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SUSE punts SES v5.5 out door, says storage is going software-defined and open source

Don't mind us, just having a Linux moment

Private equity-owned SUSE has released v5.5 of its software-defined, Ceph-powered Enterprise Storage (SES) platform.

SES is an all-in-one object storage repository with both file and block access protocols. It is common to have unified file and block – Dell EMC Unity and NetApp's ONTAP – and unified file and object – Cloudian and Scality – but rare to combine all three protocols.

Best-of-breed file and block storage products will typically be faster than SES, but SES will win where buyers want a converged single product instead of three, each of which would have had to be acquired, operated, supported and managed.

A consequence is that Ceph's sweet spot is the storage of unstructured data, with SUSE mentioning bulk storage, compliance, archive, data protection, disaster recovery, large data file applications, big data applications, HPC storage, cloud storage and virtual machine storage as cases for Ceph.

Ceph is not generally used for tier-zero, mission-critical storage applications.

Its other main attribute is its scalability, with hundreds of petabytes being catered for.

IBM's Spectrum Scale is an example of a scale-out file system product that matches Ceph's scalability.

v5.5 is a point edition, the eighth version of SUSE's Ceph product. It is based on the Luminous Ceph release.

This version introduces CIFS support for file access, openATTIC storage management enhancements and OpenStack integration.

SUSE senior product manager Larry Morris said SUSE was the number-two contributor to Ceph open-source code, and said it typically brought out commercial versions of Ceph releases from the open-source community four to six months before Red Hat.

He said SUSE wanted to increase its enterprise storage use, and emphasised its interoperability with other systems, hence v5.5's addition of CIFS. He also opined that open-source, software-defined storage is starting to have the same impact on IT that Linux did 15 years ago.

SUSE distributes open-source software and is generally reckoned to trail industry leader Red Hat. It has had four owners in 15 years.

SUSE Linux was founded in 1992 and bought by Novell, which paid $210m for it in 2003. Attachmate bought Novell in 2010 for $2.2bn and then separated the SUSE and Novell business units.

Four years later, MicroFocus bought SUSE from Attachmate's parent, Wizard, for $2.3bn. Another four years on, SUSE was sold again to EQT Partners, a Swedish private equity business, in July 2018, in a $2.535bn deal.

Despite this ownership instability, SUSE's value has risen slowly over the years. EQT wants to strengthen SUSE's open-source product credentials, both through organic growth and acquisitions, and with a focus on the public cloud as well as enterprises.

SUSE is a mature company with a 1,400 headcount and $303.4m reported revenues (PDF) for the year ended 30 April 2017. Red Hat's fiscal '17 revenues amounted to $2.4bn that year.

So watch out, proprietary storage vendors: SUSE, with v5.5 SES as an opening salvo, is trying to eat your lunch. ®

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