Coho Data: SDS and SDN working as one

During Storage Field Day 6 we visited Coho Data HQ for the second time, and if you want to learn you really should watch the videos recorded during the event. First a bit of history on Coho Data which was founded by Andrew Warfield, Keir Fraser and Ramana Jonnala. And if you didn’t know these guys are known by a small thing called XenSource (later acquired by Citrix).

Coho Data introduced their new scale-out hybrid storage solution (NFS for VM workloads) during Storage Field Day 4 a year ago and is a regular Tech Field Day sponsor as they presented during Virtualization Field Day 3. Hybrid in the Coho Data product means they use a mix of PCIe Flash and SATA disks. As said the Flash devices used by CohoData are PCIe based  devices (Intel 910 800 GB to be exact, but due to the Coho Data architecture this can be changed easy and the Intel devices are the second kind of flash devices Coho uses in the array, first were Micron).COHO1

As you can see in the picture above the Coho Data is build up of  a 2U box holding 2 “MicroArrays” that each have  2 CPUs, 2 x 10GbE NIC port and 2 PCIe INTEL Flash cards. With this configuration a 2U block provides 39TB of capacity and around 180K IOPS (Random 80/20 read/write, 4K block size). The Coho Data product offers deduplication and compression as well as replication, High Availabilty and Snapshot technology  in their offering . Last but certainly not least, it comes with an OpenFlow-enabled 10GbE switch (Arista) to allow ease of management, scalability and the opportunity to Streamline the data streams.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 15.04.59

Diving deeper into the Coho Data DataStream architecture  reveals the IO lane technology uses: 10GbE NIC <-> CPU <-> PCIe Flash. All IO lanes have their own CPU,  10 GbE NIC Port and a 800 GB Intel PCIe Flash . With this architecture Coho Data created an easy to scale, high performance storage system. By using the Openflow enabled SDN switch to manage the streams within the whole DataStream environment and giving the customer a SDS solution with the Coho Data MicroArray this is storage at it best.

I hear you think: “what about setting it up and managing the Coho Data offering? It’s probably extremely hard to setup and manage this system.” But it isn’t. You could setup the Coho Data system in about 15 minutes, and once your done you can use the UI to manage and maintain the system easily. Just take a look at the picture below and make sure to watch the Tech Field Day videos to see more on the UI.

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What’s the future for Coho Data?

During the presentation there were a couple of questions going around in my head, but because listening to Andy presenting is taking almost all of my brain resources I didn’t ask then. That should be that big of problem, so I asked the questions through mail when I was back in the Netherlands and here are the questions and answers:

Q.You mentioned that with 1 PCIe flash device you were able to saturate a 10 Gig NIC. I understand the PCIe performance is more than sufficient for the CohoData product, but are you already looking at things like Diablo’s MCS? I know it’s still new technology with it’s own pros and negatives, but still I thought in some cases this might be a great solution for Coho. What’s your opinion?

A. The reason that I talked about NVDIMM in the second part of my presentation is that I really see RAM speed memories starting to become more and more practical in storage systems from about 2016/2017 onwards.  The data path work that we are doing is really focussed towards these: PCIe flash is fast enough to saturate the 10Gb interface, but mostly with large requests on today’s hardware.  As we move to NVDIMM and related technologies like Diablo’sstuff (which is really, really cool BTW), the biggest overheads will be the (software) data path processing to do file system layout, replication, snapshots, placement, recovery, etc.

 

The work that Coho is doing here, both on the host and in the network, is one of the biggest differences between us and other companies.  I think it’s really going to start to show over the next couple of years.

If you look at the left picture (taken last year) and the right picture (taken during the SFD6 presentation) it seems AFA and cold data systems will be added…

CohoData-ProtocolsScreen Shot 2014-11-19 at 13.58.46 

Q.  One of the slides showed a cluster of Coho arrays and it was interesting to see normal arrays as an all HDD (archiving/object store??) array. Is this what you’re looking at? And maybe even further are you also looking at AFA’s for demanding workloads, or is this not needed at all with Coho?

A.   Ah — you found the (unintentional) easter egg!  I totally forgot to mention this in my presentation!

 

In 2015 we will roll out 2 new appliance versions.  One will be a “hybrid flash” chassis that combines PCIe flash with SAS flash.  It will be performance focussed and still have all the transparent scale-out properties of our existing boxes.  It will also be able to install into an existing hybrid-disk/flash based coho install.

 

The second new box, which we are planning for 2H 2015 is a capacity box that is a 2-server, 70-disk 4u.  It will have between 250 and 500 TB raw capacity, and serve as bulk storage for cold data.

 

For large installs, these two boxes will allow customers to scale capacity and performance completely independently of one another.

There is so much more to be told about Coho Data but that’s for a later time. For now…. Let’s have weekend!!! Have a great one and CU again soon!!

Other delegates on Coho Data:

And always make sure  to watch the Tech Field Day of a Sponsor, as there is always tons of information to be found there:

Coho Data Page at Tech Field Day

StorMagic: Know thy Customer…

Stormagic was one of the companies I didn’t know what to expect of during Storage Field Day 6. As one of many in the VSA market I just didn’t see the real value of another player on the VSA battlefield, BUT… As the title already reveals, Stormagic is one those awesome companies creating technology for a special market. They are not targeting becoming the next EMC or Nutanix, they want to help the companies in need of specialised technology.Let’s dive into the technology they offer and the companies needing this.

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You can watch this presentation by Hans O’Sullivan (CEO) during SFD6 for more information on StorMagic SvSAN:

Technology first

 

aaaastoramagic1 Based on linux, Stormagic SvSAN is a pupose build VSA to serve at the egde. Because of the SvSAN architecture  it can run in on a hypervisor as well as on bare metal. As you can see, the  product is based on iSCSI. That being said,  because of the way SvSAN is build, there should be no problem to offer other protocols as well,  whenever there is customer need. Stormagic accomplishes this  by running SvSAN as a (sort of) stack in the user space and leveraging the Linux Asynchronous IO interface (including zero copy and direct access to storage devices) making it just as effecient as a kernel based product (I’ll have to try that for myself someday soon).

 

More information on this can be seen in this presentation by Chris Farey (CTO) during Storage Field Day 6:

 

 

Living at the Edge

So with a such well though technology, where does this fit into the customers environment? You might think this is a useable technology for the complete datacenter, and although it might very well be, it’s not where Stormagic SvSAN is build for. The technology is developed to serve at the edge of a datacenter. Using SvSAN there where  it makes sense to have a high available but centrally managed solution for the business critical applications. With support for VMware as well as Hyper-V and a true hardware independent solution is what gives true strength to the SvSAN offering. This is what makes SvSAN a great solution for many use cases…

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StorMagic SvSAN infrastructure

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Central management through vCenter  or  StorMagic web GUI

You can watch this video for more information on the SvSAN product by Chris Farley:

SvSAN use cases

So what are the use cases for StorMagic SvSAN? First of all it is a scalable and high available product that can be build with only 2 servers which makes it a great solution for smaller environments and Remote Offices at the edge of an environment where business critical applications run. Looking at the pricing of the product and the possibilties the product offers (High Availability/Central Management/VMware VAAI support/Caching/Storage Pooling and VSA restore technologies) reveals a great and mature solution that can be used for many environments. Using the Stomagic website here are the major fields Stormagic SvSAN is used:

  • Retail – stock control, customer and staff management, point-of-sale
  • Government – diplomatic communication platforms
  • Defense – battlefield control systems
  • Manufacturing – process control
  • Financial Services – customer transactions
  • Restaurant and Hospitality – booking and kitchen ordering systems
  • Transportation – vehicle positioning and monitoring
  • Energy – remote power generation plant control
  • Medical – PACS

More on the SvSAN use cases can be viewed in this presentation by Hans O’Sullivan during SFD6:

Changing my view

As said before I asked myself what to think of Stormagic SvSAN. After the presentation at SFD6 I really see where the true strength of SvSAN is. Does that mean there is nothing to improve? Absolutely not, there is always room for improvement, but as you can see in the presentation those questions were asked and I know the StorMagic people are more then happy to listen to your need for improvement and work on a solution as soon as there is a need. This is company knowing they can do well in a certain field and they keep improving to make sure they can offer a product to their customers that makes sense from their perspective and not because it’s another cool feature on the list….

Other Delegates on StorMagic:

A couple of delegates already blogged about StorMagic that you should read also, so here they are:

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by the GestaltIT and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than me (Arjan Timmerman).

Avere: to the edge and beyond

Sometimes when you hear about a product, it makes you feel positive the first you hear of it. I had that feeling about Avere last year during Storage Field Day 4 when Ron Bianchini told us about the Avere FXT product, and everything that a company could accomplish using FXT. If you’re not familiar with Avere it might be a good idea to watch the SFD4 videos first, which I’ll include in this post first:

Overview on Avere Systems:

Ron Bianchini’s Overview of Avere Systems from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Introduction to Avere Cloud NAS:

Avere Systems Cloud NAS Introduction from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Avere Systems Use Cases:

Avere Systems Use Cases from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Hearing and watching these videos again I had a great feeling on the Avere Sytems offering and wrote a blog post on my thoughts of what I heard during this presentation. You can find my thoughts here:

Accelerate your cloud with Avere

During Storage Field Day 6 we had another presentation by Avere and although some of the technology is still a very interesting product, this time around we got an announcement on the brand new virtual FXT product for AWS, and it makes sense but I would like to see more of a company like Avere Systems.

Where a lot of the Avere customers are using FXT to accelerate their local NAS systems, the great potential of FXT is to be the edge filer for cloud object stores. And that’s where IMO Avere has a great potential in US based countries, but none (for now) in countries outside the US border (Law). Simply because the FXT product only talks Amazon S3 and that’s just not happening in many countries outside the US for large interlectual property of companies.

The same thing goes for the virtual FXT product, which is a promising product, but also only available on AWS. This is a problem for many of the companies I’m consulting for. They are thinking of cloud, but when it comes to the patriot act and making sure their data stays within the borders of HQ, AWS is just not happening.

So what is this virtual FXT all about?

Avere Systems virtual FXT is  a way to accelerate your reads/writes in your AWS compute infrastructure. Simply put it’s the FXT software for the cloud. Awesome when you’re looking purely at the technology, but as already said it’s AWS only.

Some great information on the virtual Avere FXT product can be found on juku.it:

http://juku.it/en/systems-great-technology-but/

And on architecting.it:

http://blog.architecting.it/2014/11/05/avere-systems-releases-virtual-edge-filer-to-deliver-data-to-compute/

The great thing of the Tech Field Day events is that everything is recorded and can be watched whenever you want Open-mouthed smile

Here are all the videos of the Avere Systems Storage Field Day 6 presentation:

Reinventing Storage with Avere Systems:

Avere Systems Introduces Virtual FXT:

Cloudbursting Use Cases with Avere Systems:

Avere Virtual FXT Demonstrations:

Avere Virtual FXT Demonstrations from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

to conclude:

I really think there is a lot of potential for Avere sytems and the products they make. They should however be more hypervisor/cloud agnostic and make sure a customer has a choice. Making this available for VMware, Microsoft, KVM and other Cloud solutions that are more standard and also provide the opportunity for country local cloud providers is a big gain for Avere if you ask me.

A couple of delegates also shared their thoughts on Avere systems presentation and can be found here:

http://www.penguinpunk.net/blog/storage-field-day-6-day-1-avere/

http://faststorage.eu/storage-field-day-6-day-1-avere-stormagic-tegile/

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by the GestaltIT and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than me (Arjan Timmerman).

Storage Field Day 6 starts today :D

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So here I am in a 747 inbound to San Francisco Airport. It’s always great to fly over Iceland, greenland and Canada and see the most beautiful landscapes from 35000 feet up.

But enough with the landscapes and pictures, the reason for flying to SFO is just as great as these. As before I’m invited to join the Tech Field Day crew for another Storage Field Day. It’s a great event, and I would like to thank Stephen, Tom and Claire for another invite. It’s an honor to join a great group of independent bloggers to visit some of the awesome companies who are creating the new technology needed to make Datacenters all over the world perform better and secure and store your valuable data.

Delegates

During this event there is an awesome mixture of great people who have been to earlier events as well as a couple of cool new delegates. Let’s take a look at the group and try to say something about all of them:

Chin-Fah Heoh

This is the first new delegate and I must say I thought my flight was long, but I guess Chin-Fah breaks some long distance records… All the way form Malasia Chin-Fa is better known as StorageGaga. And not only is he sharing his knoledge through his blog, he also is one of the boardmembers of SNIA in Malasia.

Chin-Fa’s blog can be found at: http://storagegaga.com

Chin-Fa on twitter: https://twitter.com/StorageGaga

Dan Frith

Also a new delegate and also doing a long flight as he comes from Australia. He is has a great blog with lots of great articles and I look forward to meet wolverine in person ;P

Dans blog can be found at: http://www.penguinpunk.net/blog

And he’s on twitter at: https://twitter.com/PenguinPunk

Dennis Martin

Yet another new delegate, but a famous one… A lot of excellent information, webinars and what all can be found on Dennis site. It’s awesome to have someone like him in the group.

Dennis blog is: http://www.demartek.com

And he’s on twitter as: https://twitter.com/Demartek

Eric Shanks

Eric has been to Virtualization Field Day as well to the TFDx at VMworld and has a very informative blog the ITHollow. This will be the first time I’ll have the pleasure to meet Eric, and I’m really looking forward to meet him.

Eric blogs at: http://theITHollow.com

And you can find him on twitter at: https://twitter.com/Eric_Shanks

Enrico Signoretti

There better always be an Italian at the Storage Field Day event, and with some of them turning over to the dark (green) side, we need people like Enrico. If you don’t know Enrico You should really check out his blog. Tons of information, great documents on products as well as videos and some very informative product reviews.

You can find his blog at: http://juku.it/en

And he’s found on twitter here: https://twitter.com/ESignoretti

Jared Kulm

Jared is another new face at Storage Field Day. With his great blog and a lot of information I’m really curious to meet him.

You can find his blog here: http://www.jk-47.com

And he’s on twitter too ;-P: https://twitter.com/JK47TheWeapon

John Obeto

John is one the veterans this Storage Field Day. It’s always awesome to meet John, and with John in the room you know MS and Hyper-V will be mentioned a couple of times. Really looking forward in meeting John again.

John blogs at: http://www.absolutelywindows.com/

And is on twitter here: https://twitter.com/JohnObeto

Jon Klaus

A fellow dutchman coming to his first Storage Field Day. I’ve actually never met Jon in person but I did read his blog on multiple occasions. Jon will have a great time meeting al these people and companies and visiting the bay area for the first time.

Jon can be found here: http://faststorage.eu

And is on twitter here: https://twitter.com/JonKlaus

Nigel Poulton

Need I introduce Nigel? I think not J He’s the creator of the storage rumble on Pluralsight and he’s also the writer of a storage book. That and all the great posts on his blog, the multiple podcasts and the strange facebook videos lately (;-P) make him a well known guy in the storage community. Nigel known the storage field drill because he’s been there before

Nigels blog: http://nigelpoulton.com

His podcast: http://intechwetrustpodcast.com/

And he’s on twitter as: https://twitter.com/NigelPoulton

Ray Lucchesi

Ray is another veteran at this event, and it is always great to have him as a delegate. Ray has over 30 years of experience in this field and shares his knowledge with the world on his blog as well as through the greybeards podcast (which he does with the well-known Mr. Marks). It’s always an honor to meet people like Ray.

You can find his blog at: http://www.SilvertonConsulting.com and http://www.RayOnStorage.com

And he’s on twitter at: https://twitter.com/RayLucchesi

Scott D. Lowe

Another great guy that doesn’t need any introduction. With all the great blogposts, sites and webinars on storage and virtualization you all know Scott. I heard this will be Scotts 9th TFD, so he’s the real veteran. It’s really great to have him fort his one too.

Scott blogs at: http://VirtualizationSoftware.com

And is on twitter here: https://twitter.com/OtherScottLowe

This will be an awesome Storage Field Day looking at the delegate list. Another great line-up is the on the sponsor side, but I’ll be writing about them later. For now we’re over the rockies and only an hour away from San Francisco. I’ll leave it at this and hope you will follow the event with the livestream, on twitter (just follow the hashtag #SFD6) and facebook.

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It’s 6:00 a.m wednesday morning right now, and we’re getting ready to really start with #SFD6. Tob e honest as a group we already started yesterdayevening with a great japanese dinner, but today is the we’ll start with the first presentations. Make sure you tune in on the livestream HERE.

VeeamOn, man ;-P

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During Storage Field Day 5 we got a little introduction into a big event Veeam was planning for october in Las Vegas. As I’ve been quiet busy the last couple of months (Became father for the 3rd time in July) I wasn’t able to spend to much time to dive further into this. Now evenings are getting a bit better I can spend some time on reading into what will be happening in Las Vegas.

First let’s point to the SFD5 presentation by Veeam in april. First on stage was Mr. Doug Hazelman, he made the announcement on VeeamOn during his presentation:

 

After this Doug eleborated on the availability for the Modern Data Center with Veeam and NetApp:

 

Second on stage was the one and only Rickatron (Rick vanOver) on Veeam Explorers:

He then introduces the Veeam Explorer for MS SQL:

Last but certainly not least the stage was given to our Storage Field Friend Luca Dell’Oca with some super secret stuff (back then) we all got to now by the name Veeam Cloud Connect, which will be available in the Veeam Availability Suite 8.

Let’s be honest, Veeam knows how to present, how party and how backup, replicate and explore your VM’s and they will be hosting a great event in Las Vegas.

Where a lot these events cost a lot of money to attend Veeam made sure the can be attended for a great price and with only $ 150,- extra you can do the Veeam certified engineer training, making this a great deal during an event packed with awesome session. Let’s look at a view of the sessions:

In session VT-09 Luca Dell’Oca will discuss Multi-tenancy: Roles, scopes and encryption in Veeam Enterprise Manager:

Veeam Enterprise Manager has introduced in its latest version’s advanced multi-tenancy capabilities. By properly configuring it, service providers and large companies can allow different customers and lines of business to safely access their own content, browse backups and start restore activities, guaranteeing, at the same time, complete data confidentiality and total isolation from others’ information. Come learn how to configure Enterprise Manager, its roles and scope and how the new encryption feature can further improve multi-tenancy, including:

  • How to ensure data confidentiality in a multi-tenant environment
  • How to tweak repository storage settings as a provider
  • Configuring source backup jobs for multi-tenancy

In session VT-10 Doug Hazelman and Anton Gostev will talk on What’s new in Veeam Availability Suite v8:

Join us for a deep dive into Veeam’s next generation of Data Center availability—Veeam® Data Center Availability Suite v8. Anton Gostev and Doug Hazelman will introduce Veeam’s new features and enhancements designed to help you manage the complexities of virtualization, storage and the cloud to meet the demands of the Always-On Business. The session will show you:

  • How to achieve efficient and affordable offsite backup
  • How to back up your vSphere virtual machines (VMs) using storage snapshots
  • How to put your DR site to work

Stick around to learn about all of our easy-to-use, industry-leading features, including secure and efficient backup to popular deduplication appliances, monitoring of backups directly from the vSphere Web Client, protecting Hyper-V VMs with shared VHDX, high-speed recovery with Veeam Explorers and much more!

In session CS-02 Joep Piscaer and Robbert Erents will be talking about Using Veeam B&R in an IaaS-environment with vCAC, Nutanix and NSX:

In 2014, Joep Piscaer and his team designed and implemented an IaaS-environment using a stretched Nutanix and vSphere cluster, vCloud Automation Center, VMware NSX and Veeam Backup & Replication. In this session, you’ll learn how Veeam plays a big part in the DR strategy for this environment. We will share specifics about multi-tenancy, integration with vCAC, the dependency on NSX and much more!

  • Learn how to implement Veeam Backup & Replication in a multi-site, multi-tenant vSphere deployment.
  • Get real life, tested and proven best practices for using Veeam Backup & Replication with a Nutanix infrastructure.
  • See how we integrate into vCloud Automation Center and discover how we make backup and restore operations available to end users.
  • Discover the caveats of NSX when backing up and restoring tenant VMs

And in session CS-04 Spongebob friend Chris Wahl will do a story on:

vSphere does an amazing job at abstracting away all of the hardware resources from virtual machines, there’s still a lot of design and configuration work to be done around plumbing the physical network into the virtual switches. There are a number of recommended practices for connecting your management, vMotion, IP storage, replication, and virtual machine traffic flows without sacrificing performance or incurring costs. In this session, join Chris Wahl, a VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) as he shares his experiences and secrets around real-world deployments of virtual networks for a myriad of use cases just like yours. In this breakout session, the following will be covered:

  • The differences, advantages and caveats between using standard and distributed vSwitches.
  • How the ESXi hypervisor handles switching, routing and network lookup tables
  • All of the networking jargon necessary to request or build the right 802. 1Q VLANs to successfully tag your port groups.
  • Methods to integrate your iSCSI and NFS storage networks into a vSphere environment.
  • Proven ways to design for server hardware that uses 1 GB, 10 GB, and mixed-speed network interface cards (NICs).

As you can see there is a lot of great content during the event but Veeam won’t be Veeam if there wasn’t an awesome party (or two or three…) during the event.

Make sure you see what will be going on at this awesome Veeam Event and if you do haven’t already signed up, this might be a good time ;-P

All information and signup can be done here:

http://go.veeam.com/veeamon

PSOD vSphere 5.5 U2 HP BL460c Gen8 v2

After an upgrade to our HP BL460c Gen8 blades we had multiple blades showing a Purple Screen of Death (See screenshot)

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In our environment we have multiple DC’s as well as multiple versions of the HP BL series blades. Multiple adminstrators across multiple DC’s experienced the same problem. The problem only seems to affect the latest HP BL460c Gen8 v2 series (as far as we can tell), but it might be other vendors with Intel Haswell Xeon v2 CPU’s might be affected as well (please let me know if you’re having the same problems on other hardware).

We decided to roll the affected servers back to 5.5 U1 and wait for a solution but Frank Büchsel (@fbuechsel) of fbuechsel.eu provided me with following workaround. In the BIOS when you turn of the Intel VT-D option, your server will start without trouble:

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Thanks Frank!

VMware is working hard to process the logfiles and making sure this problem is solved ones and for all! Keep you updated on the status. If you have a solution or questions/answers please give us a tweet or something!

UPDATE!!

After a long and extensive investigation we’re able to say the problem in our environment has been solved. After checking all Firmware we reached the point where the only difference between a purple screen and a stable running ESXi 5.5 U2 host was the firmware of the HP FlexFabrics (Emulex) in the server. When we used the 4.6 (or lower) firmware we had Purple screens, but after updating to the latest 4.9 firmware the Purple screens were gone, and the servers ran stable.

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VMware is still examaning the logfiles, but htis seems to solve our problem for now! If you experience any problems with this, please let me know…

Nutanix Offers Structure (NOS) 4.1

About a month ago, just a week before VMworld 2014 US, Nutanix announced their version 4.1 of their already famous Nutanix Operating System (NOS). While investigating all the features already included within NOS one might overlook a couple of great features. Let’s dive into a couple of the features and strength of the Nutanix Offering and the new 4.1 features:

Multi Hypervisor Support:

I’m a very big fan of VMware and as VMware fanboy I’ve always been weary about multi hypervisor environments. But the last couple of months I’ve seen (and heard) more and more companies talking about choosing the right hypervisor for specific jobs. Where people always talked about doing it all on ESXi, it seems Hyper-V (and in some cases KVM) are cheaper and better then ESXi.

That’s why it is important to have a choice. Nutanix as one of the view Hyper-convergence solution offers you the choice of all these Hypervisors. As said it might be you do everything on ESXi but having a choice is important.

patent-infographic

 

 

 

 

 

click to enlarge

Multi Hardware choice:

While we’re at it, let’s keep the multi thing up. Software Defined is everything these days. Although I’m still not a big fan of this term I do use it but only when the hardware part is well covered.

Nutanix offers a great hardware platform as the base of their offering. Using commodity hardware is one thing, leverage this hardware to build for all the challenges produced by a virtual environment is another. Nutanix uses different terminology for their hardware. A block is 2U hardware unit which can hold 1, 2 or 4 compute units, known as nodes. Don’t worry the intelligence is in the nodes, and the 2U Block is not some sort of blade chassis with intellegence in it.

Due to the great solution Nutanix was (and is) for VDI a lot of environments started with a PoC in this area, and then noticed this was a solution for most of there environment. In some cases Nutanix needed to evolve their portfolio to better service the customer and with that the Nutanix hardware platform has grown into a great line of products, namely:

– The NX-1000 series (NX-1020 and NX-1050 and 4 nodes per block. More information below).

Schermafbeelding 2014-09-15 om 19.34.01

 

 

click to enlarge

 

Perfect for Small to medium businesses. The power of Nutanix lays in the fact you can start small and grow big. So let’s jump over to the next product line:

– The NX-3000 series. (NX-3050 and NX-3051 and the NX-3060 and NX-3061 also with 4 nodes per block. More information below)

Schermafbeelding 2014-09-15 om 19.33.36

 

 

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These are targeted much more on Medium and Enterprise businesses where scale is important. Starting with 2 blocks and being able to grow fast is an important expect of these machines, as well as providing a lot power as well as possibilities. Next:

– The NX-6000 series. (NX-6020, NX-6050 and NX6051, NX-6060, NX-6070 and the NX-6080 all with 2 nodes per block. more information below)

Schermafbeelding 2014-09-16 om 13.54.26

 

 

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These nodes are both capacity as well as compute power. With two of these high capacity nodes you’ll have about twice the capacity of the 4 node blocks, and still you get a whole lot of compute power. Next in line are the 7000 series where GPU power is most important:

– The NX-7000 series. (NX-7110 which contains 1 node per 2 U. more information below)

Schermafbeelding 2014-09-16 om 13.55.21

 

 

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VDI has always been a big part of Nutanix. First of all it is an easy use case to start with the Nutanix offering and a PoC is setup and running within the hour (VMware and Citrix installation and configuration not included). Dealing with VDI is a complex task that involves a lot of different user types. Most users don’t need a whole lot of GPU power, and the NX-1000 and NX-3000 series will be more then sufficient for them. But for the GPU intensive loads (CAD, Animation creation, 3D modeling and others) the NX-7110 is the bomb. They need this and providing it is just awesome. Last but not least the brand new 8000 series.

– NX-8000 series. (The NX-8150 also contains 1 node per block. more information below).

Schermafbeelding 2014-09-16 om 13.55.51

 

 

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Why in the … would you need a monster like this? No clue? Think Oracle, SQL and SAP. Where most of the NX nodes provide multiple of thousands (10s of thousands) IOPS. But some applications just need more… That’s where the NX-8150 comes in. This is the machine you need for your Tier 1 apps, with 2-4 times the SSD density of the other NX nodes this monster will help you to tame every application in your environment.

If you thought you wouldn’t be able to build a whole “SD” DataCenter with Nutanix, Think Again!!!

The NOS 4.1 new featueres:

When you make a list of all the features already included in the NOS, you might wonder if there were any new and important updates. With features like reduplication, compression, replication, PRISM. NDFS, SRA and so on the list is long, but still Nutanix is capable of providing awesome new features:

  • Cloud Connect:

The era of cloud is alive and kicking… Using the Public cloud is still a step to far for a lot companies especially outside the US. So providing companies the ability to backup to EC2 and S3 looks awesome, is awesome, but might just not be used that much outside the US. Being able to Backup other Nutanix infrastructures on any hypervisor is a great feature. Where a lot companies struggle with the licensing fees of the hypervisor, this feature gives a company the ability to backup to another site with another hypervisor installed. So If your main datacenter runs VMware and your second datacenter runs Hyper-V, Nutanix got you covered.

As said a lot of companies are still struggling with putting their data into the public cloud. Using AWS (EC2 or S3) might be something for the US only at this moment, but I’m sure Nutanix will not leave it with this. Other Cloud providers and even local cloud providers (think vCloud Director and Microsoft Azure) will probably follow in the near future.

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  • Data at rest Encryption:

For a multitude of companies Data at Rest Encryption is a must. Think Government, Banking and hospitals for one, but there are many more that need this feature.

Nutanix provides this feature for the following nodes: NX-3060-E, NX-3061-E and the NX-6060E and there are a couple of requirements that must be met. First of all this feature is ESXi only for the moment. Mixing clusters with host with and without DRE is not possible. Either you have DRE or you don’t. You can still manage everything via the same PRISM interface, though. To enable DRE you need a third party key management server, for the time being the only certified by Nutanix is the SafeNet KeySecure Cryptographic Key Management System. I know, that’s another at the moment, but I’m absolutely sure this offering will grow over time.

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  • One click Hypervisor and Firmware upgrade:

I really love this new feature, as there aren’t that many product featuring this kind of solution while extremely important. In many environments I work the upgrades of both soft- and firmware are a pain in the …. Most of the time the Software part of the upgrade is doable thanks to tools like VMware Update Manager, but when talking about firmware most of the time administrators are talking about 20 to 30 minutes per server to take care of it… When talking about 100’s of servers per datacenter and multiple datacenters you can do the math….

This new feature provided by Nutanix is a timesaver of big proportions… In an environment of a 1000 hosts this can save you up to 80 days (yes days) of work. Doing it in an automated way, and doing the updates and upgrades that don’t need a reboot quickly and on the fly, while providing the possibility to update and upgrade and reboot all your hosts through one and the same interface in this automated way is just awesome, and for as I know a Nutanix only feature (correct me if I’m wrong ;-)).

These are some awesome features added to an already awesome product line. The only thing that was missing in the Nutanix offering was the ability to leverage hardware provided by the „big” vendors… That might seem like a strange thing to ask for, but with large enterprises and governments holding a tight policy on which vendors they do business with this is a must if you ask me. Where everybody shouts Software Defined it’s kinda weird to only support your own (OEM) hardware. This all changed with the announcement made by Nutanix and Dell that Dell hardware (DX-series) will be supported to run the Nutanix software… For me this is great news and I can only hope others will follow soon ;P

To find out more of the Nutanix Operating System 4.1 features I would like to point out to these great blogs and sites:

Andre LeiboviciNutanix 4.1 Features Overview (Beyond Marketing) – Part 1

Don’t forget to read the rest of this blog for some awesome information and tools.

Dwayne LessnerHypervisor Agnostic Backuup -> Hyper-V -> ESXi -> AWS

Again don’t forget to read the rest of this blog ;P

NutanixThe Nutanix Website

Great resource!

The PernixData PowerCLI plugin

Two days back I posted PernixData and PowerCLI in which I used PowerCLI to show me which Hosts had PernixData installed. A lot of reactions came through twitter and facebook, but Andy Daniel (@vNephologist) replied directly on the blog telling me I could use the PernixData FVP PowerCLI plugin to accomplish the same thing.

The installation of the plugin is as easy as starting PowerCLI and importing the module:

import-module prnxcli

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Let’s check if the command did what we wanted it to do:

Get-Module

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When this is done, we will need to connect to the PernixData Management Server. Use the following line:

Connect-PrnxServer host-ip -Username name -Password password

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Let’s see what our PernixData FVP environment looks like at the moment using the following line:

Get-PrnxObject

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As you can see there is not a whole lot of information shown here, but that’s mainly because of this being a small homelab with PernixData not installed on any host yet. I’ll be diving into installing and managing PernixData FVP with PowerCLI in later posts.

A great resource for this is the following post by Byron Schaller (@byronschaller):

Guide to PernixData FVP PowerShell Commands

For now a big thanks to Andy for pointing this out. See you later ;P

Unitrends Enterprise Backup 7.5

A couple of weeks ago Unitrends announced their latest release of Unitrends Enterprise Backup, namely version 7.5. The last couple of days I’ve been able to try this new version and I must say I’m pretty impressed by all new features and the ease of use of this new version. First let’s start with the feature list and dive in to some of these further:

  • CloudHook for archiving to your cloud storage provider.
  • Navigation grouping for easy management of clients and virtual machines.
  • Support for Exchange incremental backups.
  • Support for multiple SQL restores.
  • New Policies report and Storage Footprint report.
  • System performance enhancements, including faster backups, faster replication, and faster VMware inventory scan.

CloudHook

With Unitrends CloudHook you have the possibility to archive your backups in the cloud. In earlier days we had to put our long-term backups on tape, because having the data that was been backuped in the same datacenter was no option. Getting it on tape and then moving it to another location ensured us of data salvation in case of a major event. With cloud storage becoming more and more available, companies are looking for this option to archive their backups. With Unitrends CloudHook you have the possibility to archive your backups into the cloud in a very efficient way. At the time of writing there are 3 cloud storage solutions supported by UEB 7.5 namely:

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)
  • Google Cloud Storage
  • Rackspace Cloud Files

Navigation Grouping

With Navigation grouping UEB 7.5 making backups of multiple VM’s or physical servers in an organized manner is easy. Group servers together to make navigation, monitoring, backup, restore, archiving and reporting much easier. The following list of items can be grouped together:

  • Physical Clients like Windows and Linux Servers
  • VMware VM’s
  • vApps
  • VMware templates
  • Resource pools
  • HyperV VM’s

Removing these groups is just as easy as creating them, and it will return the interface to the original state.

Exchange incremental backup support

UEB 7.5 provides the possibility to make incremental backups of your Exchange Database. This has a couple of benefits:

  • Incremental backups are quicker than differential backups and can thus be done more frequently. This benefit lays in the fact that a differential backup includes all changes since the full backup (it does not change the Archive flag) while incremental backups only backup the changes since the last incremental (it changes the archive flag)
  • Another benefit of incremental backups is the fact that log after completing a successful incremental, unneeded transaction log files are automatically truncated, freeing space on the Exchange server.

To use the Unitrends Exchange incremental backups the following requirements must be met:

  • The Unitrends appliance must be running version 7.5 at least.
  • The Windows agent must be version 7.5 or higher.
  • Differential and incremental backups cannot be in the same schedule.
  • A full backup must be in the schedule. The incremental forever strategy is not supported.

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Multiple SQL restores support

Now you can restore multiple SQL databases with a single click. You can also create custom folders of protected servers and virtual machines – significantly reducing the clicks needed to manage protected assets. The only limitations on this is the Windows limitation which is 6 simultaneous restores can run at the same time

To use this feature you must meet the following requirements:

  • The Unitrends appliance must be running version 7.5 at least.
  • The Windows agent must be version 7.5 or higher.
  • Databases must be restored to the original SQL instance and name.

New reporting capabilities

With the UEB 7.5 release a couple of new reports are available, which will help you to produce better and more efficient reports on your UEB environment:

  • Policies report. This report contains information about the general data protection policies applied to your systems, including systems protected, retention settings, schedules, data included or excluded from backup, and backup type. This report, along with the Schedule History report, may be used to assist in satisfying regulatory compliance audits
  • Storage Footprint report. This report needs to run on replication targets to determine the amount of physical storage consumed by each replicating source system

System performance enhancements

UEB 7.5 features the following performance enhancements:

  • As UEB 7.5 now uses hardware assisted encryption leveraging the AES instruction set on the processor as well enhanced space reclamation algorithms provides for much faster backups.
  • Pipelining optimizations, hardware assisted encryption and improvements made to the algorithms that manage the replication queue provide a significant increase in faster replication.
  • In release 7.5 UEB provides a much faster VMware inventory scan for all environments.
  • With all the new features and improvements UEB 7.5 provides a smaller backup window and increased retention.

Arjan’s view

With all these new features and (performance) improvements as well as the fusion between two great companies (Unitrends and PHD Virtual), and their products, UEB 7.5 is a feature rich product which I can easily promote to all my customers. With the Unitrends team growing larger and larger and international the support for the Unitrends products is great. With backup and recovery on a modern way but with the possibility to leverage old and new infrastructures and features the UEB 7.5 is an awesome release which shows that Unitrends is a company to keep in mind.

PernixData and PowerCLI

The last couple of days I’ve been playing with PernixData FVP and after a couple of changes to my lab I wanted to know which ESXi hosts contained the FVP vib and which didn’t. There are a couple of ways check if the vib is installed on an ESXi server…

First is through Putty using this ESXCLI command:

esxcli software vib list

This will provide you with the list of all installed VIBs on that host.

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Because we only need to know if the PernixData vib is installed the following command will only show the VIBs that include Pernix:

esxcli software vib list |grep Pernix

Now because we need to do this on every single host, this could become a very intensive task. But as we all know Luc and Alan would write a great script to do this much easier and a lot faster…

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After some google searches and a couple of failed attemps I finally got a script that shows just what I needed to know.

Here it is (feel free to change to make it even better, but this was what did the trick for me ;P):

$AllHosts = Get-VMHost | Where {$_.ConnectionState -eq ‘Connected’}
foreach ($VMHost in $AllHosts) {
$ESXCLI = Get-EsxCli -VMHost $VMHost
$ESXCLI.software.vib.list() | Select $VMHost.Name,AcceptanceLevel,ID,InstallDate,Name,ReleaseDate,Status,Vendor,Version | Where {$_.Vendor -match ‘PernixData’}
}

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