The Über of Storage Solutions, ScaleIO

Jonathan Kowall

by Jonathan Kowall

By now the concept of coupling servers together to form 100% software based SAN has become known to the virtualization world.  Whether its vSAN from VMware or the storage layer in a hyper-converged stack, the system is using software to define, organize, and manage the data.  But in the past year there is a new player in this space and it does not just work in a virtualization environment it works in any Windows, Linux, and VMware environment.

If you read that right you could take a bunch of physical Windows hosts and create a virtual SAN then extend that into your Linux KVM (i.e. OpenStack) or VMware ESX environment.  You can share the storage, share the performance, or burst for a short time then shrink back down.  Pretty friggin’ sweet if you ask me.

The product, ScaleIO.  The purpose:

  • Elasticity
  • Scalability
  • Convergence
  • Performance

ScaleIO, by EMC, is block storage built on any commodity x86 hardware and compatible with any Ethernet network.  It’s a modular software defined storage stack.  There are 3 modules: data server, data client, and metadata manager.  Each module is independent of the other so they can be installed on different servers or shared all together on the same device.  That creates some great flexibility for how ScaleIO can be deployed but also gives you some outstanding flexibility when you need elasticity.  ScaleIO also provides some of the enterprise class features you are used to seeing in traditional storage arrays such as data protection, high availability, linear scaling (up & down!), snapshots, and quality of service.  All of that with REST API, OpenStack support, and if you want, a simple intuitive GUI.

Here is a quick example of a 2-layer approach.  Clients on one layer and servers on the other, massively parallel communication over a standard Ethernet network:

Just like when you need a car you can quickly hit the Über app on your phone and call a car, now you can do that in your data center with storage. Need a little bit of flash on a bogged down server, add the data client and go.