The most recent edition of the VMware Experts Database Workshop completed last week in Palo Alto. This event was focused on Oracle as the Cloud Platform Business Unit and VMware Execs partnered with Pure Storage to host 11 prominent and specially selected Oracle technology technical experts for a “Dawn to Midnight Oracle on vSphere” experience. Each of the invited individuals works with the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) and the VMware Special Interest Group (VMware SIG) of that organization. The workshop program is a precursor to inclusion in the various BCA oriented advisory groups and the respective NDA internal/external email lists that constitute signature components of the program. After over 20 presentations and open discussions, customized labs and various extracurricular activities including a night at AT&T Park the group departed Palo Alto with a true sense of the level of the total commitment that VMware has towards all Business Critical Applications and Databases running on vSphere. Wednesday was a particularly memorable day and will forever be known as the “Wednesday of the Titans” as it began with a presentation on “Oracle on vSphere Licensing” from the worlds foremost expert on the subject, David Welch from House of Brick. Dave’s presentation was followed by an amazing open discussion led by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and finally the game at AT&T park featured Madison Bumgarner facing Zach Grienke on opposing mounds.
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I was so excited to see that the Hands-On-Labs (HOL) had finally been updated to Virtual SAN 6.2 that it prompted this blog. I just couldn’t stop at HOL! The VMware storage & availability team offers many other nifty tools to get you started with VMware Virtual SAN. If you haven’t yet, check out these 6 tools to get you on the path to hyper-convergence.
This is a simple and easy way to get your feet wet. This series highlights features and benefits of Virtual SAN 6.1 including how to enable Virtual SAN, how to create and assign a storage policy and Virtual SAN’s resiliency to host failures. A major plus is that the interface is very simple to use and navigate.
2] Virtual SAN Hands-On-Labs (HOL) – now updated to Virtual SAN 6.2
Hands-on Labs are the fastest and easiest way to test-drive the full technical capabilities of Virtual SAN. These evaluations are free, up and running on your browser in minutes, and require no installation. We’re excited that the HOL has been updated to Virtual SAN 6.2. This lab contains new features including erasure coding (RAID-5/6), checksum, sparse swap and dedupe/compression. You can also see the new health check views, performance metric views and capacity views.
Also included is a workflow that will guide you through configuring Virtual SAN stretched cluster and remote-office/branch-office (ROBO) implementations, and how these features work with HA to restart VMs in the event of a failure.
Time doesn’t slow down for anybody, so it’s understandable if you miss some information here and there. Luckily, we’ve got you covered on Virtual Blocks. Take a look back on some of the most popular Virtual SAN posts from the past few months.
On February 10th, we announced VMware Virtual SAN 6.2. Updated to include robust space efficiency features by delivering deduplication and compression as well as providing RAID-5/RAID-6 support for all flash Virtual SAN environments. John Nicholson also discusses new extensions to the Virtual SAN Ready Node program.
Christos Karamanolis proves one size doesn’t fit all. In this blog, he discusses Virtual SAN’s implementation of RAID-5 and RAID-6 and advices customers to evaluate their requirements in order to gain a better understanding of what they need based on their workload.
Yanbing Li dives into how VMware Virtual SAN continues to build on its principal benefits: simplicity, performance, cost-efficiency, and scalability.
John Nicholson talks about why he thinks 2016 will see All-Flash VMware Virtual SAN overtake 10K RPM drive-based hybrid Virtual SAN as the most popular deployment choice.
Jonathan McDonald gives us a personal account setting up stretch clusters for Virtual SAN. Here, he provides tips that will ensure a flawless experience.
Virtual SAN 6.2 introduced several highly anticipated product features and in this blog, we’ll focus on some of the coolest ones: Dedupe & Compression. These features were requested by VMware customers and I am glad that we listened to the customer. When talking about Dedupe and Compression, one first needs to determine why an organization would want to use Dedupe & Compression and what these features actually do. One of the many reasons for using Dedupe and Compression is to lower TCO for customers. Customers benefit from space efficiency as the Virtual SAN cluster will not utilize as much storage as it would if it was not using Dedupe and Compression, hence saving dollars. It is also important to note that Dedupe and Compression are supported on All Flash Virtual SAN configurations only.
What are Dedupe and Compression?
The basics of deduplication can be seen in the figure below. What happens is that blocks of data stay in the cache tier while they are being accessed regularly, but once this trend stops, the deduplication engine checks to see if the block of data that is in the cache tier has already been stored on the capacity tier. Therefore only storing unique chunks of data.
On behalf of the VMware Host Client team, I am pleased to announce that the VMware Host Client v1.0 is GA and shipping with vSphere update 6.0U2.
VMware Host Client overview
The VMware Host Client is an HTML5-based UI client that is used to connect to and manage single ESXi hosts. It can be used to perform administrative tasks to manage host resources such as VMs, Networking and Storage. This UI client is also designed for troubleshooting individual VMs or hosts during times when vCenter and the vSphere Web Client are unavailable.
vSphere 6.0 continues to support the Windows-based vSphere Client (also known as C# Client, or the VI Client.) Customers now also have the option to use the HTML5-based VMware Host Client to perform host-based operations in its place.
What’s available in v1.0?
- Support for hardware version 4 through 11
- Support for VM lifecycle operations, such as deploying, configuring, and editing virtual machines of various complexity, including console access and snapshot management
- Creating and managing network resources such as port groups, switches, NICs and firewalls.
- Creating and managing storage resources such as datastores, adapters and devices
- Managing host configurations such as running/stopping services and tuning of advanced host parameters to improve performance
- Display of resource settings and graphs of cpu, memory, disk and network utilization
- Display of events, tasks and logs of resource components to aid in troubleshooting
- And most importantly, nothing to INSTALL – just point your browser (Chrome, IE, Firefox or Safari) to your host’s IP address and you’re up and running!
Links and additional resources:
As discussed in earlier posts, the latest version of Virtual SAN (v.6.2) announced on February 10, 2016 is the biggest release of the product since its debut in March 2014. The list of new features is impressive and makes Virtual SAN very competitive against the most sophisticated storage platforms in the market today. Indeed, with more than 3,000 customers overall and more than 20,000 CPU licenses sold in Q4 2015 alone, Virtual SAN is one of the most widely deployed and mature Software-Defined Storage (SDS) products available.
Virtual SAN is a storage platform – the key software component that enables VMware’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) strategy. HCI is a drastically different model of building and operating IT infrastructure. A quick Google search returns the following definition:
Hyper–convergence (hyperconvergence) is a type of infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies from scratch in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor. –Credit: http://searchvirtualstorage.techtarget.com/definition/hyper-convergence-
This new IT architecture has many benefits for the end customer including:
- Streamlined procurement, deployment and support. Customers can build their infrastructure in a gradual and scalable way as demands evolve.
- Adaptable software architecture that takes advantage of commodity technology trends, such as: increasing CPU densities; new generations of solid-state storage and non-volatile memories; evolving interconnects (40GB, 100GB Ethernet) and protocols (NVMe).
- Last but not least, a uniform operational model that allows customers to manage the entire IT infrastructure with a single set of tools.
It is not surprising that according to IDC, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is the fastest growing segment of the converged (commodity-based hardware) infrastructure market.
VMware, the market leader in powering Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI), enables the lowest cost and highest performance next-generation HCI solutions through proven VMware Hyper-Converged Software. The natively integrated software combines the marketing-leading VMware vSphere hypervisor, the VMware vCenter Server unified management solution, and radically simple VMware Virtual SAN storage with the broadest and deepest set of HCI deployment choice
Virtual SAN is quite capable of running nearly any virtual server and desktop workload. These workloads run in an ever-increasing number of environments: data centers, remote offices, call centers, retail stores, commercial ships, and the list goes on. A one-size-fits-all licensing model does not cover such a wide variety of use cases so VMware offers Virtual SAN in a few different licensing options.
The Virtual SAN 6.2 Licensing Guide has been created to help customers and partners understand what licensing editions are available, the features included in each edition, the consumption types (per-CPU and per-VM), and the scenarios in which they are used. While it might seem a bit confusing at first, you will hopefully see that the intent was to keep licensing as simple as possible while providing flexible, cost-effective options for a wide variety of implementation scenarios. This guide begins with a quick introduction to Virtual SAN and the license editions available with version 6.2. This is followed by several example scenarios along with a summary that highlights the main items to keep in mind when considering Virtual SAN 6.2 licensing.
Hopefully, this guide clears up any questions you might have around Virtual SAN licensing.
This post originally appeared on the Storage & Availability blog Virtual Blocks and was written by Jeff Hunter. Jeff is a Senior Technical Marketing Architect at VMware focusing on availability solutions. Jeff has been with VMware since 2007. Prior to VMware, Jeff spent several years in a systems engineer role expanding the virtual infrastructures at a regional bank and a Fortune 500 insurance company. Follow him on twitter: @jhuntervmware
VMware Hyper-Converged Software
Powering the industry’s largest Hyper-Converged Infrastructure ecosystem
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is transforming the way private datacenter infrastructure is being built –see this post for an overview of HCI. It eliminates the traditional hardware silos of compute, storage and networking, to move all the intelligence into a single software layer running on industry-standard x86 servers. By doing so, HCI makes private infrastructure a lot simpler, higher performing, and more cost-effective. In essence, the infrastructure starts looking like the datacenters of web-scale companies such as Google or Amazon. We’re seeing these benefits play out across thousands of VMware customers that have deployed and expanded their HCI deployments over the past year.
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure relies on both great hardware and great software. The hardware consists of industry-standard x86 building blocks, serving as the foundation for the entire datacenter. This hardware convergence relies on critical innovations such as flash and faster CPUs.
At the same time – it’s clear that HCI is first and foremost about the software. Software innovation is what makes HCI possible. Compute, storage, networking and management are now delivered as software. For storage specifically – this requires a software-defined, distributed, shared storage model with all the data services typically provided by external SAN or NAS – but all delivered as software on the hypervisor. This distributed software is very hard to build, hence why only a few vendors are able to pull it off.
Let’s introduce you to VMware Hyper-Converged Software
At VMware, we believe we have an incredibly valuable and innovative set of software assets that enables HCI:
- vSphere is, of course, the most widely deployed and proven hypervisor in the industry. It also delivers basic Virtual Machine networking capabilities with vSphere Distributed Switch.
- Virtual SAN provides high-performance, enterprise-class shared storage
- vCenter Server provides unified management across the stack
Unix to Virtualized Linux (U2VL) is a critical step towards SDDC, it targets to migrate applications and data from physical Unix servers to Linux virtual machines running on x86 virtualized infrastructure. These applications are typically business critical, therefore, customers normally take a very cautious approach by doing a carefully planned and executed Proof-of-Concept (POC) in order to validate performance, availability, and scalability, among many other areas.
My colleagues in China (a big shout out to Tony Wang and his team!) recently did one such POC with a large local bank, and naturally they chose Virtual SAN hyper-converged architecture for all of the compute and storage needs. The test results were so illustrative of many of the Virtual SAN benefits, I’d like to share this POC and some of the test results here, although I’m not allowed to mention the customer name due to reasons you probably understand.
One of the slides we showcased during the VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 Launch that got a lot of attention was the following slide:
A lot of eyebrows in the audience were going up wondering how we came to the conclusion that VSAN delivers 6-9s availability level (or less than 32 seconds of downtime a year). While, Virtual SAN uses software-based RAID, which differs in implementation from traditional storage solutions, it does have the same end result – your data objects are mirrored (RAID-1) for increased reliability and availability. Moreover, with VSAN your data is mirrored across hosts in the cluster not just across storage devices, as is the case with typical hardware RAID controllers.
The VSAN users can set their goals for data availability by means of a policy that may be specified for each VM or even for each VMDK if desired. The relevant policy is called ‘Failures to Tolerate’ (FTT) and refers to the number of concurrent host and/or disk failures a storage object can tolerate. For FTT=n, “n+1” copies of the object are created and “2n+1” hosts are required (to ensure availability even under split brain situations).
For the end user, it is important to quantify the levels of availability achieved with different values of the FTT policy. With only one copy (FTT=0), the availability of the data equals the availability of the hardware the data resides on. Typically, that is in the range of 2-9s (99%) availability, i.e., 3.65 Days downtime/year. However, for higher values of FTT, more copies of the data are created across hosts and that reduces exponentially the probability of data unavailability. With FTT=1 (2 replicas), data availability goes up to at least 4-9s (99.99% or 5 minutes downtime per year), and with FTT=2 (3 replicas) it goes up to 6-9s (99.9999% or 32 seconds downtime per year). Put simply, for FTT=n, more than n hosts and/or devices have to fail concurrently for one’s data to become unavailable. Many people challenged us to show them how the math actually works to arrive at these conclusions. So let’s get to it.