Open vStorage is a new virtual storage system coming out of stealth mode. Designed to enable virtual machines to run directly from object storage, it is a layer between the hypervisor and the object store with the goal of turning object storage – as well as local, NAS and other storage – into a high performance, distributed, VM-centric storage platform.

It’s from a 15 year old company Cloud Founders that has 100+ employees in existing businesses. CF is an incubator with a string of successful exits behind them.

Here’s what they say:

Open vStorage is an open-source grid storage router for Virtual Machines. It is a virtual appliance (called the Virtual Storage Router) that is installed on a host or cluster of hosts on which Virtual Machines are running.

It currently presents an NFSv3 interface to hosts and they plan to add SMB later. OvS currently supports VMware, (Update: and KVM) and they plan to support Hyper-V and Xen soon.

Here’s a diagram:

Courtesy Open vStorage

Courtesy Open vStorage

The object storage challenge
Object storage is the common currency of Internet scale infrastructure. Designed with the proper density, erasure coding, fault recovery and management tools it is the lowest cost scale-out storage available.

But it has challenges.

  • Consistency. Most object stores reach eventual consistency, but that’s not good enough for for interactive systems that need the latest data.
  • Latency. Not what object stores are optimized for.
  • Management. Need to manage VMs, not LUNs.

OvS is not a distributed file system. Each storage system presents its own instance of storage using it’s protocols. But it does interface with distributed file systems such as Gluster.

Open vStorage serves virtual disks to virtual machines only. Each volume is accessed by a single virtual storage appliance, which share a unified name space that can vmove with a virtual machine.

The write everything to a buffer to aggregate the writes and then when they have enough, then write to the backend storage. But OvS is more than a cache.

Business model
OvS will be commercial released in early fall. They’ll offer services and back-end HW/SW packages around the open source core. A complete backend storage solution with configuration, management, hardware and support is coming.

OvS is aiming at markets where users have multiple hypervisors and some price sensitivity. MSPs are an early target.

The StorageMojo take
OvS promises to offer a straightforward growth path from local VM infrastructure to the cloud. The fact that they aren’t building a file system makes their plans much more feasible.

The focus on MSPs, with their typically thin margins and limited technical depth, also makes sense.

When more IT groups adopt the MSP model for their operations – and that’s coming – they’ll find solutions like OvS ready to take them forward.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.