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

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

VMware VVOLs on NetApp FAS is now available to deploy

More information on VVOLs is being released every week and it is only now that we are getting a chance to play with the full release code that we are able to dig into the detail of how it works. Let’s start off by exploring the benefits of VVOLs that are likely to make it game changing technology: Granular Control of VMs Enable VM granular storage operations on individual virtual disks for the first time including control of the following capabilities: Auto Grow Compression De-duplication Disk Types: SATA, FCAL, SAS, SSD Flash Accelerated High Availability Maximum Throughput: IOPS & MBs Replication Protocol: NFS, iSCSI, FC,FCoE Enhanced Efficiency and Performance Off-load VM snapshots, clones and moves to the array Automatically optimise I/O paths for all Continue reading

Exploring Long-Distance vMotion in more detail

One of the major new features of vSphere 6 is the ability to vMotion over very long distances. With previous releases of vSphere the maximum network Round Trip Time (RTT) was 10 ms which equates to a distance of almost 400 miles. With Long-Distance vMotion the RTT has been increased to a whopping 100 ms which increases the distance to 4,000 miles – far enough to move a VM from London to New York. Of course you do still require a L2 stretched network (L2 adjacency) which is where technologies like vSphere NSX come in, but what about the storage? vSphere 5.1 introduced Enhanced vMotion which combined vMotion and Storage vMotion into a single operation so that shared storage was no longer required Continue reading

A deeper look into NetApp’s support for VMware Virtual Volumes

Virtual Volumes is the flagship feature of vSphere 6.0 as they enable VM granular storage management and NetApp FAS running Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3 is one of the first platforms to support the technology. Today storage administrators have to explain to the VM administrators how to identify which datastores to use for each class of VM, which is typically achieved using a combination of documentation and datastore naming conventions – however, consistency and compliance are difficult to achieve. Virtual Volumes changes this by enabling the storage administrator to provide vCenter with detailed information on the capabilities of each datastore. VM Storage Policies, whilst they existed in previous versions of vSphere were not sophisticated enough to query the actual storage for its capabilities, 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, or drill Continue reading

Does it really matter if NetApp FAS is not “pure” block storage?

For many years traditional storage array vendors have claimed that their platforms are superior for block storage than NetApp FAS because they do not have the overhead of a Pointer-based Architecture – let’s explore this in more detail: What do we mean by “pure” block storage? Uses a Fixed Block Architecture whereby data is always read from and written to a fixed location (i.e. each block has its own Logical Block Address) – in reality most block storage arrays provide the option to use pages (ranging from 5 MB to 1 GB) where the LBA is fixed within the page, but the page can be moved to facilitate tiering. The advantages of this architecture are: No performance overhead – it is 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