I was in a conversation with one of my pals over at Tintri last week (Fintan), and he observed some strange behaviour when provisioning VMs from a catalog in vCloud Director (vCD). When he disabled Fast Provisioning, he expected that provisioning further VMs from the catalog would still be offloaded via the VAAI-NAS plugin. All the ESXi hosts have the VAAI-NAS plugin from Tintri installed. However, it seems that the provisioning/cloning operation was not being offloaded to the array, and the ESXi hosts resources were being used for the operation instead. Deployments of VMs from the catalogs were taking minutes rather than seconds. What was going on?
Continuing on the series of vSphere 5.5 Storage Enhancements, we now come to a feature that is close to many people’s hearts. The vSphere Storage API for Array Integration (VAAI) UNMAP primitive reclaims dead or stranded space on a thinly provisioned VMFS volume, something that we could not do before this primitive came into existence. However, it has a long and somewhat checkered history. Let me share the timeline with you before I get into what improvements we made in vSphere 5.5.
I get a lot of questions around how the vSphere APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) primitives compare from a protocol perspective. For instance, a common question is to describe the differences between the primitives for NAS storage arrays (NFS protocol) and the primitives for block storage arrays (Fibre Channel, iSCSI, Fibre Channel over Ethernet protocols). It is a valid question because, yes, there are significant differences and the purpose of this blog post is to detail them for you.
During VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, I had a chance to catch up once again with the team from Tintri. My first introduction to Tintri was at last year’s VMworld, where they received runner-up in the ‘Hardware for Virtualization’ category by TechTarget for best of VMworld 2011. Well this year they went one better, and won the Best of VMworld 2012 Gold award in Hardware for Virtualization. And for good reason. Let’s see the enhancements to the Tintri platform over the last 12 months have brought.
Pure Storage are an all-flash enterprise storage company. I first met these guys at VMworld 2011 and was quite impressed by their product. Like many Flash Array vendors at the time, there wasn’t a great amount of vSphere integration features. However, with this latest release of Purity v2.5, Pure Storage are addressing this and more. I had a chance to meet and discuss these new features with Matt Kixmoeller & Ravi Venkat of Pure Storage recently. Not only are they now VMware-Ready certified, but they’ve got a whole bunch of integration features. Let’s have a look at the features that they have added to their new release.
VAAI NAS introduced the ability to create LazyZeroedThick & EagerZeroedThick disks on NFS datastores. Without VAAI NAS, one can only create thin VMDKs on NFS datastores. For those of you who are using VAAI NAS plugins, there is an important note in the 5.0U1 release notes that you should be aware of.
ESXi cannot distinguish between thick provision lazy zeroed and thick provision eager zeroed virtual disks on NFS datastores with Hardware Acceleration support
In this post, I want to highlight a number of storage improvements made in vSphere 5.1 that are going to be leveraged by the next release of vCloud Director.