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Fujitsu Eternus CD10000 pushes Ceph storage

New Ceph-based Fujitsu Eternus CD10000 adds options for optimized erasure code, density- and performance-focused nodes, backup in a box and discrete clusters for DR.

Fujitsu Thursday launched the second generation of its Ceph-based Fujitsu Eternus CD10000 scale-out storage system...

with new options for optimized erasure code, density- and performance-focused nodes, discrete clusters for disaster recovery and "backup in a box."

The Eternus CD10000 S2 bundles Red Hat's Ceph storage software with Fujitsu server hardware. Fujitsu was the first hardware provider to embed Ceph, according to Red Hat, which began offering a supported version of the open source software after its 2014 acquisition of Inktank Storage.

Fujitsu refers to the Eternus CD10000 as its "hyperscale software-defined storage system," although the term "software-defined storage" generally applies to storage software, such as Ceph, that users can run on any vendor's commodity hardware. 

"You could download Ceph as open source software, take some server hardware and do your own storage," said Frank Reichart, a senior director of product marketing for storage solutions at Fujitsu. "But then you would have to size it and manage the components [such as x86 servers, disk extensions, networking components and add-on software]. By [using] this management system, it behaves like one storage system and not like a bunch of components."

To help customers implement the CD10000, Fujitsu made available "validated solutions," or reference architectures, for OpenStack, enterprise file sync and share, online archiving and cloud backup scenarios.

Reichart said Fujitsu added functionality where it deemed Ceph had gaps. For instance, the company supplies management tools designed to make it quicker for customers to bring additional storage nodes online to boost performance and/or capacity. The Fujitsu Eternus CD10000 S2 supports configurations from four to 224 nodes and permits the addition, exchange and upgrade of nodes without downtime, according to Reichart.

Enhancements include node choices, data protection and DR features

With the new CD10000 release, Fujitsu gives customers the choice of performance nodes or capacity nodes. The performance-focused 2U Flex Node uses the Intel Xeon processor and supports a maximum raw capacity of 44 TB per node with SATA hard disk drives (HDDs). Users also have the option to deploy two 800 GB PCI Express (PCIe) solid-state drives (SSDs) for caching to accelerate performance. Customers can connect up to three extension nodes to each Flex Node to boost the raw capacity to 188 TB.

The 1U Density Node uses the slower, less expensive, power-conserving Intel Atom C2000 processor. It has 12 SATA HDDs for a total raw capacity of 60 TB per node and the potential for more than 2 PB per rack. Users have a local SSD cache option. Fujitsu claims the architecture can handle hundreds of storage nodes for more than 50 PB of data.

Fujitsu claimed the rough list price would be 78 cents per GB for a system with Flex Nodes and 42 cents per GB for a system with Density Nodes, although the prices depend on the individual system configuration and setup.

Customers can save money by using erasure coding, which requires less disk capacity but slows the system by using more compute. Ceph clusters generally make two copies of data for protection purposes, requiring 300 TB of disk storage to store 100 TB of data. Using erasure code, customers typically require 150 TB for 100 TB of data.

Fujitsu engineers worked to optimize the erasure code to improve performance, especially in large implementations. The vendor contributed the optimized erasure code to the open source Ceph community.

For data protection, Fujitsu also added an option on top of Ceph for pool-based or object-based "backup in a box." Backup servers transfer copies of defined pools to other servers within the cluster. Reichart said Fujitsu has started to work with traditional backup software vendors, such as CommVault, to find additional enhanced options.

"Nobody has a ready-made solution yet for [backing up] such high volumes of data, so this is just a start," he said. "We now have a basic mechanism, but we know we will partner more with people who are specialists in backup to find new solutions."

Fujitsu also enhanced disaster recovery choices with the Eternus CD10000 S2. Users can stretch a single cluster across two sites, or they can opt for asynchronous replication between two CD10000 systems at both sites connected via CD10000 gateway nodes. An agent synchronizes the defined zones.

CD10000 offers 'single, integrated solution' to save time, resources

The Eternus CD10000 S2 is generally available in the Americas and Europe at an estimated starting price of $87,000. Reichart said the price includes a management node and four Density Nodes plus all software, disks and network connections. Fujitsu provides maintenance and support services for the server hardware, software and the 10 Gigabit Ethernet internal network components from Brocade Communications Systems Inc., he added.

"We know that for more mainstream IT systems, enterprises usually want to have a vendor-supported solution," said Tony Lock, a distinguished analyst at UK-based Freeform Dynamics Ltd., via email. "Support and reliability are the key factors, and this is especially the case for storage. Data integrity is essential for systems that are business critical."

Lock wrote that Fujitsu's CD10000 could allow enterprises to use Ceph in mainstream business. He added that software-defined storage is still early in its development, and until recently, much of its production usage has been confined to organizations with sufficient skills to put together the pieces themselves.

"The most important thing for enterprises is that this is a single integrated solution, not a number of discrete elements that have to be integrated and administered using many tools," Lock wrote. "The customer doesn't have to spend significant time and resources just to keep everything running smoothly and secure, which can be the case for DIY software-defined storage."

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Will products like the Fujitsu Eternus CD10000 speed Ceph adoption, or is the key to Ceph adoption in the software?
Well, Ceph with its ability to do file, block and object storage is a jack-of-all-trades, but when it comes to object storage, it is not a master. The Fujitsu CD10000 series models don't really contain that much raw storage, and the need for specialized nodes, like "gateway" nodes, to connect two physical clusters constitutes a single point of failure. Then there is the need for a "management" node. Why? And just what were the "gaps" in Ceph that Fujitsu had to address? Then Fujitsu needed to improve the erasure code in Ceph. At least they pushed that improvement back to the Ceph project where Red Hat can pickup on it. When it comes to replication, 3x not 2x is the norm. 2x would definitely fall into the "reduced redundancy" category. It is a good thing Fujitsu engineered a "turnkey" Ceph storage system because most customers needing production storage would be unlikely to do this by themselves. This may be why Red Hat purchased InkTank for $175M 18 months ago. InkTank was the commercial sponsor of Ceph. Dr. Sage Weil, the brains behind Ceph, is a brilliant guy, but Ceph does't really scale all that well when it come to providing object-based storage.