vSphere 6 and XtremIO Application Protection

Consolidating and Protecting Enterprise Applications on vSphere 6 with XtremIO

This great Whitepaper was published this month and is well worth a read if you have or are planning to deploy XtremIO.

The paper covers the following:

  • Multi-site VMware based infrastructure with integrated Replication and Disaster Recovery
  • XtremIO 4.0 with: vSphere 6.0 / RecoverPoint 4.1 / Site Recovery Manager 6.1 / VSI plugin 6.6
  • Consolidated business-critical enterprise applications comprising: DSS / Oracle / SQL

Whitepaper

All Flash, XtremIO and Copy Data Management

It’s been a while since my last blog post, however it’s been a very busy year with travel and taking on a new role at EMC (or soon to be Dell) as a technical specialist for XtremIO.

I joined EMC around 10 months ago (time really flies) for one reason and that was to be part of a disruptive storage technology….XtremIO.

Traditional spinning disk technology has not changed in the past 20+ years. 15K drives were introduced in 2000 and physics will not allow disks to get any faster.

Now I’m not saying that disk is dead (like certain other vendors) as it still has a place in the datacenter for unstructured data, backup/archive, big data etc.

Having spent many years in the storage market the main challenge with spinning disk is latency. You have to throw a lot of spindles in an array to ensure application response times are consistent. This is a very expensive exercise and leads to poor utilisation of capacity, datacenter space, plus high power & cooling requirements.

Like many others, XtremIO is an All Flash Array. This is where the similarities end!

Solid State Disks (SSD’s) & other flash media is very fast….most of you already know this as you have them in your laptops and smart phones.

Whilst speed and IOP’s are important it’s not the most important factor. In fact, flash will give you way more IOP’s that you’ll probably ever use!

As I mentioned before, latency and application response times are the most critical and the key with latency is to be consistently low.

Flash storage is an enabler to deliver consistent low-latency, however the storage architecture you build around it is the key to success or failure!

Most vendors (including EMC) started out by adding flash as a front-end cache to accelerate reads/writes on existing disk arrays, we then saw the next generation of hybrid-storage arrays/appliances that were purpose built with both SSD’s and disk. Around 2010/2011 the first All Flash Arrays started to appear on the market.

This new generation of All Flash Arrays (AFA’s) came along with software that was optimised for NAND media. I won’t go into the details and nuances of NAND flash as there are plenty of other sites that cover this very well.

The major drawback with these new AFA’s is the fact they were designed using active/passive/standby dual controller architectures. Nothing radically different from previous arrays. This design approach is fine for spinning disk arrays as the performance characteristics of the media is much lower, but with flash media it’s a whole different ball game.

Dual controller architectures can very quickly become a bottleneck for performance especially when you add additional capacity. This type of architecture is commonly known as ‘Scale-up’.

So, what happens when you hit the limits of the storage controller? You can either move workloads off to somewhere else or buy another AFA and have seperate islands of storage (sounds no different to what we did before, except the media is different!).

A certain vendor will offer to swap out controllers, however the devil is in the details. I’d strongly recommend you read the T’s & C’s.

What attracted me to XtremIO is that it’s different to other AFA’s. The guys in Israel who designed the platform (before EMC acquired it in 2012) really knew their stuff when it came to flash. Rather than just following everyone else down the path of a dual controller architecture, they chose the hard path and built a true multi-node ‘scale-out’ cluster. For more information on this see the following White Paper: Technical Introduction to XtremIO

Moving on from performance and the importance of architecture, AFA’s must be able to do other stuff. Being fast is just the beginning.

Data Services and application integration are what makes any array truely valuable to a business.

Deduplication and compression are pretty much table stakes for AFA’s. Snapshots/Clones less so and milage will vary.

Copy Data Management is one of the hot areas that XtremIO is focussed on. CDM allows application owners and developers to create multiple copies of key datasets in a consistent, fast and space efficient manner without impacting the performance of production on the same AFA.

As the latest StarWars movie was released last month I put together a themed video outlining XtremIO Copy Data Management. Enjoy!

Latest Tintri Announcements at VMware Partner Exchange 2015

It’s been a busy week at VMWare PEX in San Francisco for Tintri with the announcement of the following:

vSphere 6.0 support

VMware Virtual Volume (VVOLs) support

VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) support

New Tintri Plug-in for VMware product – vRealize Suite

VMware vRealize Operations (vROps) Management Pack – (technical preview)

Finally VMware has announced the availability of the VVOL API in the upcoming vSphere 6 release. Like myself, I am sure many of you have been waiting patiently for this to happen after seeing this evolve over the past 3+ years. Just goes to show that storage for virtualisation is not an easy thing to get right. Here at Tintri we are planning to support 1M VVOL’s on the current T880 platform. For more on an insight into the world of VVOL’s see the following blog from the Tintri CTO and Co-founder Kieran Harty: http://www.tintri.com/blog/2015/02/vmware-vvol-and-tintri

Tintri support for VMware Integrated OpenStack will allow customers who wish to run an OpenStack environment on their existing VMware infrastructure to leverage both the enterprise stability and features of VMware vSphere as well as the storage insight and performance efficiencies of their Tintri storage. More to come on the OpenStack side of things in the coming weeks/months.

On the management side, anyone who is using vCOPS (now vRealize Operations) and Tintri will have an integrated solution.

The Tintri Management Pack for vRealize Operations exposes key performance indicators (KPIs) for your Tintri storage to vRealize dashboards. It’s easy to install and allows you to have a consistent view of VMs and Tintri application-aware storage. The integration simplifies how cloud administrators monitor performance and capacity. By linking VMs and storage, it also helps with planning and forecasting. The image below shows a vRealize dashboard that includes the Tintri Management Pack.

VCopsTintri

The Tintri Management Pack will initially be available for vCOPS 5.8. Expect support for vRealize 6.0 in the coming months.

vForum Australia and New Tintri T800 Series launch

VMware vForum Australia

It’s been a busy few weeks in Australia with the annual VMWare vForum events taking place throughout November.

For those of you who are not familiar with vForum, think of it as a very condensed VMworld captured in a series of 1 and 2 day events.

This year was my first round of events with Tintri and the timing was pretty good, since Tintri had just announced the new T800 series (more about that later).

vForum in Australia is a great time to catch up with all my industry peers, plus see what’s going on in the local markets in each city.

We were lucky enough to have the Tintri founder and CTO, Kieran Harty was in town for vForum Sydney and he had the following to say:

New T800 Series

New product range and designer look.

Tintri Smart Storage becomes even more dense…..go figure!

Tintri t880 product shot 3b 775

Here’s a quick overview of the spec’s:

T800 Series Spec s

The new 800 series also supports Tintri OS 3.1 which includes SRM support, SecureVM (On disk AES256 encryption) and Hyper V tech preview (SMB 3).

My next blog post I will go into details on how SRM is configured on Tintri.

Words from a Tintri Customer in Australia

I recently caught up with Deakin University one of our first customers in Australia to deploy Tintri.

Deakin University is one of Australia’s new generation of universities. Deakin University was established in 1974. It has four modern campuses located in the vicinity of Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road: one in metropolitan Melbourne, two in the bayside town of Geelong, and one in the picturesque regional seaside centre of Warrnambool. These campuses provide students and researchers with access to the latest industry-standard facilities such as Deakin’s Motion.Lab at the Melbourne Campus and the Geelong Technology Precinct at the Geelong Campus, Waurn Ponds. Deakin University has a strong international focus: around 7,900 (approximately 19%) of its 42,000 student body are from over 60 countries worldwide.

Deakin have 2 x T540’s located at the Geelong and Melbourne Campus’s (~100KM apart) and use ReplicateVM between these sites.

In my interview with Robert Ruge, Systems & Network Manager, School of IT, he had the following to say:

What made you choose Tintri vs your current storage?

I have been running my current storage for a few years now and every so often we would have an incident that would take our storage offline for just a bit too long which forced the VM’s to go offline. I think that we have now remedied this problem but at the same time the opportunity arose to look at our current storage solutions and to either extend or the current solution or to look at a more suitable product. I believe that a little storage diversity is good for operations so that if one product is giving problems your can move your VM’s around. I looked at iSCSI solutions but felt that I didn’t want to complicate our environment with another access method as I was quite happy with the current NFS access method. Tintri then came on the scene with a product that filled my requirements of being NFS based, SSD accelerated, stable, expandable and future looking.

How many VM’s are you currently running and what type of workloads?

We are currently running just over 70 VM’s on one VMstore with a second VMstore as a replication partner for DR. As I become more comfortable with the capacity for the VMstore to handle the workload I will move more workload onto it.
The VM workload is varied. Some of them are infrastructure and management VM’s, some are low usage SQL server database VM’s, but the majority are HPC VM’s for our research staff to use for their computational requirements. These are a mixture of Linux and Windows server.

Has the Vmstore made a difference to how you manage your virtual environment?

Yes it has made a difference to how I manage my virtual environment. I now have to do less management of the storage as it really is a simple appliance to setup and manage, plus the replication is a no brainer to setup and leave running. I had to be much more hands on with the replication on my existing storage.

What are the main features of the Vmstore that you most use/like?

Simplicity of management, economy of storage, replication and the dashboard. What’s not to like.

Other comments/feedback (positive and negative)?

Keep up the good work and keep expanding the solutions to which the appliance can be deployed to.

VMworld 2014

Tintri today announced it will be a Platinum Sponsor at VMworld 2014 taking place August 24-28 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. The company will showcase new products with deeper integration with VMware products in booth 921. In addition, Tintri will present a number of breakout sessions with customers and participate in industry panels throughout the conference.

Highlights:

BCO 1811 – Top 10 Do’s/Don’ts of Data Protection using VADP.
Dominic Cheah, Technical Marketing Engineer will present lessons learned about the various backup transport modes VADP provides for data protection, what pitfalls to avoid as well as recommended best practices with HotAdd, NBD and NBDSSL.

EUC 2352 – Horizon View in a K-12 School District
Tintri customer Chad Marlow and Tom Alexander from Enumclaw School District will discuss the process they used to justify, plan, and deploy VMware Horizon View and Tintri.

SPO2409 – SPO – Storage in the Cloud: Taxonomy and Trends
Rex Walters, VP of Technology will discuss the various approaches to persistent storage in virtualized environments, whether using traditional on-premises virtual infrastructure, or emerging off-premises public and private clouds.

STO3029 – Real World Private Cloud: Tips and Tricks from a Fortune 1000 Enterprise Cloud Project
A Tintri customer will join Chuck Dubuque, Sr. Director of Product and Solution Marketing to discuss

How they defined their private cloud in terms of functionality, capabilities, and SLA

Hidden requirements and gotchas they encountered

Capabilities before and after private cloud

STO3034 – Taking Application-Aware Storage to the Next Level with PowerCLI and PowerShell Justin Lauer, Principal Technology Evangelist, VCP4 and VCP5, a 6-time VMware vExpert and a former VMUG leader, will team up with John Phillips, a member of the technical staff to address how to leverage the task based automation and configuration management of Powershell to dramatically simplify your storage operation.

Converged Infrastructures – Curing the Symptoms Follow Up

In follow up to my colleague’s recent blog (link here) I thought I would add a few words on the subject……….

In a Converged Infrastructure stack storage is one of the main areas that is subject to change and has the greatest impact on the ability to run workloads.

As mentioned in the previous blog post, CI’s were developed to help simplify a complex solution stack. How so? Once it’s built you still need people who understand all levels and be an expert in Compute, Network and Storage. Let me tell you from experience, managing a NetApp platform running Clustered ONTAP is not a simple thing (don’t mean to single NetApp out here, but this was my background for many years).

Having Reference Architecture is great, but it is only the beginning. How do you adapt your infrastructure as workloads and business requirements change?

If you are a service provider or offer a Private Cloud service to the business, how does your CI need to change to take on additional workloads or when existing workloads change?

This results in having to re-design compute and storage. Compute is more simplistic as you can simply add more blades or servers, however storage is not so easy as it’s been specifically designed around know quantities (IOP’s, throughput etc.), which translates into spindles, RAID groups, Volumes, LUN’s and datastores etc. Take a look at a typical storage layout for a VDI solution in the diagram below.

VDI layout

As an administrator how do you know what storage resource is available to run additional VM workloads and how do you get this information?

If a workload is seeing poor performance, how to you go about troubleshooting and isolating the issue?

If I need to add more workload can I without impacting other VM’s?

How many different UI’s and tools would you need from NetApp and EMC to answer the above two questions?

So, how we make a Converged Infrastructure really live up to the expectations it sells? Make it simple. By this I don’t just mean having a blueprint document to follow that builds something. It needs to be truly simple to deploy and manage.

Make the stack easy for a general IT administrator to manage without needing any in-depth storage skills.

This is where Tintri shines. It eliminates the need to follow any special best practices. With all the advanced functionality comes the self-learning technology that implements and allocates resources based on the requirements. So one doesn’t have to the pre-work in terms of design.

All you have to figure out is the capacity. Once done, the storage can almost be ignored. After deployment it continues to provide customers with deep analytics across the infrastructure-helping make the right decisions faster.

Unlike reference architecture, it is dynamic and adjusts to the needs of the applications and VMs, therefore maintaining the benefits across the lifecycle of the deployment. It is self-tuning and has all the REST-APIs in case customers want to bring in some automation. The automation that can be achieved using Tintri REST-APIs is unmatched given the kind of analytics that are available at customer’s disposal.

So, I would conclude it by stating that Reference Architectures and Converged Infrastructures are great but what’s important is the constituents of the Converged Infrastructure and how they simplify not only the initial deployment but ongoing operations as well.

Tintri DataStores – A Customers Perspective

Great write up from a Tintri customer……

Neeshan Peters

After having some time to spend with Tintri datastores I can honestly say it is the most administratively liberating storage that I have ever managed, and I use the term managed loosely. First, the installation of the storage array was quite easy. Take it out of the box, plug in your power, management cables, data cables and turn it on. That’s it for the physical part. For the logical side, you have to give it an IP address and connect it to vCenter. Yes that’s it. No LUNs to carve, no extents, no special setups. Not many storage providers can come close to that kind of setup ease.

The hardware is also surprisingly simple. The magic in these storage arrays come from an intimate knowledge of VMware and what the consumer needs from it. That is mostly encompassed in the firmware, logic and higher functions of the array that you…

View original post 558 more words

Updates from Tintri DownUnder

Tintri Logo Horizontal 400px

VMware vExpert 2014 400x57

Things have been very busy lately in Tintri land down under, so unfortunately blog updates have taken a back seat.

Where to start?

I was extremely pleased to receive my second vExpert award for 2014. Congratulations to all my fellow vExperts out there and look forward to catching up again at VMworld this year.

In the last few months as the team introduced Tintri to the masses in APAC/ANZ, our messaging and approach is very different to what I’ve done & seen in the past with NetApp (or any other storage vendor I’ve worked for).

What’s different about Tintri you may ask? What makes Tintri different to all the other new storage vendors out there? This is a question I love being asked.

In life we like to compare things to each other, especially when a new product or technology comes into the market. The belief is by comparing something new to something we are familiar with we can naturally understand it better. That’s just human nature.

The challenge comes when we see something different and try to fit a square peg in a round hole and end up with the wrong conclusion. We then end up outside our comfort zone of understanding.

Ok, so how does this relate to storage and virtualisation? As mentioned we like to put products in to categories.

Buckets

The above diagram show the typical ‘buckets’ we like to categorise storage into. We could add SAN and even all Flash to this list.

Tintri VMstore is a new class of ‘Smart” storage. Why? Well, going back to the beginning in 2008, Tintri developed a virtualisation storage appliance that only understand VM’s and vDisks.

My previous blog posts go into more details on how we do things differently from a technology perspective, but the guiding principles behind what we do is all about the VM’s and the applications they run.

What makes Tintri ‘Smart storage’?

It “Sees”

The VMstore see at the right level of abstraction. A top down & bottom up approach. In order to deliver the right storage resources to a VM/vDisk you have to see what every vDisk is doing.

This also brings the added benefit of providing visibility and control at a VM/vDisk layer.

It “Learns”

In a virtual environment workloads change. Building a traditional storage platform (LUN’s, Volumes, RAID groups) is fine on day one, but you have to chop and change the layout when workloads change. As a result the business can suffer due to these rigid constraints when you need to add more virtual workloads (i.e. another 1000 desktops for example).

Because the VMstore understands the active working set of a VM it can adapt as workloads change. In fact the system is constantly learning what each VM is doing based on historical data and allocates storage resources as it goes. This gives organisations the flexibility to easily manage workload change and bring onboard new application workloads without a complete storage re-design.

It “Adapts”

The infrastructure itself is smart, so you can focus on what’s important.

A VMstore continuously dedicates resources per vDisk, providing performance isolation for individual workloads. Every vDisk gets at least some resources. No vDisk gets all of an individual resource.
These resources are not just flash. Also memory, CPU, disk IOPS, and network.

A great analogy for this is the smartphone. Lots of complexity going on inside, but presented in a very easy and user friendly way. How did we ever get from A to B before smartphones etc? You’d print out the directions using MapQuest get in your car and hopefully reach your destination on time. Worst case you’d have to stop and ask someone directions several times and end up being late.

Tintri is truly “Smart Storage”

Latest new from Tintri:

These has been plenty of stuff going on over the past month or so since I last blogged. Here’s a summary with some links to more information.

Support for both RedHat RHEV and Microsoft Hyper-V was recently announced. A live demo of Hyper-V will be showing at TechEd US (May 12th to 15th at Booth 109).

For further details on the Hyper-V release see the following Tintri blog post: http://www.tintri.com/blog/2014/05/support-microsoft-hyper-v

You may also have noticed a new logo and branding? Take a look at the new look tintri website. Looks great!

Also, on the desktop/VDI side of things Tintri updated support for the latest Citrix XenDesktop offerings. My colleague Rob Girard did a blog post on this last week. He does it much better justice than I can 😉

http://www.tintri.com/blog/2014/05/tintri-citrix-xendesktop-citrix-ready

Tintri VM-awareness extended to vCenter UI

Tintri already provides one of the easiest and most user friendly management interfaces I’ve ever seen on a storage platform. Today sees the announcement of their new management plugin for Virtual Center which gives virtual administrators access and visibility to their VMstore environment in the familiar vSphere web UI format. The plugin is free to all Tintri customers and will be available for download on March 24th.

Tintri now offers management capabilities at the following levels:

  • VMStore UI – Individual node management console
  • vSphere Web UI – Multiple VMstore/Datastore management from Virtual Center
  • Tintri Global Center – Manage up to 32 VMstores from a single UI

Here’s a rundown on the key features of the new plugin:

Centralised VMstore Monitoring

  • VMstore level dashboard
  • Alert monitoring & management
  • Performance & Space resource gauges and changers
  • Real-time and historic monitoring

Easy Configuration

  • Install & setup in a few minutes
  • Scales incrementally by adding more VMstores
  • Centrally updates VMstore configuration and Hypervisor optimisation settings

Per-VM Data Management

  • Space efficient snapshots and clones
  • WAN efficient replication
  • Instantly diagnose VM performance issues with end-to-end latency breakdown

I’ll walk you through some of these capabilities:

Below is a screenshot of the Datastore overview panel. From here you get a summary view of the performance & capacity data, plus a list of the main VM’s that have changed their resource consumption.

Tintri VCP VMStore Overview

Each panel in the in the Datatsore overview window can be expanded. Below is a view of the Datastore latency and you can see the end-to-end breakdown by clicking on any point on the chart. You can also see a list of the top VM contributors on the right.

Tintri VCP TopLatencyConributors

You can look at each VM’s latency in more detail.

Tintri VCP VMsummary latency

Adding additional VMstores is very simple and applying optimisation/best practice setting can be done my right-clicking each Datastore.

Each Datastore will be added to all ESX hosts

Tintri VCP Add VMstore To All Hosts

Then apply the best practice setting.

Tintri VCP ApplyBestPractices

Once applied you can then view these settings

Tintri VCP ApplyBestPractices detail

By right-clicking on a VM you can see the Protection options. From here you can take a Snapshot, clone or replicate.

Tintri VCP Protect Replication Snaps

Plus you can set the Snapshot & Replication schedules:

Tintri VCP ScheduleSnaps

To see the product in action there is great demo on the Tintri website. Click here.