Nebulon SmartInfrastructure brings cloud-defined storage to datacentre

Cloud-defined storage allows customers to build private clouds on-site, with pools of storage built from commodity hardware, Nebulon PCIe cards and its browser-based console

Nebulon’s “cloud-defined storage” – which can build a cloud-defined storage cluster with local I/O using commodity hardware – is now a purchase option using servers from Dell, HPE, Lenovo or SuperMicro and can transform a VMware or Kubernetes cluster into a private infrastructure as-a-service (IaaS) cloud.

“Right now, we present our offer as a solution that installs a cloud infrastructure in your datacentre,” said Siamak Nazari, CEO of Nebulon.

“We made this choice because 60% of enterprises have decided to repatriate applications on-site to save 50% in operational costs,” he added, quoting ESG research from November 2021, and speaking during the recent IT Press Tour event in Silicon Valley.

“But in a hybrid cloud context, these customers want IaaS hybrid cloud functionality in their datacentre, which is exactly what our product provides.

“So, what is cloud IaaS? Above all, it is a console to automate deployments, set rules for networking and security, and it is virtual machines [VMs]. That’s what you get with our Nebulon ON platform and our SPU [storage processing unit] card. We needed to give it more of an IaaS colouring, however, and that’s what we’ve done in our new version, called SmartInfrastructure.”

Nebulon’s SPU card is based on an ARM processor from Broadcom. It connects nodes into a cluster via 25Gbps Ethernet and takes control of their capacity to present a pool of shared storage. Functionally, it is just like hyper-converged infrastructure. VMs draw their data from the global pool, which has the same elasticity and ability to configure resources on-demand as would be the case with an IaaS cloud from a hosting provider.

SPUs connect flash storage in the node and emulate storage controller functionality. Provisioning and application, server and storage metrics are offloaded to the Nebulon cloud and are accessible via browser. 

Dell and HPE already provide hyper-converged infrastructure, but storage in their offerings is managed by the processor. Nebulon’s use of a PCIe card allows them to liberate CPU power to the benefit of application processing.

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SmartInfrastructure comes as several modules. The SaaS-based SmartOps tool succeeds the Nebulon ON console and gives it a “zero touch” character, so it becomes possible to configure a cluster of servers with SPUs from one screen. That means hardware can be delivered to a branch and they only need to be connected to the internet to become operational. Downloading settings and automated configuration of an entire cluster can take as little as 10 minutes.

The software that drives the SPU card comes in the form of two modules. SmartData deals with storage functionality, such as deduplication and compression. Meanwhile, SmartInstance manages all the drivers needed to present the storage pool to the ESXi hypervisor or to Kubernetes. Nebulon makes reference to Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes platform.

According to the environment in use, the server equipped with Nebulon’s technology is SmartCore for VMware, SmartCore for Kubernetes or SmartIaaS for CSPs, which is aimed at OpenStack use.

“Besides enterprises, we are targeting integrators that want to develop private cloud hosting capability,” said Craig Nunes, co-founder and COO at Nebulon. “With Nebulon’s APIs, it is possible for a hosting provider and its customers to manage the SmartInfrastructure.”

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