Today’s post is the second one on Cloud Storage. Today we look at SolidFire. We examine some of things SolidFire has built into their platform. A year ago, there were only a few flash storage vendors – today it is a crowded field – and last year’s leaders are only running on last years success and marketing momentum. A new group of flash storage companies have emerged with as much emphasis on software and storage features as on hardware. Everyone has IOPs this year – but not everyone has key storage features like QoS, dedup, etc.
In high multi-tenant environments such as a cloud or a highly virtualized architectures – resource management is an extremely important feature. Not just of CPU, network bandwidth and memory – but also IOPs. There is a lot of learning going on with regards to virtualization and what it can teach us about the next generation of cloud deployments. SolidFire has an interesting read :
There are two interesting meta-cloud projects aimed at cloud infrastructures. For those unaware of these projects, their scope is stunning. OpenStack is a project aimed at providing infrastructure as a service (IaaS). There is an OpenStack Foundation that manages the project. There are over 200 companies that are part of this project. With the OpenStack project are number of inter-related sub-projects aimed at controlling :
It should be noted that a cornerstone of the project is that OpenStack’s APIs be compatibility with Amazon’s EC2 and Amazon’s S3.
As if that wasn’t interesting enough, there is another Cloud IaaS project – CloudStack which provides many of the same features and has been around long enough to have significant adoption.
You can see what SolidFire is doing with the Citrix’s CloudPlatform (which is based on CloudStack) and provides in this reference architecture document.
OpenStack has a lot of backers and the adoption rate is quite high. With IBM’s endorsement of OpenStack it has given the project a big boost. Enterprise flash array vendors are providing reference architectures that show how OpenStack plays with their flash storage arrays. Today we will focus on one such company, SolidFire, which has done a lot of work to make sure that their storage products work with OpenStack and CloudStack, let alone VMware. Both open source stacks have large followings – but for today we are looking at what SolidFire is up to. For example, with regards to OpenStack, they have spent considerable energy providing reference architecture documents :
They have provided a short OpenStack 101 video :
One thing one notices is that SolidFire provides a Quality-of-Service (QoS) architecture. Any one that has worked in virtualized environments recognizes immediately the need for resource controls on the tenants. IO is a natural place to have such a control. Some vendors pretend that this feature is unnecessary, but the opposite is true. In a cloud or a highly virtualized environments with high multi-tenancy making demands on IO subsystems it makes perfectly good sense to have QoS. SolidFire provides a an elegant solution that limits ‘noisy neighbors’ (tenants making extremely high demands on the IO subsystem and effecting performance of other tenants). One extremely important point is that SolidFire’s storage system was not only architected with QoS in mind, but each SolidFire node is a self-contained node but when combined with other nodes functions cluster – exactly what you would expect for cloud storage.
It does, however, get even better. SolidFire’s ElementOS delivers features that other storage vendors lack. One is deduplication. In virtualized environment this is basically one of those features that is pretty important. Often it can reduce disk use from 25% to 40%. Some vendors don’t provide dedup and there is an enormous use of redundant files which wastes significant portions of available storage. Also delivered is thin-provisioning and real-time compression.
One recent cloud-oriented move, OnApp is working together with SolidFire to allow finely tuned billing of IOPs. Using OnApp’s control panel it can specify minimum, maximum and burst IOPs.
One notices that unlike a number of vendors that like to point to their high peak IOPs numbers – SolidFire’s aim is quite a bit more sophisticated and centered around what is increasingly the future – cloud deployments. Deliver QoS resource controls for Cloud flash storage (which many vendors lack), deliver high performance flash storage, provide compression, snapshots/cloning, dedup, thin-provisioning and provide hardware that aggregates into useful storage clusters. In the end, unlike some vendors that deliver terabytes of isolated islands of arrays, SolidFire delivers petabytes of cloud-optimized and resource-managed clusters, and that is what the next generation of cloud storage should look like.
Go to more posts on storage and flash storage blogs at http://digitalcld.com/cld/category/storage.