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    Open Source Software-Only Storage – Really.

    May 24th, 2016

    Virtually any storage solution is more parts software than hardware. Having said this, users don’t care as much about the percentage of hardware vs. software. They want their consumption experience to be easy and fast to start up, with a pay-as-you-grow model and with the ability to scale without limits. So, it should not be a shock that real IT organizations are using software-only on standard servers to deliver storage to their customers. What’s more, this type of storage can be powered by open source.

    At the upcoming SNIA Data Storage Innovation Conference, we are looking forward to discussing software-defined storage (SDS) from a user experience perspective with examples of OpenStack Swift providing an engine for building SDS clusters with any mixed combination of standard server and HDD hardware in a way that is simple enough for any enterprise to dynamically scale.

    Swift is a highly available, distributed, scalable object store available as open source.  It is designed to handle non-relational (that is, not just simple row-column data) or unstructured data at large scale with high availability and durability.  For example, it can be used to store files, videos, documents, analytics results, Web content, drawings, voice recordings, images, maps, musical scores, pictures, or multimedia. Organizations can use Swift to store large amounts of data efficiently, safely, and cheaply. It scales horizontally without any single point of failure.  It offers a single multi-tenant storage system for all applications, the ability to use low-cost industry-standard servers and drives, and a rich ecosystem of tools and libraries.  It can serve the needs of any service provider or enterprise working in a cloud environment, regardless of whether the installation is using other OpenStack components.

    I know what you are thinking, storage is too critical, so it will never work this way. But the same was said >25 years go when using RAID was seen as too risky given solutions would acknowledge writes while the data was in cache prior to being written to disk. The same was also said >15 years ago when VMware was seen as not robust enough to run any manner of demanding or critical application. Replicas and Erasure Codes are analogous to RAID 1 and RAID 5 respectively, and the uniquely as possible distribution of data behind a single namespace abstracts standard hardware like server virtualization.

    Interested in hearing more? Come check out my DSI session, “Swift Use Cases with SwiftStack,” where we look forward to sharing how this new type of storage can work, and to suspend your disbelief that this storage can be enterprise-grade.

     


    See SNIA at OpenStack Summit Tokyo

    October 6th, 2015

    Are you headed to the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo later this month? If so, I encourage you to stop by two “Birds of a Feather” (BoF) sessions I’ll be hosting on behalf of SNIA. Here’s the info on both of them:

    Extending OpenStack Swift with S3 and CDMI Interfaces – Tues. Oct. 27th 11:15 a.m.

    Cloud application developers using the OpenStack infrastructure are demanding implementations of not just the Swift API, but also the S3 defacto and CDMI standard APIs. Each of these APIs not only offers features in common, but also offers what appear to be unique and incompatible facilities. At this BoF, we’ll discuss how to: Implement a multi-API strategy simply and effectively, sensibly manage the differences between each of the APIs, map common features to each other, take advantage of each of the APIs’ strengths, avoid lowest common denominator implementations

    Object Drive Integration with Swift – Thurs. Oct. 29th 9:00 a.m.

    With the emergence of disk drives and perhaps solid state drives with Key/Value and other object interfaces, what are the implications on solution architectures and systems built around OpenStack Swift. One approach is termed “PACO” where the Object Node speaks Key/Value to the drive and is hosted with other Swift Services. Are there other approaches to this? Are you developing products or solutions based on Object Drives? Come to this BoF to discuss these issues with fellow developers.

    I expect both of these BoFs will be full of lively discussions around standards, emerging technologies, challenges, best practices and more. If you have any questions about these sessions or about work that SNIA is doing, do not hesitate to contact me. I hope to see you in Tokyo!

     

     

     


    Cloud Storage Development Challenges – An SDC Preview

    July 27th, 2015

    This year’s Storage Developer Conference (SDC) is expected to draw over 400 storage developers and professionals. On August 4th, you can get a sneak preview of key cloud topics that will be covered at SDC in this live Webcast where David Slik and Mark Carlson Co-Chairs of the SNIA Cloud Technical Work Group, together with Yong Chen, Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University will discuss:

    • Mobile and Secure – Cloud Encrypted Objects using CDMI
    • Object Drives: A new Architectural Partitioning
    • Unistore: A Unified Storage Architecture for Cloud Computing
    • Using CDMI to Manage Swift, S3, and Ceph Object Repositories

    You’ll learn how encrypted objects can be stored, retrieved, and transferred between clouds, how Object Drives allow storage to scale up and down by single drive increments, end-user and vendor use cases of the Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI), and we’ll introduce Unistore – an innovative unified storage architecture that efficiently integrates heterogeneous HDD and SCM devices for Cloud storage systems.

    I’ll be moderating the discussion among this expert panel. It should be an enlightening and lively hour. I hope you’ll register now to join us.

     


    Swift, S3 or CDMI – Your Questions Answered

    May 13th, 2015

    Last week’s live SNIA Cloud Webcast “Swift, S3 or CDMI – Why Choose?” is now available on demand. Thanks to all the folks who attended the live event. We had some great questions from attendees, in case you missed it, here is a complete Q&A.

    Q. How do you tag the data? Is that a manual operation?

    A. The data is tagged as part of the CDMI API by supplying key value pairs in the JSON Object. Since it is an API you can put a User Interface in front of it to manually tag the data. But you can also develop software to automatically tag the data. We envision an entire ecosystem of software that would use this interface to better manage data in the future

    Q. Which vendors support CDMI today?

    A. We have a page that lists all the publically announced CDMI implementations here. We also plan to start testing implementations with standardized tests to certify them as conformant. This will be a separate list.

    Q. FC3 Common Services layer vs. SWIFT, S3, & CDMI – Will it fully integrate with encryption at rest vendors?

    A. Amazon does offer encryption at rest for example, but does not (yet) allow you choose the algorithm. CDMI allows vendors to show a list of algorithms and pick the one they want.

    Q. You’d mentioned NFS, other interfaces for compatibility – but often “native” NFS deployments can be pretty high performance. Object storage doesn’t really focus on performance, does it? How is it addressed for customers moving to the object model?

    A. CDMI implementations are responsible for the performance not the standard itself, but there is nothing in an object interface that would make it inherently slower. But if the NFS interface implementation is faster, customers can use that interface for apps with those performance needs. The compatibility means they can use whatever interface makes sense for each application type.

    Q. Is it possible to query the user-metadata on a container level for listing all the data objects that have that user-metadata set?

    A. Yes. Metadata query is key and it can be scoped however you like. Data system metadata is also hierarchical and inherited – meaning that you can override the parent container settings.

    Q. So would it be reasonable to say that any current object storage should be expected to implement one or more of these metadata models? What if the object store wasn’t necessarily meant to play in a cloud? Would it be at a disadvantage if its metadata model was proprietary?

    A. Yes, but as an add-on that would not interfere with the existing API/access method. Eventually as CDMI becomes ubiquitous, products would be at a disadvantage if they did not add this type of interface.

     

     

     


    OpenStack Cloud Storage Q&A

    January 21st, 2015

    More than 300 people have seen our Webcast “OpenStack Cloud Storage.” If you missed it, it’s now available on demand. It was a great session with a lot of questions from attendees. We did not have time to address them all – so here is a complete Q&A. If you think of any others, please comment on this blog. Also, mark your calendar for January 29th when the SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative will continue its Developers Tutorial Series with a live Webcast on OpenStack Manila.

    Q. Is it correct to say that one can use OpenStack on any vendor’s hardware?

    A. Servers, yes, assuming the hardware is supported by Linux. Block storage requires a driver, and not all vendor systems have Cinder drivers.

    Q. Is there any OpenStack investigation and/or development in the storage networking area?

    A. Cinder includes support for FC and iSCSI. As of Icehouse, the FC support also includes auto-zoning. 

    Q. Is there any monetization going on around OpenStack, like we see for distros of Linux?

    A. Yes, there are already several commercial distributions available.

    Q. Is erasure code needed to get a positive business case for Swift, when compared with traditional storage systems?

    A. It is a way to reduce the cost of replication. Traditional storage systems typically already have erasure coding, in the form of RAID. Systems without erasure coding end up using more storage to achieve the same level of protection due to their use of 3-way replication.

    Q. Is erasure code currently implemented in the current Swift release?

    A. No, it is a separate development stream, which has not been merged yet.

    Q. Any limitation on the number of objects per container or total number of objects per Swift cluster?

    A. Technically there are no limits. However, in practice, the fact that the containers are implemented using SQL lite limits their size to a million or maybe a few million objects per container. However, due to the way that Swift partitions its metadata, each user can also have millions of containers, and there can be millions of users. So practically speaking, the total system can support an unlimited number of objects.

    Q. What are some of the technical reasons for an enterprise to select Swift vs. Amazon S3? In other words, are they pretty much direct alternatives, or does each have its own preferred use cases?

    A. They are more or less direct alternatives. There are some minor differences, but they are made for the same purpose. That said, S3 is only available from Amazon. There are some S3 compatible systems, but most of those also support Swift. Swift, on the other hand, is available open source or from multiple vendors. So if you want to run it in your own data center, or in a public cloud other than Amazon, you probably want Swift.

    Q. If I wanted to play around with Open Stack, Cinder, and Swift in a lab environment (or in my basement), what do I need and how do I get started?

    A. openstack.org is the best place to start. The “devstack” distribution is also good for playing around.

    Q. Will you be showing any features for Kilo?

    A. The “Futures” I showed will likely be Kilo features, though the final decision of what will be in Kilo won’t happen until just before release.

     Q. Are there any plans to implement data encryption in Cinder?

    A. I believe some of the back ends can support encryption already. Cinder is really just a provisioning and orchestration layer. Encryption is a data path feature, so it would need to be implemented in the back end.

    Q. Some time back I heard OpenStack Swift is going to come up with block storage as well, any timeline for that?

    A. I haven’t heard this, Swift is object storage.

    Q. The performance characteristics of Cinder block services can vary quite widely. Is there any standard measure proposed within OpenStack to inform Nova or the application about the underlying Cinder block performance characteristics?

    A. Volume types were designed to enable clouds to provide different levels of service. The meaning of these types is up to the cloud administrator. That said, Cinder does expose QoS features like minimum/maximum IOPS.

    Q. Is the hypervisor talking to a cinder volume or to (for example) a NetApp or EMC volume?

    A. The hypervisor talks to a volume the same way it does outside of OpenStack. For example, the KVM hypervisor can talk to volumes through LVM, or can mount SAN volumes directly.

    Q. Which of these projects are most production-ready?

    A. This is a hard question, and depends on your definition of production ready. It’s hard to do much without Nova, Glance, and Horizon. Most people use Cinder too, and Swift has been in production at HP and Rackspace for years. Neutron has a lot of complexity, so some people still use Nova network, but that has many limitations. For toy clouds you can avoid using Keystone, but you need it for a “production” cluster. The best way to get a “production ready” OpenStack is to get a supported commercial distribution.

    Q. Are there any Plugfests?

    A. No, however, the Cinder team has a fairly extensive and continuous integration process that drivers need to pass through. Swift does not because it doesn’t officially “support” any plugins.

     

     

     


    OpenStack Cloud Storage Webcast Preview

    December 22nd, 2014

    On January 14, 2015, the CSI continues its Developer Tutorial series by hosting a live Webcast on OpenStack Cloud Storage. As you likely know, OpenStack is an open source cloud operating system that provides pools of compute, storage, and networking.

    OpenStack is currently being developed by thousands of developers from hundreds of companies across the globe, and is the basis of multiple public and private cloud offerings.  Register now for this SNIA-CSI Webcast to hear Sam Fineberg, Distinguished Technologist at HP discuss:

    • Storage aspects of OpenStack including the core projects for block storage (Cinder) and object storage (Swift)
    • Emerging shared file service
    • Common configurations and use cases for these technologies
    • Interaction with the other parts of OpenStack
    • New developments in Cinder and Swift that enable advanced array features, QoS, new storage fabrics, and new types of drives.

    I’ll be moderating this live event and Sam and I will be available to answer your specific questions. It should be an informative and interactive session. I hope you’ll join us!


    Join SNIA-CSI at the OpenStack Summit

    October 21st, 2014

    Get the tips needed when implementing multiple cloud storage APIs. The SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) is hosting a Birds of a Feather session – Tips to Implementing Multiple Cloud Storage APIs at the OpenStack Summit in Paris on November 5th at 9:00 a.m. Room 212/213.

    There are three main object storage APIs today; OpenStack’s Swift (open but not standardized), Amazon’s S3 (proprietary yet a defacto standard) and SNIA’s CDMI (an ISO standard). With three APIs to support, it might sound expensive or difficult to support all of them, yet not doing so could be costly when customers want innovation and industry standard solutions and interoperability in your product.

    What about the similarities and differences between the APIs, and can they be reconciled? Can these APIs be effectively and efficiently implemented in a single product? I hope you’ll join us at this session to learn about and discuss various ways to cope with this situation. You will discover best practices and tips on how to implement these three protocols in your cloud storage solution.

    Register now. I look forward to seeing you on November 5th at the OpenStack Summit.