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VSAN vs. Nutanix — Head-to-Head Performance Testing — Part 4 — Exchange!

stopwatchFor those of you have been following this thread for a while, you know we’re in the midst of head-to-head performance testing on two identical clusters: one running VSAN, the other running Nutanix.  Recently, we’ve updated the Nutanix cluster to vSphere 6 and 4.1.3 — however, no differences have been observed performance since the change.

Up to now, we’ve only been able to share our VSAN results.  That's because Nutanix recently changed their EULA to prohibit any publishing of any testing by anyone.  It's very hard to find any sort of reasonable Nutanix performance information as a result.   That's unfortunate.

By comparison, VMware not only regularly publishes the results of our own tests, but also frequently approves such publication by others, once we’ve had a chance to review the methodology -- simply by submitting to benchmarks@vmware.com.

Since the results are so interesting, we're continuing to test!

As we start to move from synthetic workloads to specific application workloads, we recently finished a series of head-to-head Jetstress testing against our two identical clusters.  Previous results can be found here and here.

If you’re not familiar, Jetstress is a popular Microsoft tool for testing the storage performance of Exchange clusters. A busy Exchange environment can present a demanding IO profile to a storage subsystem, so it’s an important tool in the testing arsenal.

TL:DR our basic 4-node VSAN configuration passed 1000 heavy Exchange users with flying colors — and with ample performance to spare.  We can’t share with you how the identical Nutanix cluster did, but it’s certainly a worthwhile test if you have the time and inclinations.

That being said, there were no surprises — each product performed (or didn't perform) as we would expect based on both prior testing as well as customer anecdotes.

Now, on to the details!

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United Utilities and a "VSAN First" Policy

united_utilitiesDuncan Epping brings us a great VSAN story today -- a very early VSAN adopter who now is intent on replacing as much of their existing storage environment as possible with VSAN.

For United Utilities, it's a perfect storm of lower cost, amazing performance and a simplified operational model.  All future storage requirements are going on VSAN unless there's a really good reason not to.

But it's not as easy as it sounds, as there are predictable organizational issues at hand :)

A great read!

A Classic VSAN Adoption Story

balancing_rocksHaving been a student of how new tech finds it way into data centers, I am always impressed by how many IT professionals strike this great balance between getting the benefits from the new thing — and managing potential risk.

As I talk to VSAN users, the pattern emerges.  They certainly see the potential as compared to traditional storage, but are proceeding prudently.

Today’s story has to be anonymous — not everyone wants their name used.  Perfectly reasonable.  Let’s call our VSAN adopter Ken, just to keep things simple. Continue reading

VSAN File Shares With Nexenta

shareVSAN was designed to be the best storage for your VMDKs.  But that might seem a limitation if you have a need to exposed file shares, or perhaps iSCSI targets.  That means running something else on top of VSAN.

One of the most powerful choices available today comes from our partner Nexenta.  In addition to rich functionality, they've got the extra mile and have done a nice integration with both VSAN and vSphere.

Cormac Hogan runs through the basics on his blog.


VSAN In The Trenches

many-hatsSo much enterprise IT is delivered by small, lean teams that have to wear many hats to get the job done.

I had a chance to recently interview Serge Kovarsky, who is using VSAN more and more to get his job done — and make things simpler in the process.

Serge is part of a four-person infrastructure team for Baron Capital Management.  He was one of the earlier VSAN adopters, but — it seems — has turned into a big enthusiast. Continue reading

VSAN and Horizon: In His Own Words

story2One of the things I enjoy doing is getting VSAN customers on the phone, interview them and share their stories here.

But sometimes a VSAN customer is moved to write their own blog post.

Today's happy VSAN story comes from Jeff Wong, who works for a large Australian company.  He's responsible for a multi-site Horizon deployment, and is quite happy with his choice.

In this post, he shares his thought process behind his decision.   A quick read, but very illustrative on how real-world IT decisions are made.

Thanks, Jeff, for sharing!

Put another pizza in the oven, these kids are hungry

Youth sports are all about kids having fun. They play, they sweat, and hopefully have a great time. And boy do they build up an appetite.

Choosing the right refreshments during halftime, or the right restaurant after the game can be difficult. Are a couple large pizzas going to be sufficient, would a pizza buffet be in order?

pizzathumbsChoosing a team's celebratory dinner is not unlike properly sizing a VDI solution. The exercise of sizing VDI for "up to X number of users" can be difficult. User count expectations can also be skewed when the workload is different than expected. Mileage may vary.

VMware Virtual SAN really shines at meeting performance needs while being cost effective and easily scalable through additional node or drive additions. If more storage is needed, add additional drives, or additional nodes contributing storage. If only compute is needed, simply add hosts that do not contribute storage. Very easy to scale.
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Encrypting VSAN VMs with HyTrust

encryptFor more than a few IT shops, data-at-rest encryption is mandatory for many of their workloads.  It's one of those things that just isn't up for discussion.

While VSAN currently supports hardware encryption that's largely transparent to VSAN (or anything else that uses an internal storage device), many customers have expressed a desire for a more fully-featured solution that encrypts at a VM level, has sophisticated key management and policies, and can protect a VM wherever it happens to go.

To meet that need for sophisticated functionality, we've been partnering with HyTrust for a while.  The product strikes me as a unique combination of simplicity and power -- just like VSAN.

Cormac Hogan just posted a nice walk-through showing just how easy it is to set it up.  A while back, Rawlinson Rivera also did a nice write-up.

Bottom line: if you're looking at software-defined encryption to go with your software-defined data center, you should take a moment to understand what HyTrust can offer.


Virtual Volumes Overview Video

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VSAN and The Joys Of Head-to-Head Performance Testing

ramsEveryone who works with storage technology eventually gets around to wishing for the same thing: wouldn't it be GREAT if we could round up ALL the similar products, and put them through their paces?

Reality intrudes, however.  Getting a bunch of storage vendors to loan you their expensive arrays -- all at the same time -- is almost impossible, unless you've got a very big transaction to leverage.

Finding the time and the space to do the testing is another issue as well -- it's rare that someone with the right skills has the luxury to spend several weeks doing array testing.

However, things worked out well for Jay Scheponik of JKS Consulting, Inc. (jayscheponik@gmail.com).  He was contracted to do just that -- put up a raft of comparable storage solutions, and see how they performed head-to-head.

Not only was he able to evaluate the usual external array suspects, but he also was able to test newer hyperconverged products, like VSAN.

Needless to say, we were very interested in his findings.  I was lucky enough to get Jay on the phone to ask a few questions. Continue reading