Category Archives: Hyper-Converged

VMworld 2017 – vSAN New Announcements & Updates

During VMworld 2017 Vegas, a number of vSAN related product announcements will have been made and I was privy to some of those a little earlier than the rest of the general public, due being a vSAN vExpert. I’ve summerised those below. The embargo on disclosing the details lifts at 3pm PST which is when this blog post is sheduled to go live automatically. So enjoy! 🙂

vSAN Customer Adoption

As some of you may know, popularity of vSAN has been growing for a while now as a preferred alternative to legacy SAN vendors when it comes to storing vSphere workloads. The below stats somewhat confirms this growth. I too can testify to this personally as I’ve seen a similar increase to the number of our own customers that consider vSAN as the default choice for storage now.

Key new Announcements

New vSAN based HCI Acceleration kit availability

This is a new ready node program being announced with some OEM HW vendors to provide distributed data center services for data centers to keep edge computing platforms. Consider this to be somewhat in between vSAN RoBo solution and the full blown main data center vSAN solution. Highlights of the offering are as follows

  • 3 x Single socket servers
  • Include vSphere STD + vSAN STD (vCenter is excluded)
  • Launch HW partners limited to Fujitsu, Lenovo, Dell & Super Micro only
  • 25% default discount on list price (on both HW & SW)
  • $25K starting price

           

 

  • My thoughts: Potentially a good move an interesting option for those customers who have a main DC elsewhere or are primarily cloud based (included VMware Cloud on AWS). The practicality of vSAN RoBo was always hampered by the fact that its limited to 25 VMs on 2 nodes. This should slightly increase that market adoption, however the key decision would be the pricing. Noticeably HPe are absent from the initial launch but I’m guessing they will eventually sign up. Note you have to have an existing vCenter license elsewhere as its not included by default.

vSAN Native Snapshots Announced

Tech preview of the native vSAN data protection capabilities through snapshots have been announced and will likely be generally available in FY18. vSAN native snapshots will have the following characteristics.

  • Snapshots are all policy driven
  • 5 mins RPO
  • 100 snapshots per VM
  • Support data efficiency services such as dedupe as well as protection services such as encryption
  • Archival of snapshots will be available to secondary object or NAS storage (no specific vendor support required) or even Cloud (S3?)
  • Replication of snapshots will be available to a DR site.

  • My thoughts: This was a hot request and something that was long time coming. Most vSAN solutions need a 3rd party data center back up product today and often, SAN vendors used to provide this type of snapshot based backup solution from the array (NetApp Snap Manager suite for example) that vSAN couldn’t match. Well, it can now, and since its done at the SW layer, its array independent and you can replicate or archive that anywhere, even on cloud and this would be more than sufficient for lots of customers with a smaller or a point use case to not bother buying backup licenses elsewhere to protect that vSphere workload. This is likely going to be popular. I will be testing this out in our lab as soon as the beta code is available to ensure the snaps don’t have a performance penalty.

 

vSAN on VMware Cloud on AWS Announced

Well, this is not massively new but vSAN is a key part of VMware Cloud on AWS and the vSAN storage layer provide all the on premise vSAN goodness while also providing DR to VMware Cloud capability (using snap replication) and orchestration via SRM.

 

vSAN Storage Platform for Containers Announced

Similar to the NSX-T annoucement with K8 (Kubernetes) support, vSAN also provide persistent storage presentation to both K8 as well as Docker container instances in order to run stateful containers.

 
This capability came from the vmware OpenSource project code named project Hatchway and its freely available via GitHub https://vmware.github.io/hatchway/ now.

  • My thoughts: I really like this one and the approach VMware are taking with the product set to be more and more microservices (container based application) friendly. This capability came from an opensource VMware project called Project hatchway and will likely be popular with many. This code was supposed to be available on GitHub as this is an opensource project but I have not been able to see anything within the VMware repo’s on GitHub yet.

 

So, all in all, not very many large or significant announcements for vSAN from VMworld 2017 Vegas (yet), but this is to be expected as the latest version of vSAN 6.6.1 was only recently released with a ton of updates. The key take aways for me is that the popularity of vSAN is obviously growing (well I knew this already anyways) and the current and future announcements are going to be making vSAN a fully fledged SAN / NAS replacement for vSphere storage with more and more native security, efficiency and availability services which is great for the customers.

Cheers

Chan

 

Stratoscale – A true Hyper-converged solution similar to VMware Evo:RAIL?

I’ve been exploring the partner solution offerings during Cisco Live 2015 in Milan, and came across this stand from Stratoscale which I found quite interesting. So I had a chat with the guys and thought it would be worth  mentioning a little bit about what I learnt of them.

Stratoscale is a small Israel IT start up (offices in Israel, USA and expanding out globally), with funding from Cisco investments (understandably) that provides a true, large scale hyper converged infrastructure software that can run on BYOH (Bring your Own Hardware). I’ve had a lengthy (technical) chat with one of the founders of the company,  Etay Bognar (etay@stratoscale.com) and they seems to have a very interesting proposition at hand. Unlike other popular converged infrastructures vendors such as Nutanix, Simplivity….etc. Stratoscale seem to offer just the software elements that can work with commodity hardware from any server vendor. But the key here is that they actually own and provide all the software elements including the hypervisor which is a customised version of KVM which is optimized to work based on their hyper converged offering. For example, as a part of this customisation, they claimed that they’ve completely re-written the memory management module within KVM to optimise it and as a result of such optimisations, that they could migrate a running VM from one host to another within a second, regardless of the size of the VM which sounds very interesting (though I haven’t seen it in action myself, but kind of make sense as they claim to use post copy operation unlike VMware VMotion that uses pre-copy).

As a part of the software solution offering, they are also providing a fully customiseable management platform (similar to VMware vCenter in an ESXi cluster), something that seems to be lacking in a generic KVM based hypervisor cluster deployment without heavy scripting…etc. This management platform apparently also offer intelligent algorythms managing and maintaining VM placements within the cluster (similar to VMware DRS). According to what I was told, they key here is that the level of control & visibility they have within the compute and storage layer is very granular & limitless, as they own the hypervisor too, much like VMware in their Evo:RAIL offering.  This is very different to, say a Simplivity or a Nutanix solution that don’t have their own hypervisor, therefor having to rely on vCenter / ESXi API to interact with compute platform and therefore be restricted to what you can see and do to the contents of the API. To me it make sense that Nutanix and Simplivity are more like aggregators rather than true Hyper-Converged solutions where as VMware Evo:RAIL is probably the only other true Hyper Converged solution that truly converge everything.

So these guys at Stratoscale looks like a direct competitor to VMware’s Evo:RAIL solution going forward from what I could see as they too have true Hyper-Convergence in that they own the whole software stack in their offering and all aspects of the solution, compute and storage are all baked in directly to the hypervisor, much like VMware Evo:RAIL. Their solution at present appear to scale out to 64 nodes at present with distributed storage in all nodes (SSD backed, similar to VMware Evo:RAIL) and to be honest I quite liked their pitch. It sounds like a very powerful offering which could potentially be a very good solution for some of those non VMware customers, that are more Linux orientated that do not want to spend too much money for a VMware solution (I do not know how expensive it is compared to a VMware solution but I was assured that its a lot cheaper in comparison). Being a start up, there’s no doubt that things would need improving, and its probably no match right now, for the almost fully complete VMware offering with all its eco system, but it would be interesting to see how they fare, especially given the fact that owning their own hypervisor giving them somewhat similar capability to VMware to produce an optimised Hyper-Converged solution. If they do well, I can see naturally, they could end up being a very good acquisition target for the likes of Cisco, Intel who may want to strategically enter the Hypervisor play (current Cisco funding is pretty self explanatory here I think). Worth keeping a close eye out, I know I will.

Comments are welcome, especially from existing Hyper-Converged solutions users

Cheers

Chan