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.

Dell Technologies World 2018

I’ll be heading to Dell EMC’s annual conference (now known as Dell Technologies World) this year in Las Vegas, NV.

Dell – Dell Technologies World 2018 – See You In Las Vegas

This is a quick post to let you all know that I’ll be heading to Dell EMC’s annual conference (now known as Dell Technologies World) this year in Las Vegas, NV. 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 agenda here. I’m keen to hear the latest from Dell EMC.

Massive thanks to Konstanze and Debbie from Dell EMC for organising the “influencer” pass for me. 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 – think Grandad Wolverine).

ScaleIO Is Not Your Father’s SDS

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 13.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day and Pure Storage. 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.

 

I’ve written about ScaleIO before (here and here), but thought it might be useful to deliver a basic overview of what ScaleIO actually is and what it can do. You can see Dell EMC’s Storage Field Day presentation video here and you can grab a copy of my rough notes from here.

 

ScaleIO Overview

What is it?

In a nutshell, it’s a software-defined storage product that leverages captive server storage at scale.

 

Benefits

According to Dell EMC, the useful life of ScaleIO is perpetual.

  • Deploy once
  • Grow incrementally
  • No data migration
  • Rolling upgrades
  • Perpetual software licenses

 

ScaleIO Vision and Architecture

Core, Fundamental Features of ScaleIO

Configuration Flexibility

  • Hyperconverged and/or 2-layers

Highly scalable

  • 100s / 1000s of nodes

High performance / low footprint

  • Performance scales linearly
  • High I/O parallelism
  • Gets the maximum from flash media
  • Various caching options (RAM, flash)

Platform agnostic

  • Bare-metal: Linux / Windows
  • Virtual: ESX, XEN, KVM, Hyper-V

Any network

  • Slow, fast, shared, dedicated, IPv6

Flash and Magnetic

  • SSD, NVMe, PCI or HDD
  • Manual and automatic multi-tiering

Elastic / flexible / multi-tenancy

  • Add, move, remove nodes or disks “on the fly”
  • Auto-balance

Various partitioning schemes:

  • Protection-domains
  • Storage pools
  • Fault sets
  • Seamlessly move assets from one partition to another
  • QoS – bandwidth/IOPS limiter

Resilient

  • Distributed mirroring
  • Fast auto many-to-many rebuild
  • Extensive failure handling / HA
  • Background disk scanner

Secure

  • AD/LDAP, RBAC integration
  • Secure cluster formation and component authentication
  • Secure connectivity with components, secure external client communication
  • D@RE (SW, followed by SED*)

Ease of management & operation

  • GUI, CLI, REST, OpenStack Cinder, vSphere plugin and more
  • Instant maintenance mode
  • NDU

Competent Snapshots

  • Writeable, no hierarchy limits
  • Large consistency groups
  • Automatic policies*

Thin-provisioning

Space-efficient layout*

  • Fine-grain snapshots and thin-provisioning*
  • Compression*

*Soon

 

Two-ways

You can use ScaleIO in a hyperconverged configuration and a “two-layer” configuration. With hyperconverged, you can run:

  • Application and storage in the same node, where  ScaleIO is yet another application running alongside other applications
  • Asymmetric nodes, where nodes may have a different # of spindles, etc

You can also run ScaleIO in a two-layer configuration

  • app-only nodes can access ScaleIO volumes
  • app+storage – hyperconverged nodes

 

Components

ScaleIO Components

  • ScaleIO Data Client (SDC) exposes shared block volumes to the application (block device driver)
  • ScaleIO Data Server (SDS) owns local storage that contributes to the ScaleIO storage pool (daemon/service)

SDS and SDC in the same host

  • Can live together
  • SDC serves the I/O requests of the resident host applications
  • SDS serves the I/O requests of various SDCs

 

Volume Layout, Redundancy and Elasticity

A volume appears as a single object to the application.

Volume Layout (No Redundancy)

  • Chunks (1MB) are spread across the cluster in a balanced manner
  • No hot spots, no I/O splitting

2-Copy Mirror Scheme

Free and Spare Capacity

  • Free and reserved space scattered across the cluster

 

Fast, balanced and smart rebuild

Forwards Rebuild

  • Once disk/node fails – the rebuild load is balanced across all the cluster partition disks/nodes -> faster and smoother rebuild

Backwards Rebuild

  • Smart and selective transition to “backwards” rebuild (re-silvering), once a failed node is back alive
  • Short outage = small penalty

 

Elasticity, Auto-rebalance

Add: one may add nodes or disks dynamically -> the system automatically rebalances the storage

  • Old volumes can use the wider striping
  • No extra exposure
  • Most minimal data transferred

Remove: One may remove nodes / disks dynamically -> the system automatically rebalances the storage

  • Minimal data transferred in a many to many fashion

Combination: The same rebalance plan could handle additions and removals simultaneously

 

Conclusion and Further Reading

I’ve spoken to a range of people in the industry, from customers to Dell EMC folks to competitive vendors, and one thing that gets raised constantly is that Dell EMC are offering both ScaleIO and VMware vSAN. If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll know that this isn’t the first time Dell EMC have offered up products that could be seen as competing for the same market share. But I think they’re doing different things and are aimed at different use cases. My second favourite Canadian Chad Sakac explains this better than I would here.

Put this software on the right hardware (the key to any successful software defined storage product) and you’ve got something that can deliver very good block storage performance across a range of use cases. If you want to know more, Dell EMC have a pretty handy architecture overview document you can get here, and you can download a best practice white paper from here. You can also access a brief introduction to ScaleIO here (registration required). But the best bit is you can download ScaleIO for free from here.

ScaleIO.Next promises to deliver a range of new features, including space efficient storage and NVMe support. I’m curious to see the market uptake has been given the accessibility of the software. I’d also like to see what the uptake has been given the availability of ScaleIO-ready nodes based on Dell PowerEdge hardware. In any case, if you’ve got some spare tin, I recommend taking ScaleIO for a spin.

Dell EMC’s Isilon All-Flash Is Starting To Make Sense

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 13.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day and Pure Storage. 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.

 

I’ve written about Dell EMC Isilon All-Flash before (here and here). You can see Dell EMC’s Storage Field Day presentation video here and you can grab a copy of my rough notes from here.

 

The Problem?

Dell EMC’s Isilon (and OneFS) has been around for a while now, and Dell EMC tell us it offers the following advantages over competing scale-out NAS offerings:

  • Single, scalable file system;
  • Fully symmetric, clustered architecture;
  • Truly multi-protocol data lake;
  • Transparent tiering with heterogeneous clusters; and
  • Non-disruptive platform and OneFS upgrades.

While this is most likely true, the world (and its workloads) are changing. To this end, Dell EMC have been working with Isilon customers to address some key industry challenges, including:

  • Electronic Design Automation – 7nm and 3D Chip designs;
  • Life Sciences – population-scale genomics;
  • Media and Entertainment – 4K Content and Distribution; and
  • Enterprise – big data and analytics.

 

The Solution?

To cope with the ever-increasing throughput requirements, Dell EMC have developed an all-flash offering for their Isilon range of NAS devices, along with some changes in their OneFS operating environment. The idea of the “F” series of devices is that you can “start small and scale”, with capacities ranging from 72TB – 924TB (RAW) in 4RU. Dell EMC tell me you can go to over 33PB in a single file system. From a performance perspective, Dell EMC say that you can push 250K IOPS (or 15GB/s) in just 4RU and scale to 9M IOPS. These are pretty high numbers, and pointless if your editing workstation is plugged into a 1Gbps switch. But that’s generally not the case nowadays.

One of the neater resilience features that Dell EMC discussed was that the file system layout is “sled-aware” (there are 5 drive sleds per node and 20 sleds per 4RU chassis) meaning that a given file uses one drive per sled, allowing for sled removal for service without data unavailability, with these being treated as temporarily-offline drives.

 

Is All-Flash the Answer (Or Just Another Step?)

I’ve been fascinated with the storage requirements (and IT requirements in general) for media and entertainment workloads for some time. I have absolutely no real-world experience with these types of environments, and it would be silly for me to position myself as any kind of expert in the field. [I am, of course, happy for people working in M&E to get in touch with me and tell me all about what they do]. What I do have is a lot of information that tells me that the move from 2K to 4K (and 8K) is forcing people to rethink their requirements for high bandwidth storage in the ranges of capacities that studios are now starting to look at.

Whilst I was initially a little confused around the move to all-flash on the Isilon platform, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. You’re always going to have a bunch of data hanging around that you might want to keep on-line for a long time, but it may not need to be retrieved at great speed (think “cheap and deep” storage). For this, it seems that the H (Hybrid) series of Isilon does the job, and does it well. But for workloads where large amounts of data need to be processed in a timely fashion, all-flash options are starting to make a lot more sense.

Is an all-flash offering the answer to everything? Probably not. Particularly not if you’re on a budget. And no matter how much money people have invested in the movie / TV show / whatever, I can guarantee that most of that is going to talent and content, not infrastructure. But there’s definitely a shift from spinning disk to Flash and this will continue as Flash media prices continue to fall. And then we’ll wonder how we ever did anything with those silly spinning disks. Until the next magic medium comes along. In the meantime, if you want to take OneFS for a spin, you can grab a copy of the version 8.1 simulator here. There’s also a very good Isilon overview document that I recommend you check out if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

Dell EMC’s in the Midst of a Midrange Resurrection

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 13.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day and Pure Storage. 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.

 

Dell EMC presented on their Unity range of midrange storage at Storage Field Day 13 recently. You can see video of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

We’re Talking About Unity, Man

All of the Software

Dell EMC have been paying attention to their customers, and all of the software for Unity is now included:

  • Block, File or VVol
  • Snapshots and AppSync Basic
  • Replication (including RecoverPoint Basic)
  • Inline compression
  • D@RE
  • AV enabler
  • QoS
  • Cloud Tiering
  • Unisphere (now running on HTML-5, die Java, die!)

There’s no need to go hunting for licenses or enablers like we had to in the VNX and CLARiiON days. This is a good thing, and tells me a lot about Dell EMC’s willingness to listen to customers when they say they want this stuff to be simple to consume without a bunch of extra costs.

 

Architecture

Dell EMC tell us that the Unity array is built on an active-active, fully redundant, dual node architecture. I can’t confirm whether this is the case or not, but I’m fairly sure that it’s an improvement on the ALUA days of yore. The Unity is also really a unified design now, with file, block or VMware Virtual Volume storage sharing the same pool of storage. Again, this is a significant improvement over the somewhat cludgy “Unified” approach that EMC took with the VNX range of arrays.

Dell EMC claim that the Unity array takes “10 minutes to install and 30 minutes to production”. I’m not sure how I feel about these numbers, and I’m not sure I’d make purchasing decisions based on how long it takes me to put some storage in a rack. Heck, I’ve worked in environments where it takes 2 hours to fill out the change request forms to deploy the arrays, and another 4 days to get these activities approved. I guess it’s nice to know that at the end of that administrative pain you could jam this gear in a rack pretty quickly and focus on other, more interesting activities.

Dell EMC are positioning the Unity as “compact and powerful: cloud integrated 500TB all-flash in 2RU”. Not unlike the Mazda3, you get a lot in a fairly compact form factor. And you likely won’t pay huge amounts for it either. Cloud integrated means a lot of things to a lot of people, but Dell EMC have been paying attention to what the likes of Pure Storage and Nimble Storage have been doing, and have delivered a pretty cool offering in CloudIQ, and I’m optimistic that the rest of Dell EMC’s tools will be following suit, if they haven’t already.

 

The Midrange Isn’t Dead

Okay, people weren’t actually saying that midrange is dead. But sometimes it feels like the focus has been on a lot of other things, like super scale out, hyper-object storage and terribly sexy, high-end all flash storage that runs to a large number of petabytes and connects directly into a port at the base of the end user’s skull. Added to that Dell EMC have had to do some careful balancing of product portfolios, and doing a pretty decent job of selling the benefits of both the Unity and SC series. I’ve had exposure to both products over time, and can see the good in each line of products. It’s not unreasonable to expect that they’ll merge in the future, but when this future will be is anyone’s guess. When Unity initially launched it felt a bit rushed (you can read my coverage here and here). Dell EMC have been working pretty hard to smooth out some of the roughness and bring to market some cool features that were missing in the first iteration of the product.

I’ve been fond of midrange arrays for a long time. The damn things tend to just run, and you can’t walk into most data centres without bumping into some kind of midrange array. Sometimes, midrange is really all you need to get the job done. And there’s no shame in that either. We’re also seeing a bunch of features that were traditionally considered “high-end” being implemented further down the stack. This should only be considered a good thing.

 

Further Reading

You can download the Unity Simulator here, and read my thoughts on Dell EMC’s midrange update from Dell EMC World 2017 here. You can also grab a copy of the Dell EMC Unity VSA from here.

 

Dell EMC World 2017 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2017.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the Dell EMC Elect program. 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’s a quick post with links to the other posts I did surrounding Dell EMC World 2017, as well as links to other articles I found interesting.

 

Product Announcements

Here’re the posts I did covering the main announcements from the show.

Dell EMC Announces VMAX Enhancements

Dell EMC Announces Midrange Storage Line Enhancements

Dell EMC Announces XtremIO “X2”

Dell EMC Announces Isilon Update (with cameo from ECS)

Dell EMC (Pre-)Announces ScaleIO 3.0

 

Event-Related

Here’re the posts I did during the show. These were mainly from the media sessions I attended.

Dell EMC World 2017 – Monday General Session Notes

Dell EMC World 2017 – Michael Dell Q & A (and more!)

Dell EMC World 2017 – Dell Technologies Cloud Strategy Session Notes

Dell EMC World 2017 – Tuesday General Session Notes

Dell EMC World 2017 – Michael Dell Q & A – Part 2

Dell EMC World 2017 – storage.58 – Isilon.Next: Raising the Bar on Performance & Archive Use Cases Notes

Dell EMC World 2017 – storage.43 – Dell EMC Unity: Performance Analysis Deep Dive Notes

Dell EMC World 2017 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

 

Other Links

Here’re some articles about the show written by people I know or follow (or both). They’re worth checking out (both the articles and the people).

Jon Klaus

Viva Las Vegas: See you at Dell EMC World 2017!

Workforce Transformation at Dell EMC World 2017

 

Brett Johnson

Dell EMC World 2017: All wrapped up

 

Dave Henry

Virtustream Launches Cloud Offering Designed for Healthcare

Summary of Monday’s Announcements at Dell EMC World 2017

 

Sam Shouse

ScaleIO 3.0

 

Greg Schulz

Dell EMC World 2017 Day One news announcement summary

Dell EMC Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud Solution

 

Preston de Guise

Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance

 

Chad Sakac

Dell EMC World 2017: ScaleIO 3.0!

Dell EMC World 2017: Ready Node-a-palooza!

Dell EMC World 2017: VDI Complete–Ready Bundle!

Dell EMC World 2017: RedHat Ready Bundle Update!

Dell EMC World 2017: Azure Stack Update!

Dell EMC World 2017: VxRack FLEX Updates!

Dell EMC World 2017: Cloud FLEX–I can’t believe we’re doing this!

Dell EMC World 2017: XC Series Updates!

Dell EMC World 2017: VxRail and VxRack SDDC Updates!

 

Dell EMC Announcements

Here are some of the posts from Dell EMC covering the major product announcements.

Dell EMC VMAX 950F: Raises Bar for High-End All Flash Storage

New Dell EMC PowerEdge: Bedrock of the Modern Data Center

Introducing XtremIO X2 – Next Generation All-Flash Array

Flexible Consumption Models—Transforming How IT Invests for the Future

New Dell EMC SC5020 Storage Array Offers Lowest $/GB

Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance – Innovation Without Compromise

Dell EMC Advances Data Center Grade Software-Defined Storage with ScaleIO.Next

Simplify IT Transformation with Next Gen Dell EMC Unity All-Flash Systems

Bigger. Badder. More Powerful. Dell EMC Just Reinvented #1 Scale-Out NAS Platform in the Industry

 

Conclusion

I had a hectic but enjoyable week. I would have liked the time to get to more of the technical sessions, but being given access to some of the top executives in the company was pretty neat too. Thanks again to Dell EMC (particularly Mark Browne and Sarah Vela) for having me along for the ride. Now, please enjoy this really blurry picture of Gwen Stefani.

Dell EMC World 2017 – Tuesday General Session Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2017.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the Dell EMC Elect program. 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.

These are my very rough noted from the Tuesday General Session at Dell EMC World 2017. You’ll see that they’re mainly dot points. Ideas to take away and think about if you will.

Karen Quintos takes the stage.

“IT Transformation Realized Awards” (video) – Winners are AIG, citi, Columbia Sportswear, Express Scripts, Jaguar Land Rover, Molina Healthcare.

Jeremy Burton takes the stage (Jeff Clarke can’t make it today)

  • What’s changed since 1987? A whole lot of stuff
  • Work’s not a place, it’s an activity
  • 42% of millennial will quit their job if they use substandard tech

Latitude 7285 2-in-1 with wireless charging. Available from June 1 in the US.

  • It’s not just about the tech though. People are interested in consuming PCs as a service.
  • Security – 95% of breaches occur at the endpoint
  • Technology improves by 10X every 5 years

(video)

Ken Black (Nike VP of Digital Design Transformation)

  • Creation and collaboration
  • How do you get the idea in the designer’s head out and into a product that you can consume?

Sarah Burkhart (PM, Dell Canvas)

  • VR and AR estimated to be a $35B business by 2025

Brian Mullins (CEO, @DAQRI)

  • Design hardware and software to bring augmented reality everywhere

Andy Rhodes (VP and GM of IoT)

  • IMS Evolve and Dell EMC
  • Dell EMC want to help you build the infrastructure to help you transform your workforce.

Pat Gelsinger takes the stage (@pgelsinger)

  • VMware do “real” magic – changing the world, changing the quality of people’s lives
  • Pendulum swinging – mainframe, minicomputer, client server, IoT, etc
  • Need to take control of the edge
  • IoT – plethora of edge devices, producing an extraordinary amount of data
  • VMware Pulse IoT Center – AirWatch, vROps, NSX
  • Manage, monitor and secure
  • Real-time visibility
  • VMware – addressing customers’ most complex challenges
  • And device, any app, any cloud

The core challenge is having to stitch together silos of innovation – there are too many point solutions to manage

VMware Workspace ONE – Consumer simple, enterprise secure

  • The power of HCI
  • VDI Complete – Dell EMC, VMware, Dell Technologies [High five from @sakacc]
  • Rent-A-Center – rental place
  • 14G brings out the best in vSAN
  • Dell EMC VxRack SDDC
  • VMware Cloud Foundation Momentum
  • VMware cross-cloud architecture
  • Demo of VMware on AWS
  • Pivotal and VMware
  • “Developer-ready infrastructure”

Bill Cook (President and COO, Pivotal) joins Pat on stage

Key Trends – enterprises are changing business models based on shift to cloud-native applications

  • Mobile devices and connectivity
  • Near-free computing costs
  • Global scale of operations
  • Ubiquity of embedded sensors

Speed to deployment

  • Developer – increase feature velocity, decrease spend
  • Operator – increase service levels, decrease cost
  • “You’ll be up and running in days – not weeks or months”
  • Digital transformation: “Tech is breaking out of tech”

Some interesting ideas in this session. 3.5 stars.

Dell EMC World 2017 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2017.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the Dell EMC Elect program. 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 Dell EMC World 2017. 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. I’m going to do this in chronological order, as that was the easiest way for me to take notes during the week. While everyone’s situation is different, I took 5 days of training / work time to be at this event (thanks to my employer for being on board).

 

Sunday

My employer paid for my taxi to BNE airport. I flew Qantas economy class to LAX and then American Airlines to LAS. The flights were paid for by Dell EMC. Plane food was consumed on the flight. It was a generally good experience, lack of sleep notwithstanding. I stayed at the Palazzo Hotel. This was covered by Dell EMC as well.

 

Monday

I attended a vExpert / Dell EMC Elect kickoff breakfast held at the Palazzo. I had bacon, sausage and eggs, juice, coffee. Remarkably, the bacon was cooked properly, not burnt to a crisp like the Americans seem to prefer. I also picked up a great VCSA VSAN t-shirt. Thanks a bunch to VMware (and Gina Rosenthal in particular) for organising this.

I then attended press / media / influencer sessions at the conference. I picked up a Dell EMC branded 2500Ma portable battery and a bottle of water. Sarah Vela gave me a New Balance Dell EMC branded backpack and one of those useful water bottles that aren’t made of crappy plastic. For lunch I had steak, chicken and salad and another bottle of water. Dell EMC hosted a “Press, Analyst & Influencer Reception” at the pool at the Palazzo. I had some shrimp and sushi and a couple of Stella Artois beers. I also picked up a black fedora (they were giving them out for some kind of activity that I didn’t get to stay for). If it survives the trip home my eldest daughter will love it. I had dinner at Morel’s Steakhouse courtesy of ActualTech Media. I had a few Firestone PIVO beers, the filet mignon and fancy french fries, and some profiteroles for dessert.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast for press / media / influencers was held in the Solutions Expo. I had some coffee, fruit, a breakfast burrito and a bottle of water. I had lunch in the press area. This consisted of some potato salad, pasta and short ribs. Good stuff. I had a briefing with some folks from the Dell EMC Midrange team and they kindly gave me an 8GB USB stick. We had an influencer reception organised by Sarah Vela at Velveteen Rabbit and I had a few Sierra Nevada Summerfest lagers and some hors-d’oeuvres. It was a pretty cool place.

I then took a Lyft with Howard Marks and Bob Plankers (paid for by Howard) to Lotus of Siam for dinner with 20 other people. Bob bought me a large bottle of Singha while we waited in the bar for our table to be ready. We then had a variety of Thai dishes (including garlic prawns) and I had a few more Singha beers. This was paid for by a number of people (Andy Banta of NetApp, Gina Rosenthal from VMware, with Hugo Patterson from Datrium contributing the lion’s share). I then caught a Lyft back to my hotel with Howard (courtesy, once again, of Howard) and turned in for the night.

 

Wednesday

Breakfast was in the media area. It was sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, yoghurt, orange juice and coffee. I had lunch in the media area (sensing a theme here) consisting of chicken and salad. I picked up some stuff in the Solutions Expo, including a Brocade-sponsored NVMe over Fibre Channel for Dummies book, a Cisco | Dell EMC tote bag, a Dell EMC water bottle, a Dell EMC “phone holder” and a Dell EMC World shopping bag. Not a lot of swag this year, but this aligns with my reluctance to seek it out and Dell EMC’s (and other companies’) reluctance to hand it out. Dell EMC ran a customer appreciation reception that I attended from 5 – 7pm. I had a few Shiner Light Blonde beers at this event, some prawns, and some goat’s cheese croquettes.

I was lucky enough to grab dinner at Table 10 with Edward Halteky, Brett Johnson, Alastair Cooke and Michael Davis. I had some calamari, fries (wedges) and two Firestone Walker IPA beers. vBrownBag was kind enough to pick up the tab. By the time we’d finished dinner it was almost time for the Customer Appreciation Party (featuring Gwen Stefani) to get started. We made our way to the venue and listened to Gwen pump out the hits. I had a couple of Stella Artois beers there.

 

Thursday

I skipped breakfast but did pick up 3 Dell EMC World long sleeve shirts from the lounge. Lunch at was at Public House with Michael Davis, Gina Rosenthal, Brett Johnson and Alastair Cooke. I had a hamburger, french fries and a Las Vegas Lager. We split the bill 5 ways. I then went to the final session of the conference, had a bottle of water, grabbed my bags and made my way to Las Vegas International in a cab. The taxi ride was covered by my employer.

 

Dell EMC World 2017 – storage.43 – Dell EMC Unity: Performance Analysis Deep Dive Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2017.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the Dell EMC Elect program. 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 rough notes from the #storage.43 session. This was presented by Keith Snell and went through a lot of useful scenarios.

 

Introduction

Three uses for performance data

1. Health check

  • Performance metrics provide the ability to determine operating efficiency of the system in servicing requests.
  • Independent to block or file activity, the storage processors and disks are common contributors to performance that give us a first look at system health

2. Capacity Planning

  • Checking current resource utilisation
  • Can we incrementally add workload to existing resources?
  • Can we add hardware and workload to the system?

3. Troubleshooting

  • Object specific performance metrics provide the capability to isolate and identify areas of concern

 

Sample Period

Performance data can be presented with different sample periods – “so what?”

The larger the sample period the more “averaged” the data is

  • Reduces chance to view burst activity
  • Duration of bursts will dictate accuracy of displayed data

Performance dashboard might look different depending on time period viewed

  • Dashboard is minimum 60 second samples but can go up to 4 hours per sample (variation in performance will be averaged the sample frequency being displayed)

For the most accurate and customisable performance analysis, post processing performance archives is recommended

 

Performance Metrics and Where to Find Them

Object Unisphere Dashboard / uemcli Archive
Storage Processor Utilisation (average) Utilisation (average and per core)
LUN Response Time, IOPS, MB/s, queue Utilisation, response time, IOPS, MB/s, queue
Disk IOPS, MB/s, Service Time, queue Utilisation, IOPS, MB/s, queue
Ports IOPS, requests, MB/S IOPS, requests, MBPS
File Systems IOPS, MB/s, IO size IOPS, MB/s, IO size
FAST Cache Dirty ratio None (future)
  • Utilisation, response time and MB/s are key quality of service indicators
  • Utilisation at LUN and disk layer is available from archive data

 

Performance Dashboard

The performance dashboard is primarily used for viewing performance data from the historical database, and can be used to determine the health of the system

Time selection options customisable – time available goes back 90 days.

Sample period available

  • 60 seconds = up to 3 days of data
  • 300 seconds = up to 14 days of data
  • 3600 seconds = up to 28 days of data
  • 14400 seconds = up to 90 days of data

System level statistics

  • Port IOPS and MB/s
  • Flash LUN Statistics
  • SAS LUN Statistics
  • LUN I/O size and MB/s
  • Host I/O Limits

In Performance dashboard area of the Unity Unisphere interface.

 

UEMCLI

uemcli options for historical data

Available metrics for historical viewing

uemcli -d <IP> -u <user> -p <pwd> /metrics/metric -availability historical show

Lists all available metrics, ~77 in total.

Sample period available

  • 60 seconds = up to 3 days of data
  • 300 seconds = up to 14 days of data
  • 3600 seconds = up to 28 days of data
  • 14400 seconds = up to 90 days of data
uemcli -d <IP> -u <user> -p <pwd> /metrics/value/hist -path sp.*.storage.lun.*.totalcallsrate show -from "2017-05-10 14:25:00" -count 360 -interval 60 -output csv
uemcli -d <IP> -u <user> -p <pwd> /metrics/value/hist -path sp.*.storage.lun.*.responsetime show -from "2017-05-10 14:25:00" -count 360 -interval 60 -output csv


uemcli options for real time

Available metrics for historical viewing

uemcli -d <IP> -u <user> -p <pwd> /metrics/metric -availability real-time show

Lists all available metrics, ~580 in total.

uemcli syntax for real-time commands

/metrics/value/rt -path <value> show -interval <value> [{-period <value> | -to <value> | -count <value>} [-summary]] [-flat] [-output {nvp | csv | table [-wrap]}] [{brief | -detail}]
uemcli -d <IP> -u <user> -p <pwd> /metrics/value/rt -path sp.*.storage.lun.*.readsRate,sp.*.storage.lun.*.writesRate show -interval 30

We pick a longer interval than the minimum 5 as it can be challenging to compute / display multiple LUNs’ data in real time.

 

Performance Archives

Archives contain 1 hour of data in a SQL database format

  • Each archive is aligned to the top of the hour (e.g. coverage of 3pm to 4pm, and 4pm to 5pm)
  • Filename is data and time referenced to the start time of the archive (UTC time)
  • Partial archives are readable self contained SQL database files
  • Repository contains a minimum of 48 archives (covering 2 days of high definition performance data)

As of Unity OE 4.2, archives can be retrieved in the UI

  • Retrieving archives is currently possible via WinSCP

You can look at the structure of the archive with DB Browser for SQL Lite

  • https://www.sqlite.org/download.html
  • Export requires data manipulation to evaluate timestamp details from an offset of epoch time (also per second samples for metrics like I/O, MB, calls, etc, Object names have to be mapped to user objects where possible with embedded tables).

 

Unity Performance Archive Dump

Options

  • 1 to multiple archives
  • Output to csv format (2 variants of formatting)
  • Timesteps
  • Equated per second metrics
  • Ongoing development

Still in development. Email upad@dell.com to get early access via this.

What do I do with dumped csv data?

 

Excel

If your timestamp doesn’t show seconds, you can select column A and change format

  • Add :ss to show seconds for each sample

After selecting the entire sheet by clicking in the top corner, select insert pivot chart. That will default to the whole table.

 

Summary

  • Multiple performance data options for viewing, collection and analysis
  • Unity best practices for performance referenced for health status
  • Sample period considerations with different methods to look at data
  • Issue isolation and possible solutions considered, engaging Host I/O Limits, and rebalancing of load using dynamic pool expansion.

Keith also very kindly did a condensed version of this session for vBrownBag. You can check it out here. All in all a great way to finish of the conference. 5 stars.