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University of Hawaii at Manoa Implements Open Source Software Defined Storage System

The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) has implemented a private cloud infrastructure with an open source, software-defined storage system for its College of Education research organization.

Faculty at the College of Education needed the ability to spin up new servers quickly, so the university's IT staff decided to implement an infrastructure cloud. Since public cloud storage wasn't an option because of information security concerns, they decided to implement a private cloud platform. They selected OpenStack, which is software for building private or public clouds. The college had been using the free, open source Ubuntu Linux as its preferred operating system, and they liked OpenStack because it worked with Ubuntu and enabled them to maintain an open source platform.

Initially, the university's IT staff encountered challenges when they tried to implement a proprietary "scale-out" disk array solution as part of their OpenStack deployment. The team then partnered with Inktank, a provider of massively scalable, open source, software-defined storage systems, and Mirantis, an OpenStack systems integrator, to find a solution. Together, they decided to implement a pilot cluster of Inktank's Ceph software-defined storage system with some new commodity hardware. The pilot was successful, and they were also able to repurpose the university's existing disk array hardware into the Ceph cluster, resulting in a Ceph storage cluster that was four times bigger than expected with no additional hardware cost.

"With Ceph, we have unlimited flexibility in our topology. Switching from proprietary systems to open source has been so much more collaborative, enabling us to get much more than we hoped from the initial project. It has been a win-win," said Stephan Fabel, technical lead at the UH Manoa's College of Education, in a prepared statement. "We really like GPL/LGPL licensing, and we believe that 'free' open source means better collaboration."

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is the main campus of the University of Hawaii system. It is located in Honolulu. The College of Education serves more than 1,600 students, employs more than 350 faculty members, and offers numerous degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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