​Private cloud storage at public cloud prices: Ubuntu Advantage Storage

Mark Shuttleworth thinks the only way private clouds can compete in the long run with public clouds is with by offering similar pricing.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

VANCOUVER -- At the OpenStack Summit, Canonical and Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu Advantage Storage (UAS) would bring public cloud pricing to the OpenStack private cloud.

Canonical states that its UAS software-defined cloud storage gives you the most useful space for your dollar.
Shuttleworth stated that private cloud vendors have no choice but to meet the prices of public clouds such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Because in the end, "For private clouds to thrive they must be economically competitive with public cloud."

That means, Shuttleworth said, "Canonical will be offering pricing plans based on the virtual machine hour. If you bring the hardware, we bring the hands at 3 cents per hour. If you use a fully managed BootStack Ubuntu cloud, we'll support and manage your OpenStack cloud for just $15 per server per day, plus hardware and hosting. Then, when you're ready, we'll train your team and smoothly hand over operational control."

As for software-defined storage, Ubuntu Advantage Storage enables enterprises to deploy their storage services on commodity hardware clusters and route support calls to specialist providers, with Canonical as Level 1 support service.

Advantage Storage includes both open-source storage technologies such as Ceph and Swift, and vendor solutions from Nexenta, Swiftstack and other third-party providers.

What sets Ubuntu Advantage Storage off from other software-defined storage SDS services, Shuttleworth said, is that Canonical will charge companies according to the storage capacity they actually use. "There will be no fees for replicas, redundancies or backups." This is another example of Canonical bringing "public cloud pricing to OpenStack on premise,"

Canonical will charge you 2.2 cents per GB per month or 4 cents per GB if you use a fully managed approach. Shuttleworth added: "You'll get your choice of storage: Ceph, Swift, Nexenta, or SwiftStack, with UAS, you get one throat to choke: Canonical."

With UAS, customers will also get the benefit of dynamically increasing storage capacity simply by adding more machines or disks to the cluster. By contrast, Network-Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) arrays can require up-front commitment to large amounts of capacity and may be difficult to scale. Canonical promises that by integrating leading vendors' software-defined storage capabilities into a single deployment and management framework, corporate users get the benefits of reliability and low costs.

"We are privileged to support some of the world's largest open storage clusters. And, we are now expanding our offerings to meet customer preference for on-demand usage-based pricing," said Shuttleworth. "Fully automated management and integration enable us to deliver a first class experience from day one, even for smaller clusters."

Canonical claims that "storage solutions are typically priced per-node or by the total disk capacity deployed. This leads to an obvious penalty for good practices such as replication and advance build-out of total capacity." With UAS, pricing is based on the amount of data written to the storage pool by the user. There is no duplication of costs for replicas, and customers don't pay for empty space--as expected from a modern public cloud storage service.

"Bringing cloud-style pricing to the on-premise market is a key step in the evolution of private cloud," said Christian 'Kiko' Reis, Canonical's VP of Hyperscale and Storage. "Customers now have utility-based pricing for an open portfolio of software-defined storage solutions from a wide range of competing and innovating players, all under one program, on whatever commodity hardware they prefer."

Will cost-conscious corporate customers bite? Since Shuttleworth is considering taking Canonical public because the OpenStack cloud is proving so profitable for his company, I'd say his chances are excellent.

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