MinIO Bolsters Enterprise Chops with K8s Integration
If you’re in the market for a modern, S3-compatible object storage system that works in multi- and hybrid-cloud environments, you may want to keep your eyes on MinIO, which today unveiled a trio of software updates that enhances its integration with Kubernetes and bolsters its enterprise capabilities.
The MinIO object storage system is the brainchild of AB Periasamy, who set out several years ago with the bold goal of “solving” storage. Periasamy, who co-developed the Gluster distributed file system nearly 20 years ago and is the CEO of MinIO, has not achieved that goal just yet, as AWS’s S3 remains the dominant force in petabyte-scale storage. But when you consider that half of the Fortune 500 are MinIO users, then you realize that MinIO is right in the thick of it.
MinIO’s enterprise story improves with today’s announcement, which includes a new Kubernetes operator that simplifies operation; a new operations GUI called the MinIO Console to go along with the existing command line interface; and another GUI called SUBNET Health for monitoring the cluster, fine-tuning performance, and assisting with support calls.
The new Kubernetes operator will not only reduce the technical skills required to operate a MinIO cluster in a Kubernetes environment, but it will also enable organizations to ramp up their use of MinIO environments in a self-service manner, Periasamy says.
“With the introduction of the operator, it’s not just productizing all the operational skills into the system,” he tells Datanami. “With the MinIO operator, you can actually have a multi-tenant, self-service cloud. It’s very much like Amazon and AWS. Once you deploy MinIO in Kubernetes, your customers can come in and self-service. Different applications teams, different departments actually will run their own cluster in their own namespace, sharing the underlying physical infrastructure.”
Previously, MinIO supplied a single Helm chart. After watching the MinIO open source community try to develop an operator that matched MinIO’s specific requirements and functions with the Kubernetes orchestration software, Periasamy decided that it would be best if the folks at MinIO developed a product.
MinIO’s operator is available on all public clouds, and supports the specific Kubernetes distributions used on them, including Amazon’s Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). It also supports Anthos. The Kubernetes operator is freely available under MinIO’s AGPL v3 open source license.
Jonathan Symonds, MinIO’s chief marketing officer, says the new Kubernetes operator puts more distance between MinIO and the other object storage systems. The company’s main competition at this point is AWS and S3, he said.
“You see Pure Storage with the Portworx acquisition, that’s an attempt for them to become more relevant in a Kubernetes world,” Symonds says. “We’re already there. So we have a huge head start. And the operator just puts more and more pressure on those vendors to change their methodology, change their approach, and try and become more Kubernetes native. And I think it’s going to be hard for them. This is a tough spot to be in if you’re not Kubernetes and cloud-native to start with.”
The new MinIO Console, which is offered under the AGPL v3 license as well, will also simplify the deployment and management of MinIO in an enterprise environment.
Up to this point, MinIO has primarily been used by the DevOps community, and those folks are primarily used to working with a command-line interface, Symonds says. But as MinIO expands its reach into the enterprise, it needs to be more friendly to other folks, including IT professionals, and that’s why a graphical user interface (GUI) was needed.
“As we expand the map, we spend more time with IT,” Symonds says. “They’re looking for different interfaces. So the challenge for us is really to build one that has same granularity, the same control, the same functionality, but do so in a GUI. So that’s what MinIO console does.”
With just a few mouse clicks in the MinIO Console, users can provision a multi-tenant object storage-as-a-service environment. All of the functions that are available through the command line are also available through the new console, Symonds says.
“We spent a lot of time figuring out what’s the right interface, what’s the right sequence of events to make sure that this was a stupid simple, but at the same time very, very powerful. That’s a key build,” Symonds says. “It really expands the audience for somebody who may not even know how to spell Kubernetes–they can still deploy object storage as a service.”
SUBNET Health provides even more insight into the MinIO environment, and even the underlying hardware that the object storage system runs on. The software is only available to customers who subscribe to MinIO’s commercial support program, called SUBNET.
The new software helps to automate root cause analysis by inspecting various components involved in a MinIO cluster, including hard drives, network, CPU, memory, operating systems, containers, and MinIO software components. The software also helps customers quickly get help from MinIO support specialists, who can use SUBNET Health to try and track down issues.
“It’s an enterprise-class interface and was really designed to speed issue resolution, even for non-MinIO problems,” Symonds says. “The depth of information that we get really allows us to determine, relatively quickly, where the problem lies.”
MinIO will lean on SUBNET Health to help it scale its business. The company has close to 100 paying customer at the moment, and the goal is to grow that number fairly quickly to 1,000. “We don’t want to throw people at the problem,” Periasamy says. “SUBNET Health basically automates our work.”