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.

News: Oracle Buys Xsigo Systems

Coming on the heels of VMware’s acquisition of Nicira, Oracle announced today that it is acquiring network virtualization vendor Xsigo Systems for an undisclosed amount. So now two shoes have dropped in the question of how networks will be designed and operated in the future (perhaps the entity in question is an octopus, and we have six shoes to go). Clearly the notion of software defined networks has legs and clearly VMware is not the only company who sees this.

The Oracle Announcement

Oracle Buys Xsigo

Extends Oracle’s Virtualization Capabilities with Leading Software-Defined Networking Technology for Cloud Environments

  • Oracle today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Xsigo Systems, a leading provider of network virtualization technology.
  • Xsigo’s software-defined networking technology simplifies cloud infrastructure and operations by allowing customers to dynamically and flexibly connect any server to any network and storage, resulting in increased asset utilization and application performance while reducing cost.
  • The company’s products have been deployed at hundreds of enterprise customers including British Telecom, eBay, Softbank and Verizon.
  • The combination of Xsigo for network virtualization and Oracle VM for server virtualization is expected to deliver a complete set of virtualization capabilities for cloud environments.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. More information on this announcement can be found at oracle.com/xsigo.

Supporting Quotes

  • “The proliferation of virtualized servers in the last few years has made the virtualization of the supporting network connections essential,” said John Fowler, Oracle Executive Vice President of Systems. “With Xsigo, customers can reduce the complexity and simplify management of their clouds by delivering compute, storage and network resources that can be dynamically reallocated on-demand.”
  • “Customers are focused on reducing costs and improving utilization of their network,” said Lloyd Carney, Xsigo CEO. “Virtualization of these resources allows customers to scale compute and storage for their public and private clouds while matching network capacity as demand dictates.”

What Does This Mean?

The most disconcerting statement in the release is the part about the “combination of Xsigo and Oracle VM”. This means that Oracle is continuing to play its “vertically integrated solution stack” game, which is in direct contrast to the horizontally layered strategies that VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, Citrix, the CloudStack community, and the OpenStack community are all pursuing. While this might be very appealing to a customer that is 100% or nearly 100% Oracle, the notion of jamming Oracle VM down the throat of a customer in order for them to get Xsigo is just another example of the foolishness of Oracle’s closed, proprietary and arrogant approach. This could not be more at odds with VMware’s notion of the Software Defined Data Center which is completely open with respect to the hardware layers underneath it and the workloads that run on it.

Storage Hypervisors: Worth the Hype

StorageNetworkingJust what are storage hypervisors? There are several companies that claim to have storage hypervisors. Wikipedia states that  a hypervisor is “conceptually one level higher than a supervisory program”. We also know that from our normal use of hypervisors that they manage the underlying resources that a guest uses. Do these definitions work for a storage hypervisor? Continue reading Storage Hypervisors: Worth the Hype

Defense in Depth: Storage Security in a Hybrid Cloud

StorageNetworkingStorage Security is not only about Encryption, which is just one aspect of Storage Security requirements for the virtual and cloud environments. It is also about increasing defense in depth and knowledge of what is touching your storage environment. As well as providing security around those touch points and to a great extent auditing and protecting the data residing within the storage devices regardless of where the devices live: within the virtual environment or within a cloud. Traditionally we have the following storage security capabilities:

All Paths Down!

StorageNetworkingI recently had the joys of helping deal with an All Paths Down (APD) situation which presented itself when removing a LUN from all the hosts in a cluster. If you do not detach the device first, which will also initiate an unmount operation before you physically unpresent the LUN from the ESX, it causes an APD situation to happen. ADP is when ESXi server no longer has any active paths to a device.  When the device is no longer present and you rescan the adapters ESXi server will still retain the information on the removed devices and hostd will continue to try to open a connection to the disk device by issuing different commands like read capacity and read requests to validate the partitions tables are set. If SCSI Sense codes are not returned from a device (you are unable to contact the storage array, or the storage array that does not return the supported “SCSI codes”), then the device is in an All-Paths-Down (APD) state, and the ESXi host continues to send I/O requests until it times out. Continue reading All Paths Down!

News: VMware Acquires Cetas for Big Data Analytics

On Thursday April 26 VMware announced that it has acquired Cetas, an early stage startup focused upon making access to advanced big data analytics much easier and cheaper. The obvious goal of this is that if you make something easier and cheaper, more of it gets consumed, which then allows more people to benefit from it. 25 years ago, mobile phones were expensive, the size of shoe boxes, and few people could afford to buy them and bother to use them. We all know how ubiquitous mobile phones are now, and this is entirely due to the democratization and commoditization of mobile phone access.

What Does Cetas Do?

Cetas makes it easy to apply advanced self-learning complex event processing technology to random sets of data. Furthermore it is built from the ground up to handle “big data” which means that it is designed to handle large data sets, large amounts of rapidly arriving data, and data that arrives at high rates of frequency (at or near real time rates).  VMware thinks that Cetas is good for three primary uses cases shown in the diagram below.

There are two very interesting problems that VMware could potentially address with Cetas. The first is that doing analytics at cloud scale (think of trying to analyze data about every virtual server at Amazon at the same time) is clearly a big data problem, and a challenging problem purely on the front of making the analytics work and be easy to use with data sets of that size.

The second has to do with Operational Performance and Application Performance data. Right now VMware collects data from its hypervisor at 20 second intervals and rolls that up into 5 minute intervals for access via the vSphere API. These intervals are too long, and the rollups obscure too much data, but until now VMware has not had any way to analyze the data to make it more useful. Cetas therefore can potentially solve problems that apparently the Integrien technology that VMware purchased a couple of years ago is not suited to address.

How is Cetas Deployed

Cetas is available as a cloud resident service (analytics as a service), or as an on-premise solution.

Summary

When we look back five years from now, we will probably conclude that the Cetas acquisition was one of the most significant acquisitions that VMware did. The Cetas technology is going to bring real time self-learning analytics to several layers of VMware’s management offerings over time. As soon as VMware gets into the business of producing and analyzing real time, continuous and deterministic management data the final nail will be driven in the legacy management solutions that sample and operate at 5 minute intervals.

EMC VSPEX vs. vBlock, or NetApp FlexPod. Can VMware VARs “Refuse” the Offer?

CloudComputingOn 4/12/2012, EMC in conjunction with technology partners VMware, Microsoft, Cisco, Brocade, Citrix and Intel announced EMC VSPEX. EMC VSPEX is an specification framework that allows multiple vendors to participate in providing “standard” building blocks for virtualized data centers and private clouds – targeted at accounts who need less than 250 virtualized servers and/or 2000 virtualized users (VDI) and delivered exclusively through EMC/VMware/Cicso/Microsoft/Citrix partners. The goal of this initiative is to provide the mid-market with cost effective, pre-certified, pre-integrated solution sets and leverage standard building blocks from leading vendors. In other words this is VCE/vBlock for smaller companies delivered through the distributor and VAR channels of the respective vendors. Continue reading EMC VSPEX vs. vBlock, or NetApp FlexPod. Can VMware VARs “Refuse” the Offer?