How SUSE does SDS differently?

You’ve heard of software-defined-storage (SDS), but do you really know the benefits that can put you ahead in the race for providing simpler, more affordable and efficient large data storage solutions to your customers?

SUSE Enterprise Storage based on Ceph technology is not the only SDS product for businesses with large capacity needs, but there are a few differentiating factors that set it apart. As a master distributor in Australia and New Zealand, NEXTGEN got together with Peter Lees, SUSE Chief Technologist & Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific to find out more about how SUSE does SDS differently.

Three things you need to know about SUSE

  1. “Amazingly attractive” pricing model
    According to Peter, the most important feature or characteristic about SUSE’s offering is the pricing model. SUSE’s approach is to charge per storage server node, while other software vendors charge per gigabyte or per terabyte which can become extremely expensive.

    “If you have servers full of disks and you want to upgrade the disks to double capacity, with most others you have to pay them again 100% more to be able to use that capacity. With SUSE, if you don’t change the node count you don’t pay any extra,” Lees said.

    “It makes the pricing model very attractive. Depending on how dense you make the storage nodes, the price can even be cheaper than public cloud storage such as Amazon Glacier,” he added.

  2. Flexibility and bundle opportunities
    SUSE’s technology gives partners a way to create storage solutions for their customers without having to tie themselves to a particular hardware set. It gives partners a very “fluid” ability to create solution bundles that work perfectly for particular clients, creating more value in the partnership.

    “If the customer has a specific requirement, then you can fit into that very easily - if the partner has a particular requirement or benefit in using Lenovo or HPE hardware for example, they can work that in as well. You may have some commodity server hardware that you’re using as the underlying storage and you might have some application you want to offer to the customers. For example, video management or backup software and SUSE Enterprise Storage can be the glue between the application side software and the underlying hardware,” Lees said.

  3. A unified storage system
    SUSE Enterprise Storage offers both interoperability with many different client systems, also called heterogeneous OS access,  as well as flexibility with the way data is stored, or what they call “unified storage”. It can act as an object store, block data store and file data store - all from the same system at the same time.

The differentiators - how offering SUSE can set you apart

Being able to offer SUSE Enterprise Storage can put you on the front foot when servicing your customers, presenting significant savings that can really impact their bottom line.

“Our competitors that have a similar product with the same technology, but because they charge by capacity it can be up to 40 times more expensive. It just makes it a very clear option from that point of view of features and capabilities,” Lees said.

If you’re offering SUSE compared to an existing traditional storage array option, the benefits extend beyond the cost of the product.

“With traditional storage arrays most of them have an upper limit before you have to do something radical, for example, replace the current unit with a higher capacity model. That can be traumatic because that will mean having to migrate data or replace storage heads, which can be a complex thing.” Lees said. SUSE Enterprise Storage has no theoretical “upper limit”, so customers can keep adding servers and capacity into the same storage system without the need to migrate data.

“We know that customers don't like migrating their data and with SUSE Enterprise Storage there’s never a looming event like reaching a maximum capacity. If customers don’t have to move their data then they won’t - with most traditional storage arrays it is still a major project to do an upgrade. With SUSE that whole exercise does not need to exist - you just add another node to increase capacity, bandwidth, cache, and processing,” he added.  

Key considerations

A solution for bulk data

It’s important to note that this isn’t a storage solution for every use case, it’s primarily a solution for bulk data and it’s crucial to assess a potential customer scenario before offering it to them. Think archiving, backup data or anything where the customer has got large amounts of data that is growing very quickly. Lees gave the example of capturing CCTV footage, where only 30 seconds of video may be required but because users don’t know what they need or when, everything needs to be retained for a certain period of time. With traditional storage that becomes very expensive.

“It’s important to make sure it’s positioned correctly: the solution is for tier 2 and tier 3 or beyond. Where data sets are large, that’s where SUSE Enterprise Storage is most helpful. With relatively cheap commodity hardware in there you can grow your system over time as your needs increase: you can just add some more servers and add to the capacity,” Leeds said.

“Once you know the product it really makes sense when you hit a certain volume. The successful stories have usually been where the customers want to store at around the Petabyte scale. For example, we have environments with the potential for 20PB or more. If you try to position it as a solution for 80TB that’s probably not appropriate, unless the customer is going to experience huge growth, or if they really need to make use of other technical features such as unified access in a private cloud environment like OpenStack,” he added.

How can SUSE’s offering benefit partners?

With SUSE Enterprise Storage there are different benefits depending on whether partners are on-selling the product directly, or selling it as a bundle with hardware, which gives partners the flexibility to choose the margin.

“If partners are selling directly as software on existing hardware then there’s also often a degree of consulting necessary which customers can benefit from,” Lees said.

“If the partner is a systems integrator they can use the software as part of a consulting engagement. It’s relatively new technology to many customers and they often need assistance in managing the system to start with and getting it operationalised. Partners can leverage off that and demonstrate their added value to the customer,” he added.

It also gives partners the freedom to create interesting hardware and software bundles that will impress their customers, because SUSE Enterprise Storage is not tied to certain hardware.

“Let’s say your customer has a big VMWare farm, and are refreshing the existing servers with new models. Those existing older servers can be repurposed into storage nodes, which extends the lifetime of the original assets,” Lees said.

Want to learn more about SUSE?

As the only distributor of SUSE Enterprise Software in Australia and New Zealand, NEXTGEN offers advanced knowledge and expertise on the SUSE offering. For more information on partner registration and certification requirements contact the NEXTGEN SUSE Certified Team or click here to register for the upcoming SUSE Partner Day on Thursday October 18, 2019.

Once a registered partner, SUSE provides access to a comprehensive online training series, with modules to help partners become familiar with the technology so they’re confident offering it to their customers. Partners can also become a SUSE certified training partner, enabling them to deliver classes to their customers, providing further value in the partnership at a relatively low cost. The first certification attempt is free and there is a low subscription fee for training material.



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