Scality introduces new 3-server HPE Apollo configurations for lower entry point

The new configurations were facilitated by some of the enhancements in the new Scality RING 7.4 software, which has improving ease of use as its primary focus.

The RING 7.4 Supervisor Management Portal

Scality, which makes petabyte-scale software-defined storage for scale-out file and object storage, has announced the 7.4 release of their RING software. This is a Long Term Support release, the final one before RING 8.0 comes out later this year. This release also helped to enable a key solution upgrade – the availability of new 3-server configurations for HPE Apollo server platforms.

While traditional Scality customers like content distribution companies and service providers are unlikely to find the 3 server option an attractive one, because they tend to be larger and typically start deployments at 6 TB and up, a strong market has emerged for these smaller server configurations. They both provide a lower entry point for this type of solution, and meet the demands of specific types of customers.

We are seeing a need for smaller servers in new markets like health care,” said Paul Speciale, Scality’s Chief Product Officer. “The market for this kind of solution used to be verticals like media and entertainment, as well as service providers. Now we are being deployed for medical imaging and health care, and the entry point for hospitals is often 500 TB or 1 PB. In addition, enterprise private clouds often start with a specific use case, like backing up their Oracle database, which is a typical initial use case. We typically expand from that, as customers move to other things like their SQL database as well. Seven of the eight largest banks are customers, and they bring us in for one use case, and then typically add more use cases later.”

The new 3-server configurations specifically address this demand. All of Scality’s OEM partners will be able to deploy them, and Cisco will soon be announcing a new integration with their UCS servers, but the HPE relationship, around the Apollo servers, is the most critical. That’s because the HPE relationship is more critical to Scality than the others.

“HPE is our lead horse,” Speciale said. “They are more important to our go-to-market strategy, and we have a deeper level of integration with them than we do with the others.”

Speciale said that the reduction in the entry point to three Apollo servers is also big news for HPE.

“They have a vested interest with what we are doing, and are very excited about bringing this to market,” he said. “We saw six Apollos as a minimum before, and at the entry level, the cost of that would be an issue. To meet the price point, customers would  sometimes strip SSDs or reduce the RAM – not the right answers.”

RING 7.4 adds a new simplified installer, which helps address this issue.

“The challenge in software-only is you don’t get to pre-deploy, so deployments used to take a day or more,” Speciale said. “The new installer makes that easier, and drives it from a central console, doing everything from end-to-end to bootstrap the environment. It means you now have end-to-end deployment time of an hour, as well as a simplified deployment. Supporting 3-server configurations requires the simplified installer. With it, we can run it on three servers. The fault tolerance changes a bit with three servers, but that’s pretty much it.”

Scality’s deeper integration with HPE has led to other enhancements which will be available in the new configurations.

“We have done a lot of work with them on the management of the Apollo platform within our interface,” Speciale said. “Before, what was missing was the management of everything under one umbrella. Over the last nine months we have engaged in an initiative to manage things much more deeply. We have gone deeper on integrating with them with things like their ILO remote server management tools. That depth of integration is unique to our relationship with HPE.”

The other elements of RING 7.4, like the new installer, are also aimed at improving ease of use.

“We now have this proven platform and we are putting all our energies into making it easy,” Speciale said. “That’s the net of this release.”

The new installer provides additional ease of use benefits.

“We automate deployment across all the clusters with Saltstack,” Speciale said. “A big learning lesson was to check everything. It does all these automated checks in a few minutes, so it doesn’t take three hours to tell the user that something is wrong

The RING Supervisor Management Portal has also been simplified.

“It now shows all things under one umbrella, include unified management of file services and S3,” Speciale said. “We have added a new S3 service management console for multitenancy, which will allow service providers to stand up new accounts.” The UI now enables private labelling, so Scality partners and service providers can rebrand if they wish. A new integrated data browser responds to complaints that it had been a pain to create data in the browser.

“Another feedback-prompted change is that the documentation is now built right in,” Speciale indicated. “Before, it was PDFs.”

Speciale also provided a preview of what’s ahead in RING 8.0 later this year.

“There isn’t a button in the UI yet to do software updates – that’s something you do externally now, but which we will bring into the console,” he said. “We will also bring firmware updates into the server. We will also have unified installation for multi-site developments, and we will do more work on provisioning workflows, especially for the public cloud.” HPE ILO APIs will also be integrated into the Supervisor Management Portal.