The CEO of a – I’m guessing here – specialized Internet services company wrote StorageMojo because of the recent IBRIX acquisition. Here’s what he asked, edited for space.

We’re IBRIX customers, and we’re building out a High Performance Cloud platform. With the acquisition by HP, I’m nervous about our future, as most of our infrastructure is Sun-based (not Solaris, but Sun hardware), not to mention the uncertainty around Sun’s future.

Lustre is not appropriate for our kinds of reliability, so we chose IBRIX. We have high density systems and a need for virtually limitless scalability down the road, but on a 2009 startup budget.

I have a couple of questions for you:

1) If we go down the IBRIX road, are we going to end up on HP’s rather expensive storage solutions (at least for HPC-style higher density solutions, it’s _exceedingly_ expensive to buy HP). It just seems like storage costs are very high with them until you hit very large purchases.

2) If we switched directions, and went to another storage system, what would you use? We’ve looked at Sun’s 7000 series, Isilon, DataDirect, etc (we are currently Infiniband-based). They all seem to be “very expensive” to scale out on, and we want something that we can squeeze a lot out of (IBRIX licensing allowed us to use larger hardware – Sun 4600s and commodity arrays – and that really helped with “license scalability”) as we grow.

The overall goal of this system is “Web Scale” storage with as little out of pocket [beyond] what we’d managed to negotiate already (the IBRIX + Sun t6140 arrays + thumpers exporting over infiniband).

Looking at HP
It is likely that HP will put IBRIX on its ExDS 9100, a rack packed with blade servers and high-density disk packaging. The current 9100 uses PolyServe, a cluster optimized for transaction processing, not scale-out. Haven’t looked at the numbers lately, but last year the 9100 was listed at less than $2/GB, cheap for storage from a top-tier vendor. As with all clusters, capacity is cheap and bandwidth dear, so performance needs affect the cost.

It would be wise for HP to also make the IBRIX software available on HP’s low-end rack servers. The 9100 is a nice box, but some are happy starting with 3 servers and a terabyte or 2 in SAS drives. HP should offer that option.

Looking beyond HP
As noted before, there are several scale-out cluster storage options. If density is critical, you could do worse than Verari Systems paired with their Data Valet cluster software. They say their configs start at less than a dollar/GB.

Parascale, like IBRIX, offers a software-only product that you can mount on whatever servers make sense for you. They favor larger file sizes which may affect your thinking.

Nexenta is worth a look as well, since they use the ZFS you already know.

Who am I leaving out?
Update:Readers suggest Panasas – how could I forget? – Gluster and 2 votes for Quantum’s StorNext. More detail in the comments. I’ll keep updating this as more suggestions come in. End update.

The StorageMojo take
Scooping up IBRIX is good for HP, but if they limit what you can do with the software they won’t be doing us any favors. “Solutions” are a wonderful thing, but some of us just need some 2x4s, plywood and nails to build a solution.

I hope IBRIX gets more resources to drive their development faster. They have a good platform that deserves a chance to grow.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. I’ve done work for most of the vendors mentioned above.