Dell EMC News From VMworld US 2018

I’m not at VMworld US this year, but I had the opportunity to be briefed by Sam Grocott (Dell EMC Cloud Strategy) on some of Dell EMC‘s key announcements during the event, and thought I’d share some of my rough notes and links here. You can read the press release here.

TL;DR?

It is a multi-cloud world. Multi-cloud requires workload mobility. The market requires a consistent experience between on-premises and off-premises. Dell EMC are doing some more stuff around that.

 

Cloud Platforms

Dell EMC offer a number of engineered systems to run both IaaS and cloud native applications.

VxRail

Starting with vSphere 6.7, Dell EMC are saying they’re delivering “near” synchronous software releases between VMware and VxRail. In this case that translates to a less than 30 Day delta between releases. There’s also support for:

VxRack SDDC with VMware Cloud Foundation

  • Support for latest VCF releases – VCF 2.3.2, and future proof for next generation VMware cloud technologies
  • Alignment with VxRail hardware options – P, E, V series VxRail models, now including Storage Dense S-series
  • Configuration flexibility

 

Cloud-enabled Infrastructure

Focus is on the data

  • Cloud data mobility;
  • Cloud data protection;
  • Cloud data services; and
  • Cloud control.

Cloud Data Protection

  • DD Cloud DR – keep copies of VM data from on-premises DD to public cloud and orchestrate failover of workloads to the cloud
  • Data Protection Suite – use cloud storage for backup and retention
  • Cloud Snapshot Manager – Backup and recovery for public cloud workloads (Now MS Azure)
  • Data Domain virtual edition running in the cloud

DD VE 4.0 Enhancements

  • KVM support added for DD VE on-premises
  • In-cloud capacity expanded to 96TB (was 16TB)
  • Can run in AWS, Azure and VMware Cloud

Cloud Data Services

Dell EMC have already announced services such as:

And now you can get Dell EMC UnityVSA Cloud Edition.

UnityVSA Cloud Edition

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

  • Up to 256TB file systems
  • VMware Cloud on AWS

CloudIQ

  • No cost, SaaS offering
  • Predictive analytics – intelligently project capacity and performance
  • Anomaly detection – leverage ML to pinpoint deviations
  • Proactive health – identify risks before they impact the environment

Enhancements include:

Data Domain Cloud Tier

There are some other Data Domain related enhancements, including new AWS support (meaning you can have a single vendor for Long Term Retention).

ECS

ECS enhancements have also been announced, with a 50%+ increase in storage capacity and compute.

 

Thoughts

As would be expected from a company with a large portfolio of products, there’s quite a bit happening on the product enhancement front. Dell EMC are starting to get that they need to be on-board with those pesky cloud types, and they’re also doing a decent job of ensuring their private cloud customers have something to play with as well.

I’m always a little surprised by vendors offering “Cloud Editions” of key products, as it feels a lot like they’re bolting on something to the public cloud when the focus could perhaps be on helping customers get to a cloud-native position sooner. That said, there are good economic reasons to take this approach. By that I mean that there’s always going to be someone who thinks they can just lift and shift their workload to the public cloud, rather than re-factoring their applications. Dell EMC are providing a number of ways to make this a fairly safe undertaking, and products like Unity Cloud Edition provide some nice features such as increased resilience that would be otherwise lacking if the enterprise customer simply dumped its VMs in AWS as-is. I still have hope that we’ll stop doing this as an industry in the near future and embrace some smarter ways of working. But while enterprises are happy enough to spend their money on doing things like they always have, I can’t criticise Dell EMC for wanting a piece of the pie.

Dell EMC Announces IDPA DP4400

Dell EMC announced the Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) at Dell EMC World in May 2017. They recently announced a new edition to the lineup, the IDPA DP4400. I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Reichwein about it and thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.

 

The Announcement

Overview

One of the key differences between this offering and previous IDPA products is the form factor. The DP4400 is a 2RU appliance (based on a PowerEdge server) with the following features:

  • Capacity starts at 24TB, growing in increments of 12TB, up to 96TB useable. The capacity increase is done via licensing, so there’s no additional hardware required (who doesn’t love the golden screwdriver?)
  • Search and reporting is built in to the appliance
  • There are Cloud Tier (ECS, AWS, Azure, Virtustream, etc) and Cloud DR options (S3 at this stage, but that will change in the future)
  • There’s the IDPA System Manager (Data Protection Central), along with Data Domain DD/VE (3.1) and Avamar (7.5.1)

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

It’s hosted on vSphere 6.5, and the whole stack is referred to as IDPA 2.2. Note that you can’t upgrade the components individually.

 

Hardware Details

Storage Configuration

  • 18x 12TB 3.5″ SAS Drives (12 front, 2 rear, 4 mid-plane)
    • 12TB RAID1 (1+1) – VM Storage
    • 72TB RAID6 (6+2) – DDVE File System Spindle-group 1
    • 72TB RAID6 (6+2) – DDVE File System Spindle-group 2
  • 240GB BOSS Card
    • 240GB RAID1 (1+1 M.2) – ESXi 6.5 Boot Drive
  • 1.6TB NVMe Card
    • 960GB SSD – DDVE cache-tier

System Performance

  • 2x Intel Silver 4114 10-core 2.2GHz
  • Up to 40 vCPU system capacity
  • Memory of 256GB (8x 32GB RDIMMs, 2667MT/s)

Networking-wise, the appliance has 8x 10GbE ports using either SFP+ or Twinax. There’s a management port for initial configuration, along with an iDRAC port that’s disabled by default, but can be configured if required. If you’re using Avamar NDMP accelerator nodes in your environment, you can integrate an existing node with the DP4400. Note that it supports one accelerator node per appliance.

 

Put On Your Pointy Hat

One of the nice things about the appliance (particularly if you’ve ever had to build a data protection environment based on Data Domain and Avamar) is that you can setup everything you need to get started via a simple to use installation wizard.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

I talked to Steve about what he thought the key differentiators were for the DP4400. He talked about:

  • Ecosystem breadth;
  • Network bandwidth; and
  • Guaranteed dedupe ratio (55:1 vs 5:1?)

He also mentioned the capability of a product like Data Protection Central to manage an extremely large ROBO environment. He said these were some of the opportunities where he felt Dell EMC had an edge over the competition.

I can certainly attest to the breadth of ecosystem support being a big advantage for Dell EMC over some of its competitors. Avamar and DD/VE have also demonstrated some pretty decent chops when it comes to bandwidth-constrained environments in need of data protection. I think it’s great the Dell EMC are delivering these kinds of solutions to market. For every shop willing to go with relative newcomers like Cohesity or Rubrik, there are plenty who still want to buy data protection from Dell EMC, IBM or Commvault. Dell EMC are being fairly upfront about what they think this type of appliance will support in terms of workload, and they’ve clearly been keeping an eye on the competition with regards to usability and integration. People who’ve used Avamar in real life have been generally happy with the performance and feature set, and this is going to be a big selling point for people who aren’t fans of NetWorker.

I’m not going to tell you that one vendor is offering a better solution than the others. You shouldn’t be making strategic decisions based on technical specs and marketing brochures in any case. Some environments are going to like this solution because it fits well with their broader strategy of buying from Dell EMC. Some people will like it because it might be a change from their current approach of building their own solutions. And some people might like to buy it because they think Dell EMC’s post-sales support is great. These are all good reasons to look into the DP4400.

Preston did a write-up on the DP4400 that you can read here. The IDPA DP4400 landing page can be found here. There’s also a Wikibon CrowdChat on next generation data protection being held on August 15th (2am on the 16th in Australian time) that will be worth checking out.

EMC – VSI for VMware vSphere 6.5 Linked Mode Issue – Redux

I wrote in a previous post about having some problems with EMC’s VSI for VMware vSphere 6.5 when running in vCenter 5.5 in Linked Mode. I spoke about deploying the appliance in just one site as a workaround. Turns out that wasn’t much of a workaround. Because workaround implies that I was able to get some functionality out of the situation. While the appliance deployed okay, I couldn’t get it to recognise the deployed volumes as EMC volumes.

 

A colleague of mine had the same problem as me and a little more patience and logged a call with EMC support. Their response was “[c]urrent VSI version does not support for Linked mode, good news is recently we have several customers requesting that enhancement and Dev team are in the process of evaluating impact to their future delivery schedule. So, the linked mode may will be supported in the future. Thanks.”

 

iStock-Unfinished-Business-3

While this strikes me as non-optimal, I am hopeful, but not optimistic, that it will be fixed in a later version. My concern is that Linked Mode isn’t the problem at all, and it’s something else stupid that I’m doing. But I’m short of places I can test this at the moment. If I come across a site where we’re not using Linked Mode, I’ll be sure to fire up the appliance and run it through its paces, but for now it’s back in the box.

EMC – VSI for VMware vSphere 6.5 Linked Mode Issue

As part of a recent deployment I’ve been implementing EMC VSI for VMware vSphere Web Client v6.5 in a vSphere 5.5 environment. If you’re not familiar with this product, it “enables administrators to view, manage, and optimize storage for VMware ESX/ESXi servers and hosts and then map that storage to the hosts.” It covers a bunch of EMC products, and can be really useful in understanding where your VMs sit in relation to your EMC storage environment. It also really helps non-storage admins get going quickly in an EMC environment.

To get up and running, you:

  • Download the appliance from EMC;
  • Deploy the appliance into your environment;
  • Register the plug-in with vCenter by going to https://ApplianceIP:8443/vsi_usm/admin;
  • Register the Solutions Integration Service in the vCenter Web Client; and
  • Start adding arrays as required.

So this is all pretty straightforward. BTW the default username is admin, and the default password is ChangeMe. You’ll be prompted to change the password the first time you log in to the appliance.

 

So the problem for me arose when I went to register a second SIS appliance.

VSI1

By way of background, there are two vCenter 5.5 U2 instances running at two different data centres. I do, however, have them running in Linked Mode. And I think this is the problem. I know that you can only register one instance at a time with one vCenter. While it’s not an issue to deploy a second appliance at the second DC, every time I go to register the service in vCenter, regardless of where I’m logged in, it always points to the first vCenter instance. Which is a bit of a PITA, and not something I’d expected to be a problem. As a workaround, I’ve deployed one instance of the appliance at the primary DC and added both arrays to it to get the client up and running. And yes, I agree, if I have a site down I’m probably not going to be super focused on storage provisioning activities at my secondary DC. But I do enjoy whinging about things when they don’t work the way I expected them in the first instance.

 

I’d read in previous versions that Linked Mode wasn’t supported, but figured this was no longer an issue as it’s not mentioned in the 6.5 Product Guide. This thread on ECN seems to back up what I suspect. I’d be keen to hear if other people have run into this issue.

 

EMC – HeatMap Analyzer – Basics – Part 3 – Charts

This is part 3 of a series where I will go into a little more detail on how you use HeatMap Analyzer. In this article I will look at the different sort of charts that can be drawn using the Analyzer component.

 

Line Chart

HMA_Basics_Charts_001

This is a standard Line chart. Line style charts (Line, Stacked and Line by Day) are all comprised of several sections – the main chart (upper) and the control section (lower). The control section allows you to zoom and pan the chart. If, for example, you are viewing several months worth of performance data (as above) then analysing specific points in time becomes quite difficult. Dragging the sliders in the control section closer together will allow you to view the data in greater detail.

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_002

Hovering over a data point will display a tool-tip with the details of that point.

 

Line by Day Chart

The Line by Day chart breaks down a standard Line chart and overlays each day. This can be useful in finding time related trends in data sets. For example, looking at a particular SP’s utilization over the past 3 weeks might look something like this:

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_003

Trying to work out time based trends in this data is visually difficult, however if we chart it using a Line by Day chart it allows you to analyze the data more intuitively. You could make the following conclusions:

1. Utilization over the weekend is generally lower.

2. There is consistently a peak in utilization at 5 am.

3.  The highest peak during business hours is at 9 am.

4. Utilization of the array begins to increase from around 6 pm.

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_004

 

Bear in mind that charting multiple objects in the one chart will potentially make analysis more difficult, and while tool tips are shown when you hover over a data point, the time will be correct however the date is all converted back to 1st January 2000.

 

Stacked Chart

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_005

A stacked chart aggregates the data points for the selected objects, and shows the total of the attribute charted for a particular time. Only certain types of Attributes can be charted in a Stacked chart (and Pie charts). For example it doesn’t make a lot of sense to draw a Stacked chart of SP utilization. However, where the unit of measurement is “aggregatable” like Total Bandwidth (measured in MB/s) or Total Throughput ( measured in IOPS ), it can be charted this way.

 

If you really want to be able to chart these other unit types using Stacked charts, you can modify the units aggregatable flag in the Configuration tab under the “Attribute Units”  section, removing the unit and re-adding it  with the aggregatable flag ticked. This should enable this chart type for those attributes.

 

Pie Chart

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_006

When selecting a Pie Chart, you are unable to select which objects are to be drawn (all objects are included in the chart calculations). Specifying Max Slices will limit the chart to display n-1 objects, the objects that are shown will be ordered largest to smallest, and all other objects will be combined under the “Other” slice.

 

Distribution Chart

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_007

A distribution chart allows you to determine the percentage of data sets that fall within particular bands.  The above chart shows that 46% of SP A’s response times are in the 0-3 ms band, whereas 45% of SP B’s response times are in the 6-9ms band.  When drawing a Distribution chart leaving the Minimum and Maximum blank will leave the script to determine the  ranges that will contain the entire data set. Using the Minimum and Maximum you can change the range that is charted, and changing the interval will change the number of bands displayed (by default 10).

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_008

Changing the Minimum to 0, Maximum to 20 would result in the above chart, breaking the distribution down into smaller bands

Table

HMA_Basics_Charts_009

This option displays a text table of the Attribute and Objects that you have selected, you can select all the data and paste it into you favorite analytic tool

 

Connectivity Graphic

HMA_Basics_Charts_010

Connectivity charts show the hierarchical connectivity of the array (currently this chart is only available for CLARiiON arrays)

Front End Ports → Storage Processor →LUN → MetaLUN Component → RAID Group / Pool  → Private RAID Group → Disk

Modifying the depth field will change the depth to which the chart is drawn. Modifying the Attribute field will change the Attribute that is represented on the chart (Connectivity is a special attribute that weights each link the same). Link size is relative to the average for the selected attribute for the particular object, where the object does not expose that attribute (i.e. Ports don’t expose Utilization) will show a thin link.

NOTE: Arrays with more complex configurations and larger number of disks don’t necessarily display very clearly in this format.

 

HMA_Basics_Charts_011

 

In Part 4 we will look at the Configuration tab and how to Automate NAR file collection.

EMC – HeatMap Analyzer v0.1 Now Available

It’s alive. Mat has been coding like crazy and enhancing the HeatMap script and turning it into like, an appliance kind of thing. You can grab it from the Utilities page and it comes in two parts – the core code and third-party scripts package. While the combined package size is small, it saves redistributing stuff that hasn’t changed. In any case, download it, give it a spin and let us know your thoughts. Obviously, it’s still a bit ugly, and still a bit version 0.1, but that’s what you get for free. Tell your friends.

EMC – BRS Announcements – Q3 2013

Disclaimer: As part of my participation in EMC Elect 2013, EMC sometimes provides me with access to product briefings before new product announcements are made. I don’t want to turn this blog into another avenue for EMC marketing, and EMC are not interested in that either. Nonetheless, I’ve had the opportunity via various channels to actually try some of this stuff and I thought it was worth putting up here. I’ll reiterate though, I haven’t had the chance to verify everything for myself. This is more a prompt for you to go and have a look for yourself.

So, EMC made a few announcements around its BRS line today and I thought some of the Data Domain stuff was noteworthy. Four new models were released; here’s a table of speeds and feeds. Keep in mind that these are numbers published by EMC, not verified by me. As always, your mileage might vary.

DD1

In any case, the DD2500 is the replacement for the DD640, the DD4200 replaces the DD670, the DD4500 replaces the DD860 and the DD7200 replaces the DD890. One of the cooler parts of this announcement, in my opinion, is the improved archive support. This is something we’ve been investigating internally as part of our take the Centera out the back and shoot it  project. Here’s a screenshot of a marketing slide that includes a number of logos.

DD2Other aspects of the announcement include EMC Avamar 7 and NetWorker 8.1. The Avamar NDMP Accelerator now supports backup for Isilon, in addition to VNX, VNXe, Celerra and NetApp systems. Being a tape user, I’m also mildly excited about DD Boost over Fibre Channel support in NetWorker 8.1, although I’ve not had the chance to try it in our lab yet, so I’ll restrain my enthusiasm until I’ve had time to test it out.

In any case, have a chat to your local EMC BRS team about this stuff if you think it might work for you. You can also read more about it on EMC Pulse and the Reflections blog. When I’ve had a chance to test DD Boost over FC I’ll post it up here.