“KISS RAS” = Software Defined Storage – Come see Nimble Storage’s tech previews @ VMworld next week!

If you are in the virtualization space, you must have heard of the term “Software Defined Storage” – probably more so from storage vendors than VMware.  Why?  Because it is a hot marketing theme to promote storage technologies.   More and more customers & partners are asking what is Nimble’s take on  “Software Defined Storage”.  Here’s my unofficial response – “K.I.S.S – R.A.S = Software Defined Storage”:

Keep It Simple Storage

Reliability Availability Supportability

I personally hope all storage vendors could focus more on these aspects in their solution/offerings so customers could benefit from this ‘software defined’ era.  Seriously, having REST-APIs in your product release does not make it ‘software defined storage’ – what good do they do if the customer has to get a field engineer to upgrade the software to the next version?  Now let’s expand further on the KISS RAS aspects, and what we will showcase in our tech preview station @ VMworld next week!

K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Storage)

VMware has three key storage integration points to keep things simple for end users:

1)vCenter plugin (extensibility in vCenter to allow storage vendor to provide a plugin for storage operations such as datastore provisioning, snapshotting, cloning, expansion)

Here’s a sneak peak @ our new enhanced vCenter plugin:

2)vVOL (a.k.a virtual volume) (simply put, VMware providing metadata to storage vendor to further offload storage operations such as provisioning, cloning, snapshotting, replication.  Up leveling that a bit, it is the platform that enables people to have true policy based management for storage) – my good friend Cormac published a very nice blog on this topic in case you haven’t seen it (http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/10/virtual-volumes-vvols-tech-preview-with-video.html)

Here’s a sneak peak @ our vVOL demo:

3) PSA (Pluggable Storage Architecture): this integration point allows storage vendors to plug into the multipathing framework within ESXi VMkernel.  What I am most excited about is our upcoming PSP plugin – this new Path Selection Plugin would auto detect newly available paths , and optimize I/O distribution across all auto discovered paths:

From the storage software OS side, here’s a sneak peak of our next release – can you spot what is NEW from looking at this picture? (HINT: look @ green circles!)


R. A. S (Reliability, Availability, Supportability)

This is an area where storage vendors should invest heavily (aside from creating all the marketing *COUGH* stuff) .  We should leverage the “software defined” theme to bring software closer to hardware (let it be commodity or proprietary) – the software should have tight handshake with the underlying hardware, and proactively process hardware state changes to do the right thing to accommodate failures, report it, and show actionable items for end users to take to prevent it in the future.   If you are evaluating “software defined storage”, be sure to evaluate it with the following R.A.S criteria in mind:

1)      Monitoring & alerting (this is pretty self-explanatory  – does the solution provide active monitoring of the software & hardware state, and alert you when things go wrong?  Do you get actionable information out of the alerts?)

2)      Risk determination (doe the solution inform you about things that *might* go wrong in the future, if you don’t take corrective action?  You shouldn’t have to predict what the actions are, it should tell you!)

3)      Efficiency Measurement (does the solution inform you whether things are running efficiently?  Just because things are up and running doesn’t mean they are optimized)

vCenter Operations Manager addresses all three requirements above, for all the virtual entities/managed objects in the virtual infrastructure (VM CPU, memory, network, storage) – now, should vCenter Operations Manager report a VM being bound by storage, you’d definitely want to dive deeper into the “software defined storage” solution to find out which of the three areas to look at.  Let’s look at a real world scenario below – you have a VM that’s running very active workload, and vCenter Operations indicates to you that the VM is bound by disk I/O, and latency is high…your software defined storage solution should provide a way for you to look deeper and determine what might be a possible cause.  From Nimble perspective, that’s where Infosight comes in to play.  Here’s a sneak preview of what our support engineers and engineering teams look at – especially the supportability aspect.  If you haven’t seen the current release of InfoSight, check out the demo here and Brain (Neil Glick’s blog here).  If you have been using it, come see a tech preview of what is coming at our VMworld booth – teaser screenshot below:

Here we go, vCenter Operations Manager reports VM bound by CPU:

What might cause the latency?  hmm how about a closer look from a new feature being added to InfoSight?

Aside from all the new tech preview stuff we will be showing at VMworld – here’s a shameless self-plug for my presentations next week:

vBrownBag ‘esxtop’ technical talk (Monday, 8/26 @ 5:15PM)


BCO5431 DR Panel (Tuesday, 8/27 @5:30PM) Panel session to share tips/tricks/”gotcheas” in DR design for private and hybrid cloud (joining me in this session is the following customers: Jeff Winters from City of Hot Springs, Jerry Yang from Foster Pepper, Andrew Fife from Virtacore, Bryan Bond from Siemens e-meter)

That’s it for now – hope to see you @ VMworld next week!!

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