If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering SwiftStack, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
Give it consideration. A lot of people don't know about it or how it works. The biggest advice: You don't require OpenStack to run SwiftStack. That is the biggest product confusion issue that SwiftStack has to deal with that you can deploy them independent of OpenStack. A lot of customers may think that because it's based on OpenStack, you will need this complex OpenStack deployment, which is not true.
I would absolutely recommend SwiftStack. The quality is really good, the stability is fantastic. It requires very little manpower. The performance of SwiftStack is adequate. It does the job. In terms of 1space helping move applications to the public cloud or to use resources in the public cloud for on-prem data, we have not used it at all for that. But I would not rule out our using it for that purpose at some point in the future.
My advice would be to get familiar with the open-source product first because it is more difficult to use but it gives you better fundamentals on how the actual system works. Then, when you do purchase SwiftStack, you'll be pretty much at an expert level. I'm not sure if I would be as comfortable with it by just outright purchasing it and not knowing the internals. You really get to know the internals by using the open-source version first. The team at SwiftStack has been really good to work with. Everyone from the support folks to the product engineers - and we've even been working with the development teams - they've been really knowledgeable, have really understood our business. Even inbound, the salespeople have really known what we need to get out of it. In terms of the performance, it's definitely meeting our needs. You have to build to the use case for it. It's definitely the slowest storage subsystem in our environment, but we don't put any high I/O workloads on it. When working with petabytes of data, we find that data can be ingested and accessed at a fast-enough rate. Of all the platforms we have, it's definitely the slowest, but if you build a use case around it knowing that upfront, you can work around it. Our headcount hasn't changed by using this solution. At the end of the day, our people are maintaining the hardware. SwiftStack doesn't create any overhead. It's more the actual hardware where we put in the most work. In our organization we do not have named users using it. We're a SaaS platform, so it's the customers using it, not us. They're in the hundreds of thousands. We plan to increase usage. It's our go-forward platform for object storage, so any place that we have a need for object storage we're using it. We're expanding at about 50 percent per year and the scalability means there's no problem dealing with that. I would rate SwiftStack at eight out of ten. What comes to mind with that rating are the price and higher-availability.
It is a really good object storage. I would be careful about use cases around proxyFS, because it's a less mature, earlier stage component. It is a good platform, as long as it's a technical fit. The support is very good, and that is an important criteria for choosing it. When working with petabytes of data, we find that data can be ingested and accessed at a fast rate. We are able to ingest on a per client basis, typically at about 100 to 250 megabytes a second. We are growing it every month. We continue to sell customers on the service and continue to build new data centers where we're deploying it. So, we do plan to continue expanding its capacity.
Know your use cases and how you plan on utilizing it. As part of that use case, understand the flow of your data and how you want that to look. If you're going to send it out to the cloud, understanding that is an important part of an evaluation. Some of the competition out there send you to their cloud, and they're trying to commoditize or potentially lock you in. The biggest thing about SwiftStack is freedom. It's freedom from vendor lock-in. It's freedom from one cloud provider. It's freedom to scale when you want, how you want, and when you want. Look at how easy or how painful is it to perform upgrades. How long do you have to wait for the manufacturer or the vendor to provide a new chassis or certify new hard drives? Depending on how big a pain point that is within your organization, and depending on what your budgets look like, those are all things to take into consideration when you're looking at the SwiftStack solution. You need to have somebody who understands Linux, and that's not uncommon in the data center. However, if you're a Windows only shop and only have Windows admins, then that's something to take into consideration. But, if you have a Linux admin, even a junior admin, you can deploy this solution with the help of their support team and be perfectly happy. Look at what you have and how easy or painful is the upgrade process, the initial purchase price, the ongoing support maintenance price, and the innovation. How quickly can you bring the latest and greatest into your solution? If you start hitting pain points on any of those, SwiftStack gives you the capability to get past some of those obstacles, because you're not tied down waiting for the vendor to innovate or deliver certification on hardware that's been out for six months. It provides us a lot of freedom. SwiftStack has their finger on the pulse of the storage industry. They are doing a good job of understanding that there's a significant portion of people who don't want vendor lock-in. They look at what is in the best interest of the customer.
You don't need the fanciest hardware out there but you need enterprise-grade equipment. The real important thing is to map out the connectivity of all your nodes and know how the data gets traversed so you don't create bottlenecks in your network, in your data transfer; communication between the nodes, front-end communication. Those are really the two big things. Everything else is pretty straightforward once you have your configuration down and your network path down. Everything else is really relatively easy. I buy SwiftStack storage, generally. Actually, that's all I've bought in the past two years. Primary storage stays pretty constant. I've actually reduced the amount of primary storage by 20 terabytes over the past two months. That's really how we're trying to do our storage. We'll buy SwiftStack and reduce the amount of primary storage, the amount we keep up at our primary level, and just buy the archive storage. Honestly, 70 to 80 percent of the storage we have is unstructured data that we don't need to access more than once or twice a year. We do not currently use the 1space feature. That is on my roadmap to get deployed. We really don't have a big "cloud strategy". We don't use off-prem storage. All of our storage is on-prem at the moment. As for working with petabytes of data, most of the bottlenecks for ingest aren't at the SwiftStack layer, they're, generally at the application layer, or depend on the method you're using to ingest it and how threaded it is. Going back to the example of our backup software, where I see the metrics all the time, at a rate of 2 TB an hour, I'm really CPU-bound by the systems that are pushing the data into SwiftStack. If I had more nodes to send data into SwiftStack... It's not a SwiftStack bottleneck. It's on the end-user space or in computation on the client side more than the SwiftStack side. I don't think SwiftStack has enabled us to store more data than we did before. The reason is that part of the license that you get is the deduplication part. In our backup target, we deduplicate the data or it goes into the object store. In that regard, it's probably a wash. For the archive data, there's no deduplication, but the idea is that the cost is so low that it's also a wash, or we come out a little better. Would it allow you to store more? I'd say it's break-even. At the end of the day, it's cheaper so I can add storage. The cost of putting storage there, even with the larger amount going into it, is still cheaper than our enterprise storage. You're really bound by either drive capacity or data center space. Initially, in my test environment, I used some older servers that we had kicking around which we were in the process of retiring. Those particular servers - it sounds silly - really weren't conducive to SwiftStack because they had a lot of features that actually prohibited easy maintenance. You really do want no RAID controllers or anything else. We quickly learned that the least expensive servers were absolutely the best servers to have for SwiftStack. During the first month or so, we used old hardware that we had kicking around. Then, when we decided that this is definitely something we want to pursue, we bought enough for what would be all on-premises, all on a single site, and then we deployed production in that. Later, we got out disaster recovery facility and we literally moved one set of nodes to our DR site. That all happened transparently to end users. It just worked. They didn't notice anything going on during that time. We have about ten physical users of the solution. The video editing guys are big users because we wanted to get their data archived first since they're the biggest utilizers of our enterprise storage. Our marketing department has a huge amount of digital assets: catalog images, web images. Those are probably the two biggest. Then, our IT, because of the backup target, as we do all of the protection of our enterprise system as well, with Oracle Databases.