Ubuntu Advantage Storage FAQs



on 18 May 2015

Tags: Storage, UAS

  • I have regular hardware – drives, servers and networking – for a storage cluster, ready for deployment. Can I use Ubuntu Advantage Storage?

    Definitely. In fact, that’s the primary use case Ubuntu Advantage Storage is aimed at; our commercially supported scale-out software stacks are ready for deployment onto a cluster of commodity server nodes. Ubuntu Advantage Storage can adapt to your present infrastructure and grow as you add more capacity and processing power, with cost incrementally scaling according to how much data is actually being stored.

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  • Previously, Canonical included 64TB of software-defined storage support in the Cloud Availability Zone offering. Is that still the case?

    We have made a slight change to that offering: with the introduction of Ubuntu Advantage Storage, a new Storage Proof-of-Concept (PoC) plan, which can be used for up to 64TB of storage support in non-production scenarios, is being offered at no extra cost to Cloud Availability Zone customers. Contact us to discuss whether your deployment qualifies for the PoC plan.

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  • Why is Canonical offering storage plans based only on what you use, and not total capacity, or per-node?

    Canonical wants to see open source technologies such as Ceph and Swift gain higher adoption, and believes increasing demand for storage will lead everyone to profit in the long run from lower software costs and the use of commodity hardware. As leading providers of a portfolio of software-defined technologies — not just storage — we believe we can more than make up for the lower margin in sheer volume of deployment.

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  • Branded NAS and SAN storage vendors say they can scale to greater levels than Ceph. Is this true?

    While it may be possible to assemble proprietary solutions that match or beat software-defined storage performance, it is difficult to challenge the $/GB scalability of a solution based on open source and commodity hardware. For petabyte-sized deployments and beyond, SDS is the only model which will allow for almost indefinite horizontal scaling and cost savings through scale-out architecture and dramatically simpler hardware requirements.

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  • Can I use Swift stand alone without installing OpenStack?

    Yes. Swift can definitely be used as a standalone object store, just like Ceph can, and indeed this is how companies like Ebay and Pac-12 Networks have deployed object storage services for their internal applications. Object storage is special in that applications need to be specifically designed to write to them, but they are unbeatable in terms of ease of integration — they essentially allow storing any data blob, getting back an identifier for it — and scalability.

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  • Does Ubuntu Advantage Storage include actual storage hardware and disk drives?

    No, it is a software solution, including packaged software, 24×7 enterprise support and tooling for Ceph and Swift deployed on Ubuntu. Ubuntu Advantage Storage is intended to be used with commodity hardware such as what is provided by our partners HP, Dell and Quanta; contact us to discuss a complete infrastructure specification to meet your storage requirements.

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  • Are you planning on including other storage technologies in the Ubuntu Advantage Storage portfolio?

    Yes! We are currently evaluating additional technologies and functionality for inclusion in supported configurations of Ubuntu Advantage Storage. Stay tuned for future announcements of other storage servers and their availability of support services.

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  • What technology should I use for shared file storage?

    Network-shared file storage has historically been delivered in a scale-up model, the domain of NAS appliances and standalone servers; in fact, horizontally scaling NFS and SMB/CIFS has been practically unacheivable without proprietary extensions until recent developments in NFS v4.1 and SMB3. The current support in Ceph for filesystem sharing is still considered experimental. The bottom line is that none of the current scale-out technologies for file storage are mature enough for supported deployment on Ubuntu. However, as noted above, that will change in the near future, so watch this space.

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  • If I am running a storage cluster, do I need to buy Ubuntu Advantage in addition to Ubuntu Advantage Storage to be covered by Canonical’s 24×7 support?

    No, and this is a key differentiator of Ubuntu Advantage Storage. Support for Ubuntu at the operating-system level, specifically for the storage stack running on cluster nodes, is included in the metered price. Note this offer does not extend to arbitrary application software that may be installed by administrators onto the storage nodes beyond what is defined in our reference architecture.

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  • How does Ubuntu Advantage Storage compare to low-cost open-source scale-out storage service offerings from other vendors?

    Scale-out storage is hot, and many vendors are proposing their solutions. To fairly evaluate Ubuntu Advantage Storage against alternative solutions, it’s worth considering 5 key aspects:

    1. Pricing is based on content rather than capacity or number of nodes. Considering the fact that most scale-out storage solutions by default record at least three replicas of each block or object, equivalent capacity-based pricing would be less than a third of our base per-gigabyte price.
    2. Multiple storage technologies are available under the same offering. You can select the best technology for your use case without worrying about re-estimating your costs & capacities, or being locked into a storage stack later. Started with Ceph but found out that your use case is better suited to Swift? No problem! We’ll help port your data across while you continue enjoying the level of service afforded by Ubuntu Advantage Storage.
    3. The OS support cost is built in. Ubuntu Advantage Storage doesn’t require an additional per-node license or support fee, which makes it incredibly cheap to start, and keeps it cheaper as you grow to dozens or hundreds of nodes.
    4. We support more than just Intel x86. We believe that storage truly lends itself to architectural optimizations aiming for higher throughput, lower power and optimal cost. That’s why, along with x86, we build in first-class support for a variety of ARM-based systems (both 32 and 64-bit) and IBM’s Power8.
    5. We are the standard cloud operating system. Ubuntu’s quality and business model have made it the most deployed operating system in modern cloud deployments. The latest Ceph survey puts Ubuntu as the #1 OS (at 38%) deployed, and the OpenStack survey has had Ubuntu in the #1 spot since its first edition — the latest survey shows a whopping 89% of production environments on Ubuntu.

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