Seagate Kinetic Cloud and Object Storage I/O platform (and Ethernet HDD)

October 22, 2013 – 10:09 am

Storage I/O trends

Seagate Kinetic Cloud and Object Storage I/O platform

Seagate announced today their Kinetic platform and drive designed for use by object API accessed storage including for cloud deployments. The Kinetic platform includes Hard Disk Drives (HDD) that feature 1Gb Ethernet (1 GbE) attached devices that speak object access API or what Seagate refers to as a key / value.

Seagate Kinetic architecture

What is being announced with Seagate Kinetic Cloud and Object (Ethernet HDD) Storage?

  • Kinetic Open Storage Platform – Ethernet drives, key / value (object access) API, partner software
  • Software developer’s kits (SDK) – Developer tools, documentation, drive simulator, code libraries, code samples including for SwiftStack and Riak.
  • Partner ecosystem

What is Kinetic?

While it has 1 GbE ports, do not expect to be able to use those for iSCSI or NAS including NFS, CIFS or other standard access methods. Being Ethernet based, the Kinetic drive only supports the key value object access API. What this means is that applications, cloud or object stacks, key value and NoSQL data repositories, or other software that adopt the API can communicate directly using object access.

Seagate Kinetic storage

Internal, the HDD functions as a normal drive would store and accessing data, the object access function and translation layer shifts from being in an Object Storage Device (OSD) server node to inside the HDD. The Kinetic drive takes on the key value API personality over 1 GbE ports instead of traditional Logical Block Addressing (LBA) and Logical Block Number (LBN) access using 3g, 6g or emerging 12g SAS or SATA interfaces. Instead Kinetic drives respond to object access (aka what Seagate calls key / value) API commands such as Get, Put among others. Learn more about object storage, access and clouds at

Storage I/O trends

Some questions and comments

Is this the same as what was attempted almost a decade ago now with the T10 OSD drives?

Seagate claims no.

What is different this time around with Seagate doing a drive that to some may vaguely resemble the predecessor failed T10 OSD approach?

Industry support for object access and API development have progressed from an era of build it and they will come thinking, to now where the drives are adapted to support current cloud, object and key value software deployment.

Wont 1GbE ports be too slow vs. 12g or 6g or even 3g SAS and SATA ports?

Keep in mind those would be apples to oranges comparisons based on the protocols and types of activity being handled. Kinetic types of devices initially will be used for large data intensive applications where emphasis is on storing or retrieving large amounts of information, vs. low latency transactional. Also, keep in mind that one of the design premises is to keep cost low, spread the work over many nodes, devices to meet those goals while relying on server-side caching tools.

Storage I/O trends

Does this mean that the HDD is actually software defined?

Seagate or other HDD manufactures have not yet noticed the software defined marketing (SDM) bandwagon. They could join the software defined fun (SDF) and talk about a software defined disk (SDD) or software defined HDD (SDHDD) however let us leave that alone for now.

The reality is that there is far more software that exists in a typical HDD than what is realized. Sure some of that is packaged inside ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) or running as firmware that can be updated. However, there is a lot of software running in a HDD hence the need for power yet energy-efficient processors found in those devices. On a drive per drive basis, you may see a Kinetic device consume more energy vs. other equivalence HDDs due to the increase in processing (compute) needed to run the extra software. However that also represents an off-load of some work from servers enabling them to be smaller or do more work.

Are these drives for everybody?

It depends on if your application, environment, platform and technology can leverage them or not. This means if you view the world only through what is new or emerging then these drives may be for all of those environments, while other environments will continue to leverage different drive options.

Object storage access

Does this mean that block storage access is now dead?

Not quite, after all there is still some block activity involved, it is just that they have been further abstracted. On the other hand, many applications, systems or environments still rely on block as well as file based access.

What about OpenStack, Ceph, Cassandra, Mongo, Hbase and other support?

Seagate has indicated those and others are targeted to be included in the ecosystem.

Seagate needs to be careful balancing their story and message with Kinetic to play to and support those focused on the new and emerging, while also addressing their bread and butter legacy markets. The balancing act is communicating options, flexibility to choose and adopt the right technology for the task without being scared of the future, or clinging to the past, not to mention throwing the baby out with the bath water in exchange for something new.

For those looking to do object storage systems, or cloud and other scale based solutions, Kinetic represents a new tool to do your due diligence and learn more about.

Ok, nuff said (for now)


Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)

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