OpenStack Cloud Storage Q&A

More than 300 people have seen our Webcast “OpenStack Cloud Storage.” If you missed it, it’s now available on demand. It was a great session with a lot of questions from attendees. We did not have time to address them all – so here is a complete Q&A. If you think of any others, please comment on this blog. Also, mark your calendar for January 29th when the SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative will continue its Developers Tutorial Series with a live Webcast on OpenStack Manila.

Q. Is it correct to say that one can use OpenStack on any vendor’s hardware?

A. Servers, yes, assuming the hardware is supported by Linux. Block storage requires a driver, and not all vendor systems have Cinder drivers.

Q. Is there any OpenStack investigation and/or development in the storage networking area?

A. Cinder includes support for FC and iSCSI. As of Icehouse, the FC support also includes auto-zoning. 

Q. Is there any monetization going on around OpenStack, like we see for distros of Linux?

A. Yes, there are already several commercial distributions available.

Q. Is erasure code needed to get a positive business case for Swift, when compared with traditional storage systems?

A. It is a way to reduce the cost of replication. Traditional storage systems typically already have erasure coding, in the form of RAID. Systems without erasure coding end up using more storage to achieve the same level of protection due to their use of 3-way replication.

Q. Is erasure code currently implemented in the current Swift release?

A. No, it is a separate development stream, which has not been merged yet.

Q. Any limitation on the number of objects per container or total number of objects per Swift cluster?

A. Technically there are no limits. However, in practice, the fact that the containers are implemented using SQL lite limits their size to a million or maybe a few million objects per container. However, due to the way that Swift partitions its metadata, each user can also have millions of containers, and there can be millions of users. So practically speaking, the total system can support an unlimited number of objects.

Q. What are some of the technical reasons for an enterprise to select Swift vs. Amazon S3? In other words, are they pretty much direct alternatives, or does each have its own preferred use cases?

A. They are more or less direct alternatives. There are some minor differences, but they are made for the same purpose. That said, S3 is only available from Amazon. There are some S3 compatible systems, but most of those also support Swift. Swift, on the other hand, is available open source or from multiple vendors. So if you want to run it in your own data center, or in a public cloud other than Amazon, you probably want Swift.

Q. If I wanted to play around with Open Stack, Cinder, and Swift in a lab environment (or in my basement), what do I need and how do I get started?

A. openstack.org is the best place to start. The “devstack” distribution is also good for playing around.

Q. Will you be showing any features for Kilo?

A. The “Futures” I showed will likely be Kilo features, though the final decision of what will be in Kilo won’t happen until just before release.

 Q. Are there any plans to implement data encryption in Cinder?

A. I believe some of the back ends can support encryption already. Cinder is really just a provisioning and orchestration layer. Encryption is a data path feature, so it would need to be implemented in the back end.

Q. Some time back I heard OpenStack Swift is going to come up with block storage as well, any timeline for that?

A. I haven’t heard this, Swift is object storage.

Q. The performance characteristics of Cinder block services can vary quite widely. Is there any standard measure proposed within OpenStack to inform Nova or the application about the underlying Cinder block performance characteristics?

A. Volume types were designed to enable clouds to provide different levels of service. The meaning of these types is up to the cloud administrator. That said, Cinder does expose QoS features like minimum/maximum IOPS.

Q. Is the hypervisor talking to a cinder volume or to (for example) a NetApp or EMC volume?

A. The hypervisor talks to a volume the same way it does outside of OpenStack. For example, the KVM hypervisor can talk to volumes through LVM, or can mount SAN volumes directly.

Q. Which of these projects are most production-ready?

A. This is a hard question, and depends on your definition of production ready. It’s hard to do much without Nova, Glance, and Horizon. Most people use Cinder too, and Swift has been in production at HP and Rackspace for years. Neutron has a lot of complexity, so some people still use Nova network, but that has many limitations. For toy clouds you can avoid using Keystone, but you need it for a “production” cluster. The best way to get a “production ready” OpenStack is to get a supported commercial distribution.

Q. Are there any Plugfests?

A. No, however, the Cinder team has a fairly extensive and continuous integration process that drivers need to pass through. Swift does not because it doesn’t officially “support” any plugins.

 

 

 

OpenStack Manila Webcast – Shared File Services for the Cloud

On January 29th, we continue our Cloud Developer’s series by hosting a live Webcast on OpenStack Manila – the OpenStack file share service. Manila provides the management of file shares (for example, NFS and CIFS) as a core service to OpenStack. Manila currently works with a variety of vendors’ storage products, including NetApp, Red Hat, EMC, IBM, and with the Linux NFS server.

In this Webcast we will:

  • Introduce the Manila file share service
  • Review key Manila concepts
  • Describe the logical architecture of Manila and its API structure
  • Explain what’s new in Juno, the latest release of OpenStack
  • Highlight the roadmap for Manila in the next release, OpenStack Kilo, and beyond

Register now for this live event that we expect will be informative and interactive. I hope you’ll join us.

OpenStack Cloud Storage Webcast Preview

On January 14, 2015, the CSI continues its Developer Tutorial series by hosting a live Webcast on OpenStack Cloud Storage. As you likely know, OpenStack is an open source cloud operating system that provides pools of compute, storage, and networking.

OpenStack is currently being developed by thousands of developers from hundreds of companies across the globe, and is the basis of multiple public and private cloud offerings.  Register now for this SNIA-CSI Webcast to hear Sam Fineberg, Distinguished Technologist at HP discuss:

  • Storage aspects of OpenStack including the core projects for block storage (Cinder) and object storage (Swift)
  • Emerging shared file service
  • Common configurations and use cases for these technologies
  • Interaction with the other parts of OpenStack
  • New developments in Cinder and Swift that enable advanced array features, QoS, new storage fabrics, and new types of drives.

I’ll be moderating this live event and Sam and I will be available to answer your specific questions. It should be an informative and interactive session. I hope you’ll join us!

What’s New in the CDMI 1.1 Cloud Storage Standard

On December 2, 2014, the CSI is hosting a Developer Tutorial Webcast “Introducing CDMI 1.1” to dive into all the capabilities of CDMI 1.1.

Register now to join David Slik, Co-Chair, SNIA Cloud Storage Technical Work Group and me, Alex McDonald, as we’ll explore what’s in this major new release of the CDMI standard, with highlights on what you need to know when moving from CDMI 1.0.2 to CDMI 1.1.

The latest release – CDMI 1.1 –  includes:

  • Enabling support for other popular industry supported cloud storage protocols such as OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3
  • A variety of extensions, some part of the core specification and some stand-alone, that include a CIMI standard extension, support for immediate queries , an LTFS Export extension, an OVF extension, along with multi-part MIME and versioning extensions. A full list can be found here.
  • 100% backwards compatibility with ISO certified CDMI v. 1.0.2 to ensure continuity and backward compatibility with existing CDMI systems
  • And more

This event on December 2nd will be live, so please bring your specific questions. We’ll do our best to answer them on the spot. I hope you’ll join us!

 

Join SNIA-CSI at the OpenStack Summit

Get the tips needed when implementing multiple cloud storage APIs. The SNIA Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) is hosting a Birds of a Feather session – Tips to Implementing Multiple Cloud Storage APIs at the OpenStack Summit in Paris on November 5th at 9:00 a.m. Room 212/213.

There are three main object storage APIs today; OpenStack’s Swift (open but not standardized), Amazon’s S3 (proprietary yet a defacto standard) and SNIA’s CDMI (an ISO standard). With three APIs to support, it might sound expensive or difficult to support all of them, yet not doing so could be costly when customers want innovation and industry standard solutions and interoperability in your product.

What about the similarities and differences between the APIs, and can they be reconciled? Can these APIs be effectively and efficiently implemented in a single product? I hope you’ll join us at this session to learn about and discuss various ways to cope with this situation. You will discover best practices and tips on how to implement these three protocols in your cloud storage solution.

Register now. I look forward to seeing you on November 5th at the OpenStack Summit.