Software Defined Storage (SDS) solutions are a dime a dozen. The problem is that only a few solutions truly differentiate themselves from the features that come with the legacy storage hardware systems they are replacing. The key value to SDS is to provide a common feature set across a variety of storage hardware which should drive down storage operational costs and, potentially, drive down storage hardware costs thanks to a better negotiating position. But, again, many of these solutions do little to advance the state of the art. In a recent briefing with Quobyte, Storage Switzerland learned this is a new kind of SDS vendor that is not only driving down costs and increasing flexibility, but is advancing the state of storage art.
Separating Metadata from Data
Quobyte is a distributed storage architecture that meets a wide variety of data center storage demands. A distributed storage architecture stores all the data and the metadata across multiple physical servers. The Quobyte software turns that into nodes within the storage cluster. Quobyte uniquely separates the metadata management layer from the data layer. That separation is critical. It allows a Quobyte cluster to support many more nodes and many more files than the typical file system would, and performs better than many object storage systems that get bogged down in metadata management. That separation also means that in situations where metadata handling is a concern, it could move to an SSD tier.
Quobyte is software, which you download and place onto an organization’s servers. It provides a robust set of features that one expects from a storage system and provides new capabilities that other SDS vendors should pay attention to.
Storage Infrastructure With a File System Base
The second critical aspect of Quobyte is that it is architected around a file system, not an object or block store. It is a full-featured, POSIX-compliant file system that has been designed with the demands of block and object storage in mind. Based on this foundation, it is able to deliver a high performance for all types of workloads and lives up to its promise of being a general storage infrastructure.
A major challenge facing most scale out storage systems is that all I/O requests typically have to flow through one node. So while the storage system can scale out, its I/O cannot. Often there is a single server or small group of servers that store all metadata and route all I/O requests.
Quobyte, however, that it provides the ability to be truly parallel where I/O is directly between an accessing server and the particular storage node(s) that have its data. The parallel access does require a special client, but this client is only required when parallel access is required.
The software is entirely policy driven. For example, you can create tiers of storage and then move data across those tiers via policies. A simple example might be “all data older than 30 days storage on the HDD tier” or “all data that is of type ‘PDF’ storage on the high capacity HDD tier”. Data protection is also driven by policy set at either the file-system or file level. It can be either file replication or a Read-Solomon parity based data protection scheme.
SDS is quickly becoming a crowded market. But most of these solutions simply reinvent the old way of doing things by abstracting legacy data services from legacy storage hardware. Quobyte is taking a fresh approach that looks like it can scale to meet a wide variety of data center challenges. Its ability to support a variety of data protocols, parallel access and its policy driven data management features make it a strong contender for the enterprise.