Rackspace Launches Cloud Block Storage Product

Cloud Block Storage, based on OpenStack, launches officially today on Rackspace's public cloud in the U.S. and U.K. The company says they are moving to meet growing customer demand for reliable and consistent storage.

Colleen Miller

October 23, 2012

4 Min Read
A customer view of setting up cloud block storage, selecting the type of storage and size. Graphic courtesy of Rackspace.

With more big data, comes the need for big storage - especially cloud storage. Cloud service provider Rackspace (RAX) today rolls into production Cloud Block Storage, based on OpenStack, on its public cloud in the U.S. and U.K. to meet growing customer demand for reliable and consistent storage.

There is an expanding need for storage with affordable performance for file systems, databases and other input/output (I/O) intensive applications, according to Rackspace VP Cloud Products Mark Interrante. This new cloud storage product helps extend the Rackspace portfolio to more complex applications, said Interrante, adding that this is the largest public cloud implementation of the OpenStack "Cinder" storage project.

Why Deploy Cloud Block Storage?

The cloud computing company wanted to make it easy to provision storage, especially for customers running NoSQL databases such as Cassandra or Mongo, he explained. Just as with other cloud services, a client can login and purchase storage space. Storage can be acquired "on demand" - with immediate provisioning - and it be used for a few minutes or a few days.

The storage is priced by the gigabyte of data storage, rather than an input-output operations per second (IOPS) as with other products, Interrante said. The price is $0.15 per gigabyte per month, for a standard storage setup on commodity hardware. The price for storage on a solid state drive (SSD), which is a speedier and more robust option,  is $0.70 per gigabyte per month (At this point, the maximum size is a 1 terabyte drive. The cost is $0.10 per gigabyte per month for snapshot data stored. The pricing structure also features I/O at no additional charge, no additional per-instance fee, no minimum instance size and consistent pricing in all U.S. regions

Rackspace's major competition, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is priced differently by region and charges for both storage and data transfers.

Interrante emphasized the benefit of the pricing model to the customer. "We wanted it to be transparent and simple," he said. "There is no IO charges and there is simple pricing. It will be available at all our cloud data centers." If a client's storage demands increase for peak periods, he said, the customer can move from standard to SSD and then deprovision the SSD storage when it is no longer needed.



A customer view of setting up cloud block storage, selecting the type of storage and size. Graphic courtesy of Rackspace.

Standard and Enhanced Performance

  • SSD-based solution is much faster than standard drive performance.

  • Rackspace Cloud Block Storage Standard drive delivers consistent performance with less variability than standard drive solutions offered by leading competitors.

  • High performance can be achieved without the need to RAID0 (stripe) volumes together, providing significant savings in cost and complexity.

  • There is no cap on I/O and users do not have to specify IOPS numbers, as they do with competing solutions.

OpenStack and Storage

The "Cinder" project is relatively new introduction in OpenStack, coming out with the Folsom release. There is another storage project within OpenStack called "Swift."

Although Rackspace had been testing a different architecture for this product, they changed to the Cinder code, which allowed them to separate from the existing Nova-volume block service. The Cloud Block Storage volume connects to Rackspace's own storage subsystem. The Rackspace team has contributed to the Cinder project and will now roll the Cinder code into their own production cloud.

The Rackers managing the company's OpenStack cloud are using code that is just one to two weeks behind the OpenStack community version, Interrante said. So there are continuous upgrades, as testing is positive, the code is moved into production. When this new product is launched it will be running on an early version of the Grizzly release of OpenStack.

More Cinder Block Storage News

Additionally, a cloud storage company called Zadara, also a contributor to the Cinder project, announced last week its Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) service with OpenStack Cloud Block Storage (Cinder) for public and private clouds. "As early and ongoing supporters, developers and users of OpenStack, it is a delight to announce we have completed our integration with OpenStack Cloud Block Storage (Cinder)," Zadara CEO Nelson Nahum said. "It is now easier than ever for cloud service providers and private cloud users to adopt and benefit from our Cloud Block Storage Software."

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