VMware Virtual SAN is now ready for mainstream adoption

Virtual SAN (VSAN) was released two years ago and I think it is fair to say that the initial release was never going to “set the world on fire”, but roughly every six months a new version appeared with a huge list of improvements. This brings us to the recently announced 6.2 release, which for me is the first version that is ready for mainstream adoption – highlights include: De-duplication – 4K blocks within a disk group with the process occurring when the blocks are de-staged to the capacity tier (All-Flash only) Compression – attempts to reduce de-duplicated 4K blocks down to 2K or less (All-Flash only) RAID 5/6 – in addition to the existing RAID 1 (All-Flash only) Checksum data integrity on reads and periodic scans Quality Continue reading

Some interesting new ways to improve your IT infrastructure in 2016

It’s an exciting time in IT; there is so much innovation going on, often driven by start-ups, and many new ways of doing things compared to a few years ago. The good news is that generally the affordability of high-end technology is better than ever, bring them within the reach of most organisations. So let’s take a look at what’s now available: 1. Availability – Improving your Disaster Recovery processes by enabling vMotion and HA between sites I believe that current DR practices built around active passive asynchronous replication and VMware Site Recovery Manager are just not good enough: Data is lost in the event of a fail-over Local array failures cause downtime Failing-over/back causes significant disruption to the organisation Testing is difficult therefore Continue reading


All-Flash Array – a high-speed storage device consisting of just flash technology; it does not use HDDs to store data Application consistent – ensures that at a given point in time all updates to stored data have been applied; the alternative is crash consistent which can result in partial updates as some data is still in memory Applications – typical applications that need to be stored and protected include Microsoft Exchange, SQL and SharePoint, Oracle (Database) and SAP Asynchronous – a form of replication that results in the secondary copy lagging behind the primary (i.e. by 15 minutes) Backup – the process of taking a copy of an application and its data, either to disk, tape or cloud storage, so that the complete Continue reading

What’s the NetApp storage portfolio looking like for 2016?

Each vendors portfolio is ever evolving – driven by constant R&D and acquisitions. It is therefore useful to occasionally step back and see what a particular vendor has to offer and why you might choose a particular technology. Let’s take a quick look a NetApp, the acquisition of SolidFire has not yet been completed, but at this stage I am assuming it will be, so I am including it in this blog. In this first part I will be looking at SAN and Unified storage platforms: SAN storage E-Series and All-Flash E-Series (EF) Simple “Configure & Forget” provisioning with fast rebuilds – with no RAID or idle spares to manage Flexible modular design – including an ultra-dense 60 drive tray Continue reading

An introduction to PernixData FVP – turn your existing storage into an “All-Flash Array”

Flash is changing the storage landscape and as we move from SLC to eMLC and then onto 3D TLC the cost per TB is plummeting, but it is important to point out that even the cheapest forms of flash are no match for a NL-SAS HDD when it comes to cost per TB. The all-flash Data Centre is therefore still not a reality for the foreseeable future, but for any application that will benefit from increased performance the cost per IO of Flash is unbeatable. So introducing Flash is inevitable for the majority of organisations, but the challenge for many is that they have existing storage arrays that still have many years of serviceable life, so do they: Add SSDs to their Continue reading

An introduction to SimpliVity OmniCube – a superior Hyper-converged platform

I have looked at many storage technologies over the last few years – these include All-Flash Arrays, Software-Defined Storage, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and Cloud Gateways. The vendors of these products claim that they deliver something significantly better than what can be found in most data centres today, and in certain ways they do, but they always have a big list of areas that need significant improvement (one key example is that storage platforms that do not have 100% inline de-duplication and compression are starting to look “a bit long in the tooth”). I have also studied VMware Virtual Volumes in depth and the vision of the technology is impressive, the problem is that the current 1.0 version does not deliver on this vision – we Continue reading

NetApp FlashRay is dead long live SolidFire, AFF and EF

Just prior to Christmas NetApp announced that it will be buying SolidFire and its All-Flash Array (AFA), at the same time they have also stated that they will not be bringing FlashRay to market. I think this is a good thing as we have needed clarity with regard to the future of FlashRay for some time, and it has been evident that NetApp has been taking what they have learnt from the FlashRay project to enhance All-Flash FAS (AFF). FlashRay will therefore continue to live on in AFF and it will continue to get further FlashRay related features and performance enhancements over the next few years. So NetApp has lost one and gained one AFA, still leaving them with three platforms – surely that Continue reading

VMworld 2015 key announcements summary

Now that the dust has settled I thought it would be useful to review the key announcements: Virtual SAN 6.1, key enhancements include support for: Stretched Clustering with Zero RPO 2 node ROBO configurations vSphere Replication with a 5 minute RPO (exclusive to Virtual SAN) Multi-Processor Fault Tolerance (SMP-FT) Intel NVMe and Diablo Ultra Dimm The Stretched Clustering feature will require the Advanced licence, which also includes support for All-Flash. The beta of the next release was also announced – this will include some hugely important enhancements: Disk Group based de-duplication (All-Flash only) Erasure coding (RAID 5 or RAID 6) End-to-end checksums with a background scrubber I have written quite a bit about Virtual SAN, it always felt to me that it was very early generation Continue reading

Why NetApp E-Series SAN storage is really cool

On the face of it, E-Series has got to be one of the least cool storage arrays available as its roots go back to the late nineties. Storage technology has massively moved on since then, with most modern platforms having a significant proportion of the following capabilities: Hyper-Converged – to simplify deployment, management and scaling, as compute and storage are combined into a single platform Software-Defined – to enable you to bring your own hardware All-Flash – to significantly improve application performance and the end-user experience Public Cloud integration – to leverage the cloud for backup, DR, and for test and development environments Stretched Cluster – to provide continuous availability in the event of local hardware and even complete site failures De-duplication Continue reading

NetApp All-Flash FAS support renewals now include free controllers

I have been saying for sometime that I felt that 2015 was the year of the All-Flash Array and month on month we are seeing an increased value proposition from the vendors. The latest offer from NetApp is that when you renew the maintenance, on their All-Flash FAS taking it up to six years, you will receive a new pair of controllers for free. You can choose to have newer generation of what you currently have or upgrade to higher end controllers and just pay the difference. In addition you can now extend the support, beyond the included 3 years, such that year 4-7 support and warranty cost the same % of list price per year at initial purchase or at Continue reading