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Red Hat lays out OpenShift Container Storage, Ceph roadmaps

Red Hat's newly unveiled storage roadmaps for OpenShift and Ceph add data deduplication to reduce data footprint and snapshot-based mirroring for disaster recovery.

Red Hat's new roadmaps for its Ceph and OpenShift Container Storage products show how the open source-based software will add traditional enterprise storage features and address usability and manageability.

Ceph is the core storage technology that Red Hat uses in the latest 4.x version of its OCS product. Red Hat also sells and supports a standalone Red Hat Ceph Storage product that packages software from the Ceph open source project.

Long-term Ceph plans outlined at this week's 2020 Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience include classic enterprise storage capabilities such as deduplication to reduce storage footprints and snapshot-based mirroring to bolster disaster recovery. Red Hat also previewed new management and dashboard improvements to make Ceph storage easier to deploy, use and automate.

Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said early Ceph storage adopters often thought the technology was complex to deploy and manage, but Red Hat has made great strides simplifying Ceph and augmenting its capabilities.

"Modern, digital organizations just don't have the time or the resources for manual storage provisioning and management to slow down development activities," Sinclair said.

On the performance front, the open source Ceph community is immersed in an ambitious project, dubbed "Crimson," to enable newer technologies such as 3D XPoint/Optane persistent memory and Zoned Namespaces (ZNS) solid-state drives. Sage Weil, the Red Hat principal architect who manages the Ceph project, said the team hopes to have a working prototype ready for the open source Ceph "Pacific" release in 2021. Red Hat plans to include a Crimson technology preview with its commercially supported Ceph Storage 6.0 product in the same timeframe.

Ceph storage
Ceph project leader Sage Weil spoke about the open source software's roadmap during this week's 2020 Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience.

OpenShift Container storage roadmap

Meanwhile, Red Hat continues to face challenges in synchronizing the OCS roadmap with corresponding releases of the OpenShift Container Platform (OCP). OCS 4.2 came out in January, months after the late-summer target date. OCS 4.3, originally slated for December/January, became available in mid-April with some key features in technology-preview mode until the 4.4 release targeted for May.

The OCS delays come as no surprise in the context of the major product overhaul that the 4.x release represents. At its 2019 Summit, Red Hat unveiled plans to switch the core storage technology from file-based Gluster to Ceph. Company officials said Ceph would not only offer support for block, file and object protocols but also enable a more scalable S3-based object store for large data sets of newer applications such as analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The OCS changes didn't stop at Ceph storage. Red Hat replaced the Ansible installer and Heketi Gluster volume manager with Rook Operator-driven installation, configuration and management technology to ease storage provisioning and deployment. OCS 4.x also added NooBaa gateway technology that Red Hat acquired in 2018 to fortify its multi-cloud support.

Sudhir Prasad, director of product management for cloud storage and data services at Red Hat, estimated a year ago that Gluster-based OCS had more than 400 customers with data stores up to 300 TB. Red Hat claimed early this year that the Kubernetes-based OpenShift Container Platform had more than 1,300 customers, and generally about 40% to 50% attach to OpenShift Container Storage. Prasad said this week that the majority of customers are now running OCP and OCS 3.11, and relatively few have migrated to 4.x.

Modern, digital organizations just don't have the time or the resources for manual storage provisioning.
Scott SinclairSenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Full support for OCP/OCS 3.x was due to end in June 2020, but Red Hat gave customers a lifeline this week. Prasad said full support for OCP/OCS 3.11.x would extend through June 2021 to ease migration pressures for customers also coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintenance support for Gluster-based OCS 3.11.x will remain on schedule through June 2022 and extended-life-phase support runs through June 2024, Prasad said.

At the 2020 Summit, Red Hat spotlighted its free Cluster Application Migration tools that aim to help customers move applications and data from OCP/OCS 3.x to OCP/OCS 4.x. OCS product manager Patric Uebele said the tool automatically explores OpenShift clusters and lets users migrate whole clusters at once or individual namespaces for those who want to take a more granular approach.

OpenShift Container Storage goes bare metal

Red Hat is adding OCS support for direct-attached drives and host-attached storage and bare-metal deployments to increase flexibity with underlying storage. Prasad said Red Hat received numerous customer requests for a bare-metal option, especially for data-intensive applications, to go with the VMware and AWS options the product already offered.

OCS currently runs only in "converged mode," with compute and storage on the same node or in the same cluster. Red Hat eventually plans to support independent mode to let external OpenShift clusters use a central pool of any back-end storage that supports the Kubernetes Container Storage Interface. Prasad said the new target for independent mode is July with OCS 4.5, rather than the originally scheduled OCS 4.3 release.

Other new features on tap in OCS 4.5 include FIPS 140-2 cryptographic validation, persistent volume dynamic expansion and support for disconnected environments. Red Hat also hopes to boost OCS scalability to 10,000 persistent volumes in a single cluster, up from 5,000 in a 10-node setup in OCS 4.4.

Roadmap items for OCS 4.6, due in October, and beyond include data protection capabilities such as snapshots and clones, a backup API for third-party partners to integrate with OpenShift and multi-cluster disaster recovery options.

"Red Hat Storage is often evaluated by nontraditional storage buyers, such as DevOps, cloud and enterprise architects, who appreciate open source-based, software-defined platforms and see it as a critical differentiator, because their main objective is pivoting from building infrastructure to last to investing in the infrastructure that can support change," Gartner research VP Julia Palmer said.

OCS competitors include Portworx, Robin.io, StorageOS, MayaData, Diamanti and newcomers such as Arrikto, when DevOps buyers take charge of infrastructure acquisitions, according to Palmer. She said, if an IT organization leads the project, the competition tends to be primary storage vendors with basic and advanced container support capabilities, including Pure Storage, Dell EMC, Hitachi Vantara, IBM and NetApp.

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