Monday, August 25, 2014

VMware EVO Rail

So what is EVO RAIL? EVO Rail is a rapid deployment, configuration, and management engine which enables hyper-converged infrastructure. It combines compute, network, and storage virtualization with vSphere and Virtual SAN. EVO Rail is going to transform and simplify IT operations. You will be able to power-on the hyper-converged device and create virtual machines in minutes, it provides easy VM deployment, and one-click non-disruptive patching and upgrades.

If you are not excited yet you should be! Hyper-converged architecture is going to be a non-disruptive, disruptive technology.

EVO Rail is a software package that is going to work on partner devices. These 2U/4 Node hardware platforms will be optimized for running EVO Rail. They will be 4 independent nodes for compute, networking, and storage; each node has dual processors with 192 GB of memory, and a total of 16 TB of flash and magnetic storage delivered by VMware Virtual SAN.

EVO Rail will scale-up to four hyper-converged infrastructure appliances (HCIA). New appliances are automatically discovered and added to the cluster with zero configuration. Each device will be accommodate roughly 100 general purpose servers or 250 VDI instances; with a maximum of 400 general purpose servers or 1000 VDI instances for a 4 appliance - 16 node configuration.

Here are some of the high level specifications:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

VMware Virtual SAN

VMware is trying to change the operational model of storage. VMware is introducing a virtual data plane to abstract and pool the physical storage resources to make things easier from an operational standpoint, and much simpler for the IT professional. From Virtual Data Services perspective, VMware is trying to make things more VM centric and provide services like data protection, performance, and mobility.

One of the big keys to software-define storage is the Policy-driven Control Plane, the capability of provisioning storage based on VM business requirements and orchestrating the entire process.

VMware Virtual SAN is pretty unique in the marketplace; it allows you to aggregate locally attached storage from each ESXi host in a cluster, with a flash optimized storage layer. VSAN was designed for resiliency with a Distributed RAID Architecture to help ensure no single points of failure. I will discuss this further, later in the post.

Virtual SAN is not a traditional virtual storage appliance (VSA); it is fully integrated into vSphere, with drivers embedded in ESXi 5.5 that contain the Virtual SAN smarts.

Lowering TCO with Virtual SAN comes down to hardware. For VSAN, there is a requirement for magnetic devices, flash devices, network cards, storage controllers that support pass-through mode or RAID0 mode, and it is recommended to install ESXi on a 4 GB to 8 GB USB, SD card, or SATADOM. The minimum amount of hosts is 3, which are contributing storage; this is an important consideration when thinking about VSAN for remote and branch offices, and small business with just a few virtual instances. Virtual SAN may not meet those specific use cases.

Friday, August 1, 2014

VMware Virtual Volumes

Today, I thought I would write about VMware Virtual Volumes and the impact I think it is going to have on the way we manage storage in the future. Since VVols are currently under development from VMware and storage providers, the final product is not available.  However, this was a topic that was discussed at EMC World 2014 and I am sure will have much more coverage at VMworld 2014. VMware as a company is trying to address several key pain points with storage; which includes cost, storage management complexities, and the difficulty of ensuring predictable performance. VMware believes it is strategically positioned to solve these problems at the virtual layer.

How do existing environments look today? Almost 98% of organizations have a 1 to 1 mapping between a datastore and a LUN. That is how we have been working with storage and virtualization for a long time. All your data services; including snapshots, cloning, replication, and recovery are done at the datastore level. This was a storage paradigm that was introduced by vSphere.

The new method being developed by VMware is a "per VM" storage approach. The data operations will be taking place at the VM/VMDK level rather than on the entire LUN/datastore level. This will give the vSphere Administrator the ability to provision compliant storage policies, based on business requirements on a "per VM" basis. This is a completely new concept. We are now moving away from the thought process of LUNs and datastores.

You will be able to provision data services on a fine granular level. For example, think of the possibility of replicating one or two applications instead of an entire datastore. It has a dramatic impact on the efficiency of storage, which influences the business performance by reducing infrastructure costs.

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