Hammerspace, Storageless Data, And One Tough Problem

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 21.  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.

Hammerspace recently presented at Storage Field Day 21. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

Storageless Data You Say?

David Flynn kicked off the presentation from Hammerspace talking about storageless data. Storageless data? What on earth is that, then? Ultimately your data has to live on storage. But this all about consumption side abstraction. Hammerspace doesn’t want you to care about how your application maps to servers, or how it maps to storage. It’s more of a data-focussed approach to storage than we’re used to, perhaps. Some of the key requirements of the solution are as follows:

  • The agent needs to run on everything – virtual, physical, containers – it can’t be bound to specific hardware
  • Needs to be multi-vendor and support multi-protocol
  • Presumes metadata
  • Make data into a routed resource
  • Deliver objective-based orchestration

The trick is that you have to be able to do all of this without killing the benefits of the infrastructure (performance, reliability, cost, and management). Simple, huh?

Stitching It Together

A key part of the Hammerspace story is the decoupling of the control plane and the data plane. This allows it to focus on getting the data where it needs to be, from edge to cloud, and over whatever protocol it needs to be done over.

[image courtesy of Hammerspace]

Other Notes

Hammerspace officially supports 8 sites at the moment, and the team have tested the solution with 32 sites. It uses an eventually consistent model, and the Global Namespace is global per share, providing flexible deployment options. Metadata replication can be setup to be periodic – and customised at each site. You always rehydrate the data and serve it locally over NAS via SMB or NFS.

Licensing Notes

Hammerspace is priced on capacity (data under management). You can also purchase it via the AWS Marketplace. Note that you can access up to 10TB free on the public cloud vendors (AWS, GCP, Azure) from a Hammerspace perspective.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

I was fortunate to have a followup session with Douglas Fallstrom and Brendan Wolfe to revisit the Hammerspace story, ask a few more questions, and check out some more demos. I asked Fallstrom about the kind of use cases they were seeing in the field for Hammerspace. One popular use case was for disaster recovery. Obviously, there’s a lot more to doing DR than just dumping data in multiple locations, but it seems that there’s appetite for this very thing. At a high level, Hammerspace is a great choice for getting data into multiple locations, regardless of the underlying platform. Sure, there’s a lot more that needs to be done once it’s in another location, or when something goes bang. But from the perspective of keeping things simple, this one is up there.

Fallstrom was also pretty clear with me that this isn’t Primary Data 2.0, regardless of the number of folks that work at Hammerspace with that heritage. I think it’s a reasonable call, given that Hammerspace is doubling down on the data story, and really pushing the concept of a universal file system, regardless of location or protocol.

So are we finally there in terms of data abstraction? It’s been a problem since computers became common in the enterprise. As technologists we frequently get caught up in the how, and not as much in the why of storage. It’s one thing to say that I can scale this to this many Petabytes, or move these blocks from this point to that one. It’s an interesting conversation for sure, and has proven to be a difficult problem to solve at times. But I think as a result of this, we’ve moved away from understanding the value of data, and data management, and focused too much on the storage and services supporting the data. Hammerspace has the noble goal of moving us beyond that conversation to talking about data and the value that it can bring to the enterprise. Is it there yet in terms of that goal? I’m not sure. It’s a tough thing to be able to move data all over the place in a reliable fashion and still have it do what it needs to do with regards to performance and availability requirements. Nevertheless I think that the solution does a heck of a lot to remove some of the existing roadblocks when it comes to simplified data management. Is serverless compute really a thing? No, but it makes you think more about the applications rather than what they run on. Storageless data is aiming to do the same thing. It’s a bold move, and time will tell whether it pays off or not. Regardless of the success or otherwise of the marketing team, I’m thinking that we’ll be seeing a lot more innovation coming out of Hammerspace in the near future. After all, all that data isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And someone needs to take care of it.

VMware – vExpert 2021

I’m very happy to have been listed as a vExpert for 2021. This is the ninth time that they’ve forgotten to delete my name from the list (I’m like Rick Astley with that joke). Read about it here, and more news about this year’s programme is coming shortly. Thanks again to Corey Romero and the rest of the VMware Social Media & Community Team for making this kind of thing happen. And thanks also to the vExpert community for being such a great community to be part of. Congratulations to you (whether this is your first or thirteenth time). There are now 2100 of us in over 40 countries. I think that’s pretty cool.

Storage Field Day 21 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 21.  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.

Here are my notes on gifts, etc, that I received as a conference attendee at Storage Field Day 21. This is by no stretch an interesting post from a technical perspective, but it’s a way for me to track and publicly disclose what I get and how it looks when I write about various things. With all of … this stuff … happening, it’s not going to be as lengthy as normal, but I did receive a couple of boxes of stuff in the mail, so I wanted to disclose it.

The Tech Field Day team sent a keyboard cloth (a really useful thing to save the monitor on my laptop from being bashed against the keyboard), a commemorative TFD coin, and some TFD patches. The team also sent me a snack pack with a variety of treats in it, including Crunch ‘n Munch caramel popcorn with peanuts, fudge brownie M&M’s, Pop Rocks, Walker’s Monster Munch pickled onion flavour baked corn snacks, peanut butter Cookie Dough Bites, Airheads, Razzles, a giant gobstopper, Swedish Fish, a Butterfinger bar, some Laffy Taffy candy, Hershey’s Kisses, Chewy Lemonhead, Bottlecaps, Airheads, Candy Sours and Milk Duds. I don’t know what most of this stuff is but I guess I’ll find out. I can say the pickled onion flavour baked corn snacks were excellent.

Pliops came through with the goods and sent me a Lume Cube Broadcast Lighting Kit. Hammerspace sent a stainless steel water bottle and Hammerspace-branded Leeman notepad. Nasuni threw in a mug, notepad, and some pens, while NetApp gave me a travel mug and notepad. Tintri kindly included a Tintri trucker cap, Tintri-branded hard drive case and Tintri-branded OGIO backpack in the swag box.

My Secret Santa gift was the very excellent “Working for the clampdown: The Clash, the dawn of neoliberalism and the political promise of punk“, edited by Colin Coulter.

It wasn’t fancy food and limos this time around. But it was nonetheless an enjoyable event. Hopefully we can get back to in-person events some time this decade. Thanks again to Stephen and the team for having me back.

Brisbane (Virtual) VMUG – March 2021

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The March 2021 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held online via Zoom on Tuesday 16th March from 4pm to 6pm. We have speakers from Lenovo and VMware presenting and it promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro (by me)
  • Lenovo Presentation – XClarity and VMware Day 0 – 2 operations, covering the ThinkAgile VX appliance, what comes in the box, how does it work with vLCM, XClarity modules and what they plug into, vRLI, vROps, vRA, etc.
  • VMware Presentation – Cloud Foundation and Tanzu
  • Q&A

The speakers have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing what they have to say. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there (online). Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Back To The Future With Tintri

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 21.  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.

Tintri recently presented at Storage Field Day 21. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

Tintri? 

Remember Tintri? The company was founded in 2008, fell upon difficult times in 2018, and was acquired by DDN. It’s still going strong, and now offers a variety of products under the Tintri brand, including VMstore, IntelliFlash, and NexentaStor. I’ve had exposure to all of these different lines of business over the years, and was interested to see how it was all coming together under the DDN acquisition.

 

Does Your Storage Drive Itself?

Ever since I got into the diskslinger game, self-healing infrastructure has been talked about as the next big thing in terms of reducing operational overheads. We build this stuff, can teach it how to do things, surely we can get it to fix itself when it goes bang? As those of you who’ve been in the industry for some time would likely know, we’re still some ways off that being a reality across a broad range of infrastructure solutions. But we do seem closer than we were a while ago.

Autonomous Infrastructure

Tintri spent some time talking about what it was trying to achieve with its infrastructure by comparing it to autonomous vehicle development. If you think about it for a minute, it’s a little easier to grasp the concept of a vehicle driving itself somewhere, using a lot of telemetry and little computers to get there, than it is to think about how disk storage might be able to self-repair and redirect resources where they’re most needed. Of most interest to me was the distinction made between analytics and intelligence. It’s one thing to collect a bunch of telemetry data (something that storage companies have been reasonably good at for some time now) and analyse it after the fact to come to conclusions about what the storage is doing well and what it’s doing poorly. It’s quite another thing to use that data on the fly to make decisions about what the storage should be doing, without needing the storage manager to intervene.

[image courtesy of Tintri]

If you look at the various levels of intelligence, you’ll see that autonomy eventually kicks in and the concept of supervision and management moves away. The key to the success of this is making sure that your infrastructure is doing the right things autonomously.

So What Do You Really Get?

[image courtesy of Tintri]

You get an awful lot from Tintri in terms of information that helps the platform decide what it needs to do to service workloads in an appropriate fashion. It’s interesting to see how the different layers deliver different outcomes in terms of frequency as well. Some of this is down to physics, and time to value. The info in the cloud may not help you make an immediate decision on what to do with your workloads, but it will certainly help when the hapless capacity manager comes asking for the 12-month forecast.

 

Conclusion

I was being a little cheeky with the title of this post. I was a big fan of what Tintri was able to deliver in terms of storage analytics with a virtualisation focus all those years ago. It feels like some things haven’t changed, particularly when looking at the core benefits of VMstore. But that’s okay, because all of the things that were cool about VMstore back then are still actually cool, and absolutely still valuable in most enterprise storage shops. I don’t doubt that there are VMware shops that have definitely taken up vVols, and wouldn’t get as much out of VMstore as those shops running oldey timey LUNs, but there are plenty of organisations that just need storage to host VMs on, storage that gives them insight into how it’s performing. Maybe it’s even storage that can move some stuff around on the fly to make things work a little better.

It’s a solid foundation upon which to add a bunch of pretty cool features. I’m not 100% convinced that what Tintri is proposing is the reality in a number of enterprise shops (have you ever had to fill out a change request to storage vMotion a VM before?), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a noble goal, and certainly one worth pursuing. I’m a fan of any vendor that is actively working to take the work out of infrastructure, and allowing people to focus on the business of doing business (or whatever it is that they need to focus on). It looks like Tintri has made some really progress towards reducing the overhead of infrastructure, and I’m keen to see how that plays out across the product portfolio over the next year or two.

 

 

Random Short Take #50

Happy new year and welcome to Random Short Take #50. Sure, it seems like I’ve done a lot of these recently, and they should probably be newsletters, not blog posts. But whatever. A few players have worn 50 in the NBA including father and son Greg and Cole Anthony. My pick is David Robinson though. Let’s get random.

  • I was interested to read about the Pi 400 when it was first announced, so it was good to be able to read Preston’s review of the device here. There’s also a useful initial impressions post here.
  • Scale Computing recently announced profitability, and this article from Chris Evans digs a little deeper into what that all means.
  • The good folks at Backblaze recently published a roundup of its hard drive stats for 2020 and it makes for some interesting reading. Notably, Backblaze now has 162530 spinning drives and 3000 boot drives in service, and over 3000 “pods” in service now.
  • Speaking of data protection, Zerto announced some good news from the Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice. You can read more about that here. I’m a big fan of Zerto, and I’d like to see the company successfully navigate whatever is gong on with it at the moment.
  • I’m a fan of Rancher, and Longhorn, and thought this news item on what Longhorn is doing at the edge was pretty neat.
  • Working with VMware Cloud Foundation and need to do some bundle updates offline? This article might be helpful.
  • The Ringer recently published a list of 50 best cult movies that you can read here. Gleaming the Cube was notable for its absence, but these things can’t always be 100% correct.
  • I was fortunate enough to attend Storage Field Day 21 recently. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on that over the next few weeks, but in the meantime you can read Georgina’s wrap-up of the event here.

Random Short Take #49

Happy new year and welcome to Random Short Take #49. Not a great many players have worn 49 in the NBA (2 as it happens). It gets better soon, I assure you. Let’s get random.

  • Frederic has written a bunch of useful articles around useful Rubrik things. This one on setting up authentication to use Active Directory came in handy recently. I’ll be digging in to some of Rubrik’s multi-tenancy capabilities in the near future, so keep an eye out for that.
  • In more things Rubrik-related, this article by Joshua Stenhouse on fully automating Rubrik EDGE / AIR deployments was great.
  • Speaking of data protection, Chris Colotti wrote this useful article on changing the Cloud Director database IP address. You can check it out here.
  • You want more data protection news? How about this press release from BackupAssist talking about its partnership with Wasabi?
  • Fine, one more data protection article. Six backup and cloud storage tips from Backblaze.
  • Speaking of press releases, WekaIO has enjoyed some serious growth in the last year. Read more about that here.
  • I loved this article from Andrew Dauncey about things that go wrong and learning from mistakes. We’ve all likely got a story about something that went so spectacularly wrong that you only made that mistake once. Or twice at most. It also reminds me of those early days of automated ESX 2.5 builds and building magical installation CDs that would happily zap LUN 0 on FC arrays connected to new hosts. Fun times.
  • Finally, I was lucky enough to talk to Intel Senior Fellow Al Fazio about what’s happening with Optane, how it got to this point, and where it’s heading. You can read the article and check out the video here.

Storage Field Day 21 – I’ll Be At Storage Field Day 21

Here’s some news that will get you excited. I’ll be virtually heading to the US next week for another Storage Field Day event. If you haven’t heard of the very excellent Tech Field Day events, you should check them out. It’s also worth visiting the Storage Field Day 21 website during the event (January 20 – 22) as there’ll be video streaming and updated links to additional content. You can also see the list of delegates and event-related articles that have been published.

I think it’s a great line-up of both delegates and presenting companies this time around. I know most of them, but there may also still be a few companies added to the line-up. I’ll update this if and when they’re announced.

I’d like to publicly thank in advance the nice folks from Tech Field Day who’ve seen fit to have me back, as well as my employer for letting me take time off to attend these events. Also big thanks to the companies presenting. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Last time was a little weird doing this virtually, rather than in person, but I think it still worked. I’m really looking forward to this, even if it means doing the night shift for a few days. I’ll post details of the presentation times when I have them.

[Update – here’s the schedule]

Wednesday, Jan 20 9:30-11:00 MinIO Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: AB PeriasamyDaniel ValdivaEco Willson
Wednesday, Jan 20 12:00-15:30 Tintri Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: Erwin DariaRob GirardShawn MeyersTomer Hagay Nevel
Thursday, Jan 21 8:00-10:00 NetApp Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: Arun RamanDave KrenikJeffrey SteinMike McNamaraSunitha Rao
Thursday, Jan 21 11:00-13:00 Nasuni Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: Andres Rodriguez
Friday, Jan 22 8:00-9:30 Hammerspace Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: David FlynnDouglas Fallstrom
Friday, Jan 22 10:30-11:30 Pliops Presents at Storage Field Day 21  
Friday, Jan 22 12:30-14:30 Intel Presents at Storage Field Day 21  

 

Rubrik Basics – Cluster Shutdown

It’s been a little while since I’ve done any hands-on work with Rubrik, but I recently had to jump on a cluster and power it down so it could be relocated. The process is simple (particularly if you have the correct credentials), but I’m noting it here more for my own reference than anything else. It’s important to note that if you’re running a version of CDM pre-5.1 and have the cluster shutdown for longer than 24 hours, it will be sad when it comes back online and you’ll need support’s help to get it back online. Note also that 5.1 introduced a new command line structure (support site registration required), so the command is slightly different. This page also has a bunch of useful, publicly visible information.

If you’re not in the DC with the cluster, ssh to one of the nodes to run the commands. For pre-5.1 environments, run

poweroff_cluster

For 5.1 and newer environments, run

cluster poweroff_cluster

Type yes to continue and you should be good to go.

Here’s a picture of one I prepared earlier.

Exciting? Not really. But useful to know when people are threatening to power off equipment regardless of the state it’s in.

Random Short Take #48

Welcome to Random Short Take #48. Not a great many players have worn 48 in the NBA (2 as it happens). It gets better soon, I assure you. Let’s get random.

  • I may or may not have a few bezels in my home office, so I enjoyed this article from Mellor on bezels.
  • Another great article from Preston reflecting on 2020 and data protection. And the reading and listening part is important too.
  • If your business is part of VCPP, this article on what’s new with pricing provides a good summary of what’s changed. If you’re not, it’s probably not going to make as much sense.
  • This is a great article on Apple’s OCSP and how things can go south pretty quickly.
  • Datadobi and Wasabi recently announced a technology alliance partnership – you can read more about that here.
  • The SolarWinds attack and some things you should know.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. You may have noticed that I wrote fewer posts this year. Some of that is due to increased workload at the day job, some of that is related to non-blog writing projects, and some of that has been general mental fatigue. I also couldn’t really get into the big vendor virtual conferences in the way that I’d hoped to, and this had an impact on content output to an extent.

In any case, wherever you are, stay safe, happy holidays, and see you on the line next year.