Can I deploy Ceph on older hardware?
You just retired a bunch of servers and disk arrays, but before you place hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars’ worth of equipment on the curb, you’re wondering if you can use it for a Ceph-based storage solution like SUSE Enterprise Storage. The answer is: maybe.
SUSE prides itself on supporting a wide range of hardware, from blades to retail terminals to IoT devices. In fact, SUSE makes it possible to easily deploy a wide range of software on that hardware and certify it will work through the SUSE YES Certification Program. SUSE Yes Certification assures your IHV equipment is fully compatible with SUSE software, including SUSE Enterprise Storage.
But SUSE support isn’t just limited to YES Certified hardware. We support SUSE Enterprise Storage as a software appliance on any environment that meets the minimum hardware requirements, detailed at https://documentation.suse.com/ses/6/single-html/ses-deployment/#storage-bp-hwreq.
Though certification means you can rely on SUSE to support the software you buy, the challenge comes when your hardware reaches end-of-life and is no longer supported by the hardware vendor. If IBM, Dell EMC, HP, Seagate and others tell you your support has expired, you have some decisions to make. Most of those decisions are about risk.
If you’re looking to deploy SUSE Enterprise Storage on that older hardware, chances are good the SUSE software will work. As a company, we’ve been making software for more than 25 years and we’ve worked closely with hardware vendors to support their products in production settings. Compatibility isn’t the issue.
Instead, the issue has to do with the level of risk you’re willing to take with that older hardware. If you’re doing some testing, you’re willing to take more risks than you are in production. If you’re using your older hardware for storage – a mission-critical component of your infrastructure – you need to seriously consider the consequences of hardware failures and system performance.
Though SUSE Enterprise Storage allows users to build in custom levels of replication to ensure data integrity, if you lose, say, 20 percent of your used drives over the first six months of your deployment, are you willing to accept that risk? Are you willing to spend a little more time debugging? For some, the answer will be yes.
Also consider performance. If you’re implementing SUSE Enterprise Storage on older hardware and network gear, you’ll be less able to take advantage of the full capabilities of the software. Improvements in recent years have increased the speed and resiliency of software-defined storage, and some of those recent improvements may not be available to you on older hardware. And if you’re looking at the cluster as a proving ground for modern SUSE Enterprise Storage capabilities, you’ll not see the performance that’s possible with the latest and greatest hardware.
All that being said, yes, you can redeploy SUSE Enterprise Storage on your used hardware – just as long as you understand you’re assuming most of the risk. For some, that’s acceptable, particularly for those who’ve invested millions and still see life and value in that old equipment. That could well be the case with a shop that still has hundreds of backup drives still in their packages available to use for any disk failures. For others, not so much.
When considering used hardware, go in with your eyes open, anticipate trade-offs and look over the SUSE Yes Certified Program when it comes time to invest in your next-generation hardware and be sure to check your equipment against the SUSE hardware requirements.