Enterprise Grade SDS

SUSE Enterprise Storage 2 Briefing Note

Industry Analysts predict that Software Defined Storage (SDS) will replace enterprise class storage over the next five to ten years. The key drivers for this displacement are increased cost and flexibility as well as a substantial reduction in both storage acquisition costs and operational costs. Despite these compelling drivers, enterprises are hesitant to make the switch to a software focused storage infrastructure and sales of traditional hardware solutions, while declining, are continuing. The problem for businesses is finding a vendor that they can count on once they take the SDS plunge. SUSE hopes its Enterprise Storage 2 provides IT planners confidence in taking that first step toward a software-defined future.

It comes as no surprise to any IT professional that storage capacity requirements are growing at an alarming rate, and the overwhelming majority of that growth is in unstructured data. Unstructured data presents several challenges for IT planners. First, it typically is made up of millions, if not billions, of small files of different file types instead of one well-organized file like a database would produce. Second, most of this unstructured data is not active and will never be active. The problem is that it is difficult to predict what data will be active in the future. Finally, while the unstructured data requirement continues to grow, the budget to store this data does not. IT planners are looking to drive down the cost to acquire the capacity to store it while also holding the line on the number of people required to manage it.

In addition to the challenges with unstructured data, enterprises also need to deal with structured data. While the data within databases does not grow at the same pace as unstructured data, the criticality of the applications and the data they process is increasing exponentially.

SUSE Enterprise Storage 2

SUSE Enterprise Storage is powered by CEPH. It also tightly integrates CEPH into SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, which has a long history of meeting the demanding expectations of enterprise customers. SUES Enterprise Storage also eliminates one of the other concerns of SDS solutions; knowing that the software and hardware will work together once installed. SUSE certifies independent hardware vendors (IHV) to ensure compatibility and top quality support.

The SUSE Enterprise Storage Architecture

The SUSE Enterprise Storage architecture is made up of server hardware from the IHVs that act as storage nodes. Storage capacity comes in each storage node. The software then clusters these nodes together so the IT professional interacts with a single storage entity. As the storage infrastructure needs more capacity or performance, the IT professional can add additional codes to the cluster. That means scaling is, in essence, limitless. The software can present either object or block-based storage to connecting applications or users.

SUSE Enterprise Storage Version 2 SUSE introduces two key features that promises to broaden the appeal of the solution. First, it is the first CEPH distribution that supports iSCSI, enabling block storage access across operating systems and environments including Linux, UNIX and Windows. This allows a much broader set of workloads and platforms to use SUSE Enterprise Storage.

Second, the software can encrypt data that is at rest. With this new encryption function, the storage infrastructure can act as a deep and secure archive for static data that needs years of retention.

StorageSwiss Take

CEPH has always had the makings of the ideal SDS solution. It is a software-only rendition of SDS that is also open-source which should lead to the ultimate in flexibility. However, that flexibility also creates concerns over complexity. SUSE, by tightly integrating it with SUSE Linux and ensuring hardware compatibility, allows enterprises to jump that hurdle. The addition of caching, erasure coding and data at rest encryption check off key requirements that the enterprise expects from its storage solution. All told, SUSE Enterprise Linux may be the SDS solution that enterprises can use to build their software-defined future.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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