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Software is made at the intersection of Technology and Management.

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Storage for Data Platforms in 10 minutes

OpenStack Summit Banner

Kyle Bader and I teamed up to deliver a quick (and hopefully painless) review of what types of storage your Big Data strategy needs to succeed alongside the better-understood (and more traditional) existing approaches to structured data.

Data platform engineers need to receive support from both the Compute and the Storage infrastructure teams to deliver. We look at how the public cloud, and Amazon AWS in particular, tackle these challenges and what are the equivalent technology strategies in OpenStack and Ceph.

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Tradeoffs between IO latency, availability of storage space, cost and IO performance lead to storage options fragmenting into three broad solution areas: network-backed persistent block, application-focused object storage (also network based), and directly-attached low-latency NVME storage for highest-performance scratch and overflow space.

Ideally, the infrastructure...

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How to Survive an OpenStack Cloud Meltdown with Ceph

Los Tres Caballeros —sans sombreros— descended on Vancouver this week to participate in the “Rocky” OpenStack Summit. For the assembled crowd of clouderati, Sébastien Han, Sean Cohen and yours truly had one simple question: what if your datacenter was wiped out in its entirety, but your users hardly even noticed?

How to Survive an OpenStack Cloud Meltdown with Ceph

We have touched on the disaster recovery theme before, but this time we decided to discuss backup as well as HA, which made for a slightly longer talk than we had planned—we hope you enjoyed our “choose your disaster” tour, we definitely enjoyed leading it.

Tiering to AWS roadmap

The recording of our OpenStack Summit session is now live on the OpenStack Foundation’s YouTube channel. It is impressive how quickly the Foundation’s media team releases now:

Our slides are available as a PDF and can be viewed inline below — we are including our backup slides, so you can find out what we could have...

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Crypto Unleashed

Cryptography made easy…er

Cryptography does not have to be mysterious — as author of Serious Cryptography Jean-Philippe Aumasson points out. It is meant to be fiendishly complex to break, and it remains very challenging to implement (see jokes on rolling your own crypto found all over the Net), but it is well within the grasp of most programmers to understand.

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While many are intimidated by the prospect of digging into what is effectively a branch of number theory, the reality is that cryptography is squarely based in discrete mathematics—and good coders are all, without exception and often unknowingly, natural discrete math jugglers. If you are interested and you aced your data structures course, chances are that crypto will not be an unsurmountable challenge to you. Aumasson certainly seems to think so, and he walks us along his own path to the discovery of the cryptographic realm.

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A Luminous Release

The third one is a charm.

The Luminous upstream logo

RHCS 3 is our annual major release of Red Hat Ceph Storage and it brings great new features to customers in the areas of containers, usability and raw technology horsepower. It includes support for CephFS, giving us a complete all-in-one storage solution in Ceph spanning block, object and file alike. It introduces iSCSI support to provide storage to platforms like VMWare ESX and Windows Server that currently lack native Ceph drivers. And we are also introducing support for client-side caching with dm-cache.

On the usability front we are introducing new automation to manage the cluster with less user intervention (dynamic bucket sharding), a troubleshooting tool to analyze and flag invalid cluster configurations (Ceph Medic), and a new and rather impressive monitoring dashboard (Ceph Metrics) that brings unparalleled insight into the state of the cluster.

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Finding UX in the Trash

The point of UX is making things effortless

I usually resist sharing at large my opinions on how to make software, out of some impostor syndrome nonsense modesty thing. But this was too much fun not to write it up and share with you all.

User experience is key to the success of any software product today. Yet I find that too many folks in our industry do not really understand what UX truly is. Let’s set aside software for a minute, and illustrate this with an example from a lofty place.

 Trash Talk

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This trash bin was clearly designed by a well-meaning engineer. It accounts for every possibility… and it makes you play 10 questions every time you approach it. Are the forks compostable? Yes, turns out they are in this building. As in all cases where UX is involved, the point is not that saving the environment (or getting your network settings right) is not worth the effort. The point...

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Low-cost Linux Clusters

Hardware hacking 101 returns to MIT’s BLU

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After a year of inadvertent absence from my favorite Linux user group (turns out that taking over the world with Software-Defined Storage is time consuming!), I returned to BLU to review my newest Linux cluster designs.

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I reviewed design options for four clusters using x86 and 64-bit ARM processors housed in systems with a range of prices but with an eye to accomplish each objective with the minimum dollar cost: OpenStack cluster, Docker cluster, Ceph storage cluster and a Raspberry PI cluster — because of course everyone must have a Raspberry PI cluster! More seriously, it is actually a really useful lower-bound for minimal cluster cost.

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We looked at the design considerations that went into each design, spanning from four nodes to twelve, and from $150 to $3,495-ish, and inspected on stage the hardware of the two clusters I managed to...

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Choosing the right storage for your OpenStack cloud

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Choosing a storage solution for OpenStack is an interesting problem, and it reflects the complexity of a choice that reflects across the entire design of your cloud.

I was honored to be able to share Red Hat’s views on the matter in a very well attended webinar this week.

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My colleagues Rahul Vijayan and Sadique Puthen have introduced a rational and systematic way to examine the myriad of storage options available to an OpenStack designer, and to rapidly zero-in on the most appropriate ones for the cloud in question. I was privileged with the opportunity to present this method to our online audience today.

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The webinar’s recording is available online for on-demand listening, and we are making the slides available as well. We are hoping you can make quicker, more informed choices with this well-organized approach.

We encourage you to go through the design principles for OpenStack...

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Catastrophe Hits Your Datacenter – But Users Don’t Notice

Many large, network-dependent organizations are deploying OpenStack together with Red Hat Ceph Storage because they are inherently highly available solutions.

What if you lost your datacenter completely in a catastrophe, but your users hardly noticed?

Sounds like a mirage, but it’s absolutely possible, and major datacenters with high demand for full availability are already accomplishing this.

 Redefining Disaster Recovery

When most companies talk about disaster recovery, they’re referring to backing up their data and how quickly they can restore it if something goes wrong. Their strategy depends on how much downtime their operations can tolerate, balanced against the cost of restoring full function. A business’ tolerance for data loss is codified by the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) targets it set in its data protection plan, specifying how much...

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It’s Hammer Time

I am happy to announce our latest Hammer release of Red Hat Ceph Storage, minor release 3 — also known as 1.3.3. This release rebases to the latest upstream 0.94.9, and we are quite proud to say we accomplished this in just 30 days, combining quality and speedy delivery in one swift, tentacular package. Our newest release is immediately available, both ISOs and repositories, for either RHEL 7.2 or Ubuntu 14.04.

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This release resolves 62 bugs and known issues, and solidifies 1.3 as “old reliable” in our supported release lineup. While 1.3 is barely 15 months old and not even halfway through its lifecycle, in the fast-moving world of Software-Defined-Storage the state of the art is now defined by the new shiny RHCS 2 we shipped just four weeks ago — If you are new to Ceph, I recommend you start there or with upstream Jewel.

 What’s new

First of all, we have a moderate severity security...

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Jewels of Distributed Storage

OpenStack Days NYC, Operators Midcycle and Red Hat Ceph Storage 2.0

Today, while I was enjoying the keynotes of old friends at OpenStack Days New York City, the Ceph team at Red Hat was hard at work releasing RHCS 2.0 — the most significant update to Red Hat Ceph Storage since we acquired Inktank in 2014.

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 Geographic distribution

Ceph is inherently highly available — you could lose a disk, a host, even a rack of storage with the certainty that your data is safely replicated in at least two other places. Ceph’s synchronous nature is a further guarantee: write operations do not return until all three copies have been committed to disk. Like all engineering decisions, this comes with a tradeoff: Ceph is sensitive to network latency as a result of its conservative design. This makes a stretch cluster configuration, where multiple racks of hardware belonging to the same logical cluster...

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