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Seagate joins OpenStack foundation and Open Compute Project

Drive giant revs involvement in open source tech

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In an effort to stay relevant in the new cloudy world Seagate is loading money into OpenStack and joining the Open Compute Project.

The storage specialist "will help cloud builders to develop more scalable, customizable solutions using open platforms," it said in a statement on Wednesday, announcing its involvement.

"Seagate is excited to take the first of a number of industry changing steps in joining the open source community and leveraging our vast knowledge of storage and cloud optimized solutions to help foster the growth of cloud storage solutions," Seagate's veep of marketing Scott Horn trumpeted in a statement.

Becoming an OpenStack corporate sponsor will cost Seagate $25,000 and give it the right to use OpenStack's logo for commercial marketing, and will also give it a presence on various websites associated with the open source cloud software platform. Corporate sponsorship does not give Seagate any direct or indirect control over how the technology develops.

So, why get involved?

By actively involving itself in both cloud software, via OpenStack, and hardware, with the Open Compute Project, Seagate is hoping it can get on the inside track of tech development for large clouds - an area that it forecasts as storing more and more data over time.

"We're not going to open source the internals of the drives, but we'll be looking to work with the communities' hardware and software players," Ali Fenn, a senior director at Seagate, told The Register. "We recognize that these are the stacks of the future."

Other participants in the Open Compute Project include AMD and Intel, who have both produced custom motherboards, as well as a smorgasbord of traditional OEMs who are all tweaking gear to better fit inside mega datacenters.

"It's not lost on us where data is going to be stored in the future," she said. "It's going to be a significant shift to the extent that there is a dramatically increased amount of data being stored in the kinds of use cases that OCP is going to address."

By example, Facebook has pioneered the use of low-RPM — hence cheap — commodity drives in its 'Open Vault' storage array for the thrifty preservation of "cold data" (in Facebook's case, the rarely viewed holiday snaps that we put onto the network of us looking glum around the world).

Seagate thinks more and more data will be stored on systems like Open Vault, so its involvement in the OCP could help it make drives that will be bought for use inside these systems.

Seagate's involvement has been a long time coming - the OpenStack community members list already reads like a who's-who of the tech industry, and the Open Compute Project is much the same.

Why did Seagate wait so long to get involved? Fenn says there was a lot of discussion internally, but Seagate wanted to announce its involvement and swiftly follow with some technology, though she did not give a precise timeline for when this would happen.

Western Digital-subsidiary Hitachi Global Storage Technologies announced in mid-January that it had joined the Open Compute Project. Its reasons for involvement were much the same as Seagate's.

At the time of writing Toshiba didn't respond to queries from El Reg on its interest in the Open Compute Project. ®

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