VMworld 2014: SDDC VCDX Panel

Session: INF1736

Jon Kohler (Nutanix), Josh Odgers (Nutanix), Matt Cowger (EMC), Scott Lowe (VMware), Jason Nash (Varrow)

This was a very lively session with a panel of five VCDXs from  a variety of companies. I was taking real time notes, so I didn’t capture all of comments and some of the grammar and wording may be a bit awkward. If you attended VMworld, then you can listen to the sessions and get all of the comments and friendly banter among the panelists.

Q: If you are converging multiple datacenters (and multiple vCenters) with NSX in the future, how would you design your datacenter today? What do I do to avoid problems?

A: Scott – NSX manager has a one to one relationship with vCenter today. VMware is actively engaged in fixing this problem. The plans for converging multiple NSX domains into one hasn’t been finalized yet, so can’t answer it. It would be ideal to not having overlapping VDIs.

Q: It used to be with DVS that you couldn’t migrate between vCenters. What is the story with NSX?

A: Scott – If I have a set of logical constructs how do you take that grouping and pick it up and put it into another domain? The answer is that you don’t right now. Not a product feature. There is no solution today. Too early to tell what the real solution will be. Stay tuned for future NSX enhancements.

Q: What are the panel’s thoughts on the datacenter in 5 years? What is the next challenge?

A: Jon – There are always customers that can’t overcome today’s challenges. Maybe extensibility? Federation?

Matt – I’m not confident that’s is the right question to ask. I would hope in 5 years we aren’t talking about hypervisors or storage platforms. We should be talking about how to deploy applications. “I’m over the infrastructure”. I don’t care about OpenStack. I don’t want a VM from OpenStack, I want a VM that is used for my application.

Josh – We focus a lot on infrastructure. We should look towards the application layer. Storage, networking all enable apps. Infrastructure solves challenges that shouldn’t be there. Maybe we won’t need SRM or stretched clusters, with smart apps. The further we get away from infrastructure, the less constrained we will be.

Jason – What we are seeing is a big shift towards software as a service. We have a challenge coming ahead to simplify our ways. Shrinking the datacenters that my customers have today. We have fights ahead about software migrations (e.g. EPIC to something else if hosted in the cloud). It’s about where you host applications. Can you get your data out of the cloud?

Scott – I think we are going to see increasingy a wide adoption of cloud services and hosted application. The ability to migrate data between providers is a big problem. While the tools we use to provide the infrastructure will fade away, the reality is that someone somewhere will have to manage it. If you own some level of infrastructure, we will  need tools that will do mapping and identification across the layers of applications abstraction. Those points will  be relevant regardless of the underlying infrastructure. We will have a large distribution of micro applications, and understanding the dependencies is a huge piece that the industry has not yet come to terms with.

Q: What’s the impact you are seeing about containers? A year ago people didn’t know about containers. People are talking a lot about containers today.

A: Scott – Great question. Right now we still have challenges managing a VM. It is a collection of services (e.g. SSH, web server, DB, etc.). In the Docker world that would be three different containers. Now you have hundreds of VMs. With containers you will mushroom to thousands. We have no tools today to manage them at this scale. Until you can do service discovery, you can’t wire in the app to the rest of the business. How do you tell the containers where to go and who to talk to? If you do DNS, then that uses a lot of IP address. This is a challenge is that the vast majority of companies won’t be using containers. Only large web scale companies like twitter will be using it. Today the maturity is not there today.

Jason – Customers are thinking about containers, but aren’t changing their app model today.

Jon – People dive in head first to containers, but they still haven’t gotten down pat managing VMs.

Josh – Don’t use technology just for the sake of technology. If what you are using today is working, then don’t change what you are doing.

Matt – Docker is not a container. Docker is an orchestration method for various kinds of containers. The reason why Docker matters is that they figured out how to solve prolems like service binding, etc. Docker fixed a lot of that. I want to make that distinction. Containers are only now relevant because the tools to manage them at scale are now relevant.

Q: You shouldn’t jump into something new just because it sounds good. I have several IT managers that do just that. We get overruled every day. How can I prevent that?

A: Scott – We can all agree layer 8 has a lot of problems that need to be addressed. We as architects need to make sure business requirements map to technology. IT exists to serve the business. Are we decreasing time to market, increasing revenue, etc. If we aren’t doing that then why are here.

Matt – Names a product that is stupidly cool but super expensive (Xsigo). Matt then tries to quantify the amount of time saved, and ho much money it would save. They then bought the tool (which was later bought by Oracle). As a VCDX you need to match business requirements to technology, not the other way around.

Jason – I’m doing a lot of roadshows for NSX and all flash arrays because they are cool new widgets. But you find way higher attach success by defining requirements and doing ROI analysis.

Q: As you look at the IT landscape, will the 20% of people running Solaris, HP-UX, AS/400. Is this going to be a hurdle and what’s the way forward?

A: Josh – This is the same process of virtualization 10 years ago where tier-1 apps would not be virtualized. VMware can do more than 80% of the task. Today it’s more a political challenge then technical. Michael Webster gets on stage – The most issues are not technical in nature. You can virtualize VAX and Alpha today.

Scott – It’s all about a business requirement.. If these new technologies don’t apply to your technology, then it’s not worth trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

Matt – SDDC is not all about vSphere. You can implement SDDC without using vSphere.

Jon – If your biz requirement is people are 150 years old and you are using LPARS….ok that’s not funny.

Jason – Or do it for the 80% that VMware can do, and leave those other technologies alone.

Michael Webster – Many Unix platforms can be easily migrated to vSphere, even DB2 running from a mainframe.

Q: I lead a performance and management team. I’m afraid people will be pointing finger at me. What do you think is an approach that might work? App discovery, performance baselines, etc.

A: Matt – You job should be identifying performance issues and pushing that down to the app owners. You should make sure the environment is up and meets SLAs. Give the data to the app owners to manage.

Scott – I agree. Mange the expectations by SLAs. Did we violate the SLAs? The app owner can then drill down into the problems.

Matt – Manage SLAs around latency, bandwidth, CPU utilization, etc. Josh  – the goal is to find the problem.

Scott – I agree. The app folks will say TPS are running low, and they are asking you why. You do need to write the SLAs over what you have control with and a clear boundary. You need application metrics. Mutually agree at these SLAs.

Matt – Baselining is hugely important.

Jon – Baseline is super important. Get it in writing.

Josh – Manage the expectation so they don’t try and railroad you.

Q: I work in Federal. While we don’t have a public cloud that is approved. What can I do today when in the future the public cloud is approved?

A: Jason – Why do you want a hybrid cloud model? Will you be saving money, cloud bursting, etc?

Josh – There’s a perception that hybrid cloud is good. But the grass is not always greener on the otherwise. It’s about delivering a business requirement.

Matt – It’s not uncommon to say one thing because they think that’s what will get them what they want. But it could be because they want to go around IT.

Jason – Some people see shadow IT as an opportunity to improve. I get asked all the time what do you need to do to move to a hybrid cloud platform. Often the answer is better serving the customers you have now, better. This is better than just swiping your AWS credit card.

Jon – What can help when collecting business requirements that look good, is asking do you really need it super fast? Maybe they are unhappy with your existing service catalog.

Matt – Make sure you run the numbers. One of them will be cheaper, but you need to find out which it is.

Jason – Choose your internal platforms carefully, so you can better move to a hybrid platform in the future.

Jon – Ask the customer what they expect from a hybrid cloud. ROI of build vs buy.

A: There’s a lot of change in how we manage datacenters. What do you guys see as the changing role of an administrator in this new role?

Q: Scott – We were talking about networking at OpeningActs on Sunday. One of the comments was that you have three tiers of people IT. One tier that racks and stacks. Then the middle tier is like middle management, where the sysadmins fall. The third tier are architects. The middle layer will get eliminated. To add value you have to look beyond managing the widgets in your silo. You will need to be aware of business costs, how to manage, etc. and that will keep you relevant much longer. Don’t focus on specific technologies.

Matt – if you are retiring in 5 years, do nothing you are fine unless you want to. In 10 years you need to figure out things like hypererconverged, containers and NSX. For the next 10-20 years, you need to learn to write code. Through automation.

Scott – Not everyone will be a programmer. But you need to be able to use infrastructure as a code tool.

Matt – I am not a networking guy. I can’t route myself out of a paper bag. But I can pull up wireshark and know what’s happening. But I do know enough to poke and prod a little bit.

Jason – Trying to get people out of the mindest of just delivering their own widgets. Projects that use to take a month now take two weeks, with solutions like Nutanix or other systems that are easy to deploy. Integration with other systems is important.

Jon – It’s not about if you can read wireshark. It’s about how you can apply technology to solve a problem. I can solve a business problem with ‘that’. Until people break out of the silos, then they won’t understand what’s happening in the datacenter. You will need to look at the macro picture.

Josh – Break out of the silos.

VMworld 2014: What’s new in SRM & vSphere Replication

Session BCO2629

Software defined storage and availability

  • Bringing the efficient operational model of virtualization to storage
  • Common policy based model
  • VM centric data services
  • Abstraction and pooling of infrastructure

vCenter Site Recovery Manager

  • Industry-leading disaster recovery automation solution for vSphere environments
  • Uses array-based replication
  • Use cases include DR, disaster avoidance, planned migration
  • Recovery workflows: Failover automation, non-disruptive failover testing, planned migration, failback automation

What’s new in SRM 5.8?

vCAC Integration

  • vCAC workflow support – Self-service policy-based DR protection for Apps and other workflows
  • VCAC management across both sites. Integration with vCO plugin for SRM
  • New PowerCLI APIs exposed
  • Automated protection mapping according to pre-defined tiers via vCAC
  • DR control delivered as a service to app tenants via vCAC
  • VCO plug-in for SRM offers many workflows like creating protection groups and add VMs. Find protection groups by datastores, etc.

Scalability

  • 5,000 protected VMs, vice 1,500 in 5.5
  • 2,000 VMs concurrent recovery, vice 1,000 in 5.5
  • Many performance across the board – UP to 75% faster
  • IP customization is a huge time sink, so if you avoid that then recovery will be even faster

Ease of Use

  • Built-in vPostgress database, or can still use external DB
  • Integrated into the vSphere web client

IP Subnet Mapping

  • Can use the dr-ip-customizer – Old method is still there
  • Can now use rules to define customization as part of the network mapping, to preserve parts of the IP address while mapping to the new subnet
  • Based on subnet mask

VSAN + vSphere Replication and Site Recovery Manage: VSAN is compatible with vSphere replication

vSphere Replication  (VR)

  • Included in vSphere essentials plus and higher
  • Protects up to 500 VMs
  • Replication happens at the host level
  • Easy virtual appliance deployment
  • Quick recovery for individual VMs
  • Replication engine for SRM
  • Replicate workloads to vCenter Serer and vCloud Air
  • VR components: vSphere replication management server (VRMS), vSphere Replication Server (VRS), vSphere Replication Agent (VRA)
  • Supports VSS quiescing – Only use if you need to

What’s new in 5.8

  • Replicate to the cloud – vCloud Air
  • vSphere Replication reporting
  • vSphere replication calculator – Allows you to solve for network bandwidth, how many VMs you can protect, and other features
  • Capacity planning appliance fling

 

 

VMworld 2014: Next-Gen Storage Best Practices

Session STO2496 with Rawlingson Rivera (VMware), Chad Sakac (EMC), and Vaughn Stewart (Pure Storage)

Simplicity is the key to success:

  • Use large datastores
  • Limit use of RDMs
  • Use datastore clusters
  • Use array automated tiering storage
  • Avoid jumbo frames for iSCSI and NFS
  • KISS gets you out of jail a lot
  • Use VAAI
  • Use plug-able storage architecture

Key Best Storage Best Practice Documents – Use your vendor’s docs first. VMware docs are just general guidelines.

Hybrid arrays – Use some degree of flash and HDD. Examples are Nimble, Tintri, VNXe, etc.

Host caches such as PernixData, VFRC, SanDisk.

Converged Infrastructure such as Nutanix and Simplivity.

All flash arrays such as SollidFire, ExtremIO, Pure Storage

Data has active I/O bands – the working set size. Applications tend to overwrite the most 15% of data.

Benchmark Principles

  • Don’t let vendors steer you too much – Best thing is to talk to different customers
  • Good benchmarking is NOT easy
  • You need to benchmark over time
  • Use mixed loads with lots of hosts and VMs
  • Can use slob or IOMETER and configure to set different IO sizes
  • Don’t use an old version of IOMETER. A new version was released about six weeks ago
  • Generating more than 20K IOPS out of one workload generator is hard. If you want 200K IOPS, you will likely need 20 workers

Architecture Matters

  • Always benchmark under normal operations, near system capacity, during system failures
  • Always benchmark resiliency, availability and data management features
  • Recommend testing with actual data
  • Dedupe can actually increase performance by discarding duplicate data
  • Sometimes all flash array vendors will suggest increasing queue depth to 256, over the default of 32
  • Queues are everywhere

Storage Networking Guidance

  • VMFS and NFS provide similar performance
  • Always separate guest VM traffic from storage VMkernel network
  • Recommendation is to NOT use jumbo frames – 0 to 10% performance gain with it turned on
  • YMMV

Thin provisioning is not a data reduction technology

Data reduction technologies are the new norm: Dedupe block sizes change (512b Pure, 16KB 3PAR, 4KB NetApp)

  • There is a big operational difference between inline and post-process

Data reduction in virtual disks (better in Hyper-V than vSphere 5.x): T10 UNMAP is still a manual process in vSphere

Quality of Service

  • In general QoS does not ensure performance during storage maintenance or failures
  • Many enterprise customers can’t operationalize QoS and do better with All flash arrays
  • QoS can be important capability in some storage processor use cases
  • With vVols there may be a huge uptick in QoS usage

VMware Virtual SAN Integration

  • Unparalleled level of integration with vSphere
  • Enterprise features: NIOC, vMotion, SvMotion, DRS, HA
  • Data protection: Linked clones, snapshots, VDP advanced
  • Policy based management driven architecture
  • VSAN best practices: 10Gb NICs, Use VDS, NIOC, queue depth of 256, don’t mix disk types in a cluster
  • Uses L2 multicast
  • 10% of the total capacity should be in the flash tier

Automation

  • Automate everything that you can
  • Do not hard code to any vendor’s specific API
  • Do not get hung up on Puppet, Chef, vs. Ruby, etc.

VMworld 2014: Vision and Strategy for SW defined Storage

Session: STO1853S

The software defined datacenter: Expand virtual compute to all applications; virtualize the network for speed and efficiency; transform storage by aligning it with app demands; management tools give way to automation.

Between 2014 and 2016: 41% Y-over-Y storage capacity increase. Most pressing challenges are meeting SLA, troubleshooting, data migrations, time/budget

“Hot edge” – CPU/memory bound, low latency, dominated by flash

“Cold Core” – Capacity centric, increasing commodity HW, scale-out, extends into the cloud

x86 based servers are prime candidates for the “hot edge” storage

Rapidly emerging x86 server storage brings data close to the applications (Greater CPU density, high density flash, flash interfaces)

Hyper-converged storage (e.g. Nutanix, VMware VSAN). VMware believes Hyperconverged will dominate the hot-edge storage tier.

Legacy operational model creates several challenges – SAN device management, NAS device mgt, etc. Data is typically managed at the LUN level, not VN level.

Storage consumer challenges: lengthy provisioning cycles, difficult to make adjustments, lack of granular control

VMware believes the hypervisor is the place to virtualize the data plane. Make the virtual disk the primary unit of data management.

VMware software-defined storage vision for external storage:  Storage policy based management (capacity, performance, availability, data protection, security) based on Virtual Volumes.

vVols allows published capabilities such as snapshot, replication, dedupe, QoS. They are applied native by the array at the VM level.

Policy driven VM-centric control plane, dynamic composition of storage sevices

Enabling self-service consumption: Virtual volumes, virtual SAN (hyperconverged), vCloud Air

Virtual Volumes

  • Virtual disks are natively represented on arrays
  • Enables VM granular storage operations using array-based data services
  • Integrates storage policy based consumption
  • Supports existing I/O protocols such as iSCSI, FC, NFS)
  • Ecosystem-wide initiative
  • Uses VASA APIs and a new VASA provider on the storage array
  • Virtual datastore has capacity, access controls, and published capabilities (snapshot, replication, dedupe, encryption, QoS, etc.)
  • As you provision VMs you will select the appropriate policy that matches business requirements
  • Data path is separate from the control path (control path uses VASA)
  • Industry wide: HP, NetApp, Dell, EMC, IBM, SolidFire, Tintri, Nimble Storage, NEC, Hitachi (29 total partners)
  • HP, NetApp and Dell announced GA of vVols when vSphere 6.0 GAs

NetApp vVol Demo:

  • 8.2.1 clustered data OnTap, with shipping vVol support
  • Shows off a demo of creating a storage policy, deploying a VM with the policy, checking compliance, and using hardware based snapshot offload.

VMworld 2013: Software Defined Storage the VCDX Way

This was a great “put your architecture cap on” session by two well known VCDX’s, Wade Holmes and Rawlinson Rivera. Software defined <insert virtualization food group here> is all the rage these days. Be it SDN (networking), SDS (storage), SDDC (datacenter) or software defined people. Well maybe not quite at the people stage but some startup is probably working on that.

Given the explosion of SDS solutions, or those on the near horizon, you can’t put on your geek hat and just throw some new software storage product at the problem and expect good results. As an engineer myself “cool” new products always get my attention. But an IT architect has to look at SDS from a very different perspective.

This session gave an overview of the VCDX Way for SDS. I took a different approach to this session’s blog post from most other ‘quick publish’ VMworld session notes. Given the importance of SDS and the new VMware products, I’ve made this post a lot longer and tried to really capture the full breadth of the information presented by Rawlinson and Wade.

Session Introduction

How do you break down the silos in an organization? How do you align application and business requirements to storage capabilities? In the “old” days you matched up physical server attributes such as performance, high availability and performance to a specific workload. Big honking database servers, scale out web servers, or high IOPS email systems.

In the virtual era you gained flexibility, and can better match up workloads to pools of compute resources. Now it is much easier to implement various forms of high availability, scale-out performance, and greatly increase provisioning speed. But some subsystems like storage, even with tools like storage IO control, VASA, and storage DRS were blunt instruments trying to solve complex problems. Did they help? Absolutely, are they ideal? Not at all.

The final destination on the journey in this session is software defined storage (SDS). The remainder of this session covered the “VCDX Way” to SDS. This methodology enables efficient technology solution design, implementation and adoption to meet business requirements. I’ve heard from several people this week the array of storage solutions is nearly bewildering and so following the methodology can help you make your way through the SDS maze and ultimately be very successful in delivering solid solutions.

VCDX Way

  • Gather business requirements
  • Solution Architecture
  • Engineering specifications
  • Features: Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability, Security

Software-Defined Storage

Software defined storage is all about automation with policy-driven storage provisioning backed by SLAs. To achieve this storage control logic is abstracted into the software layer. No longer are you tied to physical RAID sets, or using blunt instruments like a VMFS datatore to quasi match up application requirements with performance, availability, and recovery requirements.

The control plane needs to be flexible, easy to use and automatable like crazy. The presentation slide below shows Storage Management with SDS of “tomorrow”. At the top level is the policy-based management engine, better known as the control plane. Various data servers are then offered, such as replication, deduplication, security, performance, and availability. In the data plane you have the physical hardware which would be a traditional external storage array, or the new fangled JBOD scale-out storage tier.

software defined storage

Three Characteristics of SDS

  • Policy-Driven control plane – Automated placement, balancing, data services, provisioning
  • App-centric data services – Performance SLAs, recoverability, snapshots, clones, replication
  • Virtualized data plane – Hypervisor-based pooling of physical storage resources

Solution Areas – Availability

Availability is probably one of the first storage properties that pops to mind for the average IT when you think about storage. RAID level and looking at the fault domain within an array (such as shelf/cage/magazine availability) are simple concepts. But those are pre-SDS concepts that force VMs to inherit the underlying datastore and physical storage characteristics. The LUN-centric operational model is an operational nightmare and the old way of attempting to meet business requirements.

If you are a vSphere administrator then technologies such as VAAI, storage IO control, storage DRS, and storage vMotion are tools in your toolbox to enable meeting application availability and performance requirements. Those tools are there today for you to take advantage of, but were only the first steps VMware took to provide a robust storage platform for vSphere. You also need to fully understand the fault domains for your storage.

Take into account node failures, disk failures, network failures, and storage processor failures. You can be assured that at some point you will have a failure and your design must accommodate it while maintaining SLAs. SDS allows the defining of fault domains on a per-VM basis. Policy based management is what makes VM-centric solutions possible.

Instead of having to define characteristics at the hardware level, you can base it on software. VM storage profiles (available today) is an example of a VM-centric QoS capability. But those are not widely used. Think about how you scale a solution and the cost. Cost constraints are huge, and limit selection. Almost nobody has an unlimited budget, you carefully need to initial capital costs, as well as future expansion and operational costs.

Solution Areas – Management

Agility and simplified management are a hallmark of SDS, enabling easy management of large scale-out solutions. The more complex a solution is, the more costly it will be over the long term to maintain. In each release of vSphere VMware has been introducing building blocks for simplified storage management.

The presenters polled the audience and asked how many were using VASA. Only a couple of people raised there hand. They acknowledged that VASA has not seen wide adoption. In the graphic below you can see VMware’s progression from a basic set of tools (e.g. VASA 1.0), to the upcoming VSAN product (VASA 1.5), to the radically new storage model of vVOLs (VASA 2.0). No release data for VVOLs was mentioned, but I would hope they come to fruition in the next major vSphere release. VSAN is a major progression in the SDS road map, and should be GA in 1H 2014.

software defined storage management

The speakers ran through the VSAN VM provisioning process, and highlighted the simple interface and the ability to define on a per-VM level the availability, performance and recoverability characteristics you require. As stated earlier, we are now at the stage where we can provide VM-centric, not datastore or LUN centric, solutions. Each VM maintains its own  unique policies in the clustered VSAN datastore.

Management is not just about storage, but about the entire cloud. Think about cloud service provisioning which is policy-based management for compute, networking and storage resources. Too many options can become complex and difficult to manage. Personally, I think VMware still has room for improvement in this area. VSAN, Virsto, vVOLS, plus the myriad of third-party SDS solutions like PernixData, give customers a lot of options but can also be confusing.

Solution Areas – Performance

Clearly storage performance is a big concern, and probably the most common reason for slow application performance in a virtualized environment. Be it VDI or databases or any other application key performance indicators are  IOPS, latency and throughput. Applications have widely varying characteristics, and understanding them is critical to matching up technologies with applications. For example, is your workload read or write intensive? What is the working set size of the data? Are the IOs random or sequential? Do you have bursty activity like VDI boot storms?

With VMware VSAN you can reserve SSD cache on a per-VM basis and tune the cache segment size to match that of the workload. These parameters are defined at the VM layer, not a lower layer, so they are matched to the specific VM workload at hand. VMware has recently introduced new technologies such as Virsto and Flash Read Cache to help address storage performance pain points. Virsto helps address the IO blender effect by serializing writes to the back-end storage, and remove the performance penalty of snapshots, among other features. 20130829_124601 The VMware VSAN solution is a scale-out solution which lets you add compute and storage node in blocks. There were several sessions at VMworld on VSAN, so I won’t into more details here. 20130829_124250

Solution Area – Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is extremely important to most businesses, but is often complex to configure, test, and maintain. Solutions like SRM, which use array-based replication, are not very granular. All VMs on a particular datastore have the same recovery profile. This LUN-centric method is not flexible, and complex to manage. In contrast, future solutions based on vVOLS or other technologies enable VM-level recovery profile assignment. Technologies such as VMware NSX could enable pre-provisioning of entire networks at a DR site, to exactly match those of the production site. The combination of NSX and VM-level recovery profiles will truly revolutionize how you do DR and disaster avoidance.

20130829_124819

Solution Area – Security

Security should be of concern in a virtual environment. One often overlooked area is security starting at the platform level by using a TPM (trusted platform module). TPM enables trusted and measured booting of ESXi. Third party solutions such as Hytrust can provide an intuitive interface to platform security and validate that ESXi servers only boot using known binaries and trusted hardware.

I make it a standard practice to always order a TPM module for every server, as they only cost a few dollars. How does this relate to SDS? Well if you use VSAN or other scale-out storage solutions, then you can use the TPM module to ensure the platform security of all unified compute and storage blocks. On the policy side, think about defining security options on a per-VM basis, such as encryption, when using vVOLs. The speakers recommended that if you work on air-gapped networks, then looking a fully converged solutions such as Nutanix or Simplivity can increase security and simplify management.

20130829_124900

Example Scenario

At the end of this session Wade and Rawlinson quickly went through a sample SDS design scenario. In this scenario they have a rapidly growing software company, PunchingClouds Inc. They have different application tiers, some regulator compliance requirements, and short staffed with a single storage admin.

20130829_125124

The current storage design looks like the model fibre channel SAN with redundant components. The administrator has to manage VMs at the LUN/datastore level.

20130829_125145

At this point you need to do a full assessment of the environment. Specifications such as capacity, I/O profiles, SLAs, budget and a number of other factors need to be thoroughly documented and agreed upon by the stakeholders. Do you have databases that need high I/O? Or VDI workloads with high write/read ratios? What backup solution are they currently using?

20130829_125206

After assessing the environment you need to work with the project stakeholders and define the business requirements and constraints. Do you need charge back? Is cost the primary constraint? Can you hire more staff to manage the solution? How much of the existing storage infrastructure must you re-use? All of these questions and more need to be thoroughly vetted.

20130829_125239

After thorough evaluation of all available storage options, they came up with the solution design as shown in the slide below. It consists of a policy-based management framework, using two isolated VSAN data tiers, but also incorporates the existing fibre channel storage array.

20130829_125308

Summary

The SDS offers a plethora of new ways to tackle difficult application and business requirements. There are several VMware and third-party solutions on the market, with many more on the horizon. In order to select the proper technologies, you need a methodical and repeatable process, “The VCDX Way”, to act as your guide along the SDS path. Don’t just run to the nearest and shiniest cool product on the market and just hope that it works. That’s not how an enterprise architect should approach the problem, and your customers deserve the best-matched solution as possible so that you become a trusted solution provider solving business critical needs.