A team of students at the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) is developing a proof of concept that involves implementing a software defined storage solution for campus-wide staff and student use. WeITec is one of New Zealand’s oldest tertiary education institutions that trains over 6,000 students each year. They offer degree programmes that are future-focused, developed alongside industry and provide students with practical real-world skills.
The proof of concept project came about as WeITec staff and students were handling virtual machines (VMs) stored on local drives in each individual Windows client-based PC which required users to copy their VM from one PC to another across the network if they choose to work at a different station. In order to overcome this inundated task, the team at WeITec chose Ceph as their vendor and has been impressed with its technical capabilities. Ceph is a highly-resilient software defined storage offering which has only been available to Microsoft Windows environments through the use of iSCSI or CIFS gateways. You can read more about this storage offering from the SUSE community here.
The challenge these students faced was getting a Ceph cluster running that supports their initial ambition, i.e. cross-network storage for staff and student use. They were making good progress building their own WNBD and Dokany drivers but found compiling for Ceph-Windows presented obstacles. SUSE and Cloudbase published the Ceph for Windows installer last month which proved critical to the project’s success. Now the students’ test environment is running with several Windows clients using the SUSE/Cloudbase built solution!
WelTec student and technical lead, Jesse Beaty-Ward, says “The SUSE/Cloudbase installer solution gave us the capability to deliver Ceph block devices to our Windows 10 clients as we had imagined. We could monitor cluster usage while accessing those block devices, format, read and write to them like any other device.”
“We were very pleased to hear of the students’ challenges and success in carrying out this project. The capstone project that our senior IT students undertake is a chance to apply the learning they have had throughout their studies with us to an authentic problem and to come up with creative solutions. This project has allowed the team the opportunity to explore problem-solving in their own development as well as, thanks to SUSE and Cloudbase, experience a successful integration of available solutions into their work. These students will take this learning with them as they move into the industry and be better prepared for the technical challenges that come their way,” said Mary-Claire Proctor, WelTec Head of School of Business and Information Technology.
It’s great to see a successful, self-guided academic endeavour led by a group of independent students who has built a Ceph proof of concept environment. The tangible outcomes from this project offer a potentially viable storage solution for their campus, but the experience gained from an education perspective is invaluable. The team is already planning to build another cluster using openSUSE and would like to benchmark the two clusters to see if varying distributions has any effect on performance. Thank you, Jesse Beaty-Ward, William Edmeades and Vincent Cherry, (Project Team Alpha) from WeITec for sharing your experience with SUSE. We are excited to follow the team’s journey and continue to work with the group to encourage new innovations.
Over recent years, SUSE has played a role in helping support students learn and build on open source technology, through various OpenSUSE projects, educational partnerships and the Academic Program. Our aim is to continue to inspire and use “The Power of Education” to help bridge the technology skills gap, build community and reach a far broader audience of learners.