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Posts Tagged ‘storage’

VMworld EU 2015 Buzz: The Future of Software-Defined Storage – What does it look like in 3 years time? – CTO6453

October 28th, 2015 No comments

Adding some more colour to the highlights from my VMworld Europe 2015 coverage:

Richard McDougall, a Principal Engineer at VMware led this presentation peeking into the future.

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This session was about the futures & trends for storage hardware and next-gen distributed services. shared NVMe/PCIe rack scale, flash densities & if magnetic storage still has a place.

2015-10-13 17.02.18Richard gave an interesting talk explaining the needs of Big Data/No SQL etc. applications and their storage requirements building up a graph using two axis, horizontal for size from 10s of TBs to 10s of PBs and vertical for IOPS from 1000 to 1,000,000.

He built up the picture showing where various memory and storage applications sit and then added what hardware / software platforms are used to service these applications, it was a great visual aid.

He spend time going through how cloud native applications and containers still have a storage requirement with some options copying the whole root tree, using a Docker solution by cloning using another union file system (aufs), like redo logs for VMDKs.

Containers still need files, not blocks and need snapshots and clones. You need non-persistent boot environment as well as somewhere to put persistent data. Shared volumes may be needed as well as an object store for retention/archive.

Richard went on to talk about hardware and the massive increase in performance for NVDIMMs, getting closer to DRAM. Have a look at the comparison chart relative for travel time from California to Australia.

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He then went through some of the device interconnects and posited that NVMe will take over most current interconnect methods, he was very positive about NVMe!

2015-10-13 17.39.19 2015-10-13 17.43.27

He mentioned how hard it is to actually build true scale out performant storage.

2015-10-13 17.48.31He mentioned a great use case for caching companies like PernixData and how they in the future could be used to front end things like S3 storage, so have massive buckets in the cloud yet give very fast locally cached access, interesting.

The dream is a single common storage platform that can be used with a single HCL and common software defined storage platform for Block, CEPH, MySQL, MongoDB, Hadoop etc. I think that’s what VMware is trying to make VSAN do.

This is very difficult to achieve but I certainly see future VSAN not too far away with native SMB and NFS access as well as persistent storage for containers running on the Photon Platform. This will give you the best of both worlds, stateless containers running natively as well as stateful containers with their data stored locally within the container being replicated to other nodes in the VSAN cluster as they are VMs. Other services can access SMB and NFS for file data natively on VSAN which will also be replicated across the cluster and across sites for DR.

HP Discover Buzz: HP Storage

June 3rd, 2015 1 comment

The HP Storage Coffee Talk session that we attended was first of all to introduce the new New SVP & GM of HP Storage, Manish Goel, who takes over from David Scott who worked for HP, left to start 3PAR and then brought it into HP.

David has been credited with revitalising HPs storage portfolio with its now flagship product range based mainly on 3PAR based. Manish therefore has big shoes to fill. He started at HP storage in March having being a 7 year NetApp veteran, another storage titan facing difficulties at the moment. He left in 2013 and tried his hand at retirement and a startup which apparently didn’t agree with him and he’s now at HP.

HP has some announcements around the 3PAR storage platform which you are read more about:
A new StoreServ 20850

HP 3PAR Streaming Remote Copy Replication

I asked how with the move away from central SAN storage towards server SAN and hyper-converged how HP Storage manages this transition. HP is in a unique position hardware wise that they sell both servers and SAN but its is separate business units and separate product portfolios (3PAR vs. Lefthand VSA vs. VSAN etc on HP DAS).

Read more…

Categories: HP, HP Discover Tags: , ,

CommVault: We’re not just a backup company but we don’t like telling you

April 8th, 2015 4 comments

I was very fortunate to attend Virtualisation Field Day earlier this year. One of the companies presenting was CommVault who bill themselves as a “data” company.

They spent the majority of their time at Virtualisation Field Day going through all the details of how they can do backups and restores and to be honest it was rather dull. Backups are hugely critical to your infrastructure and just like insurance you don’t want to find out you are not protected when it is too late. The thing though is backup nowadays is such a utility service. It would be unfair to say that backups haven’t evolved because they have particularly with virtualisation but ultimately you are still taking a copy of your data and storing it remotely from your live data. The what hasn’t changed much even if the how has.

This makes talking about backup a difficult task because your audience always certainly knows what backup does and generally how it works even if your tool may have a few differences. Being able to back something up and restore it is a given, being able to mount backups of VMs and restore files within those backed up VMs is now a given as well however your backup vendor choses to do it.

I feel CommVault did itself a disservice at Virtualisation Field Day which is evident by the lack of post game talk and analysis about their solution compared to some of the other presentations, proof that backups are not sexy.

However I feel that CommVault has an interesting story to tell if they could just elevate themselves from the backup bandwagon.

CommVault Simpana’s USP is not in the backup but in the use and analysis of the data that has been ingested. I use ingested deliberately to make the distinction between it just being a backup used to recover something some time in the future. Companies are being asked to do more and more with their data, some of it is in live databases or files but a huge amount is actually archive data, old log files, old emails, old text messages, old voicemails, old x-rays, old files. Companies are often required legally to keep this old stuff around for a long time and you know how this is stored, in a completely separate copy from backups. Emails are journalled by product x. text messages by product y, voicemails by product z. These products may be even separate companies with completely separate data formats, there’s no way you could search across them.

Read more…

What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Enhanced Linked Mode

February 2nd, 2015 No comments

VMware has finally officially announced what is to be included in vSphere 6.0 after lifting the lid on parts of the update during VMworld 2014 keynotes and sessions. 

See my introductory post: What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Finally Announced (about time!) for details of all the components.

vCenter Linked Mode provides a single management overview of multiple vCenter instances.

Linked Mode also provides a single login for multiple vCenter Servers and then shows you a common inventory view and allows you to search for objects across vCenters. Licenses, roles and permissions are replicated between vCenter instances.

Linked mode has always been only available for Windows vCenters (ADAM is used as the replication engine) so you couldn’t share licenses, roles and permissions with any vCenter appliances you had.

With the release of the new Platform Services Controller in vSphere 6.0, some of the Linked Mode functionality is changing and its been given a new same.

vSphere will also now include an Enhanced Linked Mode which will require and work in conjunction with the Platform Services Controller.

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This will not rely on ADAM but have its own replication system which is a multi-master replication technology also called VMDir based on Open LDAP which means replication now works across Windows vCenter as well as vCenter appliances.

Replication will be expanded to include Policies and Tags along with Roles and Permissions. In fact the replication engine will allow VMware to sync any kind of information between Platform Services Controllers which can then be used by vCenters and other management products. Bye bye ADAM, you won’t be missed.

What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Networking

February 2nd, 2015 No comments

VMware has finally officially announced what is to be included in vSphere 6.0 after lifting the lid on parts of the update during VMworld 2014 keynotes and sessions. 

See my introductory post: What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Finally Announced (about time!) for details of all the components.

vSphere networking hasn’t had any huge additions in this release. This is partly to be expected as VMware’s networking messaging is mainly revolved around NSX for now.

Network I/O Control (NIOC) has however had a very useful addition, you can now have Per VM and Distributed Switch bandwidth reservations. You can therefore guarantee compute as well as network resources for your critical VMs.

IPv6 has also been beefed up but this is mainly for new greenfield deployments. It’s not easy to transition from IPv4 to IPv6 so I think VMware sees IPv6 for only new deployments. You will be able to manage ESXi purely with IPv6 and iSCSI and NFS will also be supported. In the future, VMware is looking to move to IPv6 only for vSphere management but that’s a few years out, dual stack IPv4 and IPv6 will be around for a while.

Here’s what the Install for vCenter would look like with IPv6

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What’s New in vSphere 6.0: NFS Client

February 2nd, 2015 6 comments

VMware has finally officially announced what is to be included in vSphere 6.0 after lifting the lid on parts of the update during VMworld 2014 keynotes and sessions. 

See my introductory post: What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Finally Announced (about time!) for all details of all the components.

NFS has been available as a storage protocol since 2006 with ESX 3.0 and vSphere has been using NFS version 3 for all this time. There’s been no update to how NFS works.

I’ve been a massive fan of NFS since it was released. No LUNs, much bigger datastores and far simpler management. Being able to move around, back up and restore VM disk files natively from the storage array is extremely powerful. NFS datastores are by default thin-provisioned which allows you your VM admin and storage admin to agree on actual storage space utilisation.

However, good old NFSv3 has a number of limitations, there is no multi-pathing support, limited security and performance is limited by the single server head.

vSphere 6.0 introduces NFS version v4.1 to solve many of these limitations.

NFS 4.1 introduces multi-pathing by supporting session trunking using multiple remote IPs to a single session. Not all vendors will support this so best to check. You can now have increased performance from load-balanced and parallel access, with it comes better availability from path failover.

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imageThere is improved security using Kerberos authentication. You need to add your ESXi hosts to AD and specify a Kerberos user before creating any NFSv4.1 datastores with Kerberos enabled . You then use this Kerberos username and password to authenticate against the NFS mount. All files stored in all Kerberos enabled datastore will be accessed using this single user’s credentials. You should always use the same user on all hosts otherwise vMotion and other features might fail if two hosts use different Kerberos users. NTP is also a requirement as usual when using Kerberos. This configuration can be automated with Host Profiles.

 

NFSv4.1 now allows you to use a non-root user to access files. RPC header authentication has also been added to boost security, it only supports DES-CBC-MD5 which is universal rather than the stronger AES-HMAC which is not supported by all vendors. Locking has been improved with in-band mandatory locks using share reservations as a locking mechanism. There is also better error recovery.

There are some caveats however with using NFS v4.1. NFSv4.1 is not compatible with SDRS, SIOC, SRM and VVols but you can continue to use NFSv3 datastores for these.

NFSv3 locking is not compatible with NFSv4.1. You must not mount an NFS share as NFSv3 on one ESXi host and mount the same share as NFSv4.1 on another host, best to configure your array to use one NFS protocol, either NFS v3 or v4.1, but not both.

The protocol has also been made more efficient by being less chatty by compounding operations, removing the file lock heartbeat and session lease.

All paths down handling is now different with multi-pathing support. The clock skew issue that caused an all path down issue in vSphere 5.1 and 5.5 has been fixed in vSphere 6.0 for both NFSv3 and NFSv4.1. With multi-pathing, IO can failover to other paths if one path goes down, there is no longer any single point of failure.

No support for pNFS will be available for ESXi 6.0. This has caused some confusion, best to have a look at Hans de Leenheer’s post: VSPHERE 6 NFS4.1 DOES NOT INCLUDE PARALLEL STRIPING!

Very happy to see NFSv4.1 see the light of day with vSphere for at least the multi-pathing as this caused many people to go down the block protocol route with the added complexity of LUNs, however, its a pity NFSv4.1 is not supported with VVols. I’m sure VMware must be working on this.

What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Finally Announced (at last!)

February 2nd, 2015 No comments

Series:

  1. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Finally Announced (at last!)
  2. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: vCenter and ESXi
  3. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Enhanced Link Mode
  4. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Virtual Volumes
  5. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Content Library
  6. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Virtual Datacenter (removed from release)
  7. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Fault Tolerance
  8. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Cross vCenter and Long Distance vMotion
  9. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Networking
  10. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: NFS Client
  11. What’s New in vSphere 6.0: Certificate Management

Finally, the time has come for VMware to publicly announce its latest update to version 6.0 of its ever growing virtualisation platform, vSphere.

It’s been a rather strange and somewhat convoluted journey to get to the actual announcement.

For the first time ever for VMware (kudos!), there was a very large public Beta (more than 10,000 people) but participants had to sign an NDA to join which meant they couldn’t talk about it. VMware itself then outed many of the features during keynotes and sessions at VMworld San Francisco 2014 (to the consternation and surprise of some product managers!) but still had to call the beta a Tech Preview. Pat Gelsinger himself called out the name during his keynote despite everyone else at VMware trying to keep quiet on the official name. All this left many people unsure what they could and couldn’t talk about. The apparent legal reason for not being able to officially announce vSphere 6.0 is all to do with financials. VMware didn’t want to announce a future product in 2014 as they would then be obliged to account for future earnings. So, the whole song and dance is nothing to do with technology and all to do with financial reporting, isn’t life fun!

Personally, I don’t think this was handled in the best way, fantastic to have a public beta but no point trying to strictly control the messaging with an NDA with so many people involved. Even Microsoft and Apple have more open public betas nowadays.

As of today, that’s now officially water under the bridge (although I hope they learn some things for next time). The covers have finally been lifted and VMware has officially announced vSphere 6.0

imageVMware says there are three focus areas for this vSphere release:

  1. Continue to be the best and most widely used virtualisation platform
  2. Be able to virtualise all x86 workloads. Run all today’s traditional datacenter apps however big they are such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics and Java and build on that foundation to run the next generation of cloud applications as part of a Software Defined Datacenter such as NodeJS, Rails, Spring, Pivotal and Hadoop
  3. Create operational efficiency at scale by reducing manual steps with mre automation

Although numbered 6.0 I would say as with vSphere 5.5, this is another evolutionary rather than revolutionary update and other than VMware’s recent cadence of a major update every two years could have been part of the vSphere 5 family. VSAN and NSX were the major new product announcements at VMworld 2013 and VMware decided to leave the big announcement infrastructure wise for VMworld 2014 to EVO:RAIL and its vCloud Air and vRealize rebranding.

As for vSphere 6.0, VMware has called this release the foundation for the Software Defined Datacenter.

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The major new highlight as everyone knows is Virtual Volumes (VVols) which VMware has been talking about publicly since VMworld 2011 (I called vVols VMware’s revolutionary approach to storage) and  is a very significant update. VVols completely change the way storage is presented, managed and consumed and certainly for the better. Most storage vendors are on board as their software needs to be able to support VVols and they’ve been champing at the bit for VVols to be released. Talk was it was technically ready for vSphere 5.5 but VMware decided to keep it back, perhaps to let VSAN have its year in the sun and to give vSphere 6.0 something big.

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VVols may be the headliner but there’s plenty else VMware has been working on:

  • Hosts up to 480 pCPUs, 12TB RAM, 64TB data stores and 1000 VMs
  • VMs up to 128 vCPUS and 4TB RAM
  • 64 nodes in a cluster and up to 6000 VMs.
  • Per VM Storage I/O Control
  • VVols
  • NFS 4.1 with Kerberos
  • vMotion across vCenter Servers, virtual switches, and long distance
  • Fault Tolerance for Multi-Processor VMs
  • vSphere Web Client enhancements
  • Certificate Lifecycle Management via a command line interface
  • New abilities to replicate and backup to the vCHS (vCloud Air) cloud
  • Better vSphere Replication RPOs to 5 mins
  • Network IO Control VM and distributed switch bandwidth reservations
  • Multi-Site replicated content library to store VM templates, vApps, ISO Images and scripts
  • AppHA expanded support for more applications

 

Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: CommVault

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

CommVault

Commvault is a data company (what backup companies also now call themselves) and has previously presented at Virtualization Field Day 3 and Tech Field Day 9.

Calling Commvault just a backup company isn’t a little disparaging as their software aims to do a lot more and rather like to think of themselves as providing information management. Sure, backing up and restoring data is important but there are a lot more reasons why you need to keep a copy of your data. You may need to keep an email archive for compliance reasons, journal instant messages from your traders for legal reasons so your lawyers have evidence to sift through or securely store x-rays for a long period of time. Archives, journaling, backups, reporting, legal discovery all rolled into one. It can suck in a whole bunch of stuff from end point laptops to mobile devices across physical, virtual, cloud, database, file, email, unix, Mac and windows. It has broad reach without the dreary and clunky legacy of TSM and NetBackup and although not as sexy, simple or targeted as Veeam, can do a lot more.

Their product is called Simpana and their trick is to have a single code base for integrating the backup and information management so you only need to store one deduplicated copy to be able to do a whole lot with it. This data repository is called the Content Store. Obviously backups need multiple copies to be spread around for protection and you can do that.

Read more…

Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: StorMagic

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

 

StorMagic_Monogram_Black_CMYK

StorMagic has an interesting product called SvSAN which is a SAN specifically designed for remote offices which require local IT infrastructure that can’t be delivered remotely. StorMagic has previously presented at Storage Field Day 6.

Many companies need to run critical applications at what StorMagic call edge sites yet still require high availability. Think retail with PoS everywhere, manufacturing with numerous distributed sites, oil rigs, ships, manufacturing, in fact any company with a distributed geographic footprint. SvSAN can be managed centrally at scale with typically 10-10000 edge sites.

Their software runs as a VSA on vSphere or Hyper-V using local disks and can be clustered with synchronous mirroring using as little as two hosts to provide shared storage to VMs giving them HA/vMotion. You can also use it with stretched clusters. It presents an iSCSI LUN to the hypervisor and can use SSD for cache and target it to particular workloads.

Centralised management is at the cornerstone of StorMagic which you would need for the scale they support. You can deploy SvSAN across multiple sites fairly easily and quickly. The nodes can then continue to be easily managed centrally so you don’t need any local IT staff.

StorMagic doesn’t look like its going to take over the world but it has a solid use case along with a market opportunity and is price competitive. I think it needs some sort of snapshotting and could benefit from a way to replicate data back to head office for backup with some clever deduping. Interested to hear what they have to say.

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Virtualisation Field Day but aren’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.

UKVMUG: The unofficial lowdown on everything announced at VMworld

November 18th, 2014 No comments

vmug-logoI have had the pleasure today of presenting at the 4th annual UK VMware User Group conference at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull near Birmingham.

I did a whirlwind tour of everything that was announced at VMworld and believe me, there was a huge amount. OK, so no major release which is the norm (but plenty of teasers) but enough other things going on in the VMware space to fill more than a UKVMUG! I know, I’ve done the research! Even though I was at VMworld US, so much was going on that I didn’t appreciate all the new shiny things being announced and once you start getting down to the nitty gritty of everything, you will be amazed at how much is going on.

I really didn’t have time to go through everything in detail so the presentation acts as an independently curated jumping off point for you to find out more information about the announcements that matter to you. You may not care particularly about hyper-converged or OpenStack so you can flick through the slides and then head off to continue your explorations.

Thanks for having me UKVMUG!

Here’s the presentation: