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GCP gets triple-redundant NAS and built-in Kubernetes backup

Google Filestore Enterprise will provide synchronous replication across three zones, while Backup for Google Kubernetes Engine brings built-in container cluster data protection

Google Cloud Platform’s recent launch of Filestore Enterprise and Backup for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) saw it place bets on high-end NAS file access storage with synchronous replication, and data protection for Kubernetes container environment in a virtual appliance aimed at radically simplifying admin tasks.

Filestore Enterprise provides NAS with enhanced geographical access and replication across three GCP cloud storage zones within a region.

“The idea behind these services is to simplify everything in the use of cloud storage,” said Matt Eastwood, senior VP of cloud infrastructure at analyst IDC. “Because, even if cloud adoption is very rapid, its optimal use is being held back by a lack of knowledge on the part of customers about the new platforms’ technologies. I applaud this move by Google, which contributes to the rapid democratisation of services for critical use cases.”

GCP’s object storage service doesn’t benefit from the same sort of synchronous replication between several geographies, but the cloud giant also announced “turbo replication”, which allows replication of an entire object storage volume to another region in a maximum of 10 minutes.

As successor to the simple NAS Filestore Basic and Filestore High Scale, aimed at high-performance computing applications, Filestore Enterprise is built on highly redundant infrastructure, replicated synchronously to three zones in the same continent. That kind of redundancy is needed by enterprises that want to run business-critical applications.

US-based Sabre, which supplies airlines reservation systems, plans to use Filestore Enterprise as online storage for its SAP applications.

“Our IT modernisation strategy consists of decommissioning our datacentres and running our SAP NetWeaver virtualised and containerised applications in the public cloud,” said Sabre infrastructure chief Patrick Uckermark. “But that means we need storage for these applications to be reliable so that we can always deploy new copies and ensure that reservation services are never interrupted. Filestore Enterprise provides this.”

Sabre announced last year that it would use GCP services to host its infrastructure. The move was based initially on the launch of Google’s Persistent Disk, a block storage access service usable by SAP databases that has high levels of redundancy.

Google Enterprise will be available in October with tariffs ranging from $0.67 to $0.72 per GB per month, depending on region.

Backup for GKE automates a series of tasks that customers have usually needed to execute manually. Until now, for data protection purposes, containers needed to be stored in a state devoid of any data on NAS storage while their working data was captured at regular intervals by scripts and copied elsewhere.

The problem with this way of working is that recovering containers with certain types of data and in particular states can be complex to orchestrate. But it’s a task that needs doing regularly, each time customers deploy new container clusters, either for purposes of redundancy or for testing.

The new Backup for GKE service allows customers to create rules for regular container backup, from a console, for applications, data, and the state of the cluster simultaneously. The console allows for recovery of all those elements regardless of location in terms of region or continent.

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France-based consultancy Atos has previewed the service. “According to our calculations, Backup for GKE has drastically reduced the effort we have to devote to protect our Kubernetes clusters,” said Jaroslaw Gajewski, digital cloud services architect at Atos.

“This service fits perfectly with our adoption of infrastructure-as-code, which automates by programming the deployment of critical cloud services by our clients.”

Chris Schilling, head of storage products at Google Cloud Platform, said: “To have integrated backup is the key for the type of infrastructure being adopted massively right now. SQL database editors can be 20 years old now. Virtualisation environments can be a decade old. Now, customers can benefit from their functionality on Kubernetes.”

Schilling claimed GCP is the only supplier to offer backup integrated with Kubernetes and that it is not available except as a third-party offering elsewhere, citing PX-Backup from Portworx or Kasten from Veeam.

Analyst house Synergy Research Group estimates that GCP has around a 9% share of the cloud storage market, behind AWS (33%) and Microsoft Azure (18%). According to analyst Dave Raffo, storage services are critical to customer choice of public cloud provider, and GCP relies on building excellence in areas that can nibble away at its competitors.

“The problem is that there are already myriad NAS storage services among its major competitors and specialist suppliers,” said Raffo. “In other words, it’s not enough to attract customers with new, high-performance storage services. It’s about getting them to leave the storage services they already use elsewhere.”

AWS, for example, offers numerous NAS storage services, including those based on NetApp hardware and another based on the Lustre file system for HPC use cases. Nasuni, Ctera and Panzura are also key specialist providers with products tailored to enterprise workloads.

“To have such choice is a good thing for customers,” said Raffo. “But that also requires efforts when it comes to evaluating all the options. In most cases, enterprises stay with the cloud provider or storage provider they already know and that they feel most at ease with.”

However, the analyst believes GCP is playing its hand well with Backup for GKE. “Kubernetes is mostly used by developers, who aren’t familiar with backup software,” said Raffo. “It is therefore preferable for them to look to a Kubernetes that provides this functionality internally rather than have to go via third-party software.”

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