We have recently embarked on a journey into Object Storage at vBridge. When I say recently – it has been bubbling behind the scenes for quite some time. From an initial ‘it’s a no-brainer’, to assessing all the options, to developing a business case, to working through the details and finally building a production ready platform there were a lot of steps to go through.
It’s a no-brainer
This is how we started out. vBridge successfully run performance Block Storage on Pure Flash Arrays and 3Par 8440. We also run high performance NAS on DellEMC Isilon platforms. So, running Object storage as just another solution. The intrinsic advantages for our own internal backups, Veeam O365 backups, plus potential for all the enterprise apps that can be configured with Object backends. Everything from Content distribution to high performance analytics, machine learning and AI.
Assessing all the options
Right – so there is Object and there is Object. There are the public cloud options on AWS, Azure, Wasabi etc. Do we just resell someone else’s solution? Where is the value add in that? Would we put our name and reputation on someone else’s service? How would we fix or provide support when something goes wrong?
When it comes to product, there’s a list as long as your arm, ranging from full software solution, commercial and open source, through to dedicated hardware.
What would be right for us?
Cutting a long story short (and this was a very long story), we came up with a few key must haves for vBridge.
1) We must be able to run it in country to provide appropriate data sovereignty for our customers.
2) We must be able to fully support the solution ourselves.
3) Must be able to provide a fully multi- tenant solution without jumping through hoops.
4) Must be able to support in place upgrades, expansions, replacements of nodes/disks/components etc. All without major project work. i.e these are all Operational Tasks
5) Must be fully AWS S3 compatible.
6) Long life loose fit….
Number 5 really narrowed the field down, as a Veeam Partner, being able to leverage Object Lock was a defining solution.
Number 6 is key with Object. There is so much we can use this technology for. From Tape Replacement and Backups (cheap and deep), right through to Analytics (high performance), we need a solution that changes over time to fit our needs.
Developing a business case
Not many outfits invest into a new technology without a strong business case and vBridge is no exception. And to be honest this one was probably the hardest steps. Cloud providers like AWS and Wasabi, provide a service at such a low cost* that the market rate for a service needs to be appropriate for the market.
Plus a lot of the “it can do this” vs “but our customers are not asking for that today” meant that the business case for us was driven purely on the internal use case for supporting our existing Veeam O365 backup product. The operational burden of managing the block storage behind that platform and it’s unprecedented data growth, meant we had to do something.
We also needed a solution that could run on existing hardware storage assets today – but grow flexibly into the future, onto whatever hardware was most appropriate. Whether that be for backup storage or higher performing analytics.
And the winner is……
Operationally simpler than rolling out our own on top of Ceph or MinIO. Functionally we can add and replace nodes as needed.
Full API driven so we can replicate our requirements and provision automatically via our in house (multi-award winning) portal MyCloudSpace (MCS).
Fully S3 compliant. As close to the AWS S3 spec as you are going to get.
Runs on hardware/appliance, or as Software only, including as Virtual Machines.
We can reuse our existing storage assets, and then replace or expand as the platform grows. Mix and match virtual machines, dedicated hardware or appliances. Spinning rust or All flash, it’s our choice.
Building out the production platform
I’ll not go into so many details here, as this may have some level of commercial sensitivity, but deploying into production was as easy as building the devtest environment.
As a VMware VSPP Partner we could leverage the Cloudian/VMware partnership to shift the software licensing to an opex model paying for what we need as we go along.
vBridge now have a production ready platform which we are using for internal workloads. It’s just a matter of time before the Storage-as-a-Service product is ready. Contact us if you would like early access to kick the tyres……
* apart from egress traffic costs, io operation costs. i.e all the ‘hidden’ cloud provider costs.