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

What’s next for Storage in 2015?

The storage market has changed significantly over the last few years, whereas 5 years ago the industry was dominated by six players (EMC, NetApp, HDS, HP, IBM and Dell) supplying solutions using only HDDs, today solutions are designed using a hybrid of SSDs and HDDs, and there is far more choice with a number of start-ups entering the market (i.e. Pure, Nimble, Tintri and Tegile). What is clear to me is that the days of storage arrays being mysterious, complex and therefore expensive to deploy and maintain are over – customers want simplicity so that a dedicated storage expert is not required. Gartner wrote an interesting article on the subject which is available at Predicts 2015: Midmarket CIOs Must Shed IT Debt to Invest Continue reading

Comparing VMware Virtual SAN with EMC ScaleIO and conventional storage arrays

Software-defined and hyper-converged storage solutions are now a viable alternative to conventional storage arrays so let’s take a quick look at how two of the most popular solutions compare – VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) and EMC ScaleIO: Architecture On vSphere this is an easy win for VMware as VSAN is delivered using kernel modules which provides the shortest path for the IO, has per Virtual Machine policy based management and is tightly integrated with vCenter and Horizon View. ScaleIO is delivered as Virtual Machines, which is not likely to be as efficient, and is managed separately from the hypervisor – on all other platforms ScaleIO is delivered as lightweight software components not Virtual Machines. VSAN also has the advantage of Continue reading

Lock-in, choice, competition, innovation, commoditisation and the Software-Defined Data Centre

I have recently been involved in an ongoing debate about VMware VSAN and lock-in over at http://blog.nigelpoulton.com/vsan-is-no-better-than-a-hw-array/, and it inspired me to explore my thoughts on the subject further. It seems clear to me that the organisations are on a trajectory to the Software-Defined Data Centre – the Cloud, the Google/Amazon DC architectures and many other economic factors will result in the inevitable decline in hardware appliances. The 21st century has seen a commoditisation of hardware, with most appliance vendors supplying standard off-the-shelf solutions that are almost certainly not manufactured by them. Take a company like NetApp, are they a hardware or a software company and where is their value? They sell both hardware and software, but the hardware is fundamentally no Continue reading

An introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Software-Defined Storage technology

Over the past decade VMware has changed the way IT is provisioned through the use of Virtual Machines, but if we want a truly Software-Defined Data Centre we also need to virtualise the storage and the network. For storage virtualisation VMware has introduced Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes (expected to be available in 2015), and for network virtualisation NSX. In this, the first of a three part series, we will take a look at Virtual SAN (VSAN). So why VSAN? Large Data Centres, built by the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook, utilise commodity compute, storage and networking hardware (that scale-out rather than scale-up) and a proprietary software layer to massively drive down costs. The economics of IT hardware tend to be the inverse of Continue reading