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Stacking up Storage With XtremIO

Stacking up Storage With XtremIO
Eric Wright, vExpert, Cisco Champion

With all of the heat on OpenStack now that it has just recently celebrated its 4th birthday, we are seeing more vendors moving in to support the open cloud juggernaut. EMC has done just that to join other enterprise storage vendors in creating drivers for the OpenStack block storage project, Cinder.

Where Does SDS Belong?

You may recall that we recently talked about the battle over the placement of SDS responsibilities in the OpenStack Cinder ecosystem. There are many opinions on whether the abstraction of scale-out storage and features should be in the Cinder core, or within the vendor specific driver only.

My view is that this is really a choice that will be specific to each situation. There are certainly features that should be shared features that are held close to the source which means that they belong at the vendor driver level. There are also some features that are appropriate to move into the core to allow for better performance, scalability, and breadth of support for block storage platforms.

Of course, there are already challenges in the discussion around whether LVM is the appropriate default for Cinder. This is another whole conversation to itself.

EMC and Open Source?

This is something that many regard as a new area for EMC. Long regarded as one of the traditional big-metal vendors, there have been historical challenges in getting content being developed by EMC to move into an open source environment.

Nick Weaver was an early proponent of this sort of work while he was at EMC. The Razor project was one of the most notable projects that was heavily supported from EMC staffers, yet was allowed (somewhat grudgingly) to be open sourced.

Since that time, EMC has dabbled more in the open source arenas. The move to provide a more feature-rich driver for the XtremIO platform when backing an OpenStack Cinder environment is a clear nod to the broader acceptance of open source as a development methodology in the EMC camp.

OpenStack is the New Black

Some are still calling it a trend, but I am sure that the same was said of once upstart virtualization provider VMware. Admittedly, there are some growing pains in the OpenStack ecosystem in general, and those are being worked on. At only 4 years since initial launch, the fact that the system is supported by so many developers and contributing companies is a clear indication that it is no flash in the pan.

EMC has done the right thing by extending their platform support into OpenStack. There are very few people who would counter that statement.

What’s in the Box?

The question that people will ask of course is “what’s in the driver?” which is important. All of the features that you would expect are available including standard options like create and delete volume, attach and detach volume and more.

One of the exciting features is that the clone volume operation will leverage the de-duplication and thin provisioning in the XtremeIO software layer which eliminates load or sprawl on the actual capacity of the array.

When Can We Get it?

This is the real question. EMC had a press release on July 8th that indicated the OpenStack Cinder driver will be available this quarter. It is both good and bad that the driver features are announced, but of course there is always the “vaporware” label that gets attached to pre-launch announcements.

Regardless of the wait for availability this is a good announcement that will help to enable more EMC customers to leverage OpenStack as a platform, and it may also entice OpenStack customers to delve into EMC storage as an option.

Itzik Reich has done a nice write up on the XtremIO integration with OpenStack Cinder here which is a great read.

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