Looking closely at HP's object storage: Questions Answered
Object of desire, or just access method?
Q+A Looking closely at HP's StoreServ and StoreAll announcements at HP Discover we wondered if the object storage was simply an object access method layered on the base StoreAll file system. It isn't, being a real object deal as the Q and A session below shows.
We talked to Patrick Osborne, the Director of Product Management in HP's Storage Division, and asked him a set of questions to learn more about HP's new object storage capability.
El Reg: Is StoreAll object storage an object access method (StoreAll REST API) layered on top of StoreAll file storage?
Patrick Osborne: The StoreAll REST API is an object access layer that provides the ability to ingest and retrieve objects in 2 modes, file-compatibility mode and bucket/GUID mode.
El Reg: There isn't an object storage technology being used in StoreAll. Instead objects are stored in the file system as files or as parts of files.
Patrick Osborne: The StoreAll REST API in bucket/key mode is object storage technology. This allows a user to define an account, create buckets and “PUT” objects into buckets. After an object “PUT”, the web method returns a key or “GUID”, which is a unique identifier. This type of account/bucket/key technology is specific to object storage and allows applications to avoid optimizing hierarchical filesystem taxonomies.
El Reg: Does the StoreAll REST API enable object search to use the Express Query facility?
Patrick Osborne: The StoreAll REST API provides the ability to do many data services. In addition to using it for data ingest and retrieval for the Object API, it allows for the out-of-band query of the Express Query database, setting data retention properties and custom metadata tagging.
El Reg: I believe that the current StoreAll O/S is v6.1 and the REST API is coming in v6.3, two point releases away. When is v6.3 due please?
Patrick Osborne: The announcement today covered StoreAll v6.2 and v6.3. The v6.3 will be available at the end of February 2013 and includes some enhancements to the object API and Express Query performance improvements.
El Reg: Will the StoreAll REST API be extended to StoreServ so that the 3PAR systems can be used for object storage as well as block, and now file, storage?
Patrick Osborne: The convergence of block, object and file on HP’s primary storage architecture is a key requirement that we see for our customers. The StoreAll 9300 Gateway is available with all 3PAR models and will be able to provide object storage capabilities with [the] release of StoreAll v6.3.
El Reg: Will it be extended also to the XP (OEM'd Hitachi storage) and LeftHand P4000 storage systems?
Patrick Osborne: The current StoreAll technology is focused today on the StoreAll 9730, 9320, 9300 and 3PAR platforms. Future support for additional HP platforms is in the product lifecycle planning phase. ®
Re: What is an object store?
I am in for the convergence.
However I am displeased these systems defuse one of the reasons modern object storage is used: economics of scalability.
What is actually implemented here?
It looks to me like Storeall is merely the marriage of Autonomy and the iBrix file system. But there's no reason to believe the integration goes any deeper than physical. They are merely running index, search, and the RestFul API on the iBrix segment servers. Ibrix is no more object or metadata aware than a Netapp filer.
In regards to what constitutes "Object", There's no reason Object and NAS need to be distinctly defined. The most popular object storage in the world is Isilon, which uses Reed Solomon and distributed placement algorithms with self-healing. Ok, the fact that it's accessed through a heirarchical FS puts it in the NAS camp. But even the file system interface can be merely an expression of object metadata. For example, Sun's Honeycomb could provide an NFS export whose heirarchy was purely a virtualization of a metadata schema...N file systems could be exported with N arrangements of the schema.
I fully expect to see future NAS (and SAN) leveraging more and more object capabilities, and the availability of RESTful APIs representing "the new converged" regardless of underlying architecture.
Re: What is an object store?
I think the second part of your comment is very correct. In many ways, Object storage is a superset of NAS. A major weakness of standard NAS is that it doesn't deliver multinode data protection, nor does it inherently service remote replicas. I like Object stores for solving these problems.
But if you look at Object storage this way, assimilating legacy protocols should be a part of the package. It's certainly possible to do so.
Databases work with objects too. These are record elements. As we look at Hadoop, the elements can be very large objects such as video files and such. I think this will speed up convergence to Object storage as the mainstream storage method.