EVO:RAIL is dead long live VxRail

On paper EVO:RAIL was a great idea – VMware provides the Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) software (vSphere and Virtual SAN) and the major server and storage vendors provide the hardware, but one of the biggest problems was that it was 100% designed by VMware therefore how could the likes of EMC, NetApp, Dell, HP, HDS, etc. innovate? The answer of course was they couldn’t and the product was therefore not a great success  – something therefore had to change. The good news is that EVO:RAIL has become VxRail and it will be sold exclusively by VCE (a VMware and EMC company). Also with EVO:RAIL there was a very limited choice of hardware, you had to start with four nodes, scale in four node increments and use vSphere Continue reading

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

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

Are VMware VSAN, VVOLs and EVO:RAIL Software-Defined Storage and does it really matter?

Most IT vendors like to jump on the “latest bandwagon” to showcase their solutions, they then use key IT buzzwords to highlight their product as being cutting-edge. One of the most prevalent in today’s technology world is Software-Defined, but there is significant ambiguity with regard to exactly what it means. So what is my definition of a Software-Defined solution? You purchase software and hardware independently, more often than not from different vendors, and most importantly you can change the hardware without incurring additional licence fees – examples include VMware vSphere, Veeam Backup and Replication, and CommVault Simpana. So what is my definition of a non-Software-Defined solution? You purchase a hardware appliance that combines software and hardware into a single solution (you cannot move the Continue reading

How can VMware provide more value to its customers in 2015?

Competition is essential as it ensures that vendors focus on the value proposition of their products, the good news for the hypervisor market is that it is now very competitive with Hyper-V, KVM and XenServer challenging the market leader – vSphere. As VMware is put under pressure from its competitors it tends to respond in one of two ways: Increase the technology lead between its products and the competitors through innovation Increase the value of its products by bringing high-end features down to lower editions An example of the latter happened when Hyper-V 3.0 was released and VMware responded by adding features like vMotion and Storage vMotion to vSphere Standard. So what can VMware do to provide more value to Continue reading

VMware Software-Defined Data Center Introduction Video now available on YouTube

VMware may well be about to change the world again, with the final pieces of the Software-Defined Data Centre falling into place. Until recently – SDDC looked like vapourware, however – with the release of Virtual SAN, EVO:RAIL, Flash Read Cache and the much anticipated arrival of NSX networking, it is finally a reality. To get you up to speed, we’ve provided a short introductory video on VMware SDDC – It’s less than 10 mins and should allow you to get a good idea of what this latest development offers your organisation. Of course – if you want more information on any of the subjects covered – then give us a call, drop us an email to info@snsltd.co.uk, or drill 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

VMware EVO:RAIL or VSAN – which makes the most sense?

I really like what VMware is doing with their Software-Defined Data Centre strategy – the idea of allowing customers to use commoditised low cost compute, storage and networking hardware for their infrastructure has got to be a good thing – we are on the verge of hopefully making IT both much simpler and cheaper. What I am not so sure about is EVO:RAIL, I get VSAN (see An introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Software-Defined Storage technology and What are the pros and cons of Software-Defined Storage?), but does EVO:RAIL actually make sense? There are some advantages – it is easy to order, as it is a fixed configuration and it is easy to deploy, just plug-in, power-on and go. But compared to VSAN Continue reading

EMC, HDS & NetApp Storage Portfolio Videos now available on YouTube

As well as being one of the most expensive, your storage infrastructure is likely to be the single most critical element of your physical and virtualised IT environment. While CPU, RAM and Network resources can directly affect the performance of some of your systems, poorly sized or badly integrated storage, will damage the performance of ALL your systems and may render servers and services unusable. So it’s always worth taking the time to understand the storage that’s available and digging a little deeper to ensure it’s going to deliver great performance and good value for money. To start the ball rolling, we’ve provided three short videos that give a quick introduction to the storage offerings available from the three major storage Continue reading