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PrimaryIO announce VAIO (I/O filter) for cache acceleration

primaryio-logoI got a bit of a surprise a few weeks back when I noticed a register article by Chris Mellor stating that PrimaryIO (previously CacheBox) had announced a new cache acceleration I/O filter for vSphere. We first announced plans for VAIO (vSphere APIs for I/O Filters) back at VMworld 2014. VAIO allows VMware partners to plug their products/features directly into the VM I/O Path which in turn will give our customers access to 3rd party storage services/features like deduplication, compression, replication or encryption which may not be available on their storage array. Or in this case, a cache acceleration feature. I wasn’t aware of any announcement internally at VMware, so reading it on the register came as a bit of a surprise. I know that other partners such as SanDisk and Infinio are also working on cache acceleration products. However this was the first time I heard of PrimaryIO developing a cache acceleration filter.

I reached out to Anurag Agarwal for some further information about their VAIO implementation and asked some questions about their particular I/O filter. Because the filter supports both write-thru (read) and write-back (write) caching, I was very interested in how they protected against failure.

Here are some screenshots showing the deployment mechanism. First, there is the plugin installer which points to the web server appliance, where the bits are deployed from:

And once this has been configured, the remainder of the configuration, which is basically pushing out the appropriate VIBs to the ESXi hosts, is done from the web client:

Once everything is installed, administrators can now use SPBM to create the cache policies. Capability are (a) read or write cache, (b) replica copies of the cache and (c) how much space should be allocated to the cache. The size of the cache is specified as a % of the VMDK size.

The technical questions around the solution are:

Here is an architectural diagram that the team shared with me which helps clarify some of the above Q&A:

I’m happy to see some filters now starting to become available. This is yet another part of the SDS vision, where individual data services that are unavailable either on HCI or storage arrays, can now be leveraged by VMware customers directly from a third party. PrimaryIO have given us access to the I/O filter, and I hope to get some hands-on in the very near future and test some workloads to see how well it performs/improves things.

I didn’t get any pricing and packaging information in time for the post, but I have asked for some details around this and I will share it you as soon as I have it.

Find out more about PrimaryIO and APA here.

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