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Ceph and storage management on SUSE with openATTIC

Bryan Lunduke

By: Bryan Lunduke

March 16, 2016 1:14 pm

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The following is a guest post from Lenz Grimmer from IT Novum.

About a month ago, SUSE and it-novum announced a joint collaboration project around openATTIC, the open source storage management system sponsored by it-novum.

I joined it-novum last July as product manager for openATTIC and I feel honored to lead this project from the it-novum side. We are very excited to work closely with SUSE on bringing new storage management capabilities on Linux to more users.

In this article, I would like to give you some background information about openATTIC, the details of our collaboration and where things are heading to.

openATTIC has been around for more than 5 years now. Like many other open source projects openATTIC was initially started to scratch a very particular itch: making the management of storage on Linux easier, more flexible and affordable while supporting the most common storage technologies and protocols. The development started as an in-house tool at it-novum in 2011 and was released to the public under an open source license shortly afterwards.

Today, openATTIC can be used to manage one or multiple servers, to provide storage services via CIFS/NFS as well as iSCSI/FibreChannel. The software supports a wide range of file systems including Btrfs and ZFS for creating snapshots and other features. Redundancy can be provided by enabling mirroring of selected volumes using the DRBD® replicated storage system.

oa-dashboard%283%29Currently, we’re very busy working on version 2.0 which will boast two significant changes: a new, more intuitive web-based user interface built on modern web technologies (using the AngularJS and Bootstrap frameworks) and the replacement of the existing XML-RPC API with a RESTful API. We now also provide packages for RPM-based Linux distributions in addition to Debian and Ubuntu.

In many ways, version 2.0 is a new start for us. In the past months, we’ve made a lot of changes to how openATTIC is managed and developed by making the entire development process more open and lowering the barriers for collaboration as much as possible. For example, we’ve made our issue tracking system publicly available on https://tracker.openattic.org and now use BitBucket for performing pull requests and code reviews. We intend to develop openATTIC fully in the open instead of just publishing a piece of software that happens to be under an open source license but is otherwise developed like a proprietary application. We also adhere to the “release early, release often” development philosophy: our aim is to publish a new release of openATTIC every 4-5 weeks. Until now, this has worked fairly well.

Along the same lines, we also dropped the distinction between openATTIC “Enterprise” and “Community” editions: there’s just “openATTIC”, full-featured and licensed under the GPL. it-novum sponsors the development and is available to provide commercial support and consulting services. Patches and contributions are welcome and encouraged: we’ve adapted the “sign-off by” process established by the Linux kernel community instead of insisting on the submission of a contributor license agreement. Any user can report bugs, review and comment on feature requests or submit pull requests.

For us, the collaboration with SUSE is very important for two reasons:

First, together with the SUSE engineers we’re working on porting openATTIC to SUSE Linux (both SLES12 and openSUSE Leap). This will hopefully make it easier for new users to get openATTIC installed and deployed on their distribution of choice. The initial port to the SUSE platform helped us to iron out a number of portability issues making openATTIC more robust and flexible.

oa-volume-2For example, while openATTIC supports Nagios by default for monitoring and analyzing performance data, SUSE contributed fixes that enabled support for Icinga monitoring system that SUSE Linux uses by default. Pre-built installable packages for SLES12 and openSUSE Leap are now available from the filesystems:openATTIC project on openSUSE Build Service. While there are still a few rough edges, we’re very interested in receiving feedback and test results for this version!

Second, SUSE has selected openATTIC to become the web-based monitoring and management tool for a future version of SUSE’s own Ceph distribution, SUSE Enterprise Storage. Actually, we already had started to add Ceph management functionality to openATTIC before we were conctacted by SUSE, as we were looking for an open source solution that would allow our users to break the scalability and redundancy barriers that currently impair “traditional” storage system configurations. In our opinion, Ceph truly has the potential to become “the future of storage” as they proclaim, even though there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes down to managing it without requiring a deep level of understanding its internal workings. But that’s what we would like to change!

With the help of SUSE, we expect to make more progress in this area at a much faster pace. The SUSE Enterprise Storage development team is an invaluable resource for us: their expertise and knowledge of Ceph helped us a lot to better prioritize the work and helped our engineers to navigate around some issues and potential pitfalls. Together we’ve now concluded the evaluation of several approaches on how to tackle the task of monitoring and managing Ceph so that we now can work on architecture and implementation. I look forward to the first results which will be made available for download as soon as they are available and have passed our tests.

If you would like to get involved head over to our web site for pointers on how to get in touch with us. We are happy to get feedback from you!

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