EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Q&A With OSA Community Dev Chair Gopi Ganapathy

The Open Solutions Alliance (OSA), a federated community of open source business and developer communities, opened in earlyDecember a community portal built upon technology from one of its newest member organizations, Essentia. The company develops software platforms and solutions for online communities and commerce.

The EssentiaESP is a community-engagement platform designed specifically for commercial open source and taps into the latest trends in social networking to encourage greater collaboration among companies and open source communities.

The EssentiaESP environment supports multiple project types. Some of the core projects hosted there include the Common Customer View (CCV) project; Interoperability projects between OSA member companies like the Hyperic/Jaspersoft integration; and member projects for OSA companies including Hyperic, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Openbravo, SpikeSource and others.

“What the OSA is trying to do is ensure that all of the different companies can cooperate and integrate. And it wants to make sure that there are a set of standards that all companies can publish to,” Gopi Ganapathy, president and CEO of Essentia and new OSA Community Development Chair, told LinuxInsider.

OSA’s choice of EssentiaESP reaffirms Essentia’s leadership in community development, collaboration, commerce and open source development, he said. His company’s involvement with OSA will foster deeper interoperability efforts among OSA member company that will be open to the worldwide community of open source developers, he explained.

Ganapathy recently addressed the second annual Malaysian Government Open Source Software Conference (MyGOSSCON) in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia. MyGOSSCON is a conference designed to support the Accelerated Adoption (Phase II) of the Malaysian Public Sector OSS Master Plan Program.

He addressed the conference on the topic of Building Vibrant Open Source Communities drawing on his experience from the OpenOffice.org, java.net, NetBeans and JasperForge.org communities.

LinuxInsider met with Ganapathy to discuss Essentia’s interest in the OSA and the goals of the new community portal.

LinuxInsider: What sparked your enthusiasm for working so closely with the OSA?

Gopi Ganapathy:

Open source has a couple of key drivers. One obviously is the ability to get source code software distributed fast. The second is the supporting community that actually comes together to build the software. OSA is very interested in insuring that open source gets adopted. One of the challenges for OSA is that there really wasn’t a deep system integrator that really understands all theoptions and the offerings and how to put it all together.

LI: What role is Essentia playing with helping the OSA meet this challenge?

GG:

The problem for OSA is getting software adopted and building cross-product traditions that comprise a number of member companies’ products. This demonstrates how fairly complex this system is to work under a common framework. To make all these things happen you need to have a suitable open source platform or environment where companies can collaborate through the use of a mega community that is basically a community of communities.

LI: How unique is the platform Essentia developed for the OSA portal?

GG:

I think there is no other product out there that can actually handle the federation of communities and allow broadening participation of community members from different communities toparticipate in wide dissemination of knowledge and adoptions of products and be able to create vertical solutions or localized solutions for specific markets.

LI: Is EssentiaESP something your company already had, or is it something you created for the OSA?

GG:

We always had a history of working with open source platforms. Back in the 1980s we were involved in developing platforms for fairly large software deployments in OpenOffice. I was personally responsible for running the dream team for developing several products. Since then we have built a couple of generations of community platforms.

LI: What changes in community use are you noticing with this current platform generation?

GG:

The interest in the current generation is that several communities have moved from being very developer-centric to becoming primarily business users rather than developers. The interest is really to figure out how to experience the information that exists among the broad users and ensure that we have a low risk in terms of adopting.

LI: How else are open source communities adapting to the use of a massive collaboration portal?

GG:

We also see that there are new paradigms of social networking developing that people have become quite comfortable using. These include all the video collaborative capabilities like Skype and IM and Twitter and everything else that is going on.

LI: Have you integrated these communication trends into EssentiaESP?

GG:

We decided to basically bring together all the core software tools for open software development with social networking to provide a modern platform that can fully scale. When we say scale, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of users who can come together to work on a product.

LI: Is there any cost for members to participate in this portal, or do they have access by virtue of belonging to the OSA?

GG:

OSA underwrites the cost of writing this platform and supporting members use of it. OSA wants to ensure that they have a highly stable environment in which a lot of talented open sourcecommunities like SourceForge and JasperForge are all in one place. That really shows the strength of the participation that is possible among open source companies.

LI: Who actually runs the portal?

GG:

We [Essentia] not only designed the solution, we actually handle the whole operation. So the entire solution is built and managed and hosted by us. So now everything happens through EssentiaESP and all the team members are based in California and the East Coast. We also have community management with people who really understand how to build an active and viable open source community and ensure that participation happens and support the users of the platform.

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Nasuni Founder Andres Rodriguez: Object Storage Offers More Cloud Benefits, Lower Cost

Object storage in the cloud is one of the significant options for organizations looking for a more efficient solution to their growing digital and cloud transformation needs. Its search capabilities and unlimited scaling make object storage ideal for unstructured data.

Nasuni, a cloud storage company headquartered in Boston, focuses on taking advantage of cloud properties — unlimited capacity, scalability, global access, and resiliency — to create a cloud-native enterprise file system.

Spearheading a built-from-the-ground-up goal, Nasuni CTO and Founder Andres Rodriguez, launched his company’s technology to replace traditional network-attached storage (NAS) and file server silos. His approach consolidates all of an enterprise’s global files. It does this in expandable cloud object storage that can be centrally managed via a web browser.

“Customers can deploy virtual appliances at their offices, and they will cache the most recent version of the working set of files locally to provide excellent performance. Changes are uploaded regularly to immutable, gold copies in the cloud, and then synchronized globally,” Rodriguez told TechNewsWorld.

These appliances do not have to be in a data center or office. More than 80 percent of his customers deploy them as virtual machines. The technology eliminates the need for complex legacy file backup and disaster recovery infrastructure.

“Data protection is built into our file system. It happens automatically. Additionally, our file system is built on extremely efficient snapshots, so if and when IT needs to restore data, it only takes a few minutes, even for very large data sets,” he explained.

Building Upon Previous Roots

Rodriguez had worked as CTO at a large media outlet where he oversaw massive digitalization of the company’s archives. Seeing the promise of object storage, in 2003 he founded Archivas, which built the first enterprise-class cloud storage system based on his object storage methods.

Andres Rodriguez, Founder & CTO, Nasuni
Nasuni Founder & CTO Andres Rodriguez

He saw firsthand the storage problems that companies faced as they digitized massive content archives. He founded to solve those problems by taking advantage of object storage, which was still nascent technology at that time.

“Object storage is an extremely efficient, fast medium for storing fixed data that does not change much. So, it is ideal for storing media,” Rodriguez said.

Archivas enabled customers to build large arrays, creating a sort of early private cloud. Ultimately, of course, when the public cloud emerged, much of its storage infrastructure was built on object storage.

“So, in a very real way, Archivas was a cloud storage pioneer,” he noted.

Hitachi Data Systems later bought Archivas. Rodriguez then founded Nasuni. The company’s expanded technology makes it easy to collaborate on files across continents thanks to its high-speed file synchronization and global file locking capabilities.

“All this additional functionality comes at half the total cost of traditional file storage,” Rodriguez said.

Object Storage 101

Object storage is a newer concept compared to block storage. Block storage, traditionally used on storage devices such as hard drives over a network, stores data in fixed-size chunks called blocks. A single block only stores a portion of the data. The remaining data chunks attach to other blocks.

The application makes requests to find the correct address of all the blocks on the storage device. No metadata is associated with blocks, and the requested address is the only identifying part of a block.

This structure provides fast performance when the application and storage are local. But this process can cause increased latency the further apart they are.

Object storage, on the other hand, bundles customizable metadata tags and a unique identifier to form objects. These objects, in turn, are stored with no limit to how many objects are stored for that file. This makes object storage much easier to scale out.

Success Story

Nasuni on March 24 announced a $60 million equity investment by new investor Sixth Street Growth. This is the fourth round of financing for Nasuni over the last five years, during which it has raised a total of $148 million.

I spoke further with Rodriquez about his journey to found Nasuni and the company’s offerings.

TechNewsWorld: How did you get from Archivas to founding Nasuni?

Andres Rodriguez: After Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) acquired Archivas in 2007, I spent a year there overseeing the integration. It was clear the cloud was the future of IT infrastructure. I already did extensive work with object storage at Archivas, and the cloud was in many ways Archivas on an exponentially grander scale.

We saw a tremendous opportunity to leverage snapshotting technology and the scale of object storage to build a cloud-native file system. We built in all the advantages of the cloud, but with the performance of a local NAS.

How does Nasuni handle digitalization in business storage?

Rodriguez: We enable it! We accelerate digital and cloud transformations by managing one of the more difficult pieces of the puzzle. Files are by far the largest and fastest-growing segment of a company’s data, and the last piece to shift to the cloud.

We store files, make them easily accessible across the globe, enable cross-continent collaboration, and provide automatic data protection. Also, because all that file data is already stored in the cloud, it is easy to connect that data to cloud services like AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics tools. This makes the file data even more valuable.

How are the services Archivas provided different from what Nasuni offers?

Rodriguez: Archivas was a large piece of storage equipment designed to store massive amounts of media. Nasuni, on the other hand, is a cloud-native subscription service that provides a global enterprise file system that helps companies shrink their physical infrastructure footprint.

Both store data and are built on object storage. But they are aimed at very different use cases.

What obstacles does digitalization present to enterprises?

Rodriguez: Cloud is an enormous element of digitalization. The vast majority of enterprise IT infrastructure will eventually move to the cloud. One of the biggest obstacles to cloud migration is understanding the difference between cloud-native and cloud-washed systems.

Many vendors have simply taken storage products that were designed for on-premises deployments and retooled them for the cloud. The end result is often the worst of both worlds. They force companies to shift to the cloud while relying on technology that was engineered for a physical data center.

How does Nasumi’s cloud storage solution work?

Rodriguez: Our cloud-native file system, UniFS, stores the gold copy of each file in the cloud of the customers’ choice. We have partnerships with AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Customers could also deploy Nasuni to work with a private cloud as the back end.

The working set of file data is stored on local virtual appliances or virtual appliances deployed in a nearby cloud to provide strong performance. Changes to data are uploaded to the gold copy in the cloud as highly efficient storage snapshots. It is then easy to roll back to any copy at any point in time.

Customers can take a snapshot of the entire file system as often as every few minutes. Snapshots are stored in object storage as read-only data, so the data is protected against ransomware attacks. And customers can roll back to any previous version of an individual file or the entire file share at any time. It only takes minutes to do so, which provides near-instant recovery capability.

Where do you see this technology headed in the short term?

Rodriguez: Nasuni is positioned to become the standard file system for the global enterprise. Nasuni continues to add additional capabilities to our file system. For instance, last year, we made it very simple to connect data to cloud services such as AI and advanced analytics tools.

We also introduced Global File Acceleration, which automatically propagates new file data across appliances for faster collaboration. Global users sharing files gain the very fastest access to new data that they need most. So much more in the works, too, as we have made tremendous investments in engineering and technology development. 

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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