Coldago pours cold water on Gartner Distributed Files and Object Storage MQ – Blocks and Files


An interview with Coldago research analyst Philippe Nicolas revealed what he sees as vendor and product choices that he believes weaken Gartner’s distributed file systems and MQ object storage.

Read the Q&A below and see what you think.

Blocks and files: Should distributed file systems and object storage be considered one category?

Philippe Nicolas.

Philippe Nicolas: Um, that’s a good question. What is true is that both address unstructured data, but many applications can use one and not the other, even though the access method is standardized. At the same time, we are seeing more and more vendors offering both interfaces. This clearly creates a challenge when you need to analyze the segment.

If we think of these two access models as one category, Gartner must select products that do both to avoid a penalty for file or object providers alone. But why should a supplier be penalized for offering only one interface, especially when it can be of very good quality?

Viewing the two as one category invites us to make the same point that we have made for years: Gartner considers one product for some suppliers and multiple products for others, and therefore creates an unfair or unbalanced comparison. So the real question is: are we comparing a product or are we comparing suppliers?

Some vendors, such as Pure Storage and Scality, combine file and object storage. Shouldn’t analysts do the same? and if not, why not??

And you can add Caringo (now DataCore), Qumulo, DDN, Dell, NetApp, VAST Data or Cloudian to expand the list; I’m probably even forgetting a few. This is a general response that demonstrates once again that the differentiators between offers are reduced year by year. It is also a sign of maturity. Checking the boxes in tenders does the job, but the behavior of the product is very different.

The way providers implement their access layers is really different. But it also confirms the merger between the offerings – as they’re basically two access methods to access the same unstructured content.

Also, you can merge the category, but what about pure object storage or pure file storage products / providers? Does this mean that we need separate sub-MQs for each category with the presence of actors who provide the individual access layers? I think that’s where other analyst reports come in, and users need to consider several of them to form their own ideas and opinions.

Purists will tell you that object storage is more than just an interface and they’re right, but no one today cares about internal design, especially when products expose both interfaces. Many users ask their providers, “Could you expose my content to a file server through S3?” And the reverse too.

But all of these products are far from equal when you look at the access methods. Are you really comparing native NFS access built on object layers and vice versa? Of course, this can offer some flexibility, but user experience shows very diverse capabilities and realities.

And finally, the problem with bringing the two together is that some pure file or item players are penalized. And it’s a paradox: you can be a great product in one category but poorly positioned in the global quadrant. On the other hand, having both, say with average abilities, offers artificial advantages.

Look at the trajectory of VAST Data in the market – not having it listed is quite bizarre and makes this report a bit incomplete.

With flash hardware and better-designed object software accelerating object storage to filer-level performance and thus to satisfy primary storage roles, don’t the two access protocols (file and object) merge ?

Flash has been used in storing objects for metadata for a long time, and it was too expensive for data for large setups. But the reality was also that some object storage products did not receive any performance gain by using flash for data and several of them had to adapt, modify and update their software to maximize the gain. And then the flash prices fell, which created additional opportunities.

Your point is interesting. I remember a recent study from a vendor claiming that object storage with flash can do primary storage. In fact, primary storage is only determined by its role and not by technology. Many people limit primary storage to block storage and this is a very narrow view of the industry. Primary storage is where data is generated and hence it is active and considered hot data. It supports production and supports the business. With that in mind, we understand that it can be a block, file, or object, be it a hard drive, flash, SCM, or full DRAM.

On the other hand, secondary storage is a level of protection, necessary to protect the business and support IT in its mission. Data is not generated here, it is copied from the primary level. This secondary level is full of inactive data – cold and even fixed or benchmark. Here we also see block, file or object access systems.

Your questioning confirms, once again, that object storage has become an interface in people’s minds.

What do you think of the overall relevance and usefulness of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage?

I like that, I like this exercise, it’s good that such tools exist with several others to invite users to read and analyze several of them, understand the context and the criteria to form their own opinion. We just regret that some visible players are not listed and that Gartner has not accepted or factored in the points that a lot of other people make year after year.

Even if one understands the criteria chosen by Gartner, it is always a surprise not to see certain players because they refuse to be listed or because Gartner eliminates them. Look at the trajectory of VAST Data in the market – not having it listed is quite bizarre and makes this report a bit incomplete.

And open source? What about MinIO, clearly the number one object storage by the number of instances running on the planet?

And the reverse is also true in this MQ. I’m pretty sure all readers were surprised to see some brands on it this year.

How should and could IT buyers find MQ-like information about distributed file systems and object storage providers if Gartner MQ is rejected?

Hmm, there is no single source of information and I invite buyers to do their own research for similar reports and analysis to build their own matrix with their own criteria as a mixture or union of these documents. . Honestly, they already do it for tenders; it’s just an extension. When they need to research the state of the art in an area, they have to do it. A good source is a few key news sites like yours, StorageNewsletter, TechTarget, and a few others that go beyond just issuing press releases and analyzing things. And finally, if buyers can speak directly with users who have already deployed and adopted solutions, they will get great contributions.

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