Use of hybrid clouds is on the rise, for good reason — they can maximize budget efficiency and meet performance goals at the same time. But there are challenges, including storage. Today’s data explosion is putting a strain on traditional storage architectures that are built to scale vertically. This model was just not created to handle such huge quantities of data — at least, not cost effectively, and not with high performance.
The storage status quo definitely can’t make the leap to support a hybrid cloud.
Your customers need scalability with affordability, and that’s the promise of software-defined and scale-out storage solutions. Let’s address some design elements, with guidance to ensure your customers’ hybrid clouds deliver the storage performance, flexibility and scalability they need.
A scale-out NAS is the critical building block for a hybrid cloud storage solution. Since hybrid cloud architectures are relatively new to the market – and even newer in production deployments – many organizations are unaware of the importance of consistency in a scale-out NAS.
Many environments are what’s called “eventually consistent,” meaning that files written to one node are not immediately accessible from other nodes. This lag can be caused by improper implementation of protocols, or not having tight enough integration with the virtual file system.
The opposite of this is being strictly consistent: Files are accessible from all nodes at the same time. Compliant protocol implementations and tight integration with the virtual file system is a good recipe for success.
A three-layered hybrid cloud architecture that incorporates a scale-out NAS is one way to ensure tight data consistency. Each server in the cluster will run a software stack based on these layers:
It is very important to keep the three-layer architecture symmetrical and clean. If you manage to do that, future architectural challenges will be much easier to solve, and your customers’ systems can scale up to exabytes of data and trillions of files.
Now let’s look at three other critical areas.
These functionalities taken together – a software-defined architecture, supporting both fast and energy-efficient hardware; an architecture that allows users to start small and scale up; support for bare-metal as well as virtual environments; and support for all major protocols – make for a very flexible and useful storage solution.
At some point, many customers will want to share the system among locations that may need both private storage and an area that they share with other branches. So, each site has its own independent file system, and only parts of the file system will be shared with others. Choosing a portion of a file system that will be open for others to mount provides customers the flexibility needed to scale the file system outside the four walls of the office — but make sure that synchronization is made at the file-system level in order to have a consistent view across sites.
Being able to specify different file encodings at various sites is useful if, for example, one site is used as a backup target.
All of these elements work together to form a hybrid cloud storage system that offers what the data-besieged enterprise needs: clean, efficient and linear scaling up to exabytes of data. Because just one file system spans all servers, there are multiple points of entry and no more performance bottlenecks. This approach offers flexibility by being able to easily add nodes. It also offers native support of protocols and flash support for high performance.
One overriding principle to keep in mind is, again, to support many protocols — that keeps the architecture flat and, to some extent, enables customers to share data among applications that speak different protocols.
A scale-out NAS gives your customers far greater control of their investments while enabling them grow into private clouds without breaking the bank or sacrificing performance. They will be grateful for your guidance into this brave new world of storage.
Stefan Bernbo is the founder and CEO of Compuverde. For 20 years, Stefan has designed and built numerous enterprise scale data storage solutions designed to be cost effective for storing huge data sets. From 2004 to 2010 Stefan worked within this field for Storegate, the wide-reaching Internet based storage solution for consumer and business markets, with the highest possible availability and scalability requirements. Previously, Stefan has worked with system and software architecture on several projects with Swedish giant Ericsson, the world-leading provider of telecommunications equipment and services to mobile and fixed network operators.