Why I've Learned to Love Unstructured Data Growth

I’m in my third week at Gluster as the VP of Marketing and I have been contemplating what to include in this first post and decided to start with my thoughts on the industry and why I joined Gluster. When I started thinking about the path that brought me to Gluster, I recognized a striking pattern in my professional career. Striking, because it parallels the industry trend of the importance of data, data growth and the increasing impact of unstructured data in the enterprise.

As I’ve been advancing in the industry, I’ve been working my way down the enterprise software stack:

  • Business intelligence (Business Objects)
  • Database software (MarkLogic)
  • Large-scale data storage and processing infrastructure of Hadoop (Cloudera)
  • Storage layer (Gluster)

It’s progressed from the end users of data, to how they build data-focused applications, to how they store and analyze data, and finally to the data storage itself. Data is the constant in this path, and the impact on the enterprise is increasing. As organizations have realized the value of unstructured data it has had a ripple effect up and down the infrastructure. This so-called “big data” revolution will continue for the foreseeable future.

This progression runs parallel to the developing market trends around data. Another interesting point is that Gluster is at the core of the infrastructure, but it very much enables applications in the cloud—yet another major trend. So, while Gluster is managing the fundamentals of enterprise data storage, it is also on the cutting-edge of driving the cloud model and changing how companies are storing data. Gluster is enabling the new deployment model, the last mile for applications and application data.

While Amazon and others out there are enabling the applications to run the cloud, Gluster is enabling data centers to move to the cloud, which of course is the first step. Gluster’s ability to replicate data within the cloud provides the needed business continuity assurance that cloud and data center users demand.

Gluster is leading-edge in enabling cloud storage with partnerships like those with Amazon, RightScale and others. It’s a terrific time to join the company, as the biggest market drivers are all shifting the storage market towards Gluster:

  • Companies storing more data than ever, thanks to the explosive growth of data AND data retention requirements.
  • The move to the cloud as a way to do computing.
  • Adoption of virtualization as a way to virtualize the data layer below. Applications have been virtualized for some time and continue to evolve that way, but the data layer needs to move in that same direction now, too.

It’s all moving in the direction of Gluster, and the acknowledgment of the opportunity that awaits has created palpable excitement among everyone in the company. We’re on the brink of achieving great things.

Open source is also the key to driving new technology development. At the infrastructure level there are a lot of established vendors, so new, open source companies can penetrate the market more quickly and in a much more highly leveraged way, because people have already been downloading and using the startup’s code. They can offer a commercial version by layering some value-added services on top of that, but the community is the core. It’s funny how open source has moved throughout the stack as well, contributing value and reaching all of the way down to the data layer. Gluster itself has a thriving, global community that’s downloaded GlusterFS software over 200,000 times.

My experience with open source communities and my observation of the enterprise software industry over the last 20 years has solidified my belief that open source is a great model to drive adoption, and it’s become a key to broad adoption of enterprise software. It really does ease the question for enterprises in terms of whether they should take on a new technology; open source helps with that a great deal.

I’m looking forward to my new position and the growth Gluster is going to achieve in the next few years as cloud storage moves to the forefront.

You can follow me on twitter on @marked_man

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