The catch is that it’s not really about storage — not in the long term. Minio founder Anand Babu (AB) Periasamy — who wrote the open source GlusterFS file system and also founded the startup Gluster, now owned by Red Hat — says his Palo Alto, California-based company is about data — specifically, using the data to help pay for the storage.
“I wanted to see storage become nearly free,” he says. “In order to do that, I needed storage to become simpler and operate at scale.”
Yesterday’s announcement is about the simpler-at-scale part. Aimed at developers rather than network operators, Minio puts an object-storage server in a container, effectively turning object storage into part of the application’s software stack. The containerized form means that Minio and its storage networking can be deployed anywhere, along with the rest of the application.
And that means that the whole stack, including the storage server, can be moved to different clouds.
In other words, this could be another step toward avoiding cloud lock-in. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) continuing to lead the public cloud market, and other IT giants such as Microsoft vying for position, vendors are sensing a market for loosening the grip of cloud-specific services. Platform9, for instance, recently introduced its own take on serverless functions, making them consumable on any cloud.
Of course, Minio has a practical side too. It’s compatible with Amazon S3 storage and supports AWS Lambda, the cloud provider’s service for serverless functions.
Minio doesn’t have to be containerized; the binary is only 10 to 15 MB. But developers seemed to like having the code in container form.
Storage is what Minio does, but what the company wants to accomplish is a lot deeper. Minio is really about data, Periasamy says.
He’s envisioning combining storage and deep learning so that the applications could interpret items sitting in object storage, particularly media content. What he’s really talking about is the ability for applications to recognize and understand videos in real time.
He thinks that could make data pay off to the point where, in a sense, the infrastructure becomes “free” because you can mine the data for money, he says.
Minio launched in 2015 with $3.3 million in seed funding. Since then, the company claims its open source community has grown to more than 125 code contributors.