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Cloudian adds object storage for containers on VMware vSAN

Cloudian's integration with VMware's vSAN Data Persistence platform allows its customers to consolidate on-premises and cloud-native applications on the same object storage software.

Cloudian software can now provide object storage for applications running as containers in VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu, a hybrid cloud platform for running Kubernetes as well as non-containerized applications.

Cloudian HyperStore object storage software connects to VMware vSAN Data Persistence platform (DPp), which was added to VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) in its recent 4.2 update. Through a plugin, customers can manage Cloudian directly in the vCenter user interface and provision object storage for their containers. Cloudian HyperStore already provided this capability for traditional, on-premises applications. Its integration with vSAN DPp lets customers use a single storage environment for both types of applications.

In its VCF 4.2 update announcement, VMware revealed only Cloudian and one other object storage vendor, MinIO, have vSAN DPp plugins.

Cloudian object storage for containerized applications on VCF opens many use cases. Customers can use Cloudian to protect data in their persistent volumes, run analytics on the data, feed the data to AI and machine learning projects and support IoT or other highly distributed architecture. Cloudian HyperStore also supports anything that is S3-compatible as well as NFS and SMB through its connection to Cloudian HyperFile NAS storage.

"VMware's been pushing into Kubernetes [via Tanzu] for a long time, but they haven't had an answer on the storage side," said Cloudian CMO Jon Toor.

Half of Cloudian's customers use it for data protection, Toor said. Citing the increase in ransomware attacks over 2020 when COVID-19 was in full swing, he said defending against ransomware has become the main demand among customers. Cloudian rolled out Object Lock with Veeam in March 2019, which makes backup copies immutable for a set period. HyperStore's integration with vSAN DPp enables this capability for containerized applications, which Toor sees as immediate ROI for customers.

VMware's been pushing into Kubernetes [via Tanzu] for a long time, but they haven't had an answer on the storage side.
Jon ToorCMO, Cloudian

Toor said there is a larger trend at play, though: infrastructure convergence and consolidation. Cloudian HyperStore provides object storage for traditional, on-premises applications and can now do the same for containerized applications. This allows customers to consolidate to a single storage environment for both, which means simpler management, fewer tools to train administrators on and fewer storage silos. This all translates to lower overall cost, Toor said.

Toor said customers want to consolidate on-premises and cloud-native operations because there is movement in both directions. Surveys have shown an increase in cloud and SaaS adoption over the course of the pandemic, but Toor said Cloudian customers, particularly those with multiple PBs of storage, are looking to move back to on-premises.

Reasons for this repatriation include lower cost of keeping large amounts of active data on-premises versus in the cloud, meeting data storage compliance requirements and wanting faster and more reliable access to the data. Toor said customers haven't completely settled yet on where everything should be, so it's important to offer the best of both worlds.

screenshot of Cloudian in vSphere
Cloudian HyperStore can be managed directly from vSphere's console.

Lucas Mearian, research manager at IDC, described Cloudian and MinIO's DPp plugins as "a step in the right direction." He noted there is demand among enterprises to store persistent volumes in object storage and to consolidate storage silos. However, these are, at the end of the day, still plugins, and object storage still isn't native to the container management platforms themselves, Mearian said. He expects that will eventually be the case in the future, and this is just the beginning.

Using object storage for persistent data from containerized applications is an emerging use case, but one that makes sense, technology-wise, Mearian said. Containers are cloud-native, lightweight, easy to deploy, are abstracted away from the underlying operating system and can be orchestrated to balance compute load between multiple nodes.

Object storage scales across globally dispersed locations, can replicate data for availability and resilience and isn't tied to underlying hardware. Although emergent, Mearian predicts container storage will be the largest use case for object storage as containerized applications continue to grow.

"These two things work well together, hand-in-hand. They complement each other," Mearian said.

Mearian noted Cloudian and MinIO are the first object storage vendors with a plugin for vSAN DPp, and he suspects it's because of their software-defined nature, where many other object storage vendors are appliance-based. It's no surprise that an all-software vendor like VMware would want to work with all-software object storage, though he expects other vendors will be qualified on vSAN DPp over time, Mearian said.

Johnny Yu covers enterprise data protection news for TechTarget's Storage sites SearchDataBackup and SearchDisasterRecovery. Before joining TechTarget in June 2018, he wrote for USA Today's consumer product review site, Reviewed.com.

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