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Author Archives: Chuck Hollis

Chuck Hollis

About Chuck Hollis

Chuck loves enterprise IT infrastructure and the people who make it work every day -- with a special emphasis on storage. Over the years, he has become a popular industry blogger and industry speaker at chucksblog.typepad.com. When he's not working his true love is playing keyboards in bar bands.

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.


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

Dell FX2 Posts Great VSAN Numbers

DellFX2The great part of the VMware hyperconverged model is that it’s software-centric, which means customers get the benefit of great hardware partners who are always upping their game.

Today’s interesting VSAN performance results come from Dell.  Recently, they engaged with Principled Technologies to benchmark a Dell FX2 stuffed with SanDisk flash against a similar HP server using an external storage array.

It wasn’t even close, folks.

The Dell FX2 powered by VSAN ran DVD Store over 3 times faster, used far less power, and took only a small fraction of the rack space.

Let’s step behind the scenes, if you’re interested? Continue reading

Get Help With VSAN Sizing!

sizingSizing a new cluster can be a challenging exercise, especially if you don’t know your workloads well.

While we’ve always had decent rule-of-thumb estimators, there’s nothing as good as collecting real data and using the results to size your configuration.

Our own Simon Todd (aka Mr. VSAN) shares some background on the new VIP (virtualization infrastructure planning) tool, which also includes capacity and performance sizing for VSAN, now in beta.

We’re looking for customers and partners to give it a go: download the collector, gather data to the SaaS analyzer, and review the results.  Our goal is to make infrastructure sizing as easy (and as accurate!) as it can be.

Let us know what you think!

Ten Things You Need To Know About VSAN

VSAN_EssentialsHere’s the headline: VMware’s Virtual SAN fundamentally changes the way vSphere administrators do storage.  It’s a new world.

While there’s a ton of good material out there, we thought we’d boil things down to the bare essentials for all you busy IT professionals.

Here’s what you need to know: Continue reading

Oracle On Virtual SAN 6

support_statementWhen VMware introduced VSAN 6, we were pretty clear: it’s a great fit for most anything that runs in a virtual machine, including critical databases.

Whereas much of our previously published performance testing focused on a large number of VMs pounding the storage subsystem (as that’s the norm for how most people use clusters), databases usually have a different performance profile: typically you have a small number of larger VMs that are doing all the heavy lifting.

wicked_fast2Not long ago, one of our engineer teams completed a performance profile using both Oracle 11g and Oracle RAC 11 against a modest, 4-node all-flash VSAN cluster.  All-flash makes great sense when you want predictably fast performance, regardless of the IO profile.

TL; DR — wicked fast and predictable performance, Oracle RAC scaled linearly as more instances were added, and all of the tested Oracle RAC availability features worked exactly as expected.

Note: if you’re planning to use Oracle RAC with VSAN 6, there’s a KB you’ll need to read about configuring VSAN for multi-writer .

And a big thanks to our friends at Intel for all the help with providing an environment for these tests! Continue reading

VSAN vs Nutanix Head-to-Head Performance Testing — Part 3

GP of the SeaOur journey continues!

Previously, I detailed how we were curious as to how two identically configured clusters — one vSphere/VSAN and one vSphere/Nutanix — might stack up in terms of relative cost and performance.  The comparisons were eye-opening, especially for those of us who have spent time studying storage performance.

We hit a snag along the way, as Nutanix recently changed their EULA to expressly prohibit any form of publishing performance results without prior written permission.  We applied for permission to publish, and they declined.

However, we still have useful data to share! Continue reading

SynchroNet and Virtual SAN

logo_2c-LJ-340x156More and more IT pros are starting to really appreciate what makes VSAN so unique in the market: performance, reliability, cost-effectiveness and utterly simple to manage.

Duncan Epping shares a story today about how SynchroNet is using VSAN to deliver world-class services to their clients.  A great read with some nice technical detail!


VSAN vs Nutanix Head-to-Head Performance Testing — Part 2

Rocket_LaunchIn a previous post, we began to present our case as to why we believe VMware Virtual SAN offers significantly more performance than an identically configured Nutanix cluster.   We thought IT professionals would find it very useful to see a side-by-side comparison across a wide range of synthetic workloads.

The complete details of the test beds, testing methodology and workload details can be found in the previous post.  We also have published our findings regarding Nutanix vs. VSAN pricing.

Towards the end of our testing, however, Nutanix changed their EULA to read as follows:

“You must not disclose the results of testing, benchmarking or other performance or evaluation information related to the Software or the product to any third party without the prior written consent of Nutanix”

So we sent along the details of our test methodologies (plus our Nutanix results) to request written permission as per their EULA.

Nutanix declined their consent for us to publish our head-to-head results.  In the spirit of transparency, a sampling of the VSAN-only results appear below.

Interested parties are invited to download VDbench and conduct their own testing.  Also, you may be interested in our previous performance paper.

Continue reading

VSAN In 3 Minutes YouTube Series

3minIt never seems there’s enough time in the day to sit down and learn about something new and exciting — like VMware Virtual SAN.   Even a 15-minute demo can seem long!

To make things easier, we’ve started a new video series “VSAN In 3 Minutes” produced by our own Greg Mulholland.  You’ll find them quick, bite-sized and with just enough information to get you going in the right direction.

Also, for your convenience, I’ve included links to the more formal VSAN documentation. Continue reading