ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage) provides a hyperscale, geo-distributed, software-defined cloud storage platform that is perfect for unstructured data, Big Data applications and Data Lakes. Deployed as a software-only solution or as a turnkey appliance, ECS offers all the cost advantages of commodity infrastructure while featuring enterprise reliability, availability and serviceability.
1. “Controller-less” and “installer-less”
In a nutshell, ECS and ViPR got decoupled from each other — at least, for now. So far, ECS has required ViPR controller for management, and this meant a separate management infrastructure to be installed and managed. With a 3+2 VM configuration for the ViPR controller in a production environment, customers had to allocate 5 VMs, 6 IP addresses and 3TB of storage.
However, with 1.2, you don’t need a ViPR controller anymore. ECS has its own built-in management tool. You just simply point your browser to one of the ECS nodes, and voila, you access the management interface. The improved interface is also similar to the ViPR GUI in many aspects and thus makes it an easy transition for existing users.
The previous version of ECS also required a separate, standalone VM that was used as an “installer.” With 1.2, this installer is gone, since Node 1 of ECS acts as the installer.
These two changes greatly simplify the installation and management of ECS.
2. Better GUI and simplified management and operations
Since ViPR is meant to manage many different storage arrays, hosts and switches, the ViPR GUI has many menus and functionalities that are never used by an ECS administrator. This problem is solved in ECS 1.2 where the built-in management offers a simpler and more intuitive GUI which presents only ECS-specific menus.
Also, a lot of the terminologies have been simplified, better-named or even removed. For example, a “tenant” is now the same as a “namespace”, so you don’t need two different variables. Also, the concept of “projects” has been eliminated.
3. Improved Monitoring and Diagnosis in ECS GUI
The new GUI has a great amount of new information that will assist in monitoring, diagnosis and performance analysis, with drill downs and charts available in many cases.
To start with, one can get information on capacity utilization for disks, nodes and storage pools. There is more granular information on bandwidth, IOPs, latency and network utilization in different categories such as erasure coding, geo-caching, metadata, user data etc.
Other enhancements include detailed reports on replication groups — bandwidth for ingress/egress, progress of replication, details about chunks that are being cached and replicated etc. When there is a failure of a component or a site, the GUI can also provide valuable information such as how much data has to be recovered and how long it will take.
All this information will be stored for seven days. For a longer period of data, the
customer can use ViPR SRM (with a new Solution Pack) or their own software that accesses ECS via REST API.
4. Rack-level Awareness for better HA
ECS 1.2 brings rack-level awareness to the software so that when data has to be
distributed across disks and nodes, ECS can spread the data across different racks
(and keep track of the data) for increased high-availability and redundancy.
5. Geo-replication: Unsealed chunk replication means better RPO
In geo-replication, before 1.2, when ECS wrote an object to chunks (of size 128MB), it waited for the chunk to get filled up, and then replicated the chunk to a remote site. Although this strategy is more efficient, the drawback is that if an entire site or a rack goes down, there could be many chunks with less than 128MB of data that have not been replicated. To overcome this possibility, ECS 1.2 now starts the replication process as soon as a chunk receives new data. Customers will appreciate this improved RPO (Recover Point Objective).
6. Geo-caching for better performance in multi-sites
In a multi-site environment, the data was always accessed from the primary site — where the data was originally written to. This meant that every time customers in other sites accessed the data, it involved cost for WAN bandwidth as well as slower performance caused by WAN latency.
ECS 1.2 solves the above problem by the use of geo-caching the data at the secondary sites so that customers can access the data locally without a WAN transfer. The amount of the data that is cached can be configured and monitored by the administrator.
7. Temporary Site Failover
ECS 1.2 has automatic and sophisticated ways of handling temporary site failures and failbacks. With this new functionality, applications will have access to data even when the primary site is unavailable or unreachable.
ECS will also automatically resync the sites and reconcile the data when all the sites are operational and connected to each other again.
8. Bucket-level and Tenant-level metering
A popular request from existing customers has been granted: more granular metering. ECS 1.2 provides key statistics for individual buckets and tenants. This includes capacity, object count, objects created, objects deleted and bandwidth (inbound as well as outbound bandwidth). This is a feature that will be much appreciated by service providers.
ECS now allows administrators to set soft quotas for buckets and tenants. Alerts are raised and writes are blocked after the set limit. The administrator can also lock a specific bucket or a user, thereby preventing all future reads and writes.
10. Auditing Buckets
The new ECS enables auditing for buckets which allows administrators to view activities regarding creation, update, and deletion of buckets, and any changes in bucket ownership. The events are reported in the GUI and through REST API.
That’s ECS 1.2 in a nutshell. Those customers who are attending EMC World 2015 will get a chance to learn much more about it. Of course, there will be more blog posts and white papers coming out soon as well. We value your input, so let us know if there are any specific ECS-related topics you would like us to address.