Doctor Strange the Storage Guru?

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benedict_cumberbatch_on_the_set_of_doctor_strangeWe’ve tried everything.  There’s just no curing the injury we’ve received from the information explosion.  Gone are the days of the fine art of carefully excising small bits of useless data.  We’ve explored the latest and greatest from the traditional vendors, but nobody has a holistic answer.

It’s time to visit the gurus.  Time to pursue a new way of thinking about storage and data.  Forget everything you think you know.  The time has come to look beyond and expand the storage horizon.

Just as Doctor Stephen Strange experienced a mind-bending change experience, so are storage architects.  We are in the middle of a number of new technology adoption cycles and at the start of a potential revolution in how we even think about storage.  Disruptive elements include software defined storage, both open and closed source, new memory and storage technologies like NVMe and NVDIMMs, and new storage access mechanisms.

So what is the storage architect to do?  Where does he place his bets?  SUSE has a pretty solid answer in SUSE Enterprise Storage.  Here’s why.

When it comes to changing the way industry does technology, the open source ecosystem has a pretty good track record of providing the future answer.  Start with Linux, then look at the database space with MySQL and Postgres.  How about analytics?  Ever heard of Hadoop, Spark, or elastic search?  In storage, it is the same.  We’ve had several starter projects but now have a major contender in Ceph, which is the technology inside SUSE Enterprise Storage.

Ceph has the critical mass of community support and engagement, in fact, when I last checked metrics.ceph.com, there were more than 49 MILLION unique downloads of Ceph and just shy of 1,000 developers.  That’s quite an endorsement in any space!

Why is Ceph so popular?  I believe it has everything to do with rapid evolution and flexibility.

The rapid evolution of the storage infrastructure software allows customers to quickly adapt to key changes in technology that can then be leveraged for business advantage.  This is a key element of Ceph.  By having a broad developer community and a modular architecture, it is moving rapidly towards and will soon pass feature parity with proprietary solutions.  It is also able to more rapidly adapt to new technology innovation than many other existing storage solutions.

A key example here would be the separation of the front end storage protocols and the back end storage engine.  Ceph is currently going through a process of implementing what is called BlueStore.  This new backend storage engine provides a significant boost to performance and decrease in latency and is more able to leverage newer storage technologies than the old filestore backend.  This new storage backend was just announced about this time last year and is already nearing production readiness.

SUSE Enterprise Storage really starts to separate from the rest of the pack when discussing flexibility.  In this case, flexibility is providing truly unified storage with block, file, and object support.  Rather than stop there, SUSE has taken it one step further.  By not just supporting the native protocol for block service, RBD, and including scale-out ISCSI target support, SUSE has enabled customers to utilize this innovative technology in their existing data center environments.  This flexibility reduces risk to the end users and allows them to adapt their storage infrastructure to the needs of the business with ease.

This is where the Doctor Strange of Storage steps in.  He is the master of the little-understood powers of storage infrastructure design and planning.  He must be able to look forward into time to understand what the needs will be in three years, while still living in the present.

What does this mean for our masters of the mystic art of storage?  Today, it means supporting object interfaces in addition to traditional block and file access methods.  S3 has already won the battle for the object standard of today and SUSE Enterprise Storage supports this very well through the object gateways.

Tomorrow, it could mean adoption of a new biological storage medium, implementing object-integrated AI, quantum state storage, some new way to efficiently move data in and out of applications,  or whatever some brilliant engineer dreams up.  Ceph is ready for this challenge because it can support traditional storage access mechanism while the new and innovative is being implemented.  I know, it sounds a bit like magic.

This manipulation of unseen forces and requirements and crafting a vision for the future is the magic that storage architects have been bringing to the table for a very long time.  Understanding the trends, technologies, and options is a part of the mystique.  Doing all of this with a solid player, like SUSE, behind you, is the secret to success.

If you are Doctor Strange of Storage, do yourself a favor and start learning the art of next generation storage infrastructure with SUSE Enterprise Storage.

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David Byte
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