Product Review: SUSE Enterprise Storage
Dealing with storage massive overhauls, sorting the ever-expanding catch-22 of data, unstructured and structured, enterprises are looking for new storage architecture solutions. Businesses need to be able to easily access, protect and organize critical data. Storage must be available for structured and unstructured data as well as backup and archival for the data center.
In a new TCO study, it compared the value of eight similar enterprise storage solutions. In the conclusion of the study, SUSE Enterprise Storage 4 was the leader in best value for drive capacity and price with over $.10 per GB difference between them and the next competitor.
To still provide the reliability, scale-out capacities and lower costs needed for enterprise-class businesses, open source storage software solutions are designed for running on industry-standard server platforms that expand on what those platforms can normally provide.
SUSE Enterprise Storage encapsulates this approach by utilizing Ceph technology in this software based storage solution to build cost-efficient, resilient and scalable storage that employs hardware and disk drives already present. SUSE Enterprise Storage is a storage network that is self-healing and self-managing with the scope to scale from terabytes to multi-petabytes. Such scalability also delivers the agility for enterprises to evolve and expand capacity possibilities as needed without bogging down storage administrators. Meaning, administrators can adjust performance quickly and provision additional storage without major storage disruption.
Ceph’s contribution to the software storage platform allows SUSE Enterprise Storage to deliver object, block and file storage in one unified system. Another important feature is the ability to scale up to exabytes of data, deepening on the scalability of the product. Additionally, Ceph is designed to avoid single points of failure and run on commodity hardware. Finally and most importantly, Ceph is available for free.
Users can set up several intelligent daemons, four in particular: Cluster monitors (ceph-mon), Metadata servers (ceph-mds), Object storage devices (ceph osd) and Representational state transfer (RESTful) gateways (ceph-rgw). To better protect user data and make it reliably protected, Ceph is also designed to replicate data and then spreads it across multiple nodes for higher throughput. SUSE Enterprise Storage is using Ceph as a very large, cost-effective bulk storage for all types of data. Aside from being able to store massive amounts of data in a cost-effective manner, SUSE Enterprise Storage is also highly adaptable. The adaptability helps give flexibility to the commodity hardware being utilized by SUSE Enterprise Storage.
While businesses are typically using Ceph as part of a hybrid configuration, Ceph has the flexibility to adjust to an organization’s demands. Many of the market offerings are focused on primary storage and hyper-converged solutions, but Ceph is helping to incite significant hardware development. HP, Dell and others have all invested heavily in the hardware in an effort to provide the underlying hardware platforms required by Ceph. SUSE Enterprise Storage can be deployed on most hardware commodities including HPE servers and chassis.
Ceph isn’t the only open-source resource that is inclusive in the product. SUSE acquired and has implemented openATTIC into its enterprise storage solution, which is an open-source storage management system.
It is available as a free alternative to established storage technologies in the data center. Its development started five years ago. The focus is on the most popular storage protocols, namely CIFS and NFS for file-based storage, as well as iSCSI and fiber channel for block storage. openATTIC can also manage multiple storage nodes with the same web interface, and individual volumes can be copied to another node concurrently using a distributed replicated block device “DRBD.” Any new storage resources are monitored automatically by openATTIC. The entire functionality can be managed via the web interface or from an external application or scripts via the REST API.
In addition to the traditional SAN and NAS management capabilities, Ceph management support began in 2015 for openATTIC. While a few Ceph management tools were on the market at that time, there was a need to create a tool that combined both management and monitoring functionality in one application without overwhelming administrators. Additionally, openATTIC provides a dashboard view that monitors and visually maps the Ceph cluster’s overall health status and performance as well as management and monitoring capabilities for various objects or entities such as Ceph Pools or multiple Ceph clusters. It is also possible to map block devices and share them via the existing storage protocols; openATTIC also allows administrators to review and modify a cluster’s CRUSH map.
SUSE Enterprise Storage also has iSCSI support, which permits non-SUSE Enterprise Linux (Linux, UNIX and Windows) servers to access block storage from the SUSE Enterprise Storage Cluster. A close connection with the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server allows easy provisioning of additional storage and seamlessly delivers data to the business as needed. So much scalability enables enterprise IT organizations to deliver the agility businesses need by non-disruptively adding capacity at lower prices.
With SUSE Enterprise Storage, there are several sets of setup nodes. Monitor nodes keep track of cluster state but do not hinder the data pathways. According to the product details, for most SUSE Enterprise Storage clusters, a trio of monitoring nodes will be sufficient; though, they noted, that an enterprise may deploy five or more if there are a large number of storage nodes. The SUSE storage nodes may scale horizontally in the pattern of three so data is being written in triplicate across the storage nodes. The configuration can be altered based on need. Protection levels are definable at a pool level.
Most of the SUSE Enterprise Storage is managed through Command Line Interface (CLI) though there is also a web-based Graphical User Interface (GUI). Currently, SUSE is using Calamari for its GUI. Once Calamari has been setup it is fairly straight forward to use. The main page has four main tabs that line the top: Dashboard, Workbench, Charts and Manage. Dashboard, the default opening page, displays the health of the system along with any currently active warnings. The OSDs in the cluster are exhibited with the total amount up and down, also indicated is the total amount of pools.
On the Workbench tab, users have a graphic representation of the amount of OSDs and which are running properly or are down. It also allows the user to sort and filter by OSD. The Workbench tab allows users to view a graphical representation of the performance of their storage. With the Charts tab, users may select a cluster and then a broken line graph that reveals that cluster’s performance, showing both read and write. The Manage tab permits users to edit Clusters, OSD, Pools and view Logs. Under the OSD sub-tab users may review the hosts listed down the left-hand side and what OSDs are in each host. Users can move the OSD to balance out loads.
SUSE, a leading technology innovator, introduced the SUSE Enterprise Storage 4 update at SUSECON 2016 on December 2, 2016 where they made several announcements including added support for 64 bit ARM enterprise and hyperscale customers, early access to NFS-Ganesha support and NFS access to S3 buckets, and long distance replication for block storage. They also divulged that they are adding native filesystem access via Ceph filesystem (CephFS), a new user interface utilizing the openATTIC open source storage management system (as mentioned earlier), improved storage cluster management by adopting Salt for cluster orchestration, and a new five-year SKU.
SUSE Enterprise Storage is not the first solution to incorporate the Ceph software into part of a solution base. Supermirco has Supermicro Total Solution for Ceph, which is a server hardware that is built to exploit all the benefits of Ceph mentioned earlier: high scalability, agility with cluster configuration, united data blocking and more. Alternatively, Red Hat Ceph Storage is “a massively scalable, open, software-defined storage platform designed for cloud infrastructures and web-scale object storage.” The website notes that “the most stable version of Ceph” is integrated into “a Ceph management platform, deployment tools, and support services. Red Hat Ceph Storage flexibly, automatically, and cost-effectively manages petabyte-scale data deployments, freeing enterprises to focus on data availability.”
SUSE Enterprise Storage begins at $10,000 for the basic setup and there are additional options available to scale up as needed. Listed below is information available on SUSE’s FAQ page:
After speaking with Jason Phippen, a product manager on SUSE Storage Enterprise, he was able to share a new TCO study that compared the prices of SUSE Storage Enterprise 4 with competitors like Red Hat Enterprise Storage, HPE StoreServ 8200, VMware Virtual SAN 6 and others. In the study, SUSE Storage Enterprise 4 was the leader in best value for drive capacity and price with over $.10 per GB difference between them and the next competitor.
SUSE also has plenty of support and consultation available for its products depending on standard and priority services. For more information about the support, there is documentation, support lines and information about the updates and patches available online. They also offer training for anyone who needs it, particularly for anyone not very familiar with Linux technology as the SUSE Enterprise Storage’s foundation seems to rely heavily upon it.
SUSE is a company with over twenty years’ experience helping develop and adopt open source technology into products to better the workload for businesses. SUSE Enterprise Storage harnesses the power and benefits from both Ceph and openATTIC to help make scalability easily possible as well as reduce costs and administration workforce. For enterprise organizations looking for bulk storage, backup, or active archival tiering for their data or any of the above, SUSE Enterprise Storage 4 may be one of the top choices for them available on the market.