Vote now for the Top vBlogs of 2016

As many of you might have already known, this is the time for voting for the top vBlogs for the year of 2016. An yearly program by Eric Siebert of vsphere-land to identify the industry’s top bloggers in various categories. This year’s voting is in partnership with VMTurbo .

You can now vote for the best blogs in various categories including virtualization, storage, scripting, VDI, independant blogger, new blogger etc…

It takes a huge effort to maintain a blog site and keep it updated. Top vBlogs voting is a real encouragement for the bloggers to continue investing time and effort in publishing more value added contents.

Top vBlog 2016

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Some of the inactive (blogs which are not being updated) entries from the whole list of vLaunchPad blogs have been removed from the list out for voting. So this time we have around 319 blogs (from 400+ in last year’s list) which were active in 2015.

Now, here is the link for voting for your favorite blogs for the year. To value all the efforts behind this successful program, let’s

keep-calm-and-vote-for-the-best-16

Here you can read more about this year’s program. And here is the results from the last year’s voting.

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EMC UNITY -“SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION”

Today at EMC World, EMC announced the EMC Unity unified storage solution. The al-new Unified storage solution, available in All-Flash and Hybrid variants. As the subject says, Unity is Simple in many aspects from purchase to service. New controllers, no more Java-based UI, new management over the cloud, vVols and container support…

let’s discuss some of these in detail.

EMC Unity

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When we say the system is a true unified array, the Unity is having the same controller managing the functions of SAN and NAS. Having different controllers for each function was a drawback with the VNX and Celerra systems. This reduces the efforts and complexity in cabling the system, from an implementation perspective. This also reduces the rack space needed for the system to 2U from 12 or 10 Units.

The image below will explain you the models available. The base system will be Unity 300 and the elder ones in the family are Unity 400, 500 and 600. All-Flash systems have the similar models with an F in front.

EMC Unity Models

Let us see how Unity is simplified in various areas.

Purchase and Install : The implementation partners and the EMC employees are well aware of the sizing tools available for designing a new system. With EMC Unity, the implementation engineer can upload a configuration taken from an existing VNX/VNXe or CX array and get the new Unity system configuration. That is designing and ordering a new system, simplified.

For the installations, the racking and cabling are much more simple with Unity as we have fewer modules to rack and stack and very less number of cables to be laid. It takes less than 15 minutes to setup a new system with the configuration wizard.

If the customer wants to have a similar type of configuration (in terms of drive and pool layout etc…), it is made easier with Unity. Customers can clone the configuration to multiple systems with Unisphere Central.

Management and Monitoring : The interesting part as far as the customers are concerned. Java or Flash based management is a real pain for the administrators, yes, HTML is the future. EMC Unity offers HTML 5 based management UI, supported by all the major browsers available. HTML 5 is faster and secure compared to its predecessors. The new Unisphere UI offers customizable cool dashboards, easy navigation from a Unified management perspective, and very good look and feel.

Pool and Thin provisioning – Unity offers a Unified storage pool which can serve space for both SAN and NAS functionalities. The NAS Filesystem is capable of automatically expanding and shrinking. This enables improved space efficiency. The space released by an FS shrink will be sent back to the pool and can be used for SAN provisioning. The FS shrink will be reflected at the target FS if the FS is being replicated to a different system.

CloudIQ – CloudIQ is the cloud-based monitoring solution available with Unity. You can monitor your system from anywhere with CloudIQ. It helps in pro-active alerting and support. CloudIQ also enables better availability and performance with the monitoring and planning. EMC is now providing an early-access for the CloudIQ solution.

Unity introduces new Unified CLI and better integration with Rest API for management functions. The simple HTTP commands make easier integration. Customers can prepare their own scripts based on the APIs and they can access the APIs from CLI, Browsers, and Apps also.

Service : Unity supports embedded ESRS with the help of embedded docker container. This allows the support team to connect to the system and the system to send alerts to EMC. The UDoctor software has been improved to have a detailed log collection from the system. The new UI has a better system view which shows a detailed status and health information of the components.

Flash Optimized architecture : The Unity architecture is optimized for the best performance. The new write-caching with the Unity systems is a key for performance improvements. The new writes will be received by the full system cache and will be served to the disks.

Unity Write Caching

Pricing : The Unity storage systems comes with all-softwares and the starting price is $10K for hybrid arrays and $18K for All-Flash models. You can find more details about the products, compare the products, and place the order for Unity system form the EMC Store. For more details and specifications please check the datasheet here.

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EMC World 2016 – How to follow if you are not in Vegas.

It’s just a few hours for the EMC World, the biggest storage event of the year. Maybe the last event as an EMC event as the Dell-EMC merger will be completed by the mid-year. As always there are many attractions, including some possible new announcements.

There are many (including me 🙁 ) who are not lucky enough to be at The Venetian for the event, because of various reasons. Few ways to follow the event at home, not entirely but if you don’t want to miss the highlights.

EMC World

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Technical sessions on the most recent products including DSSD D5, VMAX All-Flash Array, VxRail and many others will be interesting. Attendees can make use of the EMC vLabs on products of their interest. EMC Proven Professional team is having testing center arranged and the first exam attempt is free. Other community events, customer/Partner events etc…

Learning, networking, fun – an event you must attend..!

And if you are an EMC Elect, you will have some special attractions including SUPERNAP tour. You may find a list of events from my fellow EMC Elect Rob Koper in his post here.

Follow the event onlineYou are not at The Venetian ? you can still follow the events online. You can watch the live streaming of the general sessions here. Of course, we can not follow the complete event here.

It is hard to be on Twitter during this week, but we can follow the event on Twitter also. Follow the EMC Twitter accounts including EMC World. Follow the EMCWorld hashtag (#EMCWorld) on Twitter to keep yourself updated on the announcements and other highlights. Also, don’t forget to follow the EMC Elect hashtag (#EMCElect) for Tweets from the Elects.

There will be many blog posts on the announcements from the event. I will try to have some posts out here also. Watch this page for more.

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Cloud integration with Cohesity storage platform

Cohesiy added Cloud integration to their secondary storage platform, featuring 3 cost-effective solutions for archival, tiering and replication. They had added a good set of features recently with their 2.0 release. Cohesity presented at Storage Field Day 9, in which they discussed their new features including the cloud integration.

If you are not familiar with Cohesity, you may read my previous post about their secondary storage consolidation.

Cohesity Cloud

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CloudArchive : CloudArchive is a feature introduced recently with their version 2.0 release. This feature allows archiving data from Cohesity platform to the cloud. They are supporting Google Nearline, Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3, Glacier for archiving data for an extended period.

CloudTier : This solution helps customers to use cloud storage as a lower tier storage with their on-premise Cohesity platform. This is another cost-effective solution and enables efficient use of the local storage space by using the public cloud. It relocates data based on the defined policies and the access pattern of the data.

CloudTier_Cohesity

CloudReplicate : Setting up a Disaster Recovery solution is a real pain and is highly expensive. With CloudReplicate, Cohesity gives their customers a solution to replicate their data to public cloud storage. A cheaper solution for having a secondary copy for disaster recovery. This solution is expected to be available for production use later this year.

You may watch the cohestiy presentation at SFD9 here including a demo of their cloud solutions.

More SFD9 posts from me – here

Disclaimer: My travel and accommodation expenses for the SFD9 (Storage Field Day 9) event were paid by the Tech Field Day team. I am not requested to post about event content and I am not getting paid for any posts or for the time I spend during the event.

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Leader, in technology and in figures that matter – all in just 2 years.

The phase of transition in data storage now is mainly anchored on 2 architectural approaches – All-Flash storage arrays as a result of the Flash domination and the second is the HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure). The competition is really tough in these areas today as there are many startups and existing vendors trying their luck here.

I’ve got a chance to hear from a few of the vendors who sell their HCI solutions. Different solutions, all competing to be in the race and to have a better spot. Being the front-runner is a real tough thing, but there should be One and there is One.

Race

VMware VSAN

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VMware presented at the Storage Field Day 9 in which Christos Karamanolis (CTO, Storage & Availability) discussed VSAN, it’s growth and the technology – mainly the enhancements introduced with the 6.2 release. In just 2 years, the customer base they have achieved and the feature set they have brought in are simply awesome. With an average of 500+ new customers every quarter, VSAN is now having over 3000 customers. Really HUGE numbers..!

The stats from the business displayed during the presentation (including the number of units sold and the growth rate) were impressive. Number 1, for a reason.

VSAN Stats

Figures on performance : VMware VSAN is claiming the highest performance and lowest cost with their All-Flash Hyper-Converged configurations. 100K IOPS/node with sub-millisecond latency and $1/GB for All-Flash configurations and a 40K IOPS for hybrid nodes.

VSAN 6.1 version was released in September 2015 (a release cycle of 6 months) with some good features including stretched cluster. But the biggest update announcement – 6.2 -came recently in February with another great set of features.

VSAN Stretched cluster offers site-level redundancy with a cluster spanning across 2 sites. With a max latency of 5 ms between the sites, customers can have a near-instantaneous recovery in case of site failures. Customers can replicate the datastores to a third site (probably at a longer distance) using vSphere replication. This helps the customer to have a very low RPO in the case of the metro cluster failure. The witness VM (located at a third site) for the stretched cluster configuration can now have a latency of up to 500ms.

I know you will find a lot of detailed posts on the internet on the enhancements from the 6.2 version. Still, I just thought I should outline some of them here.

Data reduction (deduplication and compression) is a great feature came with 6.2. Data will be dedupe’d and compressed at the disk group level at a 4KB block size. This feature can be enabled at the cluster level. Deduplication will be done while the data is being written to the Capacity tier from the cache tier. Compression will only be performed if the 4KB data can be reduced to 2KB or to a smaller size. Else the data will be written as a 4KB block only.

RAID 5/6 or Erasure coding is another feature to improve space efficiency and level of data protection came with the February release. With mirroring being the only availability feature for datastore objects, customers were compromising a lot on the space efficiency. RAID-5 now reduces the overhead requirement to 33% (from 100% for mirroring) for protecting from single drive failure. RAID-6 configuration will have a higher overhead of 50% but it can protect data against 2 drive failures (RAID-1 would have caused a 200% overhead for protecting against 2 drive failures). Customers can select from RAID 5 or 6 by selecting the ‘number of failures to tolerate’ setting (1=RAID 5 and 2=RAID 6).

One thing that disappoints many is the fact that the above 2 features are available with All-Flash configurations only.

You may read more about all these features and more (including Software checksum and disk scrubbing, QoS, Sparse Swap etc..) here from Duncan‘s post.

Closing notes : Many startup companies fail as they fail to find a good balance between technology and marketing. Some got a wonderful technology but are a failure in marketing the same. And that is where the VMware VSAN is winning. They added a lot many flexibilities to their product from what it was in the initial days. Also, they got a good marketing effort to ensure the maximum units are being sold.

And yes, VSAN got an edge as it is from a vendor which is named VMware.!

With these added features in 6.2, I will not be surprised to see another great set of business figures soon from VSAN.

Additional ReferenceSFD7 and SFD9 presentations from VMware.

Disclaimer: My travel and accommodation expenses for the SFD9 (Storage Field Day 9) event were paid by the Tech Field Day team. I am not requested to post about event content and I am not getting paid for any posts or for the time I spend during the event.

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The all-new FlashBlade is here from Pure Storage

Yesterday (14-Mar), Pure Storage announced their new All-Flash products at the Pure//Accelerate event. FlashBlade is to support unstructured data (File, Object, containers etc…) requirements and FlashArray//m10 to strengthen their FlashArray//m series. FlashBlade, the cloud-scale data platform provides All-Flash efficiency and performance for their customers cost effectively.

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FLASHBLADE

FlashBlade is the industry’s first All-Flash NAS solution as per my understanding. This is a new approach from Pure to meet the next-gen requirements. Scale-out blade modules for elastic scalability. System will have only Flash modules – no SSDs and no HDDs.

Hardware : FlashBlade can have a minimum configuration of 7 blades which forms a cluster. Each blade can have 8TB or 52 TB of internal flash capacity. The flash modules are PCIe attached to the blades and they use proprietary protocol. This helps the customer to select the configuration based on their capacity requirements. In a 4U module, FlashBlade can deliver 10Gb/s and can have upto 16PB raw capacity. Blades have 40GB ethernet ports for communication between blades.

FlashBlade

The system is now supporting only NFS protocol. SMB, Object and S3 support will be available in future releases. More data services including data reduction, snapshots etc… also will be available soon. FlashBlade systems management is made easy with the Pure1 cloud-based management tool.

Availability : Early-access to the FlashBlade is now available for customers, but the systems for production will be GA towards the 2nd Half of 2016.

FlashArray//m10

Flasharray m10This is new addition to the FlashArray//m models from Pure. Customers can buy a minimum configuration of 15 TB or 30TB and then grow their system as per requirement. FlashArray//m10 system can be upgraded to any of it’s big-brothers in the FlashArray//m family.

One of the attractions from the new comer is that the customers can have ‘everything’ at a starting price less than $50K. This includes all the softwares, Evergreen storage (offer from Pure to have free upgrades to add new features to the existing storage system, without the need of repurchasing the entire hardware and migrating the data). The product can also be purchased as a FlashStack CI for a starting price of nearly $100K.

 

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Storage Field Day 9 – presenting companies

During this time next week, there will be some serious discussions on Flash, Hyper-Convergence, Primary/Secondary Storage and more at Storage Field Day 9. Storage Field Day always have awesome (may not be huge always) vendors from industry to present their solutions. This time we have 6 vendors who have proven solutions in Flash, Software-Defined-Storage, Secondary storage etc…

Presentation

Let’s see the presenters list. I know you don’t need an introduction to these market leaders and great startups.

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Cohesity

Cohesity have a lot new to discuss from what they discussed at SFD8. With Cohesity Data Platform 2.0, they have added few wonderful features to their secondary storage consolidation. Also they will be discussing on their joint venture with Pure Storage for the primary and secondary storage integration.

Cohesity will present during the post lunch session on Thursday, 17-March.

Intel

We were really impressed by the discussion on the latest in technology including NVMe, 3D XPOINT from Intel during their SFD8 presentation. Really excited to hear about these technologies and other innovations from the chip manufacturer this time again.

We will have the Intel presentation on Thursday (17-March)

NetApp

One of the main attractions of SFD9 will be the presentation from NetApp. We hope to have a wonderful presentation from them regarding the developments in AFA product series after the SolidFire acquisition, about their industry-leading Hybrid Storages etc…

NetApp will be the first to present at SFD9 (Wednesday, 16-March).

Plexistor

Plexistor is having their Tech Field Day debut at SFD9. It will be great to learn about the Plexistor software and their Software Defined Memory (SDM).

Plexistor will be presenting at the post-lunch session on 16-March (Wednesday).

Violin Memory

Violin is another vendor who presented at SFD8. The AFA’s and the Concerto OS were appreciated by all and they delivered a very good presentation. It will be good to meet the guys at Violin and hear about hardware/software enhancements or new feature/product announcements etc.. if there are any.

Violin will have their presentation on Thursday (17-March).

VMware

One of the most discussed topics in recent days in the storage/virtualization world is VSAN 6.2. I expect the enhancements in new VSAN release including improved data reduction, RAID 5/6 (Erasure Coding) etc… to be discussed during the presentation.

VMware have their presentation scheduled for Friday, 18-March.

That’s really a lot of great stuff you don’t want to miss. Right ? You don’t have to worry. Tech Field Day team will have all the presentations available live on their website here. I would recommend not to miss any of the presentations. But if you are busy at work, have everything scheduled in advance so that you will not be missing your favorite sessions from SFD9.

More posts from me on SFD9 here

Disclaimer: My travel and accommodation expenses for the SFD9 (Storage Field Day 9) event were paid by the Tech Field Day team. I am not requested to post about event content and I am not getting paid for any posts or for the time I spend during the event.

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DSSD D5 – EMC’s quantum leap in flash storage with the rack-scale all-flash appliance

In their ‘Quantum Leap’ announcements, alongwith VMAX All-Flash storage EMC announced DSSD D5 flash appliance on Monday (29-Feb). And it is really a big leap in flash storage as they produce un-matching performance and capacity in small footprint. D5 is a ‘rack-scale’ flash appliance for today’s today’s and next-gen workloads, e.g; applications built on Hadoop.

DSSD D5

10 Million IOPS and 100 Micro Seconds latency are real big numbers. Let’s dig in more to other highlights from D5 here in this post.

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Hardware : DSSD D5 have a 5U module which with 2 redundant controllers and 36 drive slots. It can support a maximum of 144 TB of raw capacity (with 4TB flash modules). The system offers 100 TB of usable flash capacity in 5U. The system now supports 2TB/4TB (dual-ported, hot-swappable) flash modules and more in near-future.

NVMe : It’s ‘NVMe show’ with D5 as it helps the servers to have end-to-end PCIe NVMe access to the Flash modules. It is the key for providing shared flash storage via PCIe, by the NVMeF (NVMe over Fabric) in use in D5. The system supports 96 ports (48 ports per IO module) for host connectivity. i.e, 48 hosts (PCIe3 x4 lane availability) can be directly attached with redundant connectivity. As it is end-to-end NVMe enabled, there is no overhead of protocol translation.

DSSD D5 will act as a direct attached shared flash storage for varying workloads. It’s simply direct attached Flash with enterprise availability and features. NVMe  While supporting today’s database/data warehouse workloads it supports next-gen workloads including applications based on Hadoop also.

Availability : DSSD D5 is now available for order.

Additional reference : DSSD D5 data sheet,  EMC Press release

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EMC VMAX to the All-Flash market – VMAX All-Flash arrays

On Monday (29-Feb), EMC announced their All-Flash models of VMAX arrays. With the addition of All-Flash version of EMC VMAX 3 series of arrays, EMC is targeting to continue to maintain their position in today’s busiest storage market – the AFA Market. These new additions to their Flash Storage portfolio – alongside the existing XtremIO and the new DSSD – will help them serve different customer requirements and thus to remain in race.

VMAX All-Flash-Arrays come in different models including 450F/FX and 850 F/FX.

VMAX All-Flash

As in the above snap, VMAX 450 F/FX and 850F/FX arrays gives unmatched performance with 4M IOPS and <0.5ms latency. The HYPERMAX OS is well optimized for Flash in the new products to achieve lowest latency in a high density system. It can have 1PB of usable space over a single tile space.

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Hardware : VMAX 450 and 850 systems comes with V-Bricks which are equivalent to the engines in previous models. Each V-Brick with 2 directors which can have 1TB (for VMAX 450) or 2 TB of memory. A single VMAX 450/850 cabinet can have upto 2 V-Bricks and 480 drives. Customers can upgrade -Scale Up- the capacity in 13TB flash packs and Scale-out the performance by adding more engines.

Software : The F and FX model variations have different software packages in the system. The F variations (450F and 850F) have HYPERMAX OS, SnapVX, and AppSync starter pack. Customers can add more software packages as a-la-carte options. In FX variation, have more software packages by default in addition to the ones available with F models. These include Remote replication suite (SRDF Sync/Async, STAR, SRDF/Metro), CloudArray Enabler, eNAS, D@RE, ViPR Suite etc…  customers can have remaining packages in a-la-carte.

VMAX AF-Software

VMAX AF systems will offer multi-dimensional scalability (Ports/ Devices/ Capacity), World class BC/DR (With SRDF and SnapVX) and various data services including Mainframe, eNAS etc… This will cater different customer needs when compared to the XtremIO from EMC All-Flash family. More to come in near-future as they plan to have even denser configuration as they switch to newer high capacity SSDs.

AvailabilityVMAX AF series of systems are now available for customers.

Posted in All-Flash, Announcements, EMC, Symmetrix, VMAX | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s now Oracle Ravello Systems – latest in acquisition.

Earlier this week – on 22nd Feb – we heard of another interesting acquisition news.

Ravello Systems has been acquired by Oracle.

Ravello Systems – a Cloud Computing venture started in 2011, known for their virtual labs using Nested Virtualization. This acquisition will empower the Oracle Public Cloud (OPC) organization. The financial terms of the deal is yet to be disclosed.

 

Oracle logo

Ravello

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Ravello helps you to setup a virtual lab if you are struggling to setup one. It can be for your training purposes, Test/Dev environments etc… Ravello integrates with AWS and Google (GCE) and the customers can have their VMs running on either of them. This is a function enabled by their specialized hypervior – HVX.

Customers can optimize their deployment for Performance or cost. While publishing the application, customers can select this and finalize their figures.

Ravello won many hearts with their offer of 1000 CPU hours free for the VMware vExperts. And they are continuing this offer as confirmed by their tweet following the news.

Virtual Labs are pretty cool and you should try this if you are looking for a lab setup.William Lam’s blog post will be a great help for any beginner. This post explains ‘how-to’ in easy and clear steps.

I am finding it difficult to invest more time to make the maximum out of my – vExpert – free account. But I hope I will find some workaround for this.

You may read more about this acquisition from Ravello blog and you may refer to the Oracle web page for Ravello.

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