Storage I/O trends

Seagate Kinetic Cloud  and Object Storage I/O platform

Seagate announced today their Kinetic platform and drive  designed for use by object API  accessed storage including for cloud deployments. The Kinetic platform includes Hard  Disk Drives (HDD)  that feature 1Gb Ethernet (1 GbE) attached devices that speak object access API  or what Seagate refers to as a key / value. 

Seagate Kinetic architecture

What is being announced with Seagate Kinetic Cloud and Object (Ethernet HDD) Storage?

  • Kinetic  Open Storage Platform - Ethernet drives, key / value (object access) API,  partner software
  • Software developer’s kits (SDK) – Developer  tools, documentation, drive simulator, code libraries, code samples including  for SwiftStack and Riak.
  • Partner ecosystem

What is Kinetic?

While it has 1 GbE ports, do not expect to be able to use  those for iSCSI or NAS including NFS, CIFS or other standard access methods.  Being Ethernet based, the Kinetic drive only supports the key value object  access API. What this means is that applications, cloud or object stacks, key  value and NoSQL data repositories, or other software that adopt the API can  communicate directly using object access. 

Seagate Kinetic storage


Internal, the HDD functions as a normal drive would store  and accessing data, the object access function and translation layer shifts  from being in an Object Storage Device (OSD) server node to inside the HDD. The  Kinetic drive takes on the key value API personality over 1 GbE ports instead of  traditional Logical Block Addressing (LBA) and Logical Block Number (LBN)  access using 3g, 6g or emerging 12g SAS or SATA interfaces. Instead Kinetic drives respond to object access (aka what  Seagate calls key / value) API commands such as Get, Put among others. Learn  more about object storage, access and clouds at


Storage I/O trends

Some questions and  comments

Is this the same as what was attempted almost a decade ago now  with the T10 OSD drives?


Seagate claims no.


What is different this time around with Seagate doing a  drive that to some may vaguely resemble the predecessor failed T10 OSD  approach?


Industry support for object access and API development have  progressed from an era of build it and they will come thinking, to now where  the drives are adapted to support current cloud, object and key value software  deployment.


Wont 1GbE ports be too slow vs. 12g or 6g or even 3g SAS and  SATA ports?


Keep in mind those would be apples to oranges comparisons  based on the protocols and types of activity being handled. Kinetic types of  devices initially will be used for large data intensive applications where  emphasis is on storing or retrieving large amounts of information, vs. low  latency transactional. Also, keep in mind that one of the design premises is to  keep cost low, spread the work over many nodes, devices to meet those  goals while relying on server-side caching tools.


Storage I/O trends


Does this mean that the HDD is actually software defined?


Seagate or other HDD manufactures have not  yet noticed the software defined marketing (SDM) bandwagon. They could join the  software defined fun (SDF) and talk about a software defined disk (SDD) or  software defined HDD (SDHDD) however let us leave that alone for now.


The reality is that there is far more software that exists  in a typical HDD than what is realized. Sure some of that is packaged inside  ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) or running as firmware that  can be updated. However, there is a lot of software running in a HDD hence the  need for power yet energy-efficient processors found in those devices. On a  drive per drive basis, you may see a Kinetic device consume more energy vs.  other equivalence HDDs due to the increase in processing (compute) needed to  run the extra software. However that also represents an off-load of some work  from servers enabling them to be smaller or do more work.


Are these drives for everybody?


It depends on if your application, environment, platform and  technology can leverage them or not. This means if you view the world only  through what is new or emerging then these drives may be for all of those  environments, while other environments will continue to leverage different  drive options.


  Object storage access


Does this mean that block storage access is now dead?


Not quite, after all there is still some block activity  involved, it is just that they have been further abstracted. On the other hand,  many applications, systems or environments still rely on block as well as file  based access.


What about OpenStack, Ceph, Cassandra,  Mongo, Hbaseand other support?


Seagate has indicated those and others are targeted to be  included in the ecosystem.


Seagate needs to be careful balancing their story and  message with Kinetic to play to and support those focused on the new and  emerging, while also addressing their bread and butter legacy markets. The  balancing act is communicating options, flexibility to choose and adopt the  right technology for the task without being scared of the future, or clinging  to the past, not to mention throwing the baby out with the bath water in exchange  for something new.


For those looking to do object storage systems, or cloud and  other scale based solutions, Kinetic represents a new tool to do your due  diligence and learn more about.


Ok, nuff said (for now) Cheers