Introducing OmniStack 3.0 from SimpliVity

new-and-improvedToday I’m pleased to announce some exciting new features that i’ve been looking forward to since I joined SimpliVity 3 months ago.  Today we announced version 3.0 of our OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform.  This new version provides improvements across the board as well as additional features.  There’s something for everyone!

Under the hood, improvements have been made that have generated, on average, a 30% performance gain in high IO workloads such as exchange and SQL.  Improvements have also been made to dramatically increase the number of cubes you can have in  single datacenter and a federation, allowing for greater datacenter consolidation.

 

Unified Protected ROBO Solution

The first new change to OmniStack revolves around a new Unified Protected ROBO Solution with 2 goals in mind: (A) Unified management of all remote sites and (B) Ease of data protection for all remote sites.  With that in mind, a new Hub-and-Spoke topology was designed into the product.

ROBO_Hub_Spoke

This new design will cut down on the amount of cross chatter from remote sites by only communicating directly with the central cluster, freeing up bandwidth for essential traffic.  During deployment of the federation, the hub-and-spoke architecture will automatically detect its configuration and add remote sites to the federation without the need for user interaction.

 

OmniCube CN-1200

With a new solution, comes a new product, and this is a perfect opportunity to showcase the new CN-1200!

CN-1200

As you can guess from the model number, this is our smallest offering yet, perfect for ROBO sites that need to run only a handful of critical apps.  This new, smaller OmniCube gives you all the same data protection features you get with its bigger brethren.  I will have a single 8 core CPU, a fixed amount of hard drives, and 2 options for available ram.

 

File Level Restore

While the VM centric approach to backups allows users to backup and restore the entire VM at a time, there are instances where that becomes more work than is really needed.  As a power user, there have been plenty of opportunities where i have needed to restore just a single file, but rolling back an entire system just wasn’t an option.

File_Level_Restore

With the click of a button, administrators can take a single file in windows operating system backups and present them to any VM in the system.  This was a huge feature request from our customers and I’m glad we were able to deliver on it!

Backup Policy ImpactIn addition to the new backup and restore option, a range of changes have been made to administering backups.  Administrators can now do the following to help accommodate changes to business needs:

 

  • Edit existing Backup Policies Rules
  • Edit retention time for existing backups
  • Set retention time for manual backups at creation
  • Create new policy and assign to VMs in bulk
  • Resume/suspend backup policies for maintenance
  • Predicted Total Backup Reporting
  • CLI improvements for enhanced scripting capabilities

 

New Top Workload Viewer

For the user who wants to get more metrics and reporting out of their solution, SimpliVity has added a new top workload viewer to the datacenter overview tab.

Top Workload Viewer

Users can now click on on the performance chart and get a detailed report of what contributed to that metric!  For users trying to figure out what is sucking down all the available resources, you no longer have to turn to an add on solution like vROps.

 

New Deployment Manager

Not every enhancement we worked in was for the end user, this one is for the partners doing deployments.

Deployment ManagerThis new deployment manager will speed up installs by allowing partners to deploy multiple nodes in parallel!

A New Partnership

Last week SimpliVity announced a new partnership to deliver even more choice to customers.  The OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform has been extended onto Lenovo hardware in 3 offerings for small, medium, and large depending on customers needs.

Lenovo PartnershipThis new offering builds on the concept of being hardware agnostic.  We now have 3 different offerings at each size.

Vendor Agnostic

As you can see, SimpliVity has made enhancements to all aspects of the hyperconverged solution.  If you’d like to see these in action, hit me up and i’d be happy to give you a live demo of the new features.  If you’ll be at VMworld, be sure to check out our booth and for those of you who won’t be able to attend, we have a virtual experience where you can see everything SimpliVity has to offer.

Be sure to check back here often as I have more to share in the future!

 

 

VMware Announces vExperts for 2015 Second Half

vExpert-2015-BadgeYesterday, VMware announced the list of vExperts for 2015 Second Half and I am honored to be a part of that list.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the “vExpert” designation is not based on technical expertise, but rather a recognition for excellent engagement and influence within the virtualization communities.  To quote directly from the program:

“Each of these vExperts have demonstrated significant contributions to the community and a willingness to share their expertise with others. Contributing is not always blogging or Twitter as there are many public speakers, book authors, script writers, VMUG leaders, VMTN community moderators and internal champions among this group.”

I am gracious and humbled to be considered an influencer in this community and this has reaffirmed my commitment to knowledge sharing.  I want to thank Corey Romero and the rest of the vExpert team.  Keep up the great work with this program.

Breathing new life into the home lab – Part 1: Flash Storage

M600It’s been a few years since I’ve put an investment into the home lab.  I had originally built this to teach myself enough to pass the VCP4 & my VCP5 (and i’ll use if for my VCP6 too).  But now I want to expand, learn more about VDI, the vRealize suite, as well as experiment with other technologies.  To do that, some upgrades will be needed, and the first area to start with is storage.  Spinning disk is still the cheapest way to get bulk storage, but for a home lab, I don’t need multiple TB of space when all of my VMs are thin provisioned.  Instead, to get the speed I want, i’d have to stitch together way more hard drives than I have space for.  This is where flash can really shine.  You only need a few disks to get a huge speed boost, so your costs are not astronomical.  By chance, I recently received a few 1Tb Micron M600 SSDs and these things are amazing.  After taking 1 for my laptop, the rest were loaded into a Synology 1813+.  So what do these SSDs bring to the table?

Type of test Performance IOPS
Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) 560.129 MB/s
Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) 511.183 MB/s
Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) 357.966 MB/s 87394.0
Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) 365.970 MB/s 89348.1
Sequential Read (Q= 1,T= 1) 489.114 MB/s
Sequential Write (Q= 1,T= 1) 473.808 MB/s
Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) 22.846 MB/s 5577.6
Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) 60.840 MB/s 14853.5

Wow that’s fast!  Good job Micron!  The results above were taken using CrystalDiskMark on my windows laptop and show the most I could get out of a single drive that was direct attached.

To make the most of this storage for a lab, i think it would be best to put this into the NAS and leverage it as shared storage, and the synology is configured for a 4 x 1gig LACP connection, which should be more than enough for a home lab.  The question is, what do i do with the storage, do i do NFS or iSCSI?  RAID 5 or RAID 10?  Well, lets try them all!  I’ll create a datastore in each configuration and test it with 1 windows VM running CrystalDiskMark just like I did on my laptop and see what we get.

iSCSI_Raid_5 iSCSI_Raid_10 iSCSI_on_FS Raid_10
Type_of_test Performance IOPS Performance IOPS Performance IOPS
SR (Q=32) 113.758 MB/s 117.027 MB/s 117.316 MB/s
SW (Q= 32) 82.531 MB/s 117.046 MB/s 115.717 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 32) 52.542 MB/s 12827.6 52.154 MB/s 12732.9 38.101 MB/s 9302.0
RW 4KiB (Q= 32) 35.035 MB/s 8553.5 49.571 MB/s 12102.3 66.477 MB/s 16229.7
SR (Q= 1) 86.619 MB/s 94.588 MB/s 101.082 MB/s
SW (Q= 1) 75.291 MB/s 105.702 MB/s 102.972 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 1) 8.691 MB/s 2121.8 8.276 MB/s 2020.5 10.676 MB/s 2606.4
RW 4KiB (Q= 1) 10.006 MB/s 2442.9 9.594 MB/s 2342.3 11.077 MB/s 2704.3
NFS Raid 5 NFS Raid 10
Type of test Performance IOPS Performance IOPS
SR (Q= 32) 114.898 MB/s 117.439 MB/s
SW (Q= 32) 96.743 MB/s 117.007 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 32) 56.588 MB/s 13815.4 66.533 MB/s 16243.4
RW 4KiB (Q= 32) 44.319 MB/s 10820.1 57.590 MB/s 14060.1
SR (Q= 1) 106.323 MB/s 109.257 MB/s
SW (Q= 1) 81.581 MB/s 106.127 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 1) 12.513 MB/s 3054.9 14.132 MB/s 3450.2
RW 4KiB (Q= 1) 9.270 MB/s 2263.2 10.571 MB/s 2580.8

*I apologize for the table formatting, no matter what i set it to, wordpress is deciding to do it’s own thing.

It’s clear from these test results that i am maxing out the 1 gig connection on the sequential transfers (especialy when the queue depth is increased).  I was a bit surprised by the performance gains in the RAID 10 vs. RAID 5 and that NFS ended up being faster than iSCSI (probably cause it’s all software based iSCSI).  Clearly this will work well for a single host, but the real performance testing will happen when multiple hosts hit the NAS.  So that is where i go next, now that i’ve settled on a storage configuration, i can start planning hosts for this home lab.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments

Want to go to VMworld 2015? Win a trip from SimpliVity!

VMworld is a great gathering of all things VMware and I think that everyone should have the chance to go.  Unfortunately, it can also be an expensive gathering, which might be cost prohibitive for some potential attendees.  Good news though, because my employer, SimpliVity, is giving away 3 sets of tickets that include hotel and airfare.  All you have to do is click below and enter for a chance to win.

VMworld Social Contest

Winners will be announced on July 17th, 24th, and 31st.  Good luck to everyone!

VSPEX Blue – Evo:Rail and more!

VSPEX Blue Today EMC announced it’s latest product, the VSPEX Blue!  This 2U hyper converged offering is based of of VMware’s EVO:Rail platform that was announced last year.  While most everyone reading this is familiar with the EVO:Rail platform, the VSPEX Blue offering expands on this to give even more to the administrator.

For those of you unfamiliar, EVO:Rail offers a simplified VMware cluster setup that lets you go from power on to provisioning virtual machines in about 15 minutes with limited interaction from the administrator.  For more information about the software and basic interface, read this blog post from Duncan Epping.

So what do you get?

On the outside, each VSPEX Blue appliance is a standard Phoenix 2U chassis that contains 4 nodes.  Each node contains 2 gigabit ethernet ports, and 4 storage drives to make it vSan compliant.  The diagram below explains in detail what to expect from a hardware perspective.

VSPEX Blue Hardware

One differentiating factor in the hardware is that this is the first EVO:Rail solution to offer both a standard and performance model.  The only difference is that the standard has 128GB of ram and the performance has 192GB.  The below slide explains what you get in each node.

VSPEX Blue Node

 

So what sets this apart from the other vendors?

That is an interesting question.  While there is a slight hardware differentiation in RAM options, the biggest differences come in the form of software.  On top of the standard VMware offering comes the VSPEX Blue Manager.  This is built into the standard EVO interface, so what you get is extra options in a familiar presentation.  A key section is the hardware manager which allows you to view the hardware status of each component in the appliance in an interface that reminds me of Unisphere.

VSPEX Blue Manager Appliance View

 

You can visualize exactly which part has failed and this makes it easy for the administrator to replace the parts themselves.  Tied with this also comes the EMC Remote support options including ESRS found on EMC’s traditional storage platforms.  You can click right from the VSPEX Blue Manager interface and get knowledge base access and live chat available to you.  EMC will be handling the support for all issues relating to the VSPEX Blue appliance and will interface with VMware as needed.  The administrator will not need to call 1 company for hardware and another for software.

The other major addition from EMC is the VSPEX Blue Marketplace.  This is a great place to click and automatically deploy additional VMware related software solutions.  When VSPEX Blue goes GA in 2 weeks, it will launch with the following options from the marketplace:

  • EMC Recoverpoint for VMs (Licensed for 15 VMs per appliance)
  • CloudArray Virtual Edition (1 TB of cache and 10TB of cloud storage)
  • vSphere Data Protection Advanced (Alowing you to backup to Avamar and Datadomain)

VSPEX Blue MarketThis is just to start, as the product evolves more offerings will be available from EMC and from partners.

My take on this offering

So after looking at all the launch partners, it’s clear that while EMC is last to market, they haven’t just been wasting their time.  This is the first appliance i’ve seen that offered something more than just the standard EVO:Rail offering and laid the groundwork for a bigger ecosystem.  Given that this is the first instance that there are 2 different hardware offerings, i can see some people saying that EMCs relationship with VMware allowed them something special.  My understanding (and i could be wrong about the specifics on this) is that this option is available to all partners, so we may see some new offerings from the existing launch partners as well.

This appliance is also a partner only sale, so EMC Sales reps won’t be selling them directly (unless you want to buy a lot of them) and they will be sourced directly from the OEM manufacturers, which means the partner will be in charge of delivery instead of EMC.

VSPEX Offerings

Finally, this offering now really shows the VSPEX offerings at all sizes.  With the internalization of VCE, EMC can now offer converged options for small, medium, and large business.  And no i’m not going to talk about that 4th option in the photo above.

 

VMworld 2013 in pictures

VMworld 2013 - Day 3 331San Francisco is an amazing city (and also an expensive city).  I finally was approved for travel to this city after trying the past two years, so I wanted to make it count.  I had heard so many great things about VMworld from years past and I was looking forward to all it had to offer before, during, and after the show.  With only a few days in the city and a lot to accomplish, my adventure began on saturday.

 

Saturday night kicked off the first VMworld activity (if you don’t count booth assembly or hanging in the alumni lounge).  Simon Seagrave hosted a spectacular vBeers event to kick things off and it was packed the the point it was spilling out on to the sidewalk.  I met a lot of really cool people (including several people I follow on twitter) and I even got to try out google glass (I need to find one that fits people with glasses).

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 1 189_HDRThe next day started off with some sight seeing and a bit of a walking tour of SF.  Google maps really need to start telling me about elevation changes because some of those streets were straight up (or down depending on the direction you were going)!

 

Sunday afternoon was home to the 4th (or 5th depending on who you ask) vOdgeball tournament and this year did not disapoint.  My understanding was that this was the biggest it has been and major props to the teams competing, the refs for making quick calls, and the fans for surviving stray balls.

VMworld 2013 - Day 1 568

While team EMC was victorious in winning, the real winners was the wounded warriors program who received around $14,000 in donations.

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 2 367That evening we witnessed the opening of the show floor.  I have to say, the EMC booth was amazing and was one of 2 double decker booths on the show floor.  It seemed like every time I was at the booth it was packed full of people and this is always a great sign.  After 3 hours of booths, beer, and food, it was time for the biggest social media meet up of the week.  I’m referring to the VMunderground party.  This year it was held at an art gallery (that was surprisingly vacant of art) and had plenty of room to talk, eat, and mingle.

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 2 066All this has happened and the show doesn’t even start really until Monday morning.  The opening keynote delivered by former EMCer Pat Gelsinger did not disappoint.  Major announcements about the release of vSphere 5.5 which included two new features: VSAN and NSX.  VSAN is VMwares take on software defined storage and NSX is the result of the Nicira acquisition last year and completes their software defined networking portfolio.  There are plenty of great blogs out there discussing these technologies and I can’t wait to see what is done with this technology down the road.

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 2 392VMworld 2013 - Day 2 518At the EMC booth, Chad Sakac didn’t disappoint either.  He has a way with words and seems to be able to fire up the crowd no matter where he is.  Of course it helps when you have goodies to wow people like a VMAX that has a fridge built into it.

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 3 127Tuesday provided even more information about the new technologies announced the day before.  It was also a great day to do hands on labs.  VMware provided a huge hands on lab area, but for people wanting to try out EMC specific labs, we also brought our own booth setup to handle several labs at a time across the entire EMC portfolio.

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 3 565Tuesday night was the vendor parties and EMC, Cisco, and Intel banded together to bring you Cloudfest!.  We took over Ghirardelli square to bring the ultimate combination of music, food, and chocolate.  As evidence by the photo to the right, this place was packed!  The bands were great and delivered some amazing covers of popular songs by Queen, The Police, and others.  I was told this was one of the best parties of the night and people were still talking about it up through the end of VMworld.

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 4 080VMworld 2013 - Day 4 220On Wednesday, the EMC booth had a t-shirt meet up.  Everywhere you looked was a sea of EMC datacenter hero shirts (I think there were more than at EMC World).  This was the final day the show floor was open and even after 3 days of presentations, booth attendance was still very high (including some special guests like Pat dropping by).

VMworld 2013 - Day 4 249

 

VMworld 2013 - Day 4 279That night was the VMworld Party.  They took over AT&T park and turned it into a cVMworld 2013 - Day 4 301ounty fair!  The midway games were great however I still maintain that they were rigged since the same people kept winning (and I won nothing).  Both Train and Imagine Dragons did a great job.  This has to be one of the best customer appreciation parties I have been to and I can’t wait to see what happens in the coming years as other events step up!

 

All in all VMworld was a great event.  I met more people than I can remember (including about half of the people I follow on twitter).  I learned a lot about upcoming technology and the solutions they play.  To see the full collection of my photos (all 154 of them) I have posted them to google+.

VMworld 2013 - Day 3 342

VMworld – The EMC presence and where to find me

With VMworld getting underway in just a few hours, i thought i’d talk about EMC’s presence at the show and where you can find me.  EMC will have 2 booths this year.  We have the main booth which is 2 floors and full of awesome!  The main floor area will have a social media wall, a presentation theater, a prize wheel, and plenty of stations to learn about all that we have to offer.  The upstairs area will be an EMC Elect space for all Elect members in attendance.  Have you nominated someone (or yourself) yet?

 

The other area will be in the back corner and it is an EMC Hands on lab (Powered by vLab!) area where you can try our latest and greatest solutions in a virtual environment.  This is separate

wpid-Screen-Shot-2013-08-25-at-10.11.37-AM.png

I urge everyone to stop by the booths and check them out, and you may even find yourself in a picture up on one of our posts!  Which brings me to where i’ll be.  This year i am acting as official EMC photographer for the event.  I will be EVERYWHERE gathering photos of all things EMC.  So be sure to attend one of our sessions or anything else listed on the vPass page and you may wind up in our photo album.  When i’m not shooting photos, you’ll find me hanging out around the EMC booth or in the VMworld hang space.  At night, you can find me at one of VMworld’s many social gatherings.

 

Speaking of social gatherings, are you going to Cloudfest?  For those of you who don’t know, Cloudfest is a customer appreciation party cosponsored by EMC, Cisco, and Intel.  It’s going to be the best party tuesday night.  For those of you who have already signed up, be sure to pick up your invitation at the EMC Booth.  If you didn’t get a chance to sign up, there will be more tickets given out, so talk to the booth staff and see if you can get one, or become friends with an EMC Elect member who might be able to get you in.  I hope to see everyone there.

 wpid-image003.jpg

Thats it for now, but be sure to check out the EMC VMworld vPass page to cover all things going on at this year’s show.

VMworld – Introducing the Software-Defined 7

With VMworld a week away, I wanted to start talking about the goings on at the event and how I will be contributing to the community.  This year, we have seven EMC Elect Social Champions (also known as the “Software Defined 7”) who will be attending VMworld and offering live coverage of the event.  I am honored to be one of those members this year and will be your goto contact for EMC party related information (more onthat later) as well as taking photos of the entire show.

This year, EMC has several break out sessions, as well as a large double decker booth on the show floor, hands on labs, and a customer appreciation event.  A full list of all the events can be found here.  A member of the software defined seven has volunteered to be the social champion for a break out session or event and will be your contact for any questions as well as blogging & tweeting the content from the session.  They will become the goto person for asking questions during the event wether you are attending or playing the home game.

 

For those of you who cannot attend, but want to stay up to date on all things EMC at VMworld, i encourage you to visit the Virtual Pass page on ECN where we have everything EMC is doing all in one space.  There is even a discussion thread to talk about the show (thanks to a suggestion from Luigi).

A quick fix for the VNX

If you are a customer, partner, or EMC employee and you are subscribed to the ETA notifications list, you probably got a heads up about potential incompatibility between the VNX, RecoverPoint, and VAAI under certain conditions.  For those of you who are not subscribed, fellow blogger Cormac Hogan wrote a quick little post about the issue.

 

I’m proud to announce that there is a fix available for this and it can be found in VNX Block OE 05.32.000.5.206 (released this week).  Simply apply this fix (you can do it yourself using USM).  For those of you with a FILE front end, make sure you update to 7.1.71.1 as well.

 

If you are an EMC Customer (with support zone credentials), you can read the full description of solution emc327099 (now stored on the new knowledgebase solution powered by Salesforce).  If the direct link is not working, simply login to http://support.emc.com and search for “emc327099” and your first result should be the solution.

My VCP5 experience and a Workstation 9 giveaway!

VMW_10Q3_LGO_CERTIFIED_PRO_4For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Google+, you may have noticed that I recently passed my VCP5.  This exam was a long time in the making, but every time I would go to take it, something would come up.  Originally, I was scheduled to start the new year with my VCP5 exam, but a last minute trip to Seattle forced me to reschedule my exam for February.  When I rescheduled my exam for February, I had no idea I would be starting my new job, but as luck would have it, I scheduled it for the same week.  So once again, I rescheduled for March.  Hopefully this explains why I had been so quiet with my blog lately as I had spent a lot of my available time leading up to the exam studying.  Even though I switched into a marketing role, I’m still keeping my technical side.  I committed to passing this exam and even made it part of my goals with EMC.

 

The good news is that my studying paid off.  I passed my VCP5 with a better score than I got on the VCP4!  A few of my biggest takeaways from the exam were as follows:

  • Gone are the majority of the questions about minimums and maximums (I think I had only 1)
  • Even more questions were about real world examples
  • There was a heavy focus on performance troubleshooting and identification
  • Several questions focused on HA, DRS, and FT
  • Only a handful had images, so be sure to paint a mental picture from the descriptions

 

My exam prep consisted of many different resources.  I started off by reviewing the material found in 3 books:

I also reviewed the study guide and exam prep questions put together by Mike Preston.  This guide is very comprehensive and full of great information.  Simon Long also has practice exam questions on the VCP5 as well and was one of my primary resources when studying for my VCP4.

 

The final resource I used in my preparation was the recordings of the vBrownBag.  They went through every section of the VCP5 exam blueprint and is great to listen to.  I only wish that they did it again so that I could have asked my questions live.

 

So on to the giveaway.  One of the rewards for passing the VCP5 is a free VMware Workstation 9 license.  I want to give back to the community that has helped me so much, so I’m giving this key away to someone who needs it.  Wining this license key is simple:

  • Make sure you are following me on twitter
  • Leave a comment here telling me something about your VCP5 exam experience (or study plans if you haven’t taken the exam).  A helpful tip, a gotcha, anything will do and there is no wrong answer here!
  • Make sure that you also put your twitter handle in your comment (I will need this to DM you if you win)

The winner will be selected at random and you will earn an extra entry if you tweet about this blog post and mention my twitter handle in the tweet.  I’m going to to do this quick, so the contest will close at 12:01 AM Eastern on April 1st, 2013 and I will contact the winner shortly after that.