies should be able to find some almost immediate common ground.

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