The two worlds of Private Cloud Storage

Various industry sources estimate that unstructured data (user files, PDFs, email, rich multimedia, machine sensor data, etc.) accounts for upwards of 90% of all new data growth. Software-defined object storage offers an alternative approach to NAS/SAN systems. But many organizations don’t have the time or the people resources to integrate their own solution. Instead, they need the best of both worlds – the ease of deployment that an appliance offers, along with the cost savings that a software-defined storage (SDS) solution can deliver. Cloudian’s Cloud Appliance promises to deliver both of these capabilities to the enterprise.

Software Driven Storage Upgrades

Software-defined object storage technology can be a great fit for organizations, like service providers and large enterprises that want to utilize commodity infrastructure to scale-out their computational and storage resources. For many of these organizations, IT is their product. They have the IT personnel on staff to design and integrate a solution that best meets their business requirements. What they need are technologies that can allow them to be more nimble so that they can always respond to the needs of the business as well as drive out every possible cost out of delivering IT.

Like their cloud counterparts, software-defined object storage gives IT enterprises the ability to leverage the latest advancements in cost-effective commodity CPU and storage technology. It allows them to keep their environments in lock-step with the ever increasing storage and I/O demands of critical business applications. For SDS architectures more powerful CPUs lead to greater scale and performance. Intel, for example, typically comes out with a new CPU product every 6-12 months. Compare this with the typical 3-year product refresh cycle from proprietary storage vendors and it is clear why IT organizations need more flexibility. In addition, manufacturers continue to drive innovation into the hard disk drive market space, delivering increased disk drive densities and a lower cost per GB.

Appliance Simplicity

On the other hand, some data centers prefer the ease of deploying a “turn-key” storage offering. For these organizations, there is value to implementing pre-certified, storage appliances that take the guesswork out of configuring the right server and storage combinations. Rapid deployment and risk mitigation are key for these enterprises, especially because their IT staffs are stretched too thin. A turn-key system helps to speed up deployment times and it mitigates the risk of application downtime or performance problems that can occur from misconfigured systems. An additional benefit is that it gives the IT organization a single vendor to support the entire hardware and software stack.

Ideally, businesses should have the option of deploying either a software only solution or an appliance based solution from the same vendor. This would afford the greatest flexibility as businesses may opt to change their implementation strategy over time.

Software-defined private cloud storage solutions, like Cloudian’s HyperStore 5.0 solution, enable data centers to create highly cost-effective unstructured data storage repositories built on commodity hardware, that can span both across the enterprise and out into public cloud environments. With the release of HyperStore version 5.0, Cloudian has now come to market with their cloud storage appliance family. The “HyperStore Appliance” is available in three models, each of which has been designed to address various use cases and application workloads. Read more about The HyperStore Appliance in part two of this product analysis.

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As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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Posted in Product Analysis
3 comments on “The two worlds of Private Cloud Storage
  1. Tim Wessels says:

    Well, it is not unique to bundle an object storage software with a storage server. That said, it is more unique when a single vendor takes responsibility for supporting their object storage software on a storage server appliance that has been built to their specifications and fully vetted by them from a service and support perspective and has their name put on it.

    Back in 2010 object storage software vendor Caringo had an agreement with Dell, which sold a DX6000 series storage server appliance with Caringo’s CAStor installed. The deal lasted three years before Dell pulled the plug on it. More recently, HP has agreed to provide both Cleversafe’s dsNet and Scality’s RING object storage software on Proliant SL4500 series storage servers.

    In both of these instances the hardware vendors (Dell and HP) kept their names on their storage servers, which means that the support for the storage server hardware and the support for the object storage software will likely come from two different businesses. It is very likely that Cleversafe and Scality have tested the HP Proliant SL4500 series storage servers being marketed by HP with their object storage software.

    This is probably a step up from just installing the object storage software yourself on a “industry standard x86 storage server” but not the same thing as having the object storage software vendor support both their software and their storage appliance hardware.

    • Colm Keegan says:

      Tim, great point. There is value to having an appliance option provided by the same manufacturer of the underlying software-defined storage technology for all the reasons you outlined in your post. I think the other sometimes overlooked value point is that since they are providing the specifications for their appliance, it gives those users who wish to implement their own hardware, a pre-validated reference architecture.

      • Tim Wessels says:

        Colm, yes a “pre-validated reference architecture” is a good thing. It would also be good if Cloudian made available a HyperStore hardware validation test suite for Cloudian customers who choose the HyperStore Software instead of the HyperStore Appliance. It would be even better if Cloudian extended the HyperStore Appliance approach to customers who choose the HyperStore Software by providing an ISO image with just enough CentOS 6.5 and a hardware configuration/validation suite and then have it initiate the HyperStore software installation if everything looks OK. Just one ISO download from Cloudian. It would probably need to be a bit more versatile than the ISO image Cloudian uses for the HyperStore Appliances but it should be much different or more difficult to do. The CentOS installer looks at the hardware as part of its initial installation, so just give it some Kickstart script smarts for the hardware configuration/validation before doing the HyperStore installation. This would result in a easy Cloudian node install. It would require less installation support from Cloudian since they are providing CentOS, the configuration/validation suite in addition to the HyperStore Software all from a single source.

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