Software Defined Storage vendors claim “no vendor lock-in” as one of their mantras. While these solutions do allow the intermixing of various vendor hardware, the organization adopting the SDS solution is hopelessly locked into the SDS vendor from a software perspective. An answer is Open Software Defined Storage. But these more open approaches are often harder to install, operate and typically lack the latest features.
The CEPH Problem
Most of these open solutions are based on CEPH, and while an excellent start it is not turnkey, or feature complete enough for the typical enterprise. Since time to value is critical for most organizations, a CEPH-based solution often loses out to a proprietary solution.
The SUSE Solution
Since it released its Enterprise Storage Software three years ago, SUSE has been on a mission to change the CEPH impression. SUSE’s goal is to improve the manageability, interoperability, efficiency and availability of CEPH to the point that it can compete with other enterprise SDS solutions while still maintaining its open software roots. The last four versions moved SUSE ever closer to that goal, and now with SUSE Enterprise Storage 5 a large number of data centers will find this solution will meet most of their needs.
Introducing SUSE Enterprise Storage 5
One of the values of CEPH is its multi-protocol capability. It provides file, block and object storage from within a single solution. With version 5, SUSE introduces a native object store called BlueStore, instead of a POSIX-based one. The native object store improves write performance by 200% when writing to hard disk drives and 150% when writing to flash drives. The improved write performance is critical as the Internet of Things (IoT) era takes hold. An organization could have thousands if not millions of devices constantly streaming data to the data store.
Enterprise Storage 5 also adds native erasure coding to both block and file storage pools. Erasure coding provides an efficient way to protect volumes from media failures and is ideally suited to scale-out storage architectures.
Managing a storage architecture is always a challenge, whether the data center is using SDS or more traditional arrays. Open-SDS has several components to help; openATTIC for device monitoring and DeepSea for cluster orchestration. SUSE integrates these management tools into its offering and simplifies the user interfaces.
Enterprise Storage 5 also expands interoperability and scalability. First, the solution supports multiple, active/active CephFS Metadata servers. Multiple, active metadata servers means the environment can scale to support more storage nodes and essentially limitless file counts. In addition to multiple metadata servers, the solution now support NFS Ganesha, NFS Gateway and CIFS/SAMBA exports to CephFS.
Most data centers will take a crawl, walk, run approach to Open-SDS. A great place to start is to use SUSE Enterprise Storage as a solution for disk backup or archiving. They have certified various backup software solutions in these markets to work with their SDS solution. The next step is to use the solution for IoT or cloud storage. Finally, the solution can be used to replace the primary storage systems or for application specific use cases like SAP Hana.
Commodity hardware is ready to take over the storage architecture, but questions surround the software that makes that hardware into a solution. The proprietary approach creates a different form of vendor lock in and the open approach may feel too much like a science experiment for the enterprise. SUSE promises to bridge that gap by leveraging and enhancing open-SDS to deliver a turnkey solution that enterprises can derive value from very quickly.