The proliferation of AI and machine learning means unstructured file data is more valuable than ever, but at a cost. Long-term retention is more expensive than the ubiquitous object storage offerings in the cloud.
Enter HyperStore 8, Cloudian's latest software-defined storage offering targeting enterprises with hybrid cloud environments that want to shift between file and object data across services.
Users can now access and manipulate both file and object formats within the Cloudian namespace, regardless of the data's original format. This enables more flexible use of that data for applications requiring file or object storage exclusively.
Cloudian HyperStore 8, which is in early access and will be generally available Feb. 19 after a soft launch late last year, is the first major update to the vendor's flagship product in six years. The new software runs on industry standard servers with a global namespace, data protection capabilities and improved performance, according to Cloudian.
File and object harmony
Targeting AI and machine learning (ML) workloads was deliberate, said Jon Toor, chief marketing officer at Cloudian, as customer development teams are looking to integrate AI of some kind into their products.
The overriding goal of HyperStore 8 was to maintain flexibility across storage media and customer environments. Cloudian sells a version of the software bundled with flash storage, but customers can use slower HDDs via object storage for archives while still having a view into production environments on flash.
"We're hearing so many customers talk about the movement toward AI and ML," Toor said. "What we're focused on today is the practical problems they're trying to solve."
HyperStore is built on a Cassandra NoSQL database that uses AWS S3 object APIs to connect flexibly with a wide range of hardware and software.
These capabilities bring Cloudian's software more in line with a data platform, said Simon Robinson, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group. Enterprises are using a massive amount of file data for training AI and ML models but avoiding data silos by format while keeping costs down remains a top concern for CIOs.
"The reality is we're talking about content, and both [formats] are important," Robinson said. "It makes the management of that storage more complex down the line."
Back to the storage future
Even with the advancements, Cloudian's reemergence comes at one of the most competitive times for software-defined storage vendors, according to Dave Raffo, an independent storage analyst.
Dave RaffoIndependent storage analyst
Cloudian was founded in 2011 and originally focused on making object storage available on premises, Raffo said. The scope of its services has widened over time but places the vendor in direct competition with hyperscalers such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, as well as major storage vendors such as Dell Technologies and NetApp.
"Despite the name, Cloudian started as on premises only, [but] they were always S3 object based," Raffo said. "It's a very competitive space. Everyone is in object storage now, [and] almost anybody who does file also does object."
Cloudian's strategy makes sense for its customers, who are smaller enterprises with a lot of unstructured data who sought out ways to store data at a lower cost, Raffo said.
Even with its defined niche, Cloudian's fortunes aren't immune to the technology advancements of its competitors, according to Ray Lucchesi, president and founder of Silverton Consulting. Most companies that sell either object or file storage have an offering that can bridge the gap between the two, he said.
"This is primarily an object player now offering file," Lucchesi said. "Everyone has a solution out there that does that."
Tim McCarthy is a journalist from the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.