Briefing Note – SUSE Enterprise SDS Version 3

This past January, Storage Switzerland provided its analysis of SUSE Enterprise Storage 2, a hardened version of Ceph designed to address enterprise concerns over the open software defined storage solution. That release saw SUSE add capabilities like heterogeneous OS access to both block and object storage volumes. It also added enterprise class redundant data availability, incredible scale and automated data movement based on policy.

Now in June, just six months later, SUSE announces SUSE Enterprise Storage 3 which adds additional features that the enterprise demands. Not only does this rapid release cycle, a major release every six months, show the advantages of working from an open software foundation, it also shows how quickly SUSE can react to enterprise demand.

A Refresher SUSE Enterprise Storage

SUSE Enterprise Storage is a software defined storage (SDS) solution based on the open standards project Ceph. SUSE takes the core Ceph code, hardens it, makes it more turnkey and even adds functionality that enterprises expect from their storage infrastructures. SUSE resolves much of the ease of use and deployment issues found in version 2. Version 3 seems to be more focused on hitting the enterprise storage features wish list.

Architecturally, SUSE Enterprise Storage is a scale-out storage architecture where the organization uses servers of its own choosing to be nodes within a Ceph cluster. Storage internal aggregates to those nodes, which creates a single storage pool it can allocate to connecting servers through Object or iSCSI protocols.

SUSE Enterprise Storage 3

The latest release of SUSE Enterprise Storage addresses capabilities that organizations require in order to consider the solution enterprise grade. As is typically the case, most of these features are early access. That means development and testing of the feature is complete and it is safe for enterprises to deploy in test so they can plan their deployment strategies upon the official release of the features. We like the early access concept, as it gives enterprises time to understand how a feature will work and how they can best use it in their environment.

Part of these early access features is the addition of CephFS. This is the distributed file system native to Ceph that will be built on in future releases to provide CIFS and NFS access. The introduction of CephFS is the next stepping stone on the way to SUSE Enterprise Storage being one of the most universal SDS solutions on the market.

While SUSE Enterprise Storage 3 provides potentially unlimited scaling, as the node count reaches hundreds, if not thousands, the power consumption of the cluster can become a concern. Another early access feature in SUSE Enterprise Storage 3 SUSE is ARM processor support. With an ARM processor IT can design the storage nodes to consume less than 100 WATTS of power.

An enterprise solution also needs protection from a disaster and that means asynchronous replication of data to a remote data center. When configured the remote cluster will trigger a snapshot on the primary cluster and have any changed blocks sent to it. This pulling of data is a unique approach and should reduce load on the production system.

Partnering with HPE for Turnkey Software Defined Storage

One of the challenges with any SDS solution is pulling all the pieces together. IT needs to buy servers to act as storage nodes, then it has to evaluate and install storage media inside those nodes. IT also needs to install software on the nodes and then interconnect the nodes through the network. Some organizations may decide that the potential cost savings of doing the work themselves is not worth the time and expertise it needs to simply perform the work.

Enterprises are looking for software defined solutions that can give them a head start. To meet that demand SUSE is partnering with HPE to deliver a turnkey SDS solution on HPE’s Apollo 4510, 4530 and 4200 and ProLiant server platforms. The partnership is significant for SUSE. It gives them a well respected enterprise partner and the ability to deliver a turnkey solution to its customers.

StorageSwiss Take

SUSE Enterprise Storage seems to be the fastest moving storage software solution. It is leveraging its expertise in Linux and Open Source to its advantage. The aggressive release cycle of a major product update almost every six months is impressive. The result is a solution that meets most of the core demands that the enterprise makes of storage software and one that within the next six to twelve months will provide most of the “nice to have” features as well.

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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Posted in Briefing Note

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