Cloud firm snubs mainstream suppliers for Nexenta storage software

LeaseWeb snubs HP, IBM and NetApp to build public cloud services on NexentaStor software using commodity servers with SAS and SSDs

Holland-based LeaseWeb has opted for storage software from Nexenta on commodity hardware as a platform for its cloud computing platform. The company chose Nexenta over HP, IBM, NetApp and open source storage products for the project, which saw it implement 450TB at datacentres in Holland, Germany and the US.

LeaseWeb embarked earlier this year on a project to upgrade the infrastructure that supports its public cloud services. Its customers include larger small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and range from those serving simple websites through to those with heavy database processing loads.

Robert van der Meulen, cloud manager at LeaseWeb, said the firm needed to upgrade its cloud platform and wanted to be free from hardware supplier lock-in

“We needed to rebuild our cloud platform to accommodate new services and to make it scalable going forward. We also wanted to be hardware supplier-independent,” he said.

Following an evaluation of mainstream storage products LeaseWeb opted for the NexentaStor storage software platform. LeaseWeb has deployed one NexentaStor-based storage ‘pod’ at datacentres in Holland, Germany and the US. 

Each pod comprises 300 600GB, 15,000rpm SAS drives overseen by two redundant heads with two CPUs per pod. Each pod also has Intel and Zeus solid state drives to speed caching and IOPS (input/output operations per second).

The storage market is dominated by suppliers that sell storage hardware bundled with their own controller software and operating system (OS). Software only products aim to break that link by offering storage software that can be deployed on commodity servers with standard disk drives, cutting costs in the process.

Nexenta’s storage software is based on the open source ZFS, designed by Sun Microsystems. It is a fully featured storage file system and OS with synchronous and asynchronous replication, high availability, snapshots, cloning, thin provisioning and data deduplication.

Van der Meulen’s team evaluated products from HP, IBM and NetApp, as well as non-commercial open source storage solutions. It opted for Nexenta because it provided more choice than mainstream storage products, but more support than is provided with open source storage.

He said: “It was a difficult choice; we like open source but we weren’t looking forward to implementing such a system without support. And Nexenta is built on an open source platform but has a management wrapper.

“We’re a very techy company and we like the granularity of control we get with Nexenta. It’s a more cost-effective way of doing things than buying storage hardware and software together, but you have to do more yourself and need knowledgeable staff,” Robert van der Meulen added.

LeaseWeb has HP, IBM and NetApp storage in place but doesn’t use it for the new public cloud platform.

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