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.

Given that vSphere provides significant benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility, those benefits are tied to and constrained by the ability of vSphere to provide backward compatibility with existing legacy enterprise systems. This backward compatibility makes it impossible for vSphere to provide infinite horizontal scalability. Moving to the same architecture as the most highly scaled out public cloud vendors provides for a more radical set of benefits, but at the cost of breaking backward compatibility for many applications.

The Freemium sales model is a business model innovation best suited to inexpensive products that are very easily understood (and therefore not very new or very different) and that solve an obvious problem in a manner that is more convenient for the customer to acquire and implement. There are not many new virtualization and cloud technology companies who set out to produce undifferentiated products which suggests that a general application of the Freemium model to startups in our ecosystem is ill advised. Enterprise customers should pay great attention to products that are being marketing in this manner to ensure that they do not end up growing the use of something that was purchased in a tactical manner into a strategic use case.

If we are going to start over, why not really start over and reinvent the entire infrastructure and management software industries in the process. That way we end up with an infrastructure that was actually designed for the dynamic, agile, and scalable use cases that we are trying to address with a green field approach, and an appropriate set of management tools as well. Is this going to happen? You can bet that there are already VC funded startups in stealth mode working on it.

VMware’s 5 Businesses and the “New Stack”

VMware dominates the enterprise virtualization platform business with vSphere, and is poised to create a vSphere compatible public cloud ecosystem around vCloud. Layering Management software on top of these platforms is a logical progression up the value stack, as is layering an applications platform (vFabric) on top of vSphere and vCloud. VMware’s end user computing strategy seems to be too tied to VDI to be able to break out of the fundamental limitations associated with this approach, and will likely leave the larger question of how to manage the next generation desktop to the previously mentioned startups and perhaps Symantec.

IO Virtualization Approaches: VMworld 2010 Review

There seem to be three styles of IO Virtualization (IOV) taking place within the virtual environment. At VMworld, the IO Virtualization companies were out and talking to people about their wares, products, and approaches to IO Virtualization. These three methods are:

* Converged Network Adapters used within Cisco UCS, HP Matrix, etc.
* Attached IOV top of rack devices such as the Xsigo Device
* PCIe Extenders

Each of these provide unique benefits to your virtual environment but which to use? First, we need to know what each of these approaches brings to the table.

The Consolidated server stack has been the big items over the last year using converged network adapters, blades, and integrated storage that is designed around providing an order-able element that is a single SKU that provides enough resources for a set number of VMs. Currently the VCE colition has the VBlock which combines VMware, Cisco, and EMC products into a single stack. HP has its Matrix stack. But where is IBM’s and Dell’s stacks. Could the acquisition of 3Par be the beginning of a integrated stack play from Dell?

Who’s Who in Virtualization Management

Virtualizing business critical systems requires that a layer of virtualization management solutions be added to the virtualization platform. Virtualization management solutions in the areas of virtualization security, virtualization configuration management, virtualization service and capacity management, virtualization service and capacity management, virtualization provisioning and lifecycle management and backup and recovery should be added to the platform.

vSphere 4.1 Released – More Dynamic Resource Load Balancing

With the release of vSphere 4.1, VMware has added to their Dynamic Resource Load Balancing (DRLB) suite of tools that I hinted at in my post on Dynamic Resource Load Balancing that I wrote last week as well as providing new memory over commit and other functionality. In essence, vSphere 4.1 is more than a point release, this update includes many features that aid in security, reliability, and is a direct response to customer requests.

I just finished writing all the content for my next book entitled VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers (2nd Edition) which continues the discussion on Dynamic Resource Load Balancing (DRLB). DRLB is the balancing of virtualized workloads across all hosts within a cluster of virtualization hosts without human intervention. This is the ultimate goal of automation with respect to virtualization and therefore the cloud. In effect, with DRLB the virtualization administrators job has been simplified to configuration and trouble shooting leaving the virtual environment to load balance work loads on its own.