VMware vCloud Air part 1

The last couple of weeks I’ve been doing research on the VMware vCloud Air for one of our customers. Our customers is looking at the vCloud Air solution for large pieces of their current infrastructure, and the big driver for this investigation is the fact that at first looks the prices for VMware vCloud Air look cheaper (way cheaper accually) in stead of building and migrating and their own Datacenters. But to get a clearer view of what the VMware vCloud Air , let’s dive in to vCloud Air to see if this is true and what vCloud Air is.

Vmware vCloud Air

First we’ll investigate what VMware is providing through their vCloud Air offering. To make sure we got everything right we’ll see what the VMware website tells us about their vCloud Air offering:

 

As you can see there are multiple ways the business could use the VMware vCloud Air solution as seen in picture above there are 6 different offerings:

  • Disaster Recovery
  • Virtual Private Cloud
  • Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand
  • vCloud Government Service
  • Object Storage
  • Dedicated Cloud

For this part we’re going to take a look at the Dedicated Cloud offering and we’re diving in to the benefits and positive points of the solution.

Welcome in the buzzword bingo?

There is to much buzzwords going around in this area that it is hard to keep track on what is what! What is the difference betweens private cloud, Infrastructure as a Service and Dedicated cloud and on-premises infrastructure? What does it mean for your company and where does fit in your IT environment?

Invisible IT?

For me the Invisible IT buzzwords is what most companies (I do business with) are really looking for…. Providing the IT resources instantly when the business needs it, and thereby being a business enabler is what IT should be all about.

In the the last couple of decades it often happened that when the business needed a new application to help the business growth, it could take months before the application could be used. With the birth, and adoption of virtualization most IT departments managed to cut this down to about a week. But that time is used to just implement the virtual servers needed for the application (with the right network and storage resources), and after this time the application still needs to implement and test the the application.

Welcome to the Cloud Era

With the introduction of cloud a lot of people were sceptic. But after a couple of years people use it all the time, and got used to the benefits of cloud computing. One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is how fast it is to buy resources. Go to AWS, Azure, Google or whatever cloud providor you want and with a credit card and a few clicks your VM is running in minutes….

This is where most IT departments lost the battle (they think…). If a in house department still needs to wait weeks of even still months before they can really start developing, implementing and using the application they tend to run, and use, the public cloud quickly. They normally won’t think of the business impact of such a move, but on the other the project can deliver much quicker and that’s all that counts to them.

As Dilbert explained in the comic above there is a way for IT to use the on-premises resources as well as the public cloud to move be the business enabler IT needs to be.

Virtualization vs. Hybrid Cloud

It seems such a long time ago that virtualization needed to prove its place in the Datacenter. A lot of companies looked at the virtualization product and didn’t see it production ready, but after testing it in their test environments and seeing the benefits almost all companies testing also started using it in their production environments as well.

The same is seems to happen with the use of hybrid cloud, but it seems that the hybrid cloud adoption goes much faster. The way companies start using a hybrid cloud solution is lots of time driven by the fact that certain workloads already started their development in the public cloud, and the company would like to embed the posibilities the cloud provides. The Hybrid cloud is the combination of private (which could also be a traditional IT environment) and public cloud(s) which provides your company the best of both worlds. But to manage these clous, you’ll need the right tools.

 

Cloud Management Platform

To manage your comapnies Hybrid Cloud they’ll need a Cloud Management Platform. As already mentioned the CMP’s are Management portals that offer your business the management needed to provide the private and public IT services. It is important to know that although there are many CMP’s I have found any (yet) that offers the complete spectrum of private and public offerings, although they all offer REStful api support so you could create certain things yourself (if you have the development force to do so ;)) I’ll probably dive into a couple of the CMP’s at a later stage, but for now if you want to know more about CMP’s look at these:

There are many more, but for now it is more than enough to have some reading material during a couple of days 😉

VMware vRealize suite and vCloud Air

I started this post about the VMware vCloud Air solution, but in the end I didn’t really talk about it that much. I promise I’ll do more in depth in the next part but for now I want to focus a little more on VMware vRealize Suite and the vCloud Air products for building a VMware Hybrid cloud.

With a lot of companies that build their virtualization environment on the VMware vSphere product, it is an easy step to want to build their hybrid IT environment on this foundation. To do so, they can leverage the vRealize suite product to automate and orchestrate their current environment as well as the vCloud air solutions, and furthermore other cloud solutions like AWS, Azure and others.

For a lot of companies this would build the environment they need to be on the edge, while still maintaining a soltution build on the foundation they already had, keeping the knowledge they already have in house, and giving IT the power to become a business enabler again.

Conclusion

When I started this post I didn’t intend it to be this long, and that’s the main reason to stop puting more information in this single post. Where I started out with an introduction to VMware vCloud Air, it became much more, but that’s what blogging is all about (IMHO :D) I’ll be back with more information on vCloud Air, vRealize suite, CMP, and more…. But for now cheerio!

If you want to know more about this topic, I’ll be presenting at next TECHunplugged conference in London on 12/5/16. A one day event focused on cloud computing and IT infrastructure with an innovative formula combines a group of independent, insightful and well-recognized bloggers with disruptive technology vendors and end users who manage rich technology environments. Join us!

 

 

Nutanix Licensing Mayhem!?!?!

A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar in which a Nutanix competitor stated that the Nutanix Licensing was a really hard nut to crack. I immediatly went to the Nutanix licensing site to see what was so difficult about it but couldn’t explain why someone would find it so hard to figure out the Nutanix Licensing.

The Acropolis editions

So let’s see how the Nutanix Licensing is done, and start with Acropolis:

Nutanix Acropolis is a powerful scale-out data fabric for storage, compute and virtualization. Acropolis combines feature-rich software-defined storage with built-in virtualization in a turnkey hyperconverged infrastructure solution that can run any application at any scale.

Well get back on the Acropolis licensing details shortly 😀

And on the other hand Nutanix Prism:

Nutanix Prism gives administrators a simple and elegant way to manage virtual environments. Powered by advanced data analytics and heuristics, Prism simplifies and streamlines common workflows within a datacenter eliminating the need to have disparate management solutions.

So after we know the different versions of Acropolis and Prism let’s dive into the differences between the Acropolis Starter, Pro and Ultimate editions:

The first difference between the three can be Storage side of things and is clearly stated on the Nutanix Website:

So if you need more then 12 hosts in a cluster or Deduplication, Compression or Erasure coding you’ll need at least Pro, if you need some of your workloads to be pinned on flash you’ll have to switch over to Ultimate. Easy as that on the storage side, let’s continue.

The next one in the Nutanix list is Infrastructure Resilience:

In this case it is even easier, if you need enclosure or rack awereness Starter is a NoNo. You’ll need to decide on other features (like storage) if you need to go to Pro or Ultimate.

Next please 😀 That will be Data Protection:

So you need Cloud Connect or Time Stream? Move to Pro, if you want Multi Site DR, Metro Availability or Sync Replicatie and DR you’ll need to go to Ultimate, if you don’t need all of these services, you’ll do just fine with starter…

No hard nuts for me until now, but we’re not there so let’s continue:

The one thing everybody seems to be talking about these days is security, and that’s also the next on the Nutanix list:

Just need Client Authentication? Go for Starter. Also need Cluster Lockdown?:

Cluster Shield, which allows administrators to restrict access to a Nutanix cluster in security-conscious environments, such as government facilities and healthcare provider systems. Cluster Shield disables interactive shell logins automatically.

Go to Pro and if you also need Data-at-Rest encryption please continue to Ultimate 😉

The next “hard nut” to crack, would be Management & Analytics. But for me it’s another easy comparison between what is in the licensing offer:

What is important for our Prism comparison is that every Acropolis edition already offers the Prism Starter edition. We don’t really need to look at that one than, so we’ll concentrate on Pro if we get there 😀 For Management and Analytics it is kind of easy again, because if you need Rest API’s you’ll need Pro or Ultimate, otherwise you could do with Starter. But again, it depends on the other features in these licensing deals if you can choose the Starter/Pro or Ultimate.

The last one would be Virtualization, but there is difference between the three on this:

That’s all for the Acropolis site of things, and to be honest I didn’t find any hard nuts to crack. The list is very clear, and based on the business and technical requirements it should be able to choose the flavor you need.

The Prism editions

So it must be in the Prism site of things than. Let’s see how difficult this Prism thingy really is.
For the people that payed attention, I already told that all Acropolis editions included the Prism Starter edition so we can concentrate on Pro.

Just to make clear on what is in both of them:

It’s not that hard to make your choice if you ask me, but let’s explain what Prism Pro offers more than the already included Starter:

  • Prism search is an integrated google-like search experience that will help you query and perform actions with a single click
  • Customizable Operations Dashboard is a Visually rich dashboards that give actionable summary of applications, virtual machines and infrastructure state at-a-glance.
  • Capacity Behavior Analytics is a Predictive analysis of capacity usage and trends based on workload behavior enabling pay-as-you-grow scaling
  • Capacity Optimization Advisor is an Infrastructure optimization recommendations to improve efficiency and performance

So if you need one of these features you’ll need to buy the Prism Pro license.

Conclusion

It is one thing to bash your competitors and I know they all do this, including Nutanix themselves, but if you want to say something about your competitors, please make sure to know what you’re talking about. In this case (and in my “humble” opinion) the statement about the Nutanix Licensing being a hard nut to crack is really based on nothing.

The Nutanix licensing is very clear in what the licensing does and does not include and it’s up to you to create clear requirements about the environment on which you can than base you choice for the Acropolis and Prism edition you’ll need.

VMware VSAN 6.2, what’s new?

This is a cross post from my Metis IT blogpost, which you can find here.

VMware VSAN 6.2

On February 10 VMware announced Virtual SAN version 6.2. A lot of Metis IT customers are asking about the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) and how products like VSAN fit into this new paradigm. Let’s investigate what VMware VSAN is, and what the value would be to use it, as well as what the new features are in version 6.2

VSAN and Software Defined Storage

In the data storage world, we all know that the growth of data is explosive (to say the least). In the last decade the biggest challenge for most companies was that people just kept making copies of their data and the data of their co-workers. Today we not only have this problem, but storage also has to provide the performance needed for data-analytics and more.

First the key components of Software Defined Storage:

  • Abstraction: Abstracting the hardware from the software provides greater flexibility and scalability
  • Aggregation: In the end it shouldn’t matter what storage solution you use, but it should be managed through only one interface
  • Provisioning: the possibility to provision storage in the most effective and efficient way
  • Orchestration: Make use of all of the storage platforms in your environment by orchestration (vVOLS, VSAN)

vsan01

VSAN and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

So what about Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)? Hyper-Converged systems allow the integrated resources (Compute, Network and Storage) to be managed as one entity through a common interface. With Hyper-converged systems the infrastructure can be expanded by adding nodes.

VSAN is Hyper-converged in a pure form. You don’t have to buy a complete stack, and you’re not bound to certain hardware configurations from certain vendors. Of course, there is the need for a VSAN HCL to make sure you reach the full potential of VSAN.

VMware VSAN 6.2. new features

With the 6.2 version of VSAN, VMware introduced a couple of really nice and awesome features, some of which are only available on the All-Flash VSAN clusters:

  • Data Efficiency (Deduplication and Compression / All-Flash only)
  • RAID-5/RAID-6 – Erasure Coding (All-Flash only)
  • Quality of Service (QoS Hybrid and All-Flash)
  • Software Checksum (Hybrid and All-Flash)
  • IPV6 (Hybrid and All-Flash)
  • Performance Monitoring Service (Hybrid and All-Flash)

Data Efficiency

Dedupe and compression happens during de-staging from the caching tier to the capacity tier. You enable “space efficiency” on a cluster level and deduplication happens on a per disk group basis. Larger disk groups will result in a higher deduplication ratio. After the blocks are deduplicated, they are compressed. A significant saving already, but combined with deduplication, the results achieved can be up to 7x space reduction, off course fully dependent on the workload and type of VMs.

Erasure Coding

New is RAID 5 and RAID 6 support over the network, also known as erasure coding. In this case, RAID-5 requires 4 hosts at a minimum as it uses a 3+1 logic. With 4 hosts, 1 can fail without data loss. This results in a significant reduction of required disk capacity compared to RAID 1. Normally a 20GB disk would require 40GB of disk capacity with FTT=1, but in the case of RAID-5 over the network, the requirement is only ~27GB. RAID 6 is an option if FTT=2 is desired.

Quality of Service

This enables per VMDK IOPS Limits. They can be deployed by Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM), tying them to existing policy frameworks. Service providers can use this to create differentiated service offerings using the same cluster/pool of storage. Customers wanting to mix diverse workloads will be interested in being able to keep workloads from impacting each other.

Software Checksum

Software Checksum will enable customers to detect corruptions that could be caused by faulty hardware/software components, including memory, drives, etc. during the read or write operations. In the case of drives, there are two basic kinds of corruption. The first is “latent sector errors”, which are typically the result of a physical disk drive malfunction. The other type is silent corruption, which can happen without warning (These are typically called silent data corruption). Undetected or completely silent errors could lead to lost or inaccurate data and significant downtime. There is no effective means of detection these errors without end-to-end integrity checking.

IPV6

Virtual SAN can now support IPv4-only, IPv6-only, and also IPv4/IPv6-both enabled. This addresses requirements for customers moving to IPv6 and, additionally, supports mixed mode for migrations.

Performance Monitoring Service

Performance Monitoring Service allows customers to be able to monitor existing workloads from vCenter. Customers needing access to tactical performance information will not need to go to vRO. Performance monitor includes macro level views (Cluster latency, throughput, IOPS) as well as granular views (per disk, cache hit ratios, per disk group stats) without needing to leave vCenter. The performance monitor allows aggregation of states across the cluster into a “quick view” to see what load and latency look like as well as share that information externally to 3rd party monitoring solutions by API. The Performance monitoring service runs on a distributed database that is stored directly on Virtual SAN.

Conclusion

VMware is making clear that the old way to do storage is obsolete. A company needs the agility, efficiency and scalability that is provided by the best of all worlds. VSAN is one of these, and although it has a short history, it has grown up pretty fast. For more information make sure to read the following blogs, and if you’re looking for a SDDC/SDS/HCI consultant to help you in solving your challenges, make sure to look for Metis IT.

Blogs on VMware VSAN:
http://www.vmware.com/products/virtual-san/
http://www.yellow-bricks.com/virtual-san/
http://www.punchingclouds.com/
http://cormachogan.com/vsan/

VMware to present on VSAN at Storage Field Day 9

I’m really exited to see the VMware VSAN team during Storage Field Day 9, where they will probably dive deep into the new features of VSAN 6.2. It will be an open discussion, where a I’m certain that the delegates will have some awesome questions. Also I would advise you to watch our earlier visit to the VMware VSAN team in Palo Alto about a year ago, at Storage Field Day 7 (Link)