New scale-out NexentaEdge storage supports object, block

Nexenta's new scale-out object storage product supports object and block services and inline deduplication across a petabyte-scale cluster.

Nexenta Systems joined the crowded object storage market today with the launch of its NexentaEdge software, which offers some uncommon twists over the typical fare.

NexentaEdge software supports both scale-out block and object storage services and offers inline deduplication across a petabyte-scale cluster of standard x86 Linux-based servers on a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network.

"The combination of block and object is very interesting and is a road that few other object vendors have gone down," said Simon Robinson, research vice president in storage at New 451 Research, via an email. "This makes it a potentially strong contender in OpenStack environments, which need a bit of block and a lot of object in terms of persistent storage."

Running on commodity hardware, NexentaEdge supports OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 APIs for object storage services and iSCSI for block storage services for virtual machines (VMs). NexentaEdge can serve as a back end for open source OpenStack Cinder block services.

The object storage space includes major vendors such as EMC, IBM and NetApp, and specialists such as Cleversafe, Caringo, Exablox and Scality. Robinson sees NexentaEdge as a potential alternative to Ceph, which is available as open source software and through a commercially supported distribution from Red Hat. Ceph supports scale-out object, block and file storage, although the file option remains a work in progress.

NexentaEdge is proprietary software, unlike Nexenta's flagship scale-up software-defined storage, NexentaStor, which is based on the open source ZFS file system. Nexenta CEO Tarkan Maner said the company did not find any open source object-based storage that it considered enterprise class in terms of security, manageability and reliability.

Nexenta touts the Edge product's end-to-end data integrity, cloud copy-on-write technology, unlimited instant snapshot and clone capabilities, in addition to the cluster-wide inline deduplication and compression.

Jeff Byrne, a senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group, said cluster-wide inline deduplication is a rare capability in an object storage product. Byrne said that will help to make NexentaEdge a good fit for use cases such as cloud-based archiving and multimedia content management.

NexentaEdge's object store is suited to unstructured data such as medical images, video content, photo libraries and data collected as part of the Internet of Things, while the block-based storage affords better performance with VM environments, noted Eric Burgener, storage research director at International Data Corp.

"It's not a place where you would try to run your high-performance transactional databases," Burgener wrote in an email.

Oscar Wahlberg, director of product management at Nexenta, said NexentaEdge stores all data on the same physical drives in a key-value paradigm, but the means of access differs for block and object. Either an object API translates the request, or Nexenta's gateway translates an iSCSI request, getting the data from the cache or from one of the storage servers, he said.

"Object-based storage is traditionally higher latency. You store data in the scales of petabytes of data for archival use cases. That's the traditional object model -- basically pure data storage," Wahlberg said.

Wahlberg added, "The scale-out method of doing block tends to be slightly higher latency for small random I/O than the traditional scale-up models. So, if I were to position NexentaEdge block models and NexentaStor block models next to each other, you can get lower latency and higher performance out of NexentaStor, but you can get better throughput and very decent latency from NexentaEdge."

Outstanding gaps in NexentaEdge that are on the Nexenta's roadmap include file capabilities and erasure codes, according to Deni Connor, founding analyst at SSG-NOW in Austin, Texas. NexentaEdge makes three copies of the data by default, but users have the option to change the number of replicas, said Wahlberg.

NexentaEdge runs on commodity hardware running Canonical Ubuntu Server, CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. List pricing for NexentaEdge's perpetual license ranges from 10 cents per gigabyte plus maintenance and support to 15 cents per gigabyte. Nexenta plans to demonstrate NexentaEdge this week at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver.

Last week, at the Citrix Synergy 2015 conference in Orlando, Fla., Nexenta spotlighted the NexentaStor 5 Community Preview that the company is making available to its more than 46,000 community members. The company expects NexentaStor version 5.0 to be available at the end of the year.

Product enhancements in version 5.0 include a high-performance management framework, a new self-documenting REST API to enable users to build automation and storage orchestration and an updated command line interface to ease deployment.

Also at Citrix Synergy, Nexenta announced that its NexentaConnect for Citrix XenDesktop and NexentaStor completed the verification process to be classified as "Citrix Ready." Nexenta claims the product tandem reduces the cost per desktop and the amount of storage needed for a Citrix XenDesktop deployment.

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