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VAAI Licensing Now Aligned with Virtual Volumes (VVol)

At VMware, we believe that VM-centric, policy-based management is the right way to manage storage. For environments with traditional SAN and NAS storage, Virtual Volumes (VVol) is the way to get there.

So, when we introduced vSphere 6.0 this year, we made a conscious decision to expose VVol to the broadest customer base to allow this new framework to become the standard model going forward. One contributing factor is that we aligned the technology pieces necessary to implement VVol as features in all major vSphere editions:

  • vSphere Virtual Volumes
  • vSphere Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM)
  • vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA)

But there is another feature necessary to enable a fully successful VVol implementation: vSphere APIs for Array Integration (VAAI).  For general context, VAAI offloads specific storage operations to supported arrays, allowing vSphere to perform key storage operations faster while consuming less CPU and memory. In the VVol context, there are scenarios in which a migration of a VVol object may not be handled by the array using VASA, at which point the migration would fall back to using VAAI offload primitives. You can read in detail about the interaction between VVol and VAAI in this article.

But the bottom line is that VAAI should be available for customers looking to implement Virtual Volumes. Licensing was not properly aligned, as VAAI had been restricted to vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus so far. So, as of May 2015, we have made the necessary licensing update. VAAI, along with all aforementioned features necessary for Virtual Volumes are licensed with the following:

  • vSphere Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus
  • All edition of vSphere with Operations Management
  • All editions of vCloud Suite
  • All editions of vSphere for Remote and Branch Offices (ROBO)

Now go and implement some Virtual Volumes with the confidence that all the necessary functionality is properly available and supported.

For more information about licensing, you can refer to the VMware Product Guide.

Cache and All-Flash Virtual SAN

flash_cardMost of us are familiar with the role that flash cache plays with hybrid storage systems that are a mix of flash and traditional disk.  Cache is there as a performance accelerator: storing recent reads, and buffering writes to disk.

But when VSAN 6.0 announced its new all-flash configuration, there was a still a recommendation for cache in addition to flash devices used for capacity.  Why is this -- aren't the capacity flash devices fast enough?  And why the 10% recommendation?

With all-flash VSAN, cache is used to extend the life of less-wear-endurant (and less expensive!) capacity flash devices.  Unlike hybrid configs, cache is not about performance -- it's about economics.

Recently, Cormac Hogan put together an excellent post explaining how cache works differently with all-flash VSAN, and -- more importantly -- explains the logic behind the 10% usable capacity sizing recommendation.

If you're into optimized configuration of VSAN -- or just want to understand how things work behind the scenes -- it's excellent reading!


Virtual Volumes: VM-centricity And Why Its Important

One of the key benefits of Virtual Volumes is the ability to control provisioning and data services at a VM-level. Why is VM-centricity so important and how does Virtual Volumes enable VMs to consume resources efficiently?

Essentially, with VM-centricity, Virtual Volumes eliminates a costly tradeoff that our customers have faced with traditional storage for many years. More specifically, as new applications are deployed, many of our customers have been required to either underprovision and fail to meet SLAs or overprovision and waste valuable resources (compute, storage, and network). Obviously, customers would choose to meet SLAs at the expense of overprovisioning and not consuming resources efficiently.

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NexGen Storage hosts a technical seminar series on vSphere 6 and Virtual Volumes (VVol)

The momentum around Virtual Volumes keeps growing and growing, and it does so in large part thanks to the support from our storage partners. The VMware storage partner ecosystem continues to embrace the Virtual Volumes wave because just like us, they see in this technology a fantastic way to unlock a lot more value from the rich set of capabilities that their storage systems can deliver and ultimately to transform for the better the way that storage is managed in virtualized environments.

NexGen Storage is one of our Virtual Volumes partners that is doing a great job at helping customers understand how they can benefit from this technology.  In this regard, I am pleased to provide you with the following information about a series of technical seminars that NexGen is hosting on vSphere 6 and Virtual Volumes. You can find more info about this series in this News Release, and you can register for one of the events here. Take advantage of this great opportunity to get some training!


Learn How to Put Virtual Volumes to Work in Technical Seminar Series on Storage Best Practices for vSphere 6 and Beyond

NexGen Storage, a Virtual Volumes Development Partner, is hosting a series of technical seminars all across the US and in select cities in Europe focused on storage best practices for vSphere 6 and beyond, including the vSphere 6 Virtual Volumes (VVol) feature.

This half-day technical seminar is designed to give IT technology leaders the background they need to take full advantage of the operational benefits of VVol, including how to adapt their systems and processes to leverage the new management objects, mapping considerations, and performance implications inherent in VVol.

Howard Marks, NetworkComputing Contributing Editor and Chief Scientist of DeepStorage, a leading hands-on testing lab, will headline the seminars. Howard will provide best practice storage considerations for vSphere 6 based on his years of research and testing around VVol.

The morning session is targeted at virtualization managers and will feature the following sessions:

7:45 am – 8:30 am                            Register, Continental Breakfast and Networking

8:30 am – 10:30 am                          Howard Marks, vSphere 6 Storage Best Practice Considerations

10:30 am – 11:30 am                        NexGen VCP, VVol + Storage QoS = Smarter VMs

During the lunch hour, the following sessions will be targeted at business decision makers and will outline the key operational benefits of upgrading to vSphere 6 and how to amplify those benefits with a value-driven storage strategy.

Noon – 12:30 pm                                vSphere 6 Operational Benefits

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm                          Taking vSphere 6 Further with Value-Driven Storage

The series of sixteen technical seminars kicked-off on May 19, 2015 in Dallas, Texas and will continue throughout 2015. Dates and locations include:

  • Dallas, TX – May 19
  • San Diego, CA – May 20
  • New York City, NY – June 10
  • Atlanta, GA – June 11
  • Seattle, WA – June 16
  • San Jose, CA – June 17
  • Denver, CO – June 24
  • Washington, D.C. – July 14
  • Charlotte, NC – July 15
  • Indianapolis, IN – August 18
  • Salt Lake City, UT – September 16
  • Kansas City, KS – September 23
  • Boston, MA – October 21
  • Los Angeles, CA – December 8

Events are also planned for London and Amsterdam.

For more information or to register for an event, click here.

The Future Of Hyperconverged Is Already Here

One of my favorite William Gibson quotes is “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet”.  That statement could easily be applied to the work Gabriel Long is doing on behalf of his employer.

ulltradimmsHere’s the story in a nutshell: he’s built a serious VSAN cluster that uses Diablo's Memory Channel Storage™  technology for flash storage, which means he’s well ahead of the pack.  No, it's not officially supported yet.  Regardless, very impressive stuff -- and a great example of hyperconverged architectures to come.

Gabriel (or Gabe as he prefers) was kind enough to speak to me about what he’s doing: the motivations, the thinking and the experience that resulted.  It was an amazing story.

I hope you’ll agree as well …
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Intel and VSAN Team Up At EMC World

At EMC World 2015, Intel brought serious game to the industry's largest storage show -- demonstrating a slick, all-flash 32-node VSAN configuration -- complete with a cool, animated bezel.

In initial testing, the configuration shows ~3.25 million IOPS for 4K random reads, and an impressive ~2 million IOPS with a 70r/30w 4K random mix.  Amazing performance in a single, dense rack designed to support 3200 VMs.

You could almost feel the "drool factor" as people crowded around to ask questions about the configuration.  Our CEO Pat Gelsinger even stopped by for a quick photo!


Click here for more details on this powerful combination of Intel and VMware technology.


VMware Virtual SAN Health Check Plug-in Now Available

The VMware Virtual SAN team is proud to announce the general availability of the new VMware Virtual SAN Health Check Plug-in.

The Health Check Plug-in was created to address one of the pain points many storage solution suffer from - hardware health and configuration - and VSAN is no different in that respect. The Health Check Plug-in will address this issue and in the same time maintain one of Virtual SAN’s core benefits  – keeping things simple. The simplicity aspect comes into effect in two ways:

  • It's a simple vCenter plug-in seamlessly integrating with the rest of the vCenter UI - maintaining the single pane of glass benefit
  • It provides clear and detailed warnings and alerts including suggested ways to solve issues when they appear

Virtual SAN Health Check Plug-in implements several checks including:

  • Hardware Compatibility - scans your VSAN cluster and detects components not on HCL. Also will make sure you have the right drivers and firmware
  • Networking Configuration - checks for potential hosts getting disconnected, cluster partitioning and other network related issues
  • Limits Health - makes sure the cluster stays operational in cases like a host failure
  • Storage Device Health - checks for disk capacity issues, congestion, metadata health and other potential device problems
  • Virtual Machines Objects health - checks for objects metadata health, and other potential object complications

Overview screen of Virtual SAN Health Check Plug-in:

hc plugin


In addition to the ongoing monitoring of the Virtual SAN 6 cluster health, the Health Check Plug-in enables a set of proactive tests like:

  • VM creation
  • Storage Performance
  • Multicast Performance

Check out this short demo video to see how the Health Check Plug-in helps overcome a networking problem:

The Health Check Plug-in is a free vCenter Plug-in that is downloadable under the drivers & tools tabs in the Virtual SAN download page. If you are not a Virtual SAN 6 customer, you can still try out the plug-in by downloading your free 60 days evaluation copy - www.vmware.com/go/try-vsan-dl-en

You can also try our hosted evaluation by going to the Virtual SAN 6 hands on lab - www.vmware.com/go/try-vsan-hol

VMware Virtual SAN Health Check Plugin

VSAN Health Check LogoIntroducing the Virtual SAN Health Check Plugin, a tool designed to deliver a simplified troubleshooting and monitoring experience of all things Virtual SAN for vSphere Administrators. This plugin delivers over thirty different health checks specifically for Virtual SAN ranging from hardware compatibility, networking configuration, operations, advanced configuration options, storage device, and virtual machines.

The plugin enhances the Virtual SAN customer support and user experience by providing the ability for customers to join VMware’s Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). CEIP is a program design to improve the quality, reliability, and functionality of Virtual SAN and its services. The membership to the CEIP is an optional feature that can be enabled or disabled at any point in time through the Virtual SAN Health check plugin user interface.

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The Science (and Economics) Behind a Carefully Crafted Software Defined Storage Strategy for Cloud Service Providers

science boardDo you remember your high school years--of calculating the boiling point of isopropyl alcohol in chemistry or studying the impact of supply and demand on the costs of goods in economics class? Many of us wondered, “When will we ever use these principles in real life?” For those of us hoping to enter into the booming Software Defined Storage (SDS) space, the answer is now. With the demand for storage continuing to expand at over 40% annual growth until 2018,* it’s a safe bet that we aren’t the only ones that see the growth possibilities in storage as a service--nor are we the only ones who plan to expand their business model to include SDS.


So, how do you develop the perfect go-to-market strategy?

As global Product Marketing Leader for the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) solutions at VMware, I’ve dedicated my career to crafting and executing winning strategies for market entry and growth. And, I’ve learned a few things along the way. At the top of the list is the importance of first impressions and taking the time to create a strategy that differentiates your company from the competition. It all starts with doing your homework – studying the trends, crunching the numbers, learning from your mistakes and coming out stronger in the end.

I recently spoke with one of our independent cloud services providers, IndonesianCloud. Their story is the epitome of how to capture attention across the aggressive cloud market. In 2011, they focused their sights on becoming the most trusted, most reliable and most secure CSP in Indonesia. For those of you who don’t know, Indonesia is a country with 254 million people, and literally millions of companies, and it is currently adopting cloud at a staggering rate. It is estimated that the cloud spend will reach $1.2 billion by 2017--and that’s just across Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business. Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a CSP in Indonesia.

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VSAN Evaluation - How to use the VSAN sizing tool – Part 2

This blog post is the second in our series of blog posts of VSAN Evaluation using our integrated sizing and TCO tool ( vsantco.vmware.com ). For part 1 that discusses VM profiling go here:

VSAN Evaluation - How to use the VSAN sizing tool - Part 1

In this part of the blog series we will discuss how to adjust our default recommended ready nodes profiles to your specific scenario. I’m aware this part can be somewhat confusing, but after a few tries I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it and can do this in a matter of minutes.

First, let’s start by explaining what a Virtual SAN Ready Node is. Virtual SAN is a pure software product, but using it with non-certified hardware can have some unwanted results. This is why we decided to partner with all the major OEMs to create ready-to-go hardware solutions called ready nodes that can also be used as a reference architecture and be customized to your preferences. My team member and VSAN Product Manager, Rakesh Radhakrishnan, wrote a blog ( Virtual SAN Ready Nodes – Ready, Set, Go!) almost a year ago answering most common questions around the topic. Also check out the most updated list of ready nodes here - Virtual SAN Ready Nodes – and our Virtual SAN Hardware Quick Reference Guide .

vsan ready node

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