The Virtualization Practice

Storage Networking

Storage Networking focuses upon virtualizing the storage and the SAN while collapsing and simplifying the management and performance of storage. This includes the role of storage virtualization in the Software Defined Data Center, and the comparison of pooled local storage options with traditional network attached storage (NAS) and fiber channel attached storage. Covered vendors include VMware, EMC, IBM, Dell, HP, Cisco, Tintri, and Nutanix.

While the legacy enterprise management vendors might like to think of themselves as the Borg (prepare to be assimilated – there is no escape), the new technical requirements and the new buying patterns in the virtualization market do not lend themselves to a repeat of history. Legacy management vendors are unlikely to be able to acquire themselves into this market because their core platforms and business models do not work with the customers who are running virtualized environments and buying management solutions. So to my good friend Andi Mann, I respectfully disagree.

2011 Winners and Losers in Virtualization Management

The management ecosystem for virtualization started to transform significantly in 2011, driven by VMware’s new management strategy and management offerings. The big four are now boxed into an untenable position with expensive software that is hard to buy and hard to deploy. In 2012 there will be aggressive partnering in the ecosystem as vendors try to compete with the VMware suite by integrating with other vendors who have adjacent functionality.

VMware has had a great 2011. Product execution was excellent on all fronts except for VMware View where there are also larger strategy issues afoot. VMware is and likely will remain next year not only the most important, but the best system software vendor on the planet. We can only look forward to continued progress with vSphere, the management offerings, and the applications platform offerings.

Toward Converged Virtualization Management Suites

VMware has articulated and is starting to deliver on a compelling strategy of Automated Operations for its virtualization and cloud platforms. This will precipitate profound changes in the vendor ecosystem as third party vendors partner up and acquire in order to come up with the same depth of functionality that VMware is offering, but on a broader set of platforms (Quest buying VKernel is just the start of this process).

A Look At VMstore from Tintri

One of the biggest things I took away from the VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas was the all advancements within the storage part of virtualization. For me, this was the year for storage. One product that really got my attention was the new NAS appliance, VMstore from Tintri. This 3U appliance, well 5U if you count the UPC, is a single datastore with 8.5TB of usable storage. This appliance was a collaboration of some very smart individuals from different companies like VMware, Datadomain, NetApp and Sun. They put their minds together and built this NFS appliance from the ground up with specially engineered file system to work with virtualization. What makes this VM-aware appliance different from other typical storage designs is VMstore uses VM’s and virtual disks as the abstractions instead of the conventional storage abstractions, volumes, LUN’s and files that we have all been accustomed to. Each I/O request will map directly to a virtual disk all while VMstore monitors, controls the I/O and presents disk performance statistics per VM or per VMDK.

Confio Addresses a “Dark Corner” in Virtualized Database Performance

Confio IgniteVM uniquely provides a consolidated view of resource utilization and latency across database servers like Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, and Sybase and the virtual machine layer, the physical host layer and the storage layer. This provides a valuable performance management perspective to DBA’s as well as to the virtualization team that often is held responsible for performance issues in database based applications.

There are many enhancements and new features that are part of VMware vSphere V5.0 from a storage and I/O perspective (See VMware vSphere v5 and Storage DRS posts). One of those enhancements is a new Application Programming Interface (API) called VASA (vSphere Aware Storage API) which joins other VMware vSphere APIs some of which are shown in table 1. Note that there is a three letter acronym (TLA) shown in table 1 that is part of the VMware vSphere 5.0 release that can be confused with VASA called VSA (VMware Storage Appliance) however for now, let’s leave VSA for a future discussion.