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SUSE Enterprise Storage debuts for open source Ceph storage

SUSE sets its sights on open source storage, making SUSE Enterprise Storage with Ceph generally available, with an enhanced version to follow in the summer.

SUSE is following Red Hat into open source-based Ceph storage.

SUSE Enterprise Storage, released last month and based on Ceph, is the start of an aggressive storage roadmap for the vendor best known for its enterprise Linux distribution.

SUSE Enterprise Storage is based on the Firefly version of the Ceph open source project. It is suited for object, archival and bulk storage with features that include cache tiering, thin provisioning, copy-on-write cloning and erasure coding. SUSE moved into the cloud approximately two years ago with support for OpenStack.

"Come August, we'll have an enhanced block capability by bringing an iSCSI interface," said Gerald Pfeifer, SUSE's senior director of product management. "And as we roll out the roadmap, we will enhance the core product into solutions. We'll move this into the type of use cases customers want and then we'll give recommended architectures and parameters they can configure into a device."

Ceph is a free storage platform that presents object, block and file storage from a single distributed compute cluster. It uses a distributed architecture with no single point of failure, runs on commodity hardware, scales to the exabyte level and is designed to be self-healing and self-managing.

SUSE is playing catch-up to Red Hat, which acquired a Ceph storage platform when it bought startup Inktank Storage in May 2014. Red Hat's Inktank Ceph Enterprise software includes erasure coding and cache tiering tools to manage and monitor the distributed object storage cluster.

The SUSE Enterprise Storage software will use Ceph to target object storage or block-level access to large storage devices. Future SUSE versions will provide functions such as data-at-rest encryption, data deduplication and active archiving, Pfeifer said.

Ceph object storage is accessible through Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift REST application programming interfaces (APIs), as well as a native API which can be used to integrate infrastructure or business applications. Ceph block storage uses Ceph Block Device, which is a virtual disk that can be attached to bare-metal Linux-based servers or to virtual machines.

Ceph RADOS provides block storage services such as snapshots and replication. The RADOS Block Device is also integrated with OpenStack Block Storage. Ceph file storage is a POSIX-compliant file system which uses the same cluster as Ceph block storage and Ceph object storage.

Simon Robinson, an analyst at 451 Research, wrote in a report that initial SUSE Enterprise Storage options will include a high-density configuration, which might appeal to a customer looking to build an active archive using object storage and possibly integration with OpenStack Swift or Amazon S3.

"It would use, for example, the erasure coding feature within Ceph for redundancy, and include 34 to 60 high-capacity SATA drives, with just a couple of higher-performance SAS drives," he said.

"Meanwhile, a standard configuration might be used for big data/Hadoop or bulk-storage workloads, could use replicated copies rather than erasure coding, and fewer higher-performing drives, perhaps including SSD for performance."

Robinson said SUSE also is considering expanding into other use cases including support for performance-based workloads such as HPC and mainstream database applications such as OLTP, CRM and ERP.

"Clearly, SUSE's strategy here relies to some extent on the evolution and development of the Ceph platform itself," he said.

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