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In this guest blog Mike Koponen, Sr. Director of Business Development at NexGen, shares more details on the Virtual Volumes implementation with NexGen Storage. Mike has more than twenty years of experience in the storage industry and has participated in all but the very first VMworld.


Storage QoS – A Must Have for VMware Environments        

Here at NexGen Storage we are committed to delivering VMware customers, both virtual server and VDI, flash storage solutions that provide cost effective performance and simple, granular management. We do this with a hardware architecture based on a PCIe flash-first architecture for the lowest latency and highest IOPS and density. The hardware is managed by a Storage Quality of Service (QoS) software engine that allows users to manage their storage based on their application business priorities using simple-to-apply service levels and performance policies. Learn more about the NexGen PCIe Flash Array architecture by reading the NexGen Architecture White Paper.

In this blog though I want to focus on the Storage QoS part of NexGen since storage QoS has emerged as one of the latest must-have storage features, especially with the challenges virtualization admins face dealing with storage performance issues, VMware’s Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) initiative and vSphere 6’s Virtual Volumes (VVol) feature. You can also follow an entire blog series on storage QoS on the NexGen blog.

 

Why Storage QoS Matters: Almost all IT solutions are horrible at understanding the IT organizations business priorities. Instead, they are terrific at processing data, connecting multiple systems together, or storing data. Unfortunately, they are clueless when it comes to understanding things like which application is the most important, what data is more valuable, or the business value of workloads versus another. It forces customers to over-build and over-buy solutions designed for peak workload or acknowledge the fact that some business objectives and end user expectations (SLAs) won’t be met.

On top of this, the number 1 reason that virtual infrastructure admins call tech support is because the storage system isn’t operating as expected. Here’s a slide that has been shown at various VMUGs.

 

 

Given that over half of the world’s servers are virtualized, this fact alone should have storage R&D teams everywhere focused on developing hardware solutions like hybrid and all flash arrays and software solutions like storage QoS. In fact there are many new storage vendors and billions of venture capital money being spent to address storage performance challenges. The issue is that most of these new offerings are taking the brute force approach by throwing lots of flash at the problem but very few have attacked the problem from a software perspective. The first generation brute force solutions do offer improvement over disk technology but ignore some fundamental, recurring technology trends that highlight the need for software solutions like Storage QoS.

 

NexGen Storage QoS: NexGen QoS provides intelligence and capabilities to affordably achieve business objectives while meeting end user expectations such as application SLAs. NexGen QoS comes standard with every NexGen N5 PCIe Flash Array. The QoS engine is used to ensure minimum application performance for a specific volume by prioritizing I/O within the storage system. This functionality guarantees application performance by monitoring the response time, throughput, and IOPS of the system and isolating individual workloads on the array. There are three QoS service levels: mission critical, business critical, and non-critical. Five performance policies are predefined and fall within these three service levels. Each of the policies have differing IOPS, bandwidth, and latency targets.

 

 

NexGen PCIe Flash Array User Interface

Based on the current workload, available resources, and user-defined service levels, the order in which I/O requests are processed is adjusted in real time to meet application performance requirements. When faced with a spike in activity from a low-priority application or a hardware failure, the NexGen QoS software dynamically adjusts I/O requests and caching algorithms to achieve desired performance levels. Read about what NexGen QoS also does for maximizing VM density and increasing ROI.

 

NexGen QoS and vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVol): NexGen Storage QoS and Service Levels can be applied on a per-LUN and/or per-Datastore by customers on their current vSphere versions. VMware Virtual Volumes, available in vSphere 6, allows storage to be managed on a per-VM basis. Gone are the days of managing storage on a per-LUN and/or per-Datastore basis. The NexGen VVol integration enables the native NexGen Storage QoS and Service Level policies to be easily surfaced directly within vCenter as a VM Storage Policy. This gives admins the flexibility, agility, and granularity required to manage a virtualized infrastructure the way it should be: on a per-VM basis. The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) conducted an extensive evaluation of Delivering QoS with VMware vSphere 6 and Virtual Volumes. The InstaGraphic below infographic summarizes some of the findings, including how modifying a QoS policy on the NexGen array does not require a storage vMotion.

 

Enterprise Strategy Group InstaGraphic on NexGen QoS and VVol

We’ve also recognized that virtualization and storage admin roles are converging and there’s the need for providing simplified converged management. Our recently introduced NexGen VM-level QoS Manager for vCenter Server™ 6 provides this converged management via a single pane of glass for IT infrastructure administrators.

 

QoS and VVol Demonstration: to see a demo of surfacing performance Quality of Service (QoS) policies and service levels in VMware vCenter™ view this demo. It gives you a good feel for the more granular control of storage performance management you can now have at a VM-level.

I’ve tried to give you a feel for how NexGen Storage QoS can make your life a bit easier and why it is a must have capability, especially for virtualized environments. Since this isn’t a simple topic to cover in one blog post, we have a series of blog posts on the NexGen site where we explain how we understand Storage QoS in terms of the problems that need to be solved, capabilities required to solve them, and where Storage QoS is ultimately headed. It can be found by clicking here and looking for this symbol: 

 

 

Thanks for reading this post, hope you’ve found it useful and best wishes in all your endeavors!