Maybe features? If your product has more features than the other guys, then you'll win - right?
I don't think so..
My take is that the storage market has moved on from that. If you take a look at features in proprietary storage arrays for example - they all offer pretty much the same deal. So what helps customers make purchasing decisions in today's "Storage Wars"?
In a word consumability (if that's even a real word!)
The goal for vendors, proprietary and open source alike, should be to make their products
- easy to deploy
- easy to support
- easy to expand
- easy to budget for
Making products easy for IT departments to live with, is the key. Take IBM as an example. When they brought XIV to market, it's management interface was streets ahead of the competition. But IBM didn't stop there; they adopted the same management interface across their SVC, DS8000 and SONAS products.
Same look and feel = lower administration overheads for customers (and ultimately, maybe more sales for IBM sales reps!)
These are lessons that the proprietary storage world has learnt. The challenge in front of the open source community is applying those lessons to our storage projects. Ultimately, this means adapting to take on an additional focus. Development projects will need to expand to embrace different skill sets - broadening the community around the core project.
And, broadening the community is never a bad thing ;o)
The gluster project is moving in this direction. To date the administration effort has focused on exploiting the oVirt management framework. oVirt provides a management infrastructure typically for kvm based virtualisation. However, work between the ovirt team and the folks at gluster.org has now delivered a management framework for gluster clusters too. In fact the ovirt engine itself can be installed in different 'modes' - virtualisation, gluster and virtualisation or just gluster.
So it's good to know that there are options out there, in open source storage land, where rich UI's, and API's exist to make an admins life just that little bit easier.