How It Works: Dell Multi-Cloud Storage with Powerscale
More and more businesses are using a multi-cloud strategy from public cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud to facilitate innovation and growth. These cloud giants are the so-called hyperscalers, each of them offering over 100 different services over their platforms. Aligning these multiple cloud services to a specific organization’s strategy is critical and leads to new challenges. To overcome these challenges, enterprises must consolidate data and compute resources, meet security and compliance requirements, and institute seamless billing. Dell Technologies Cloud Storage for Multi-cloud, powered by Faction, Inc., offers a solution that addresses these new demands. This great partnership enables connecting file and block storage, consumed as a service, directly to a public cloud of choice.
In this article, we are exploring how the Dell Technologies Cloud Storage for Multi-Cloud, powered by Faction, easily connects to a Dell EMC PowerScale. We start investigating the current multi-cloud strategy challenges that enterprises must overcome to grow. Then, we introduce the solution proposed by Dell Technologies/Faction, studying key technologies and offerings. From Dell Technologies, we’ll look at the scale-out NAS solution, PowerScale, along with OneFS and SyncIQ. And from Faction, we’ll examine Cloud Control Volumes, their connectivity options, and their integration with the Dell EMC PowerScale.
The public cloud is a traditional approach, where companies are required to choose a cloud vendor, and then pay a fee to extract or move valuable data. However, multiple cloud platforms create greater distances between your apps and data, compromising their communication due to the rich bandwidth demand. This problem forces companies to bring their applications much closer to their data, creating the effect known as data gravity.
A single cloud provider would be the ideal approach to solve data gravity. Still, this option locks apps and data into a particular vendor, preventing using other platforms’ advantages. To overcome this effect, companies must manage their data from a centralized location that provides a single copy of this data, accessible from all clouds simultaneously. Here is where the Dell EMC Cloud Storage and PowerScale solution comes into play. The service enables you to leverage the best-of-breed storage directly connected to the public clouds of your choice.
Dell Technologies Cloud Storage and PowerScale
PowerScale is Dell EMC’s scale-out NAS solution designed to enable enterprises to manage their unstructured data, with simplicity at any scale and intelligent insights in mind. But provision capacity and performance-on-demand, and getting insights from your data, won’t do it alone. As we move to this data-intensive application era, another value that plays an important role is flexibility. Dell has been working over the past few years on this matter and has managed to achieve flexibility through the multi-cloud strategy, closing the final frontier in cloud storage.
The Dell Technologies Cloud Storage for Multi-Cloud solution offers a fully-hosted, high-bandwidth, and low-latency connection to all major public clouds through a cloud exchange. Its strategy provides options such as creating a disaster recovery (DR) site to spin up applications for failover, or also for cloud computing or analytics. Additionally, customers might choose to put the majority of data in the cloud, as they stream it from the core or edge, and their endpoints.
For placing this precious data into the cloud, Dell provides single-tenant storage that ensures there are no noisy neighbors, and that organizations can tune their PowerScale solution to their own needs. Furthermore, a robust Layer 2 networking technology allows the same PowerScale file system, on the same subnet, to be presented as a local NAS on multiple clouds, simultaneously. This solution implies that an organization’s data and applications do not need to be refactored for usage in the cloud. Enterprises could even expose data to any cloud service and take advantage of computing spot pricing if they wish.
In part, Dell’s solution consists of the PowerScale OneFS operating system and SyncIQ, of which we are quite impressed. The PowerScale OneFS operating system runs across all the Dell EMC PowerScale family, including Isilon and PowerScale storage nodes. OneFS enables data replication from one PowerScale cluster to another through the SyncIQ software module. SyncIQ is the application that allows the flexible management and automation of data replication. This application can send and receive data on every node in a PowerScale cluster. It takes advantage of any available network bandwidth, so replication performance increases as the cluster grows. This managed service is offered to reduce data center maintenance and management costs, to minimize connectivity burdens, and to reduce latencies with Faction’s cloud-adjacent data centers.
Faction and Cloud Control Volumes
Another significant part of Dell’s multi-cloud strategy is its relationship with Faction, Inc., and Faction’s Cloud Control Volumes (CCVs) offering. Faction is a multi-cloud platform-as-a-service provider that offers multi-cloud-attached storage from a variety of locations. Dell Technologies has partnered with Faction to deliver a fully managed cloud-based service for Dell EMC Storage to address various cloud use cases. Simply put, Faction, acting as a managed service provider, enables Dell EMC PowerScale multi-cloud access.
Dell EMC, and its partnership with Faction, is not new for us. In the past, we also worked on a complete and informative report on these two companies, offering disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). In the article, we discussed the two storage-based offerings from Faction: Cloud Control Volumes (CCVs) and Hybrid Disaster Recovery as a Service (HDRaaS). For this new piece, our focus is on Faction CCVs.
Faction CCVs provide durable, persistent, cloud-attached, and cloud-adjacent storage directly connected to the cloud of choice (VMC on AWS, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud). CCVs allow leveraging multiple clouds and quickly switching clouds based on business needs. Use cases for CCVs could be performing data analytics on a large or complex data footprint, or locating or migrating an application to the cloud, and leaving it permanently in the cloud while taking advantage of one or more CCVs in a nearby Faction data center.
When Faction’s customers request a CCV solution, it comes with an included amount of bandwidth, depending on the performance tier selected. A key differentiator area for Faction is that companies can distribute and re-allocate bandwidth. With this option, customers can take advantage of the different management tools from cloud providers. Available CCV storage tiers now include Archive, Standard, Premier, Elite, and Turbo using Isilon and PowerScale platforms to meet a variety of use cases.
One option is to build and deploy a cloud-based application or service on net-new CCVs. Alternately, existing volumes of data may be migrated from an on-premises data center to a Faction data center. In the latter case, asynchronous array-based replication is configured between on-premises storage and a similar storage array owned and managed by Faction in the Faction data center.
Faction VPN connectivity
There are two replication transport options to move data from a customer’s on-premises data center to the Faction data center: VPN and Dedicated circuit. In this article, we are only focusing on the VPN option, as this was the one used during our test.
Faction can supply an internet endpoint for replication and client network connectivity over a VPN. Faction can also terminate IPsec VPNs from compatible equipment for encryption in transit. The VPN must be managed by Faction if the customer does not have a compute environment within the Faction cloud. Compute environment examples would be permanent colocation services or transient DR/test-activation capacity offered in the HDRaaS solution.
Along with the VPN, the Faction network infrastructure provides full layer-2 and layer-3 isolation between the storage service and the public cloud infrastructures. Public clouds offer the following dedicated network connections for data to flow ingress and egress:
- AWS Direct Connect
- Azure ExpressRoute
- Google Cloud Platform Dedicated Interconnect
Faction and PowerScale SyncIQ
PowerScale customers need to work with Faction to create the shares and exports required to make their data available to the clients in the cloud. The PowerScale SyncIQ replication feature copies the data from your on-prem PowerScale to the Faction PowerScale.
Faction will assist with all the required configuration and tests, like the setup of a hardware or software VPN, or direct circuit, for the replication traffic between PowerScale clusters. Faction will also assist with adding first destination directories for SyncIQ to use and anything else needed for your workload, like additional users and groups to match the source cluster.
Validating Dell Technologies/Faction Multi-Cloud Solution
To get a better understanding of the joint Dell Technologies and Faction solution, we put this multi-cloud strategy to work. We deployed the OneFS Simulator, located in the StorageReview lab in Cincinnati, Ohio, to replicate files to the Faction data center located in Reston, Virginia. Due to proximity to the StorageReview Lab, Reston, Virginia, was selected. Faction’s datacenters sit very near to hyperscalers’ data center locations they support. Current locations include Portland, Reston, Santa Clara, London, and Frankfurt. More are coming online.
We connected our OneFS Simulator to the Faction data center, taking advantage of an IPSEC VPN tunnel. This process was straightforward with the help of Faction tech advisors, who walked us through creating the correct subnets to be compatible with their side. Faction’s technical team has the skills necessary to guide companies through this process, regardless of their overall comfort level.
Configuration of the Dell EMC PowerScale is performed through the OneFS Web Administration. After preparing the necessary configuring, such as network and connections, we proceeded to set a SyncIQ replication policy between the source and destination directories.
From the SyncIQ configuration, we set the target and the Policies. During the validation, Faction set a replication job between our OneFS Simulator and their physical box, on-prem.
From the Faction Portal, we accessed our subscribed CCVs and requested a Faction Interconnect Exchange (FIX) connection from the ticket system. Adding FIX connections is only possible in this way, but in the future, Faction is planning an automated FIX connection provisioning system. FIX connections will tell you which cloud you are connected to. Without accessing the PowerScale system directly, we can get general information from the Faction portal dashboard.
During the validation, VDbench was used to run workloads from Azure and AWS replicated from our system, on-prem. Later, we could see the mirrored files between them. It is important to note that even though instances from AWS and Azure were used for this test, the solution is also offered for other cloud providers, like Google, IBM, and Oracle.
Dell Technologies Cloud Storage for Multi-cloud with PowerScale Scale-out NAS, supported by Faction, can ensure success when it comes to a variety of business use cases and workloads. This joint solution, utilizing OneFS, SyncIQ, CCVs, and other enterprise-class features, offers a fully hosted, high-bandwidth, and low latency connection to all major public clouds. This solution directly connects to the cloud of your choice (AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud) with the elasticity to quickly switch between clouds based on your business needs.
The industry realizes the complexity and hidden costs of multi-cloud, as it scatters their data to multiple environments. By leveraging Dell EMC storage and Faction management services and technology, the solution enables the creation of an ecosystem that challenges the data gravity effect. Additionally, adopting a true multi-cloud strategy empowers IT to leverage and optimize a range of cloud services based on business and technology requirements. The Dell EMC/Faction solution is ideal for securely moving or deploying demanding applications in the Cloud for disaster recovery, analytics, testing, and development.
This report is sponsored by Dell EMC. All views and opinions expressed in this report are based on our unbiased view of the product(s) under consideration.
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