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New OpenDrives CEO on the current state of storage

Izhar Sharon weighs in on the evolving direction of the company, the commoditization of hardware and storage trends for the year ahead.

Software-defined storage vendor OpenDrives has a new CEO who comes with a long technology pedigree, and he's looking to push the company into its next stage of maturity.

Headquartered in Culver City, Calif., OpenDrives was founded in 2011 by media and entertainment veterans looking for a more efficient method of transferring high-resolution files without compression. The problem led to the development of its scale up and scale-out, high performance NAS.

Now newly appointed CEO, Izhar Sharon, is hoping to expand OpenDrives beyond media and entertainment. With more than 25 years of experience at companies including Infinidat, IBM and Dell EMC, Sharon talks about how he plans to guide that strategy and what the near future of storage will look like.

Can you give an example of how OpenDrives will expand the business?

Izhar Sharon: If our products and services are working for a customer in one environment, we want to expand it to other environments. OpenDrives' strength in the M&E [media and entertainment] space gives it potential to grow into enterprise and cloud architectures.

OpenDrives is software-defined storage. Do you see this as the way forward for storage vendors, or is there still room for products tied to specific hardware?

Sharon: It always depends on what the customer wants. A customer may want to consume software only but can't just yet because of lease agreements. Software-defined storage makes vendors more flexible, but the customer may not be able to use it due to other factors. For larger customers, it may be more economical to buy hardware versus using a public cloud.

Software vendors that rely on the cloud to be successful need to bring something that is not available natively on the cloud or something that is not available for a needed application or data flow.
Izhar Sharon CEO, OpenDrives

On the other hand, if you are software-only and work in the cloud, you must differentiate yourself because clouds have their own native solutions. Several vendors are attempting to have a cloud software version, but to be successful, it needs to be tied to a specific workflow or ability to fit a customer's need. Being software only is not necessarily better for the vendor, because you now must differentiate on what customers need. Software vendors that rely on the cloud to be successful need to bring something that is not available natively on the cloud, or something that is not available for a needed application or data flow.

Do you think that storage is becoming commoditized and leading to a lack of innovation in some aspects?

Sharon: Hardware has become commoditized and, because of that, is driving innovation in software. There is still innovation around specific chips and things like DPUs. And there is innovation around power efficiency and performance, but that is focused mostly on the hyperscalers. I don't see a lot of innovation on the hardware side because it is expensive to develop and manufacture, and those companies are becoming smaller. Hyperscalers are the ones with the funding and the engineering talent to build their own hardware. For independent hardware companies, who is the customer? Probably the hyperscalers.

Izhar Sharon, CEO, OpenDrivesIzhar Sharon

Two trends in the coming year are the persistence of ransomware attacks and cost savings. Is there a role for storage to play in combating ransomware?

Sharon: In the last six months, we've seen that most storage companies are trying to give users some form of ransomware protection. For instance, immutable snapshots that integrate with a [data protection] application. All it needs to do is ensure that it takes a snapshot every X minutes and you can roll back. But with ransomware, you also need a way to find out quickly that an attack happened. This can be done in storage because you can see access patterns to the data. … Ransomware protection is a functionality that you need, like a checkbox, and it will become standard for storage vendors in some form.

What is storage's role in combatting costs?

Sharon: Storage vendors and their customers need to become efficient in how they do things. ... Customers need to be able to push data to a location for compliance and recoverability, but they need to make sure they know what is hot and what can be pushed down [into lower-cost media]. This is the type of data management and data flow that storage providers can offer.

Object storage is becoming a larger player in general. Will this lessen the importance of file and block?

Sharon: Object storage today … is not an interactive solution. It is more about data quantity. You must support it because everybody wants to be able to use it for archive or saving the data for later use, for example. It is growing fast, but I see that growth around its lower cost. There aren't many additional services I see tied to that; companies use it but don't rely on it.

Editor's note: This Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at

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