On a recent trip to VMware in Palo Alto, I found some time to visit with a good pal of mine, Vinay Gaonkar, who is now the Product Manager for XtremIO over at EMC. Vinay used to be a storage PM at VMware (he worked on the initial phases of VVols), and we worked together on a number of storage items in various vSphere releases. It’s been almost 2 years since I last spoke to the XtremIO folks (VMworld 2012 in fact, when the product still had not become generally available), so I thought that this would be a good time to catch up with them, as we are in the run up to VMworld 2014.
I’m sure Frank Denneman will need no introduction to many of you reading this article. Frank & I both worked in the technical marketing organization at VMware, before Frank moved on to PernixData last year and I moved to Integration Engineering here at VMware. PernixData FVP 1.0 released last year, and I did a short post on them here. I’d seen a number of people discussing new FVP features in the community, especially after PernixData’s co-founder Satyam’s presentation at Tech Field Day 5 (#TFD5). I decided to reach out to Frank, and see if he could spare some time to revisit some of the new features that PernixData is planning to introduce. Fortunately, he did. I started by asking Frank about how PernixData is doing in general, before moving onto the new bits.
Pure Storage are all over the news at the moment. They just secured another round of funding (225 million to be precise), and are now valued at over 3 billion. You can read more about that here. However, even before this announcement, I had already arranged to have a catch up chat with Pure’s primary evangelist (and a good pal of mine), Vaughn Stewart. I was surprised to see that it had been 18 months since I last did a piece on Pure so I really did want to see what changes they had made in the meantime as there were a few vSphere interoperability pieces still to be completed when we last spoke.
I watched a very cool demonstration this morning from the All Flash Array vendor, SolidFire. I spoke with SolidFire at the end of last year, and did a blog post about them here. One of the most interesting parts of our conversation last year was how SolidFire’s QoS feature and VMware’s Storage I/O Control (SIOC) feature could inter-operate. In a nutshell, QoS work at the datastore/volume layer whereas SIOC deals with the VM/VMDK layer. Last week, Aaron Delp and Adam Carter of SolidFire did an introduction to QoS, both on vSphere and on the SolidFire system. And they also did one of the coolest demos that I’d seen in some time, namely how they have managed to get SIOC and QoS to work in tandem.
I’ve been having lots of fun lately in my new role in Integration Engineering. It is also good to have someone local once again to bounce ideas off. Right now, that person is Paudie O’Riordan (although sometimes I bet he wishes I was in a different timezone ). One of the things we are currently looking at is a VSAN implementation using Fusion-io ioDrive2 cards (which our friends over at Fusion-io kindly lent us). The purpose of this post is to show the steps involved in configuring these cards on ESXi and adding them as nodes to a VSAN cluster. However, even though I am posting about it, Paudie did most of the work, so please consider following him on twitter as he’s got a lot of good vSphere/Storage knowledge to share.
I was going to make this part 11 of my vSphere 5.5 Storage Enhancements series, but I thought that since this is such a major enhancement to storage in vSphere 5.5, I’d put a little more focus on it. vFRC, short for vSphere Flash Read Cache, is a mechanism whereby the read operations of your virtual machine are accelerated by using an SSD or a PCIe flash device to cache the disk blocks of the application running in the Guest OS of your virtual machine. Now, rather than going to magnetic disk to read a block of data, the data can be retrieved from a flash cache layer to improve performance and lower latency. This is commonly known as write-through cache, as opposed to write-back cache, where the write operation is acknowledged when the block of data enters the cache layer.
This is an interesting announcement for those of you following emerging storage technologies. We’ve been talking about flash technologies for some time now, but for the most part flash has been either an SSD or PCIe device. Well, we now have another format – DIMM-based flash storage device. And VMware now supports it.