OT – Top 78

Eric Siebert recently published (okay, fine, it was three weeks ago) the full results of the Top vBlog voting. I was pleased to find I’d made a jump up from last year.

vBlog_2016_snip

I’ve previously changed my tune on asking for votes in this competition, not because I don’t think it’s a good bit of fun, but I think there’re a bunch of other bloggers you should be voting for. A few people like to huff and puff about it being a popularity contest, but if nothing else I’ve found these types of lists (and Eric’s site in general) to be extremely useful when tracking down links to things on the internet that I know I need but can’t remember how I googled them in the first place. A lot of work goes into the site, so thanks Eric, and please keep it up! Thanks also to anyone who did throw a vote my way, I do actually appreciate it.

Storage Field Day 10 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 10.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

SFD-Logo2-150x150

This is a quick post to say thanks once again to Stephen, Tom, Megan and the presenters at Storage Field Day 10. I had an enjoyable and educational time. For easy reference, here’s a list of the posts I did covering the event (they may not match the order of the presentations).

Storage Field Day – I’ll Be At SFD10

Storage Field Day 10 – Day 0

Storage Field Day 10 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Kaminario are doing some stuff we’ve seen before, but that’s okay

Pure Storage really aren’t a one-trick pony

Tintri Keep Doing What They Do, And Well

Nimble Storage are Relentless in Their Pursuit of Support Excellence

Cloudian Does Object Smart and at Scale

Exablox Isn’t Just Pretty Hardware

It’s Hedvig, not Hedwig

The Cool Thing About Datera Is Intent

Data Virtualisation is More Than Just Migration for Primary Data

 

Also, here’s a number of links to posts by my fellow delegates (and Tom!). They’re all really quite smart, and you should check out their stuff, particularly if you haven’t before. I’ll try keep this updated as more posts are published. But if it gets stale, the SFD10 landing page has updated links.

 

Chris M Evans (@ChrisMEvans)

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Hedvig

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Primary Data

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Exablox

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Nimble Storage

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Datera

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Tintri

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Pure Storage

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Kaminario

Storage Field Day 10 Preview: Cloudian

Object Storage: Validating S3 Compatibility

 

Ray Lucchesi (@RayLucchesi)

Surprises in flash storage IO distributions from 1 month of Nimble Storage customer base

Has triple parity Raid time come?

Pure Storage FlashBlade well positioned for next generation storage

Exablox, bring your own disk storage

Hedvig storage system, Docker support & data protection that spans data centers

 

Jon Klaus (@JonKlaus)

I will be flying out to Storage Field Day 10!

Ready for Storage Field Day 10!

Simplicity with Kaminario Healthshield & QoS

Breaking down storage silos with Primary Data DataSphere

Cloudian Hyperstore: manage more PBs with less FTE

 

Enrico Signoretti (@ESignoretti)

VM-aware storage, is it still a thing?

Scale-out, flash, files and objects. How cool is Pure’s FlashBlade?

 

Josh De Jong (@EuroBrew)

 

Max Mortillaro (@DarkkAvenger)

Follow us live at Storage Field Day 10

Primary Data: a true Software-defined Storage platform?

If you’re going to SFD10 be sure to wear microdrives in your hair

Hedvig Deep Dive – Is software-defined the future of storage?

Pure Storage’s FlashBlade – Against The Grain

 

Gabe Maentz (@GMaentz)

Heading to Tech Field Day

 

Arjan Timmerman (@ArjanTim)

We’re almost live…

Datera: Elastic Data Fabric

 

Francesco Bonetti (@FBonez)

EXABLOX – A different and smart approach to NAS for SMB

 

Marco Broeken (@MBroeken)

 

Rick Schlander (@VMRick)

Storage Field Day 10 Next Week

Hedvig Overview

 

Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd)

Flash Needs a Highway

 

Finally, thanks again to Stephen, Tom, Megan (and Claire in absentia). It was an educational and enjoyable few days and I really valued the opportunity I was given to attend.

SFD10_GroupPhoto

Data Virtualisation is More Than Just Migration for Primary Data

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 10.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

logo-Primary_Data-400px

Before I get started, you can find a link to my raw notes on Primary Data’s presentation here. You can also see videos of the presentation here. I’ve seen Primary Data present at SFD7 and SFD8, and I’ve typically been impressed with their approach to Software-Defined Storage (SDS) and data virtualisation generally. And I’m also quite a fan of David Flynn‘s whiteboarding chops.

SFD10_Pd_DavidFlynn

 

Data Virtualisation is More Than Just Migration

Primary Data spent  some time during their presentation at SFD10 talking about Data Migration vs Data Mobility.

SFD10_Pd_DataMigrationvsMobility

[image courtesy of Primary Data]

Data migration can be a real pain to manage. It’s quite often a manual process and is invariably tied to the capabilities of the underlying storage platform hosting the data. The cool thing about Primary Data’s solution is that it offers dynamic data mobility, aligning “data’s needs (objectives) with storage capabilities (service levels) through automated mobility, arbitrated by economic value and reported as compliance”. Sounds like a mouthful, but it’s a nice way of defining pretty much what everyone’s been trying to achieve with storage virtualisation solutions for the last decade or longer.

What I like about this approach is that it’s a data-centric, rather than employing a storage platform focused approach. Primary Data supports “anything that can be presented to Linux as a block device”, so the options to deploy this stuff are fairly broad. Once you’ve presented your data to DSX, there’s some smart service level objectives (SLOs) that can be applied to the data. These can be broken down into the categories of protection, performance, and price/penalty:

Protection

  • Durability
  • Availability
  • Recoverability – Security
  • Priority
  • Sovereignty

Performance

  • IOPS / Bandwidth / Latency – Read / Write
  • Sustained / Burst

Price / Penalty

  • Per File
  • Per Byte
  • Per Operation

Access Control can also be applied to your data. With Primary Data, “[e]very storage container is a landlord with floorspace to lease and utilities available (capacity and performance)”.

 

Further Reading and Final Thoughts

I like the approach to data virtualisation that Primary Data have taken. There are a number of tools on the market that claim to fully virtualise storage and offer mobility across platforms. Some of them do it well, and some focus more on the benefits provided around ease of migration from one platform to another.

That said, there’s certainly some disagreement in the market place on whether Primary Data could be considered a fully-fledged SDS solution. Be that as it may, I really like the focus on data, rather than silos of storage. I’m also a big fan of applying SLOs to data, particularly when it can be automated to improve the overall performance of the solution and make the data more accessible and, ultimately, more valuable.

Primary Data has a bunch of use cases that extend beyond data mobility as well, including deployment options ranging from Hyperconverged, software-defined NAS and clustering across existing storage platforms. Primary Data want to “do for storage what VMware did for compute”. I think the approach they’ve taken has certainly gotten them on the right track, and the platform has matured greatly in the last few years.

If you’re after some alternative (and better thought out) posts on Primary Data, you can read Jon‘s post here. Max also did a good write-up here, while Chris M.Evans did a nice preview post on Primary Data that you can find here.

The Cool Thing About Datera Is Intent

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 10.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Datera-250x33

Before I get started, you can find a link to my raw notes on Datera‘s presentation here. You can also see videos of their presentation here.

 

What’s a Datera?

Datera’s Elastic Data Fabric is “software defined storage appliance that takes over the hardware”. It’s currently available in two flavours:

  • Software available with qualified hardware (this is prescriptive, and currently based on a SuperMicro platform); and
  • Can be licensed as software-only as well with 2 SKUs available in 50TB or 100TB chunks.

 

What Can I Do With a Datera?

SFD10_Datera

[image courtesy of Datera]

There are a couple of features that make Datera pretty cool, including:

  • Intent defined – you can use templates to enable intelligent placement of application data;
  • Economic flexibility – heterogeneous nodes can be deployed in the same cluster (capacity, performance, media type);
  • Works with an API first or Dev/Ops model – treating your infrastructure as code, programmable/composable;
  • Multi-tenant capability – this includes network isolation and QoS features;
  • Infrastructure awareness – auto-forming, optimal allocation of infrastructure resources.

 

What Do You Mean “Intent”?

According to Datera, Application Intent is “[a] way of describing what your application wants and then letting the system allocate the data”. You can define the following capabilities with an application template:

  • Policies for management (e.g. QoS) – data redundancy, data protection, data placement;
  • Storage template – defines how many volumes you want and the size you want; and
  • Pools of resources that will be consumed.

I think this is a great approach, and really provides the infrastructure operator with a fantastic level of granularity when it comes to deploying their applications.

Datera don’t use RAID, currently using 1->5 replication (synchronous) within the cluster to protect data. Snapshots are copy on write (at an application intent level).

Further Reading and Final Thoughts

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of some of the capabilities of the Datera platform. I am super enthusiastic about the concept of Application Intent, particularly as it relates to scale-out, software-defined storage platforms. I think we spend a lot of time talking about how fast product X can go, and why technology Y is the best at emitting long beeps or performing firmware downgrades. We tend to forget about why we’re buying product X or deploying technology Y. It’s to run the business, isn’t it? Whether it’s teaching children or saving lives or printing pamphlets, the “business” is the reason we need the applications, and thus the reason we need the infrastructure to power those applications. So it’s nice to see vendors such as Datera (and others) working hard to build application-awareness as a core capability of their architecture. When I spoke to Datera, they had four customers announced, with more than 10 “not announced”. They’re obviously keen to get traction, and as their product improves and more people get to know about them, I’ve no doubt that this number will increase dramatically.

While I haven’t had stick-time with the product, and thus can’t talk to the performance or otherwise, I can certainly vouch for the validity of the approach from an architectural perspective. If you’re looking to read up on software-defined storage, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Enrico‘s recent post on the topic. Chris M. Evans also did a great write-up on Datera as part of his extensive series of SFD10 preview posts – you can check it out here. Finally, if you ever need to get my attention in presentations, the phrase “no more data migration orgies” seems to be a sure-fire way of getting me to listen.

It’s Hedvig, not Hedwig

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 10.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

hedvig_logo_260x77-200x59

Before I get started, you can find a link to my raw notes on Hedvig‘s presentation here. You can also see videos of the presentation here.

 

It’s Hedvig, not Hedwig

I’m not trying to be a smart arse. But when you have a daughter who’s crazy about Harry Potter, it’s hard not to think about Hedwig when seeing the Hedvig brand name. I’m sure in time I’ll learn not to do this.

If you’re unfamiliar with Hedvig, it’s software-defined storage. The Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform is made up of standard servers and the Hedvig software.

Some of the key elements of the Hedvig solution are as follows:

  • Software is completely decoupled from commodity hardware;
  • Application-specific storage policies; and
  • Automated and API-driven.

 

Capabilities

Hedvig took us through their 7 core capabilities, which were described as follows:

  • Seamless scaling with x86 or ARM (haven’t seen an ARM-64 deployment yet);
  • Hyperconverged and hyperscale architectures (can mix and match in the same cluster);
  • Support for any hypervisor, container or OS (Xen, KVM, HyperV, ESX, containers, OpenStack, bare-metal Windows or Linux);
  • Block (iSCSI), file (NFS) and object (S3, SWIFT) protocols in one platform;
  • Enterprise features: dedupe, compression, tiering, caching, snaps/clones;
  • Granular feature provisioning per virtual disk; and
  • Multi-DC and cloud replication.

 

Components

SFD10_Hedvig_Components

The Hedvig solution is comprised of the following key components:

  • Hedvig Storage Proxy – presents the block and file storage; runs as VM, container, or bare metal;
  • Hedvig Storage Service – forms an elastic cluster using commodity servers and/or cloud infrastructure; and
  • RESTful APIs – provides object access via S3 or Swift, instruments control and data plane

 

How Does It Work?

This is oversimplifying things, but here’s roughly how it works:

  • Create and present virtual disks to the application tier;
  • Hedvig Storage Proxy captures and directs I/O to storage cluster;
  • Hedvig Storage Service distributes and replicates data across nodes;
  • The cluster caches and balances across nodes and racks; and
  • The cluster replicates for DR across DCs and/or clouds.

 

Use Cases?

So where would you use Hedvig? According to Hedvig, they’re seeing uptake in a number of both “traditional” and “new” areas:

Traditional

  • Server virtualisation
  • Backup and BC/DR
  • VDI

New workloads

  • Production clouds
  • Test/Dev
  • Big data/IoT

 

Further Reading and Final Thoughts

Before I wrap up, a quick shout-out to Chris Kranz for his use of Hedvig flavoured magnetic props during his whiteboard session – it was great. Here’s a shonky photo of Chris.

SFD10_Hedvig

Avinash Lakshman is a super smart dude with a tonne of experience in doing cloud and storage things at great scale. He doesn’t believe that traditional storage has a future. When you watch the video of the Hedvig presentation at SFD10 you get a real feel for where the company’s coming from. The hyper-functional API access versus the GUI that looks a little rough around the edges certainly gives away the heritage of this product. That said, I think Avinash and Hedvig are onto a good thing here. The “traditional” storage architectures are indeed dying, as much as we might enjoy the relative simplicity of selling someone a dual-controller, midrange, block array with limited scalability.

As with many of these solutions I feel like we’re on the cusp of seeing something really cool being developed right in front of us. For some us, the use cases won’t strike a chord, and the need for this level of scalability may not be there. But if you’re all in on SDS, Hedvig certainly has some compelling pieces of the puzzle that I think are worthy of further investigation.

The Hedvig website contains a wealth of information. You should also check out Chris M. Evans‘s SFD10 preview post on Hedvig here, while Rick Schlander did a great overview post that I recommend reading. Max did a really good deep dive post, along with a higher level view that you can see here.

 

Brisbane VMUG – August 2016

hero_vmug_express_2011

The August edition of the Brisbane VMUG will be held on Tuesday 8th August at EMC’s office in the city (Level 11, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane) from 2:30 – 4:30 pm. It’s sponsored by VMware and should be a lot of fun.

Here’s the agenda:

I’m really looking forward to Michael Francis continuing his enablement series on vRO. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Test Driving SwiftStack (For Charity)

I posted an article yesterday about test driving the SwiftStack platform. At the time I neglected to mention that their PR folk are running a competition that has two benefits. Firstly, it gets people like me blogging about them and gets people like you reading about them. Secondly, they are running a competition (using a points system and tracking URLs, etc). My post triggered a $50 donation to my chosen charity (in this case, World Vision). The more people who read my original post, comment, cross-post on LinkedIn, etc, the more points that get earned by me. Obviously, I’m not interested in people leaving crap comments on my article just to try and help me get more points. But if you find the article useful or want to know more I’m always happy for comments to go up.

Between July 11 and August 11 (let’s assume this is US time) the points get tallied, and the lead blogger gets an extra $1000 donated to their charity of choice, with a runner-up getting $250 to their charity. Finally, one of the readers commenting on a post will be selected at random to receive a prize of their choice, costing $500 or less.

I was initially reluctant to commit to this competition, as things are hectic with my day job and I only have so many available cycles. I also don’t really go in for competitions so much. But this one feels a little different and it didn’t take me that long to put together an article on getting started. So, go back and check out my original article. If you like it, comment on it. If you like it a lot, post it to LinkedIn or retweet it with the #SwiftStackTrial hashtag. Or do both if you’re feeling super enthusiastic. Sure, you’re doing some work for tech marketing people. But for once, it feels like all this nonsense might actually put some real money in places where it should actually be going.

Test Driving SwiftStack

I’ve recently been doing some work with SwiftStack, and thought it might be handy to put together a how-to document for getting started with SwiftStack’s test drive functionality. There’s a bunch of reasonably simple steps, with pictures, so I’ve put them in a document that you can grab from here. But first, a few links that will come in handy:

  • Sign up for the SwiftStack trial here;
  • The SwiftStack Quick Start guide can be found here;
  • I left the Swift User creation process out of my document – but you can read about that here; and
  • An interesting guide to SwiftStack hardware considerations can be found here.

To do this trial I used my Ravello Systems provided vExpert account to provide compute and disk resources temporarily via Google’s cloud. Incidentally, if you need to use a private key with ssh on your Mac you need to be mindful of the permissions on your key file (this is no doubt old news for many of you).

Last login: Mon Jul 11 05:06:05 on ttys000
imac27:~ dan$ ssh -i /Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem ravello@centos63vanilla.ravcloud.com
The authenticity of host 'centos63vanilla.ravcloud.com (104.144.155.170)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:fAQIdjsC5X5d0c+J+Nj7dF9L3qqyzFYmPYkagKLWCCg.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'centos63vanilla.ravcloud.com,104.144.155.170' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
@         WARNING: UNPROTECTED PRIVATE KEY FILE!          @
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Permissions 0644 for '/Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem' are too open.
It is required that your private key files are NOT accessible by others.
This private key will be ignored.
Load key "/Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem": bad permissions
Permission denied (publickey,gssapi-keyex,gssapi-with-mic).

Note that you’ll need to modify the permissions on your key file to 600 to ensure that it is accepted.

imac27:~ dan$ chmod 600 /Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem
imac27:~ dan$ ssh -i /Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem ravello@centos63vanilla.ravcloud.com
[ravello@test1 ~]$ top

And you’re good to go.

I’ve written about SwiftStack before and was intrigued by the relative ease with which you could deploy Swift capability inside your DC. If you’re looking to deliver this kind of capability internally, I recommend looking into SwiftStack. The test drive is a snap to sign up for you, and if you follow the bouncing ball you’ll be up and running in no time.

Exablox Isn’t Just Pretty Hardware

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 10.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

exablox-logo-black

Before I get started, you can find a link to my raw notes on Exablox‘s presentation here. You can also see videos of the presentation here.  You can find a preview post from Chris M. Evans here.

 

It’s Not Just the Hardware

I waxed lyrical about the Exablox hardware platform after seeing it at Storage Field Day 7. But while the OneBlox hardware is indeed pretty cool (you can see the specifications here), the cloud-based monitoring platform, OneSystem, is really the interesting bit.

According to Exablox, the “OneSystem application is used to combine OneBlox appliances into Rings as well as configuring shares, user access, and remote replication”. It’s the mechanism used for configuration, as well as monitoring, alerting and reporting.

OneSystem is built on a cloud-based, multi-tenant architecture. There’s nothing to install for organisations, VARs, and MSPs. Although if you feel a bit special about how your data is treated, there is an optional, private OneSystem deployment available for on-premises management. Exablox pride themselves on the “world-class” support they provide to customers, with a customer-first culture being one of the dominant themes when talking to them about support capability. Some of the other benefits of the OneSystem approach is:

  • The ability to globally manage OneBlox anywhere; and
  • Deliver seamless OneBlox software upgrades.

Exablox also provide 24×7 proactive monitoring, providing insight into, amongst other things:

  • Storage utilisation and analysis;
  • Storage health and alerts; and
  • OneBlox drive health.

The cool thing about this platform is that it offers the ability to configure custom storage policies and simple scaling for individual applications. In this manner you can configure the following data services on a “per application” basis:

  • Variable or fixed-length deduplication;
  • Compression on/off;
  • Continuous data protection on/off and retention; and
  • Remote replication on/off.

 

I Want My Data Everywhere

While the OneBlox ring is currently limited to 7 systems per cluster, you can have two or more (up to 10) clusters operating in a mesh for replication. You can then conceivably have a whole bunch of different data protection schemes in place depending on what you need to protect and where you need it protected. The great thing is that, with the latest version of OneSystem, you can have a one-to-many replication relationship between directories as well. This kind of flexibility is really neat in my opinion. Note that replication is asynchronous.

SFD10_Exablox_Mutli-siteReplication

 

Further Reading and Final Thoughts

If you’ve read any of my recent posts on the likes of Pure, Nimble and Tintri, it would feel like everyone and their dog is into cloud-based monitoring and analytics systems for storage platforms. This is in no way a bad thing, and something that I’m glad we’re seeing become a prevalent feature with these “modern” storage architectures. We store a whole bunch of data on these things. And sometimes it’s even data that is vital to the success of the various business endeavours we undertake on a daily basis. So it’s great to see vendors are taking this requirement seriously. It also helps somewhat that people are a little more comfortable with the concept of keeping information in “the cloud”. This certainly helps the vendors control the end user experience form a support viewpoint, rather than relyin on arcane systems deployed across multiple VMs that invariably fail at the time you need to dig into the data to find out what’s really going on in the environment.

Exablox have come up with a fairly unique approach to scale-out NAS, and I’m keen to see where they take it from here. Features such as remote replication and the continuing maturity of the OneSystem platform make me think that they’re gearing up to push things a little beyond the BYO drives SMB space. I’ll be interested to see just how that plays out.

Ray Lucchesi did a thorough write-up on Exablox that you can read here, while Francesco Bonetti did a great write-up here. Exablox has also published a technical overview of OneBlox and OneSystem that is worth checking out.

 

VMware – VMworld 2016 – See you in Vegas

VMworld-2016

This is a quick post to let my loyal readers know that I’ll be heading to VMware‘s annual conference (VMworld) this year in Las Vegas. This will be my second VMworld and first time in Vegas. I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends and meeting some new ones. If you haven’t registered yet but feel like that’s something you might want to do – the registration page is here. To get a feel for what’s on offer, you can check out the VMworld 2016 Content Catalog here. Yes, no, that’s just how they spell catalogue.

Big thanks to Corey at VMware for organising the blogger pass. I’ll also be publicly thanking some other folks when I have some more logistics locked in. Incidentally, if any companies want to chip in for my flights I’m sure I can arrange some kind of exposure in return – just let me know. Keep an eye out for me at the conference and surrounding events and don’t be afraid to come and say hi (if you need a visual – I look like Wolverine would if he let himself go).