Check out their homepage and, as of today, “This page is not here yet….” That recursive mindbender is an apt introduction. Who – and what – is RisingTide Systems? StorageMojo spoke to founder Marc Fleischman to find out.

The StorageMojo take-away: a semi-stealth mode open source storage software company focused on virtual DAS for Internet-scale virtual machine infrastructures. Let’s break that into bite-size pieces.

  • Semi-stealth. Marc spoke to a blogger without an NDA. On the other hand they are planning to get their web site up in September.
  • Virtual DAS. Virtual direct-attached storage for virtual machines and/or physical machines.
  • Internet-scale. VDAS for 100,000 physical or virtual servers – or more. They can scale down, but in the cloud space this is the current sweet spot.

Block vs file
Block service offers 2 key advantages over scale-out file systems: they’re bootable, enabling seamless virtual/physical migration; and, RisingTide supports >10k LUNs per target, i.e. one LUN per user, thus enabling management of storage attributes (QoS, IOPS, capacity, availability, etc.) on a per user basis.

RisingTide’s stack is Linux-based. It includes a comprehensive iSCSI target, an initiator, a generic target engine – they aren’t wedded to iSCSI – a very high speed (8 Gbits/sec on 10GigE) fabric module, snapshot engine and an HA option. The iSCSI initiator allows Rising Tide to deploy storage features such as end-to-end QoS for LUNs and custom protocol-level extensions.

A key feature is a highly scriptable management interface that enables ISPs to to build – or more likely, integrate – their own management console. Cloud computing is based on the idea that capital is cheap and labor dear.

A scalable management infrastructure is key to realizing the advantage. GUIs don’t scale.

ISPs, whose thin margins encourage OSS, using RHEL and KVM (kernel-based virtual machine), as well Xen VMs are RisingTide’s target. One prospect, who currently hosts 500 PB, is all physical DAS but wants to decouple storage and CPU. They think they can do it with an iSCSI infrastructure.

They also support FCoE, but aren’t seeing much interest in that. Given the economics of ISPs that is not a surprise.

The StorageMojo take
Cloud computing is all about scale, which is why the private cloud concept is suspect. Few enterprises can justify the scale to required to make the leap from labor-intensive to capital-intensive computing. And really, what enterprise vendor wants to help them do so?

This is a good thing, unless you are counting on selling private clouds. The tech is fascinating, but once the numbers are run, the concept will be done.

Which leaves the field open to companies that live and breathe massive scale: big ISPs; Google; Amazon; IBM Global Services; and the firms supplying kit to these folks.

Massive-scale infrastructure isn’t just more of the same. It is a brave new world with its own dynamics that are already reshaping the IT industry.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Update: A few clarifications made about 2 hours after the first post. End update.