VMware PEX ANZ 2013 Thoughts – Software Defined Storage

I was luckey to attend PEX at Australia Technology Park this week and thought I would share some of my take always. The venue was a little different to what you would come to expect from a tech event in Sydney… Usually we are in and around Darling Harbour at the Convention Centre… And even if there where whispers of VMware being late to book the event in the city the surroundings of the old rail works in Redfern refurbished and transformed into a spectacular Centre for technology and innovation fits.

There is a fundamental shift happening in how we consume IT and pretty much all leading technology vendors are in the process of embracing that change. VMware have chosen to focus on three key areas and after a few years of letting the dust settle they have three main pillars of focus.

Software Defined Datacenter
Hybrid Cloud
End User Computing

I’ve written about EUC and their Hybrid Cloud Offerings in the past so I’m not going to focus on that in this post…but the one thing I will say is that VMware still have a material understanding of where their partners sit in the ecosystem and still see them being central to their offerings… As a Service Provider guy working for a vCloud Powered provider there is some concern around the vHPC platform that will be deployed globally over the next few years… But we need to understand that there has to something significant in the Public Cloud space in order to compete with AWS and Google … And maybe Microsofts Azure. AWS is a massive beast and will only be slowed by its own success…will it get too big and product heavy… therefore loosing focus on the basics. There has been the evidence in recent weeks about increasing issues with instance performance due to capacity issues.

With regards to the SDDC push … Last year was the year of network virtualisation but what excites me more at this point is the upcoming features around software defined storage. There has been an explosion of software based storage solutions coming on the market over the past 18 months and VMware have seen this as a key piece to the SDDC.

vVOLs and vSANs represent a massive shift in how vSphere/vCloud environments are architected and engineered. Storage is the biggest pain point for most providers and traditional SANs might have well run their race. There is no doubt that storage arrays are still relevant but with the new technology behind virtual sans on the horizon direct access storage will start to feature… Where we had limitations around availability and redundancy previously the introduction of technology that can take DAS and create a distributed virtual San across multiple hosts excites me.

Why tier and put performance on a device that’s removed from the compute resource? It’s logical to start bringing it back closer to the compute.

Not only to you solve the HA/DRS issue but, given the right choices in DAS/flash/embedded storage there is potential to offer service levels based on low latency/high IOP data store design that takes away the common issue with shared LUNs presented as VMFS or NFS mounts for data stores. Traditional SANs can certainly still exist and this set and in fact will still be critical to act as lower tier high volume storage options.

For a technical overview of VMware Distributed Storage check out Duncan Eppings (@DuncanYB) Post here: There is also a slightly dated VMwareKB overview by Cormac Hogan (@VMwareStorage) that I have embedded below…note that it’s only the tech preview, but if it’s any indication of what’s coming later in the year…it can’t come soon enough.

Being able to control the max/min number of IOPs garunteed to VM/VMDK similar to the way in which you can select the IOP performance on AWS instances is worth the price of admission and solves the current limitations of vSphere in that you can only set max values to block out noisy neighbors.

Vendors that are already pushing out solutions around storage virtualization continue the great work…anything that sits on top of this technology and complements/improves/enhances it can only be a good thing.

It’s the year of storage virtualization…

Additional Reading:

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2013/03/06/why-the-world-needs-software-defined-storage/
http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2013/04/05/software-defined-storage-just-some-random-thought/
http://www.nexenta.com/corp/products/what-is-openstorage/what-is-software-defined-storage
http://cto.vmware.com/2013-predictions-the-year-of-software-defined-storage/
http://virsto.com/blog/the-missing-link-in-software-defined-storage
http://www.nutanix.com/evolution-of-the-data-center/