HP cloud storage service features open source OpenStack object store

HP cloud storage service uses open source OpenStack object store to attract developers, ISVs and enterprises in competition against Amazon S3.

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By the time Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Cloud Object Storage became generally available in July 2012, Amazon's Simple Storage Service had been in the market for more than five years.

Despite its late start, Hewlett-Packard (HP) hopes to catch on with developers, ISVs and enterprises that prefer open source technology. One of the chief distinctions between the HP cloud storage offering and major services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is the software. Amazon and several other prominent early cloud providers built their own systems, whereas HP's cloud storage uses the OpenStack object store known as Swift.

HP is not alone in choosing OpenStack for its public cloud storage service. Most notably, Rackspace Hosting Inc. cofounded the OpenStack community that develops the open source software and uses Swift to power its Cloud Files service, which launched in 2008.

Dan Baigent, senior director of business development for HP Cloud Services, pointed to HP's 99.95% availability pledge, the company's experience in running enterprise-grade data centers and HP's enterprise hardware as key differentiators from other cloud storage services. HP also fosters an ecosystem of partners and tools, and offers free round-the-clock technical support via interactive chat, phone, email and community forums.

HP Cloud Object Storage runs on disk-based hardware and targets backups, archives, collaboration, and the storage and serving of static Web content. The company partners with Akamai Technologies Inc. for a content delivery network (CDN) service.

In addition to object storage, HP has a block-based cloud storage service in public beta for customers that use HP Cloud Compute nodes. But, since HP Cloud Block Storage is available only in conjunction with the HP Cloud Compute service, it falls outside the scope of this cloud storage guide, which focuses on standalone services.

Getting started/connected

Customers create an account and provide a credit card to gain access to the Web-based console that facilitates the provisioning and management of object storage containers. They don't incur charges until they use the service.

Customers with small amounts of data can simply go to hpcloud.com to upload data. Those with more sizeable amounts have the option of storage gateways from partners, Python or Windows command-line interface (CLI) tools, language bindings (such as Java, PHP, Ruby, .NET and Javascript/node.js) or RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs). Those with exceptionally large quantities of data can mail disks and use HP's bulk import service.

Third-party vendors that support HP Cloud Object Storage through cloud gateway products include Panzura, Riverbed and TwinStrata. Third-party tools from vendors such as Cyberduck and CloudBerry Lab also work with HP Cloud Services storage. HP partners such as Gladinet and Maginatics can assist with file synchronization and collaboration.

The maximum size of a single uploaded file is 5 gigabytes (GB). For larger files, users need to segment objects into pieces of 5 GB or less. HP said its command-line tools automate the process. Once users upload the segments, they can access the content as though it were a single file.

Objects stored in HP Cloud Object Storage are replicated three times across availability zones for redundancy and reliability. HP defines an availability zone (AZ) as a pool of resources that is physically separate from other AZs within a region and that contains independent power feeds and network uplinks. A region is a geographic area that is no more than 100 miles in diameter and has multiple, physically separate AZs.

Data center locations

HP Cloud Object Storage operates out of two data centers: one in the D.C. area (U.S.-East) and the other in Las Vegas (U.S.-West). Each data center has multiple AZs. Customers can choose U.S.-East or U.S.-West. Expansion to other continents will be based on customer demand, according to an HP representative.

Pricing

Customers pay only for the HP cloud storage they use. The company doesn't charge a minimum fee or require a long-term commitment. The total cost for HP Cloud Object Storage factors in three elements: the average amount of storage used each month, the number of requests and the amount of data transferred out/bandwidth.

Storage: Pricing starts at 9 cents per GB per month; discounts are available based on volume and commitment.

Requests: Put, Post, Copy, List, Get and other Requests are 1 cent per 10,000 requests.

Data transfer/bandwidth (non-CDN): HP doesn't charge for data transferred in. The customer's first GB transferred out is free. The monthly fee for up to 10 TB transferred out is 12 cents per GB; up to 50 TB is 9 cents per GB; up to 150 TB is 7 cents per GB; up to 500 TB is 5 cents per GB. Customers with more than 500 TB need to contact HP for pricing.

The aforementioned pricing was accurate as of May 15, 2013. Updated pricing is available here.

Service-level agreement

Service credits kick in if HP fails to meet its availability commitment of 99.95% or more in a given month. Service credits range from 5% to 30% depending on the monthly availability percentage, as noted at the following link.

If a single instance fails and a user is unable to launch a replacement, unavailability starts; HP doesn't force users to replicate data between all availability zones within a region, according to Baigent. HP Cloud Services includes the time it takes for a replacement instance in the calculation of downtime, he said.

HP doesn't provide custom service-level agreements (SLAs) for its HP public cloud offerings. Tailored SLAs are available through HP's managed cloud portfolio, said an HP representative.

Management

Customers manage and monitor their cloud storage and control usage through the HP public cloud management console. With the console, users can perform tasks such as creating and deleting containers, uploading and downloading objects, organizing data through a folder hierarchy, and making objects public or private. Additional management capabilities are available through direct API calls, Java jclouds and Ruby Fog binding, and CLI tools for Windows and Linux.

Security

HP provides security through group management and key pair management, and integrates its TippingPoint, ArcSight and Fortify technologies into the object storage service at the network level.

Customers are isolated from each other on hypervisors at the kernel level. They can encrypt their data and use encrypted connections via Secure Sockets Layer to transfer data between instances.

Users authenticate through username and password and key pairs via the HP Cloud Identity Service. REST-based client authentication distributes a time-based token or private key for secure access to stored data.

Additional notes

In addition to object storage, HP offers numerous other cloud services, including HP Cloud Compute, HP Cloud CDN, HP Cloud Block Storage, HP Cloud Relational Database for MySQL, HP Cloud Application Platform as a Service, HP Cloud Monitoring and HP Cloud Messaging.

Read the complete cloud storage providers comparison guide

Amazon Web Services: Simple Storage Service, Glacier, AWS Storage Gateway

AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service

Google Cloud Storage

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise-Object Storage

Microsoft Windows Azure Storage

Nirvanix Public Cloud Storage

Rackspace Hosting's Cloud Files

This was first published in May 2013

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