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Category Archives: Uncategorized

High performance lab and Infrastructure for Elite Database Workshop – SQL Server Event #2

The VMware BCA team successfully conducted the second batch for SQL Server MVPs April 21st-23rd. The attendee list includes.   Steve Jones, Tim Ford, Arnie Rowland, Wendy Pastrick, Eddie Wurech, Robert Davis, Sean McCown, Allan Hirt, Geoff Hiten,  Randy Knight, Chris Shaw, Jason Strate, Brandon Leach, Shawn Meyers, Melissa Connors. Alumni guests include David Klee, Mike Corey and Denny Cherry.

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SDS – The Missing Link – Storage Automation for Application Service Catalogs

VMware-SDSAutomation technologies are a fundamental dependency to all aspects of the Software-Defined Data center. The use of automation technologies not only increases the overall productivity of the software-defined data center, but it can also accelerate the adoption of today’s modern operating models.

In recent years, a subset of the core pillars of the software-defined data center has experienced a great deal of improvements with the help of automation. The same can’t be said about storage. The lack management flexibility and capable automation frameworks have kept the storage infrastructures from delivering operational value and efficiencies similar to the ones available with the compute and network pillars.

VMware’s software-defined storage technologies and its storage policy-based management framework (SPBM) deliver the missing piece of the puzzle for storage infrastructure in the software-defined data center.

Challenges – Old School

Traditional data centers are operated, managed, and consumed in models that are mapped to silos and statically defined infrastructure resources. However, businesses lean heavily on their technology investments to be agile and responsive in order to gain a competitive edge or reduce their overhead expenses. As such, there is a fundamental shift taking place within the IT industry, a shift that aims to change the way in which data centers are operated, managed, and consumed.

In today’s hardware-defined data centers, external storage arrays drive the de-facto standards for how storage is consumed. The limits of the data center are tied to the limits of the infrastructure. The consumers of storage resources face a number of issues since traditional storage systems are primarily deployed in silos: each with unique features and unique management model. They each have their own constructs for delivering storage (LUNs, Volumes), regularly handled through separate workflows and even different teams. Which means that the delivery of new resources and services requires significantly longer periods of time.

Critical data services are often tied to specific arrays, obstructing standardized and aligned approaches across multiple storage types. Overall, creating a consistent operational model across multiple storage systems remains a challenge. Because storage capabilities are tied to static definitions, no guarantees for performance, risks of multi-tenant impacts, all disks treated same, and OPEX tied to the highest common denominator.

storage challenges-silos

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vSphere Virtual Volumes Webinar Series: Hitachi

VVols-HDS

On Wednesday April 15 Hitachi is hosting a one hour technical webinar event to discuss how Hitachi Storage for VMware Virtual Volumes can bring customers on a reliable enterprise journey to a software-defined, policy-controlled data center.

The webinar covers more than just the technical aspects of Virtual Volumes but also the operational value and efficiency Hitachi delivers with their unique implementation.

The technical and implementation details about Hitachi’s multi-protocol support and storage capabilities offered to virtual machines and their individual objects.

Webinar attendees will learn about:

  • The simplification of storage related operations for vSphere administrators
  • The increase in manageability for the vSphere infrastructure and greater levels of agility and efficiency driven by a policy-based management and operating model.

The event will be lead by Paul Morrissey – Director, Product Management, Storage, Virtualization & Application, Hitachi Data Systems and myself.

To register for the event by using the link below and don’t miss it:

Delivering Simplified IT with VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes and Hitachi

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For future updates on Virtual SAN (VSAN), vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVols) and other Software-defined Storage technologies, as well as vSphere + OpenStack be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PunchingClouds

What’s New with Virtual SAN 6.0?

Software-Defined Storage is making waves in the storage and virtual infrastructure fields. Data and infrastructure are intertwined, and when they’re both brought together, companies can cut down on expenses and increase productivity.

Rawlinson Rivera, Principal Architect, Storage and Availability, recently hosted a webinar, discussing how VMware is approaching Software-Defined Storage (SDS) and virtualization in recently announced VMware updates, including updates to VMware Virtual SAN 6.0.

Software-defined storage offers organizations the ability automate, distribute and control storage better than ever before. SDS can provision storage for applications on demand and without complex processes. It also allows for standardized hardware, reducing costs for businesses everywhere.

To bring the customers the best software-defined storage experience to realization, we had to update VMware® Virtual SAN™. And we did just that. With VMware Virtual SAN 6.0, we introduced several new features with SDS in mind:

  • Software-defined storage optimized for VMs
  • All Flash architecture
  • Broad hardware support
  • The ability to run on any standard x86 server
  • Enterprise-level scalability and performance
  • Per-VM storage policy management
  • And a deep integration with the VMware stack

There’s a lot more to unpack from the latest updates to our VMware solutions. For a more in-depth guide to what’s new and how it affects you, watch the webcast here!

Be sure to subscribe to the Virtual SAN blog or follow our social channels at @vmwarevsan and Facebook.com/vmwarevsan for the latest updates.

For more information about VMware Virtual SAN, visit http://www.vmware.com/products/virtual-san.

vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVols) Interoperability Matrix

VVols-GA

Since the official release of vSphere 6.0, Virtual Volumes (VVols) has generated a great deal of interest with customers, field consultants, and the VMware community. Now that VVols is available customers can begin testing functionality and capabilities. There have been many questions about what VMware products and vSphere features are compatible and currently interoperate with VVols.

Because VMware’s product portfolio continues to expand exponentially, identifying all of the new products and features that interoperate with VVols can be a tedious and potentially time-consuming task. In the interest of time and efficiency, the need for a centralized Virtual Volumes interoperability guide is eminent, so here is one.

Below is a list of VMware products and vSphere 6.0 features that as of today March 30th, 2015 are supported and interoperate with VVols. Please keep in mind that the interoperability and supportability of any of these products and features can change with a future patch or product release. It is highly recommended to check the VMware compatibility matrix guide for the official and up to date list of products and features that are interoperable with VVols.

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VMware Virtual SAN 6.0: Data Encryption with Hytrust DataControl

VSAN-Hytrust

Customers from different industries and institutions are very interested in Virtual SAN as a storage solution not just because of the technological value it delivers today, but because of the product’s undeniable value around operational efficiency, ease of management, and flexibility.

Some of these customers are from financial, healthcare and government institutions, and conduct their business in areas that are governed by regulatory compliance laws such as HIPPA, PCI-DSS, FedRAMP, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc. These laws demand compliance with numerous security measures, one of them being the ability to guarantee data integrity by securing data with some form of encryption.

Today Virtual SAN does not include encryption as one of its data services as this feature is currently under development for a future release. Now, when considering Virtual SAN as a potential solution wherever data encryption is a requirement based on regulatory compliance laws, it’s important to know what options are currently available.

In Virtual SAN the encryption data service capabilities are offloaded to hardware-based offerings available through Virtual SAN Ready Nodes. Data encryption data services are exclusively supported on Virtual SAN Ready Node appliances that are comprised with all of the certified and compatible hardware devices that provide encryption capabilities such as self-encrypting drives, and/or storage controllers. The Virtual SAN Ready Node appliances are offered by just about all the OEM hardware vendors that are part of VMware’s ecosystem.

An alternative option to the Virtual SAN Ready Nodes is a software based solution developed and offered by a company called Hytrust. Hytrust is one of the members of VMware’s partner ecosystem whose business is focused around the delivery of data security services for private and public cloud infrastructures. The solution I want to highlight in particular is called Hytrust DataControl.

Hytrust DataControl is a software-based solution that is designed with the capability of protecting virtual machines and their data throughout their entire lifecycle (from creating to decommission). Hytrust DataControl delivers both encryption and key management services.

This solution is built specifically to address the unique requirements of private, hybrid and public clouds, combining robust security, easy deployment, exceptional performance, infrastructure independence, and operational transparency. Hytrust DataControl ease of deployment and management capabilities complies with one of the main principles of Virtual SAN which is simplicity and ease of management.

Hytrust DataControl virtual machine edition is based on a software agent that encrypts data from within the Windows or Linux operating system of a virtual machine, ensuring protection and multi-tenancy of data in any infrastructure. DataControl also allows you to transfer files between VMs, so you can securely migrate stored data from your private to the public cloud.

The deployment of the Hytrust DataControl solution and installation and configuration of the software is done in a couple of easy steps which take just a few minutes. Once the software is resident, any data written to storage by an application will be encrypted both in motion, as it travels securely through the hypervisor and network, and also at rest on the Virtual SAN datastore.

HT-deployment

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Virtual SAN Certification & VCG Update

The Virtual SAN product team is pleased to announce that last week we released new certified components (I/O controllers, SSDs and HDDs), new Ready Nodes and a new Hardware Quick Reference Guide for Virtual SAN 6.0 along with a new and improved VCG page.  Please see updated links below:

Updated Virtual SAN VCG

Updated Virtual SAN Hardware Quick Reference Guide

Updated Virtual SAN Ready Nodes

 

How many new components and Ready Nodes do we have listed for Virtual SAN 6.0?

We now have 26 I/O controllers, 170 SSDs and 125 HDDs (and counting) supported on Virtual SAN 6.0.   In addition to the Virtual SAN 5.5 Ready Nodes, we have 8 new Ready Nodes for Virtual SAN 6.0  (Cisco – 4 Hybrid, Dell – 1 Hybrid, Hitachi – 1 Hybrid, Super Micro – 1 All Flash & 1 Hybrid).

We expect this list to grow very quickly.  We have a number of components that are currently getting certified and we plan to add new certified devices and Ready Nodes to the VCG on a weekly basis.

 

How does the Virtual SAN Certification process work?

The VMware Virtual SAN team treats hardware certification very seriously.  I/O controllers play a very important part in determining the stability and performance of a Virtual SAN cluster and need to be able to withstand high I/O under stress conditions.

The I/O controllers are put through a rigorous I/O certification process while the HDD, SSD and Ready Nodes  are put through stringent paper qualifications.

We run a I/O controller card through a 3-week-long certification test plan (the certification is done by VMware or by the partner) that stress tests the card across many dimensions, particularly in high load and failure scenarios to ensure the card can withstand the level of I/O pushed down by Virtual SAN even in the most adverse situations (example: rebuilds and resyncs triggered due to host failures).

If there are issues identified, we work closely with our controller vendor/OEM partner to resolve them and re-run the entire test suite after resolution.  Sometimes an updated firmware or driver version addressing the issue is required from the vendors before we can proceed with more testing.

Only controllers that fully pass the test criteria laid out in the above process are listed on the Virtual SAN VCG.

 

Are separate I/O controller certifications required for different releases?

Yes, we require controllers to be recertified whenever any of the following change:

  • Virtual SAN Release version (eg: 5.5 to 6.0)
  • The controller driver version
  • The controller firmware version

We also certify the same controller separately for Virtual SAN All Flash vs Hybrid since the caching and I/O mechanism are different for these two configurations and we expect controllers to behave differently with varying levels of I/O.

 

What about certification of PCIe-SSD devices?

PCIe-SSDs are nothing but SSDs with an on-board I/O controller in a PCIe form factor.  Therefore, these require the same level of due diligence as required by standard I/O controllers.  As a result, we are putting these devices through the same level of rigorous certification as we do for I/O controllers.

VMware is working very closely with partners to certify the first set of PCIe-SSDs for Virtual SAN 6.0 over the coming weeks.

 

What are the new updates to the VCG page?

The Virtual SAN VCG page has been enhanced to allow users to easily build or choose their All Flash configurations in addition to Hybrid configurations.  Since All Flash Virtual SAN requires SSDs of different endurance and performance spec for caching and performance tiers (See Updated Virtual SAN Hardware Quick Reference Guide for details on specs), we have enhanced the VCG to help users easily pick SSDs for the tier they are interested in.

We have also introduced a new SSD filter called “Virtual SAN type” to help easily filter our All Flash vs Hybrid configurations.  Furthermore, we have added a filter called “Tier” to help you filter our Virtual SAN hybrid caching, Virtual SAN All Flash caching and Virtual SAN capacity caching tiers.

The endurance rating for SSDs are now displayed on the VCG in TBW (Terabytes written over 5 years) as opposed to DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) which was used previously.

 

What are the controllers that are currently in the certification queue and when do we expect them to get certified?

Please see the attached list of controllers that are currently undergoing Virtual SAN certification

Note:  In many cases, we rely on our partners to provide driver/firmware fixes for controller issues so if there are delays in receiving these updates from partners, the certification timelines may get pushed out.

Having said that, we are making good progress on most of the controllers listed in the attached document and expect them to follow our standard certification process.

On a similar note, Ready Nodes  are primarily dependent on the controllers getting certified, so as you see new controllers on the VCG for 6.0 certified, Ready Nodes  including those controllers will follow.

Storage Blog Recap: Top Blogs From February

VMware-Blog-Banner

The third week of every month, we compile a list of the top vSphere Storage posts from the previous month for you to enjoy.

Here are the top storage posts from February:

VMware Virtual SAN 6.0

Rawlinson Rivera announced, and explained the inner workings of, VMware Virtual SAN 6.0 — VMware’s latest software-defined storage product. Virtual SAN 6.0 introduces support for an all-flash architecture and hybrid architectures, among many other innovations. This is a blog post you shouldn’t miss.

vSphere Virtual Volumes

We released vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) alongside the announcement of vSphere 6.0. In this post, Rawlinson Rivera explains how VVOLs can drive more efficient operational model for external storage.

vSphere APIs for IO filtering

Ken Werneburg takes the time to detail how vSphere APIs for IO filtering (VAIO) can enable partners to filter their technologies into the IO stream of a VM before data is committed to a disk.

VMware Virtual SAN: All-Flash Configuration

Rawlinson Rivera walks us through how admins can configure Virtual SAN 6.0 for an all-flash architecture.

Be sure to subscribe to the Virtual SAN blog or follow our social channels at @vmwarevsan and Facebook.com/vmwarevsan for the latest updates.

For more information about VMware Virtual SAN, visit http://www.vmware.com/products/virtual-san.

Video: Virtual SAN From An Architect’s Perspective

Video: Virtual SAN From An Architect’s Perspective

Have you ever wanted a direct discussion with the people responsible for designing a product?

Recently, Stephen Foskett brought a cadre of technical bloggers to VMware as part of Storage Field Day 7 to discuss Virtual SAN in depth.  Christos Karamanolis (@XtosK), Principle Engineer and Chief Architect for our storage group went deep on VSAN: why it was created, its architectural principles, and why the design decisions were important to customers.

The result is two hours of lively technical discussion — the next best thing to being there.  What works about this session is that the attendees are not shy — they keep peppering Christos with probing questions, which he handles admirably.

The first video segment is from Alberto Farronato, explaining the broader VMware storage strategy.

The second video segment features Christos going long and deep on the thinking behind VSAN.

The third video segment is a run-over of the second.  Christos presents the filesystem implementations, and the implications for snaps and general performance.

Our big thanks to Stephen Foskett for making this event possible, and EMC for sponsoring our session.

 

Upgrading to VMware Virtual SAN 6.0

VSAN-UpgradeVirtual SAN 6.0 introduced new changes to the structural components of its architecture. One of those changes is a new on-disk format which delivers better performance and capability enhancements. One of those new capabilities allows vSphere Admins to perform in-place rolling upgrades from Virtual SAN 5.5 to Virtual SAN 6.0 without introducing any application downtime.

Upgrading an existing Virtual SAN 5.5 cluster to Virtual SAN 6.0 is performed in multiple phases and it requires the re-formating of the of all of the magnetic disks that are being used in a Virtual SAN cluster. The upgrade is defined as a one-time procedure that is performed from RVC command line utility with a single command.

Upgrade Phase I: vSphere Infrastructure Upgrade

This phase of the upgrade is all components are upgraded to the vSphere 6.0 release. All vCenter Servers and ESXi hosts and all infrastructure related components need to be upgraded to version their respective and corresponding 6.0 software release. Any of the vSphere supported procedures for the individual components is supported.

  • Upgrade vCenter Server 5.5 to 6.0 first (Windows or Linux based)
  • Upgrade ESXi hosts from 5.5 to 6.0 (Interactive, Update Manager, Re-install, Scripted Updates, etc)
  • Use Maintenance Mode (Ensure accessibility - recommended for reduced times, Full data migration – not recommended unless necessary

Upgrade Phase II: Virtual SAN 6.0 Disk Format Conversion (DFC)

This phase is where the previous on-disk format (VMFS-L) is replaced on all of the magnetic disk devices with the new on-disk format (VSAN FS). The disk format conversion procedures will reformat the disk groups and upgrade all of the objects to the new version 2. Virtual SAN 6.0 provides supports for both the previous on-disk format of Virtual SAN 5.5 (VMFS-L) as well as its new native on-disk format (VSAN FS).

While both on-disk formats are supported, it is highly recommended to upgrade the Virtual SAN cluster to the new on-disk format in order to take advantage of the performance and new available features. The disk format conversion is performed sequentially performed in a Virtual SAN cluster where the upgrade takes place one disk group per host at a time. The workflow illustrated below is repeated for all disk groups on each host before the process moves onto another host that is a member of the cluster.

DFC-Workflow

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