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Joyent spins up ZFS object store

Sons of Solaris glue compute and storage together

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Joyent has spun-up an object store in its cloud that spans multiple data centers as it tries to specialize in one area where its technology may draw developers away from the black hole that is Amazon Web Services.

The Manta Storage Service was announced on Tuesday. It sees Joyent erect an object storage layer with strongly consistent writes and highly available reads, no object size limits, and per-object replication policies.

The twist is that objects stored in the service can be coupled with compute via the MapReduce framework via use of the ZFS filesystem, so any analysis of the information can be done locally – giving a proximity of calculation unavailable on AWS (unless using its wobbly EBS block store).

"You literally run the instance directly on top of the object directly in the storage, so it really would be like the equivalent of running your [Amazon]​ EC2 instance inside of [Amazon]​ S3," Joyent CTO Jason Hoffman says. "Imagine something like S3 but strongly consistent. It's S3 with EC2 and Elastic MapReduce bolted on top of it."

The product is part of Joyent's strategy for differentiating itself from the major cloud incumbents of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google – something the company believes all mid-tier cloud providers will have to do if they hope to persist in a crowded market.

"All of us now, if you notice, are attempting to differentiate based on data services," Hoffman says, forecasting a future in which every cloud provider will have high-performance data stores for different classes of information, whether they be columnar, object, or key-value.

The addition of the storage service to Joyent's cloud follows the company weaving in the CouchDB database via a partnership with Cloudant, knitting Chef into its customized Solaris "SmartOS" software for native config management, and partnering with Basho to plug the Riak key-value data store in via Riak SmartMachines.

Though the company is gaining capabilities that put it a cut above AWS in certain areas, we note it's still using analogies that compare everything it does with AWS – hardly a good position to come from, and a sign of the strength of the incumbent. ®

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