Scality Zenko 'multi-cloud controller' offers hybrid cloud boost

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Scality will release a commercially supported version of its “multi-cloud data controller” Zenko at the end of March.

The product from the object storage maker promises to allow customers increased hybrid cloud operations; to move, replicate, tier, migrate and search data across on-premise, private cloud locations and public cloud, although it’s not that clear how seamless those operations will be.

Zenko was launched last year as an open source product, but will be commercially available in March 2018.

Zenko is based on Scality’s 2016 launch of its S3 server, which provided S3 access to Scality Ring object storage. The key concept behind Zenko is to allow customers to mix and match Scality on-site storage with storage from different cloud providers.

Initially access will be to Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure public could services as well as Scality Ring-based private clouds. “More are coming,” said Scality product management vice-president Paul Speciale.

Scality Ring software runs on commodity hardware and uses object storage to scale as a single distributed system across multiple sites and potentially thousands of standard x86 servers. Its architecture provides concurrent access to data.

Scality and other object storage suppliers use the representational state transfer (Rest) protocol to store very large amounts of data in a flat system where files are identified solely by metadata.

This contrasts with traditional file systems that use a tree-like hierarchical structure. This places limits on file systems because performance overheads increase as the file system grows towards billions of files.

Bloomberg is a Zenko beta customer. It wanted access to three clouds – AWS, Google and Azure – so that it maintained choices about where to put data and to be able to operate high availability between clouds, said Speciale.

“Bloomberg uses Zenko to manage video files,” said Speciale. “It puts shows in the cloud, carries out transcoding processing in Amazon EC2, then puts files on multiple clouds to provide customer access.”

“Data is readable natively to the format of the cloud, so it can be used by apps in that cloud. What you get is an interface between clouds. It neutralises APIs,” he said. “A bucket, for example [in AWS], specifies where it lives, and you can create policies such as replication between clouds.”

Zenko Orbit

Zenko Orbit, a point and click interface for use with Zenko, will be released at the end of March.

Zenko is a further manifestation of a trend towards multi-site – private datacentre and public cloud – operations. It is one of several file systems and object storage schemes that can operate across locations, between on-premise datacentres and public cloud services, such as those from Qumulo, Cloudian, Weka etc. These bring the possibility of hybrid cloud operations in which data portability issues are solved.

“On-premise is not going away and some enterprises are building new datacentres, but multi-cloud is real,” said Speciale.

It is not completely clear, however, to what extent Zenko will allow for data portability between clouds. Will customers be able to drag and drop between clouds in Zenko?

“Simplified data migration between clouds is on the Zenko roadmap, but in the first release we are providing a solution for two-other use-cases: Cloud media workflows and cloud disaster recovery,” he said.

The next version of Scality Ring, the company’s core object storage platform, will be released in mid-2018, with an appliance version available by the end of the year.