Interview With Bob Griswold, Chairman, Open vStorage

The website Storage Newsletter did an interview with our own Bob Griswold, Chairman of Open vStorage. In this Q&A Bob gave an answer to various questions such as what kind of storage product is Open vStorage, what is our vision, open source involvement, our business model and many more interesting questions.

Read the complete interview here.

Fargo RC2

We released Fargo RC2 . Biggest new items in this release:

  • Multiple performance improvements such as multiple proxies per volume driver (the default amount is 2), bypassing the proxy and go straight from the volume driver to the ASD in case of partial reads, local read preference in case of global backends (try to read from ASDs in the same datacenter instead of going over the network to another datacenter).
  • API to limit the amount of data that gets loaded into the memory of the volume driver host. Instead of loading all metadata ofa vdisk into RAM, you can now specify the % it can take in RAM.
  • Counter which keeps track of the amount of invalid checksum per ASD so we can flag bad ASDs faster.
  • Configuring the scub proxy to be cache on write.
  • Implemented timeouts for the volume driver calls.

The team also solved 110 issues between RC1 and RC2. An overview of the complete content can be found here: Added Features | Added Improvements | Solved Bugs

File Storage blogpost: impressive and probably one of the most comprehensive

File Storage, one of the leading blogs about storage, is featuring Open vStorage in one of their latest blogposts. You can read the full blog post here. We believe they are 100% correct in their conclusion:

The Open vStorage solution is really impressive and is probably one of the most comprehensive in its category.

Just a small note, we are not confidential, rather we are conservative and hence not well known yet. It takes years to build and stabilize a storage system of the scale we’ve built with Open vStorage!

2017, the Open vStorage predictions

2017, the Open vStorage predictions
2017 promises to be an interesting year for the storage industry. New technology is knocking at the door and present technology will not surrender without a fight. Not only new technology will influence the market but the storage market itself is morphing:

Further Storage consolidation

Let’s say that December 2015 was an appetizer with Netapp buying Solidfire. But in 2016 the storage market went through the first wave of consolidation: Docker storage start-up ClusterHQ shut its doors, Violin Memory filed for chapter 11, Nutanix bought PernixData , Nexgen was acquired by Pivot 3, Broadcom acquired Brocade, Samsung acquired Joyent. Lastly there was also the mega merger between storage mogul EMC and Dell. This consolidation trend will continue in 2017 as the environment for hyper-converged, flash and object storage startups is getting tougher because all the traditional vendors now offer their own flavor. As the hardware powering these solutions is commodity, the only differentiator is software.

Some interesting names to keep an eye on for M&A action or closure: Cloudian, Minio, Scality, Scale Computing, Stratoscale, Atlantis Computing, HyperGrid/Gridstore, Pure Storage, Tegile, Kaminario, Tintri, Nibmle Storage, Simplivity, Scale Computing, Primary Data, … We are pretty sure some of these name will not make it past 2017.

Open vStorage has already a couple of large projects lined up. 2017 sure looks promising for us.

The Hybrid cloud

Back from the dead like a phoenix. I expect a new live for the the hybrid cloud. Enterprises increasingly migrated to the public cloud in 2016 and this will only accelerate, both in speed and numbers. There are now 5 big clouds: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Google and Oracle.
But connecting these public cloud with in-house datacenter assets will be key. The gap between public and private clouds has never been smaller. AWS and VMware, 2 front runners, are already offering products to migrate between both solutions. Network infrastructure (performance, latency) is now finally also capable of turning the hybrid cloud into reality. Numerous enterprises will realise that going to the public cloud isn’t the only option for future infrastructure. I believe migration of storage and workloads will be one of the hottest features of Open vStorage in 2017. Hand in hand with the migration of workloads we will see the birth of various new storage as a service providers offering S3, secondary but also primary storage out of the public cloud.

On a side note, HPE (Helion), Cisco (Intercloud) and telecom giant Verizon closed their public cloud in 2016. It will be good to keep an eye out on these players to see what they are up to in 2017.

The end of Hyper-Convergence hype

In the storage market prediction for 2015 I predicted the rise of hyper-convergence. Hyper-converged solutions have lived up to their expectations and have become a mature software solution. I believe 2017 will mark a turning point for the hyper-convergence hype. Let’s sum up some reasons for the end of the hype cycle:

  • The hyper-converged market is mature and the top use cases have been identified: SMB environments, VDI and Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO).
  • Private and public clouds are becoming more and more centralised and large scale. More enterprises will come to understand that the one-size-fits-all and everything-in-a-single-box approach of hyper-converged systems doesn’t scale to a datacenter level. This is typically an area where hyper-converged solutions reach their limits.
  • The IT world works like a pendulum. Hyper-convergence brought flash as cache into the server as the latency to fetch data over the network was too high. With RDMA and round trip times of 10 usec and below, the latency of the network is no longer the bottleneck. The pendulum is now changing its direction as the so web-scalers, the companies on which the hyper-convergence hype is ented, want to disaggregate storage by moving flash out of each individual server into more flexible, centralized repositories.
  • Flash, Flash, Flash, everything is becoming flash. As stated earlier, the local flash device was used to accelerate slow SATA drives. With all-flash versions, these hyper-converged solutions go head to head with all-flash arrays.

One of the leaders of the hyper-converged pack has already started to move into the converged infrastructure direction by releasing a storage only appliance. It will be interesting to see who else follows.

With the new Fargo architecture which is designed for large scale, multi petabyte, multi datacenter environments, we already capture the next trend: meshed, hyper-aggregated architectures. The Fargo release supports RDMA, allows to built all-flash storage pools and incorporates a distributed cache across all flash in the datacenter. 100% future proof and ready to kickstart 2017.

PS. If you want to run Open vStorage hyper-converged, feel free to do so. We have componetized Open vStorage so you can optimize it for your use case: run everything in a single box or spread the components across different servers or even datacenters!

IoT storage lakes

More and more devices are connected to the internet. This Internet of Things (IoT) is posed to generate a tremendous amount of data. Not convinced? Intel research for example estimated that autonomous cars will produce 4 terabytes of data daily per car. These Big Data lakes need a new type of storage: storage which is ultra-scalable. Traditional storage is simply not suited to process this amount of storage. On top in 2017 we will see artificial intelligence increasingly being used to mine data in these lakes. This means the performance of the storage needs to able to serve real-time analytics. Since IoT device can be located anywhere in the world, geo-redundancy and geo-distribution are also required. Basically IoT use cases are a perfect match for the Open vStorage technology.

Some interesting fields and industries to follow are consumer goods (smart thermostats, IP cameras, toys, …), automotive and healthcare.

Seagate Kinetic Open Storage Project Plugfest

Open vStorage was invited to host a session during the Seagate Kinetic plugfest on Tuesday, September 20 to demo and discuss advances in Ethernet-connected storage. Kinetic is a drive architecture in which the drive is a key/value server with Ethernet connectivity. With Open vStorage we have created ALBA ASD software that mimics this key/value behaviour for normal SATA drives. Kinetic drives can of course also be used as archiving backend for an Open vStorage cluster.

Read more about the Kinetic Open Storage Project here.

Edge: HA, failure and the moving of volumes explained

edge HA FailoverOpen vStorage is designed to be rock solid and survive failures. These failures can come in many forms and shapes: nodes might die, network connections might get interrupted, … Let’s give an overview of the different tactics that are used by Open vStorage when disaster strikes by going over some possible use cases where the new edge plays a role.

Use case 1: A hypervisor fails

In case the hypervisor fails, the hypervisor management (OpenStack, vCenter, …) will detect the failure and restart the VM on another hypervisor. Since the VM is started on another hypervisor, the VM will talk to the edge client on the new hypervisor. The edge client will connect to a volume driver in the vPool and enquire which volume driver owns the disks of the VM. The volume driver responds who is the owner and the edge connects to the volume driver owning the volume. This all happens almost instantaneously and in the background so the the IO of the VM isn’t affected.

Use case 2: A Storage Router fails

In case a Storage Router and hence the volume driver on it die, the edge client automatically detects that the connection to the volume driver is lost. Luckily the edge keeps a list of volume drivers which also serve the vPool and it connects to one of the remaining volume drivers in the vPool. It is clear that the edge prefers to fail-over to a volume driver which is close-by f.e. within the same datacenter. The new volume driver to which the edge connects detects that it isn’t the owner of the volume. As the old volume driver is no longer online, the new volume driver steals the ownership of the VMs volume. Stealing is allowed in this case as the old volume driver is down. Once the new volume driver becomes the owner of the volumes, the edge client can start serving IO. This whole process process happens in the background and halts the IO of the VM for a fraction of a second.

Use case 3: Network issues

In some exceptional cases it isn’t the hypervisor or the storage router that fails but the network in between. This is an administrator’s worst nightmare as it might lead to split brain scenarios. Even in this case the edge is able to outlive the disaster. As the network connection between the edge and the volume driver is lost, the edge will assume the volume driver is dead. Hence, as in use case 2 the edge connects to another volume driver in the same vPool. The volume driver first tries to contact the old volume driver.

Now there are 2 options:

  • The new volume driver can contact the old volume driver. After some IO is exchanged the new volume driver asks the old volume driver to hand over the volume. This handover doesn’t impact the edge.
  • The new volume driver can also not contact the old volume driver. In that case old volume driver steals the volume from the old volume driver. It does this by updating the ownership of the volume in the distributed DB and by uploading a new key to the backend. As the ALBA backend uses a conditional write approach, it only writes the IO to disks of the backend if the accompanying key is valid, it can ensure only the new volume driver is allowed to write to the backend. If the old volume driver would still be online (split brain) and try to update the backend, the write would fail as it is using an outdated key.

IT Administrator – Fargo – Hot and fresh

IT Administrator Fargo - Heis und freshThe new Fargo release of Open vStorage is featured in the German IT Administrator magazine of December. The IT Administrator team did a deep dive of almost 5 pages into the new Fargo architecture and gave the new release a testdrive through Ansible and docker.

Open vStorage erhält mit dem neuen Fargo-Release eine völlig überarbeitete Architektur. Die quelloffene Storage-Umgebung macht sich den Shared-Memory-Ansatz zunutze und verspricht noch mehr Leistungsfähigkeit, eine bessere Performance und ein Höchstmaß an Sicherheit. Damit ist Open vStorage die ideale Lösung für Multi-Petabyte Multi-Datacenter Storage-Cluster – so sehen das zumindest die Entwickler.

Open vStorage opens up its API kimono

oai
With the Fargo release Open vStorage opens up its API kimono. In earlier versions of Open vStorage the API was something that was well hidden in the documentation section. As a result many of our integration partners had questions on how to use the API, what exactly was possible with the API or for example what the required parameters were to take a snapshot. It was clear for everyone that we had to give the API some more spotlight.

Why an API?

An API is especially important because it dictates how the developers of these integrators can create new apps, websites and services on top of the Open vStorage storage solution. A hosting provider has for example built an OpenStack-like GUI for its KVM + Open vStorage cluster. They create vDisks on Open vStorage directly from their GUI, take snapshots and even scrub the vDisks on demand. They are consuming every aspect of our API. During this integration it became clear that keeping our API documentation up to date was a challenge. The idea grew to make the API self-describing and browsable.

Open API

APIs come in many forms but some standards are crystallizing. Open vStorage follows the Open API specification (OAI). This specification is supported by some of the big names in the IT industry such as Google, Microsoft, IBM and PayPal. It also means some great open-source tools can be leveraged such as NSwag and Swagger UI. NSwag is a Swagger API toolchain for .NET, Web API and TypeScript (jQuery, AngularJS, Angular 2, Aurelia, KnockoutJS, and more). Swagger UI is a tool that dynamically generates beautiful documentation and a sandbox to play with straight from the browser.

Browsable API

To explore the Open vStorage API, download the Swagger UI , unzip the archive and serve the dist folder from either your file system or a web server.

Next, enter in the textbox https://[ip of the GUI]/api/swagger.json and press enter.

open-vstorage-api

You can now browse through the API. As an example you can verify which parameters are required to move a vDisk between Storage Routers.

open-vstorage-api-move-vdisk

One small, but important remark. Currently Swagger-UI doesn’t support OAuth2 yet. This means you can browse the API but you can’t execute API requests as these need to be authenticated.

Open vStorage Releases

release-managementSince Open vStorage is running in production at customers we need to carefully plan our releases as a small glitch might cause a disaster. For storage software there is a golden rule

If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!

With the release of Fargo RC1 we are entering a new cycle of intermediate releases and bugfixes. Once Fargo is GA we will push out a new update at regular intervals. Before installing an update customers like to know what is exactly fixed in a certain update. That is why for each release, even an intermediate release, the release notes are documented. Let’s take as an example the Fargo Release Candidate 1. This release consists out of following packages:

The content of each package e.g. the webapps package can be found on the appropriate repository (or you can click the link in the release notes). The release notes of the package contain a summary of all fixed issues in that exact package. In case you want to be kept up to date of new releases, add the the release page as RSS feed (https://github.com/openvstorage/home/releases.atom) to your favourite RSS Feed reader. If you prefer to be kept up to date by email, you can use Sibbell, Blogtrottr or a similar service.