Caringo SwarmNFS aims to mainstream object storage by eliminating gateways to NFS

Caringo has developed a patent-pending process that eliminates the need for a gateway by connecting the NFS server directly to the Object Storage. This significantly cuts costs and improves efficiency, opening up new use cases that Caringo believes will mainstream object storage.

Tony Barbagallo

Tony Barbagallo, Vice President of Product at Caringo

Today, Austin-based object storage maker Caringo is announcing Caringo SwarmNFS, a lightweight file protocol converter designed to bridge the gap between object and file storage systems, and overcome the barriers that have prevented widespread object storage adoption. SwarmNFS makes Caringo the first storage vendor to be able to bring the benefits of scale-out object storage – including built-in data protection, high-availability, and powerful metadata – to NFSv4.

“Two years ago, we started to hear from customers and prospects that they wanted bi-directional access from NFS into Swarm,” said Tony Barbagallo, Vice President of Product at Caringo.

At that time, Caringo – like everybody else – used a gateway product to enable the NFS server to communicate with the Object Store. Gateways, however, have clear limitations.

“The problem with traditional gateways is that they are very complex, with lots of moving parts that cause latency,” said Glen Olsen, Product Manager at Caringo. “The old product allowed you to store files as objects but didn’t let you modify them. By this stage, this wasn’t what the market was asking for. So we started over, from the beginning.”

The result, SwarmNFS, is a stateless Linux process that integrates directly with Caringo Swarm to facilitate that bi-directional access without the need for a gateway.

“With SwarmNFS’s patent-pending technology, the NFS server connects directly to the Object Store and writes directly to it,” Olsen said. “There is absolutely no single point of failure anymore.”

That technology features a protocol conversion approach that streams data in parallel between native NFSv4 applications and the Caringo Swarm scale-out storage. This eliminates the need for spooling, caching and staging, which in turn, significantly reduces the disk, CPU and RAM needed for native file support. It also eliminates the bottlenecks present in existing connector and gateway solutions, and provides a fully global namespace that delivers universal access across multiple protocols — NFS, HTTP, S3, and HDFS.

Glen Olsen

Glen Olsen, Product Manager at Caringo

Olsen said that SwarmNFS brings the power of metadata to files, which eliminates the need for separate databases for up to 90 per cent of applications

“This is unique to us,” he said. “With this technology, we have brought the power of metadata to NFS.”

“Bringing this lightweight, stateless file converter to market also uses 80 per cent less hardware resources compared to a gateway product,” Barbagallo said.

Olsen said that the breakthroughs this product provide will significant expand the total addressable market for Caringo’s object storage.

“We can use object storage for new use cases that weren’t available to us previously,” he stated. “This includes streaming media and content distribution, video surveillance, Big Data, and documents management. In addition to all the TCO savings, the key thing here, that cuts through all the use cases, is that there is no longer any need for custom application development. These users’ applications can use NFS storage instead.”

“We had a gateway product ourselves and lived through all these issues, but we were able to develop this, because to do this, you have to have a pretty mature object storage,” Barbagallo said. “Grabbing open source software is a quicker way to market, but it has some significant limitations.”

SwarmNFS is available now.