So aaaages ago I downloaded and played with the community edition of NexentaStor – one of the real early software defined storage (SDS) technologies. And I remember being pretty excited…. I mean, at the time, SDS was still in its primordial state, and here was a free-to-download working product! What was there not to get excited about!
Anyway… I played around with it in the lab and eventually lost interest. There just didn’t seem to be enough happening with the company or the product. There’s a lot more to the software defined storage puzzle than a single product. And to be honest, I expected Nexenta to have disappeared by now.
Well……. they haven’t disappeared. I actually met with them last week when I attended Storage Field Day in San Jose. And I’ve gotta say that they’ve been rockin’ it on the innovation front…. Some of which I like, and some of which….. well…… I’m not so sure about…..
DISCLAIMER: Nexenta were one of 8 companies that sponsored my travel and other expenses. But if you think that’ll influence what I say about them, feel free to go and darked the door of some other website.
Oh… they also gave me a pair of bright orange shoes… which I promptly donated to Housekeeping at the hotel 😀
Anyway… it seems they’ve been busy trying to plug the gaps in their story…
NexentaStor – Proper SDS
This is their original software defined storage product. And its proper software defined storage – totally abstracted form the underlying hardware. Wanna run it on Dell, HP, Supermicro… not a problem. Hell, you could probably run it on a Raspberry Pi. Wanna have a full SSD backend…. no probs. Wanna have a hybrid backend… no problemo. Wanna have an all-spinning backend…. well…. that’s a bit last-year IMO, but go knock yourself out!
Anyway… it’s scale-up ZFS-based, does FC, iSCSI and file protocols on the front-end, and supports HA. And it can run on Linux, VMware, and Xen. Not too shabby!
And one of the things I love about it ….. there’s a free community edition – meaning I can get up close and personal with it in the lab at home!
But that’s been around for ages… what’s this innovation stuff I mentioned earlier?
NexentaConnect – Adding SMB and NFS to VMware VSAN
Now I gotta say I’m not sold on this one….
While visiting with them, they demo’d NexentaConnect for VMware Virtual SAN. And I just don’t *get it*.
So what is it? Well…. it’s an additional layer on top of VSAN that provides file protocols like NFS and SMB.
And I totally *get* that VSAN is currently block only, and a bunch of VSAN customers would probably love file protocols as well. But…… I’ve got a few questions and concerns –
- How will the commercials work? Surely customers will need VSAN licenses plus NexentaEdge licenses….
- I also wonder how long before VMware start supporting file protocols either natively out of VSAN or via their own extensions.
- And finally… I just think playing with VMware in the SDS space is gonna get a bunch of vendors burned. The way I see it, VMware clearly wants SDS money flowing into their own pockets, and not their partners. They want their cake and they want to eat it, and who can blame them!
NexentaEdge – Scale-out Object Storage
Now this one’s interesting… or at leat it will be when it finally ships.
NexentaEdge is a scale-out shared-nothing object store that uses key/value hard drives (think Seagate Kinetic). It’s got a true cluster-wide global dedupe namespace, and will support S3 and OpenStack Swift. It’ll support object-based replication, and like most object stores, replication operates an eventual consistency model. And its all software! And if that doesn’t get you excited then you’re reading the wrong website!
UPDATE: Enrico Signoretti pointed out that NexentaEdge is not based on ZFS. Ooops! NexentaStor is….
Now like everything at Nexenta… it’s based on ZFS. To me, that says rock solid, strong data integrity, native data efficiency technologies, and quick time to market. And interestingly, it runs on Linux!
Now then…. they touted NexentaEdge as primarily an object store. But it’s got an iSCSI front-end, and it’s not too difficult to see this potentially replacing NexentaStor as a scale-out shared-nothing software defined storage solution for traditional block storage requirements. Just my opinion, but it’s certainly not a crazy idea.
Anyway, while NexentaEdge sounds cool….. it’s not GA yet!
NexentaFusion – Orchestration and Analytics
So they didn’t demo this while I was there – or if they did I’d fallen asleep – and it’s also not GA yet. So I won’t comment other than to say any software defined data center needs this component. But right now it’s nothing more than slideware as far as Im concerned – I haven’t seen it and it’s not GA.
I can’t accuse them of not having enough happening any more. And suddenly they look a bit more interesting.
Though we’ll see how good the stuff actually is when it ships!
NexentaStor is decent, but looking a bit long in the tooth now. I’ve no issue with scale-up (there are definitely uses case where it works) but I think the future is based on scale-out.
If they deliver good products with NexentaEdge and NexentaFusion then they’ll have a strong story. But that’s a huge *IF* at the moment!!! There’s competition out there and they need a better way to get their message out… make more people aware of who they are and what they do!
One last thing… I certainly hope they’ll be offering community editions of more than just NexentaStor!