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We recently received an in-bound enquiry from a customer looking for a replacement for the Dell Compellent storage infrastructure they currently had installed, which was nearing the end of its service life and well on the road to obsolescence. Before contacting us, they had looked at currently available replacements from the big box brands, and weren’t impressed. A search for alternate solutions that met their needs brought them to SoftIron, HyperDrive and Ceph.

One of the key attributes that attracted them to Compellent and kept them loyal to that platform over the years is neatly summed up in a scene from the classic UK comedy Only Fools and Horses, which charted the ups and downs, the ducking and diving of wannabe millionaires Derek “ Del-boy” and Rodney Trotter, along with their band of friends, among them road sweeper “Trigger”.

As it’s the holiday season, why not take three minutes to enjoy this snippet from the show to understand the story of the broom, then we’ll get back to how this all relates (or if you’d prefer a more “high brow” analogy, have a read through this Ship of Theseus article).


Handles and heads

You see the thing this customer liked about Compellent was that it was very modular in its nature. Bits could be swapped out, upgraded and added to over time as requirements changed, bits failed or performance improvements could be gained. After a while, the system’s original hardware and software might become a distant memory – all without any “forklift” upgrades. This couldn’t be said for the proprietary alternatives that this customer had considered, including those from Dell. This created uneasiness around the level of vendor lock-in involved, leading the customer to look elsewhere.

Ceph’s and HyperDrive’s “broom-like” qualities

Ceph, as I’m sure you are aware, is an open source project. Right there you have your first elimination of vendor lock-in. More than that, it’s designed to enable the kind of flexibility that modern storage architectures need – able to flex to different workloads, integrate different performance tiers, scale out with any downtime to the service and be resilient to outages (even a number of simultaneous outages) without losing service and, perhaps most importantly, losing data. It supports decommissioning and removing old hardware over time and without service outage, so you can renew your storage cluster as new technologies become available and support periods end for aged gear.

But Ceph alone cannot replicate the “enterprise class” experience expected by any storage professional used to the level of integration from proprietary systems like Dell Compellent.

And that’s where you get to the heart of what we’re doing here at SoftIron: the delivery of an enterprise class experience at a system (i.e. hardware, software, integration, maintenance and support) level, but based on an open source core to eliminate vendor lock-in for our customers.

Now with innovative features like the Ceph Button, a patented feature built directly into HyperDrive, you are able to change drives and perform other maintenance without needing to be a “command line hero” Ceph admin. So simple, even Trigger could do it (well, maybe).
And in terms of integrating into existing enterprise environments using protocols like SMB, iSCSI,NFS, S3 and more, the flexibility, performance and resilience of using our intelligent service gateway (the HyperDrive Storage Router family) simplifies this task too.

Who knows, maybe you’ll get a medal from your boss for running the “same” system for years, just like Trigger…

To find out more about how HyperDrive and Ceph, check out some of the related blog posts below. And if you’re looking to migrate away from legacy systems reaching their end of life, like Dell Compellent and others, why not just get in touch for a chat.