Red Hat Gluster Storage leads the charge on persistent storage for containers

Offers choice of deployment configurations for containerized applications

By Irshad Raihan and Sayan Saha, Red Hat Storage

One of the key reasons software-defined storage has risen to fame over the past decade is the multiple aspects of agility it offers. As we move into the era of application-centric IT, microservices, and containers, agility isn’t just a good idea, it could mean the difference between survival and extinction.

Agility in a container-centric datacenter

As we covered in a recent webinar, Red Hat Gluster Storage offers unique value to developers and administrators looking for a storage solution that is not only container-aware but serves out storage for containerized applications natively.

One critical aspect of agility offered by Red Hat Storage is that the storage can be deployed in a number of configurations in relation to the hardware where the containers reside. This allows architects to choose the best configuration that makes the most sense for their particular situation and yet allows them to transition to a different configuration with minimal impact to applications.

Dedicated, scale-out storage for containerized applications

If you’re a storage admin looking to provide a stand-alone storage volume to applications running in containers, Red Hat Gluster Storage can expose a mount point so your applications have access to a durable, distributed storage cluster.

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In this configuration, the Red Hat Gluster Storage installation runs in an independent cluster (either on premise or in one of the supported public clouds: Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud Platform) and is accessed over the network from a platform like Red Hat OpenShift.

Red Hat OpenShift — optimized to run containerized applications and workloads — ships with the appropriate Gluster storage plugins necessary to make this configuration work out of the box.

Container-native storage: Persistent storage for containers with containers

In another deployment configuration, you can run containerized Red Hat Gluster Storage inside Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform. Red Hat Gluster Storage containers are orchestrated using Kubernetes, OpenShift’s container orchestrator like any other application container.

The storage container (Kubernetes pod) pools and serves out local or direct-attached storage from hosts (to be consumed by application containers for their persistent storage needs), offering Gluster’s rich set of enterprise-class storage features, data services, and data-protection capabilities for applications and microservices running in OpenShift.

Exactly one privileged Red Hat Gluster Storage container is instantiated per host as a Kubernetes pod. As a user, you benefit from being able to deploy enterprise-grade storage using a workflow that is consistent with their application orchestration, use a converged (compute + storage) deployment model, and can choose storage-intensive nodes (hosts with local or direct-attached storage) within a cluster for deploying storage containers, optionally collocated with application containers.

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This solution, known as container-native storage, currently generally available from Red Hat, leverages an open source project named Heketi. contributed by Luis Pabón (one of the speakers on the recent webinar). Heketi is a RESTful volume manager that allows for programmatic volume allocation and provides the glue necessary to manage multiple Gluster volumes across clusters, thereby allowing Kubernetes to provision storage without being limited to a single Red Hat Gluster Storage cluster.

Heketi enhances the user experience of dynamically managing storage, whether it’s via the API or as a developer working in the OpenShift Container Platform, and runs as a container itself inside OpenShift in the container-native storage solution, providing a service endpoint for Gluster. As a storage administrator, you no longer need to manage or configure bricks, disks, or trusted storage pools. The Heketi service will manage all hardware for you, enabling it to allocate storage on demand. Any disks registered with Heketi must be provided in raw format, which will then be managed by it using LVM on the disks provided.

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This is a key differentiator for Red hat Gluster Storage. As far as we can tell, no other storage vendor can provide this flavor of container-native storage, and certainly not with the level of integration provided with OpenShift Container Platform. As a number of early adopters have told us, it’s invaluable to have a single point of support all the way up from the operating system layer, to orchestration, app dev, and storage.

Stay tuned — ’cause we’re not done

We’re working hard to continue to innovate to make a much more seamless experience for developers and administrators alike to manage storage in a containerized environment.

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We’ve delivered a number of industry-first innovations over the past year and will continue to focus on enabling a seamless user experience for developers and administrators looking to adopt containers as the preferred deployment platform. Stay tuned.

Storage appliances take cover!

New performance and sizing guidance on Red Hat Gluster Storage with QCT hardware

By Will McGrath, Partner Marketing, Red Hat Storage

I’m an oldest sibling. They say the traits of the oldest include being mature and dependable, while rebellion and excitement are often characteristics of the youngest. Think of the Prodigal Son parable.

Brothers in arms

On the surface, it’s possible to draw a parallel to the Red Hat Storage products. Red Hat Gluster Storage was the first product in Red Hat’s quiver. Distributed, POSIX­-compatible, scale-out file storage software, Gluster has added several modern architectural features over the years — geo­-replication, erasure coding, bit rot detection, self healing and tiering, to mention a few.

Ceph was recently (April 2014) added to the portfolio and garnered attention as the new kid on the block, but also partly because it addresses the rapidly growing object storage market and has been the most preferred platform for OpenStack1. As younger siblings often do, Ceph tends to hog the spotlight.

This week, elder sibling Red Hat Gluster Storage made a statement about its maturity in the marketplace and open source community, while also reinforcing the message around choice that Red Hat’s software-defined storage portfolio offers to customers.

New performance and sizing guide for Gluster

QCT (Quanta Cloud Technology), whose parent company, Quanta Computer, Inc., is probably the least-known leading server vendor in the world, has worked with Red Hat to produce the industry’s first Red Hat Gluster Storage Performance and Sizing Guide.

QCT and Red Hat have performed extensive testing to characterize optimized configurations for deploying Red Hat Gluster Storage on several QCT servers, with the goal of providing a highly prescriptive recommendation to end customers on how best to tailor storage to the demands of their workloads.

A slew of different configuration options were tested:

  • Small, medium, and large file operations
  • Standard and dense server chassis
  • JBOD vs. RAID6 storage layouts
  • Replicated and dispersed (erasure coding) volumes
  • SSD tiering vs. non­-tiering
  • Self-­healing with different cluster sizes

QCT has gone a step beyond co­-producing the 34­-page joint performance and sizing guide and created single SKUs, to make ordering much easier for cost/capacity­-optimized and throughput­-optimized configurations.

The following diagram highlights QCT’s naming convention:

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(Note: You can find more details on QCT’s part-number variants in Appendix A of the Performance and Sizing Guide on the QCT website).

The performance and sizing guide and ready-to-­order SKUs from QCT go a long way in cementing the market and thought leadership of open, software-defined storage in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Sister, sister!

While the new performance and sizing guide represents significant value to customers curious about the best server configurations for a particular workload, it also serves as a data point in the overarching message about the ability to control the very guts of enterprise storage, something that traditional appliances generally cannot offer.

Gluster has made waves recently, as a significantly lower cost alternative to EMC Isilon for certain workloads and for being supported within multiple public clouds.

While Gluster has gained traction in the press as providing persistent file storage for containers in Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform, Ceph enjoys its status as the preferred block storage platform for OpenStack private cloud builders. Each has their own niche, strengths, and, more important, their own tribe. Gluster and Ceph as upstream open source communities are vibrant and, like young siblings, growing at different rates. Gluster is a larger community (with a larger customer base), while Ceph is growing faster.

Needless to say, they are both equally loved by the Red Hat family, and continue to enjoy strong engineering and marketing focus, to help customers build world-class storage for their applications.

1OpenStack User Survey (April 2016)