Dell starts partnering with Nutanix. Will use Nutanix NOS for Dell systems

At Dell User Forum 2014 Dell announced several new partnerships with Oracle, Fusion-io , Cloudera and the most interesting one : Nutanix.

Dell will OEM Nutanix Operating System (NOS) and install it on a line of new converged Dell systems. Dell plans to offer customers the Dell XC Series of Web-scale Converged Appliances, which combine compute, storage and networking into a single offering, powered by Nutanix software. The Dell XC Series of Web-scale Converged Appliances have planned worldwide availability during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Dell will be taking the calls for support to eliminate finger pointing. Dell is looking at integration of Nutanix NOS with Dell System Manager.

Nutanix has a blog titled “SDS for the masses: why Dell matters

Channel Register has a good story about this news here.

Web-Scale IT seems to be another new buzzword. It has nothing to do with hosting websites. I guess the name comes from the world wide web and companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon who made the growth of the web possible using low cost software defined architectures.

Gartner estimates by 2017 , 50 % of global enterprise will use this architectural approach.

What Web-scale IT means is a hyperconverged system (storage and compute in a single box) on x86 hardware with  software smart enough to recover from failures and able to scale out very easily with minor setup and maintenance. It has a rich API enabling automation and rich analysis. See the Nutanix PDF for more details.

The architecture comes from Google, Facebook, Amazon which uses cheap hardware and intelligent software to scale.

On Wednesday  June 25 Nutanix has a Web-scale Wednesday webinar event with many speakers. Registration is free and you even get a cool t-shirt!

Dell pressrelease here

Nutanix release here  and here

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Sanbolic announces Scale-out Platform; Software-Defined Storage for the enterprise

While cloud datacenters like Google and Amazon have been using server attached storage for a while, enterprises are slowly starting to see the advantages of it. Costs, the ability to scale capacity and performance and simplicity of management are just a few of the benefits.

Many Software Defined Storage (SDS) solutions have emerged the last three years or so. To name some: VMware Virtual SAN, Nutanix, Maxta MxSP, SimpliVity and Scale Computing.

Sanbolic enters this market now as well with a solution named Scale-Out Platform. It cannot be compared however to the other SDS solutions named at the start of this blog. Those are relative simple: take a bunch of local disks in a server, aggregate those by software running either in the hypervisor kernel or in a virtual machine, distribute the data over mutliple nodes for availability and present volumes.

These solutions are silos just like traditional SAN or NAS boxes. They each require a different skill set, have different features and management tools.

Sanbolic Scale-Out Platform can be seen as an aggregation of both local storage plus legacy SAN storage (EMC, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems) as well as cloud storage (Amazon Web Services) managed as a single resource by software using a single management console.

On top of the aggregated physical storage a filesystem layer can be used. This filesystem is the next release of Melio FS which has been around for quite some time.Melio presentes volumes using CIFS/SMB or NFS.

Melio FS is an advanced , multi-node clustered filesystem offering features like Quality of Service per VM or even per file. It is very scaleable.  Melio’s 64 bit architecture supports 2000 physical or virtual nodes and up to 18 million terabyte file system sizes. Volumes can be mirrored for redudancy with seamless failover. A full list of features is here. 

Sanbolic software defined storage controller supports Windows, Linux, Xen, KVM, Hyper-V and OpenStack. Surprisingly it does not support VMware vSphere.

An overview of all the features can be found here. 

melio-sds

Atlantis releases Unified Software Defined Storage ILIO USX

Atlantis Computing released a new 100% software solution named ILIO USX (=Unified Software Defined Storage) which enables both a capacity & performance increase  compared to existing SAN/NAS/DAS.

Organizations using server virtualization are facing two operational challenges:

  • growth of data (new application, current fileservers, databases, big data etc)
  • increasing demand for performance. Both caused by increased number of applications as well as disk intensive applications.

These challenges are traditionally solved by adding more spindles in current SAN or NAS, or by adding purpose build storage solutions. Think about solutions like Nutanix, Nimble, Pure Storage, EMC XtremIO etc. See my blogpost for an overview.

The disadvantages of this approach are:

  • costs . Hybrid arrays with flash and HDD or All Flash Arrays (AFA) are relative expensive
  • different silo’s of storage solutions all having different management interfaces and requiring specific knowledge.

Atlantis ILIO USX has a different approach. It is able to use currently in use  storage arrays (SAN/NAS), abstracts its storage and provides both a storage capacity and performance boost to that storage arrays. Plus it uses the physical host memory (RAM) and host based Flash as a performance boost. 

This can be somehow compared to what for example VMware VSAN, Nutanix and Maxta MxSP do: they use SSD as a cache. However ILIO USX uses host RAM not as a cache but as a distributed storage volume. Nothing beats the speed of RAM.

Architecture: In-Memory Storage Volumes

Atlantis ILIO USX pools local server RAM, flash or “flash on Dimm” resources across multiple servers to create a high-performance In-Memory storage volume that can be used as primary storage. Data is protected by replicating it between multiple hosts and, optionally to shared storage in a capacity pool.

Turn local storage into enterprise storage

USX is able to use local storage and present it to virtual machines as a volume very similar to what Nutanix, VMware VSAN, Maxta MxSP and Simplivity does. USX pools local disks of multiple hosts into a distributed datastore.

For resiliency data is replicated to other nodes in the cluster. So if a host/node fails, data is not lost. For this replication of both the storage layer and the volume stored in memory  10Gb/s network cards are required. There is no limit in the number of nodes in a cluster.

Volumes are presented using NFS or iSCSI. This way even applications running on physical servers can benefit from USX services like de-dup, compression etc.

USX is installed on each VMware ESX host as a virtual appliance running a Linux based os. This same appraoch is used by Nutanix and Maxta.The USX software running on that virtual appliance is able to provide high end data services like dedup, inline compression, IO processing, write coalescing, fast clones, high availability and thin provisioning to any class of storage, delivered with in-memory speed.

ILIO USX is not a typical replacement of a current of even new storage solution (SAN/NAS). If an organization already invested in an all-flash array or hybrid array Atlantis ILIO USX can enhance that array. Those arrays provide great performance but not always optimal storage capacity. Because of the dedupe and compression technology at the compute level ILIO USX enables storing of up to 5 x more VMs per Terrabyte. Because of the smart way of writing data the lifetime of flash is extended.

One of the Atlantis customers uses EqualLogic arrays and pools them with their Nimble arrays to more than double the available storage capacity, while delivering 10x increase in the performance.

This is a Atlantis document explaining how VMware VSAN benefits from USX.

Hypervisor support
To be able to use ILIO USX a hypervisor is required. Currently support is limited to VMware ESX. Support for Hyper-V will be added later this year.

cloud support
Version 1.0 supports IBM SmartCloud integration. Not sure what that is.

In the 1.5 release expected in spring support is added for Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift object storage.

Licensing & pricing 

ILIO USX has a capacity based licensing. Customers purchases licenses based on the total storage capacity presented by ILIO USX. Licenses are added incrementally in steps of 1 TB . Licensing does not depend on the characteristics of the underlying storage. So pricing is same for SSD, Flash, HDD etc. Also there is just one edition available.
Pricing has not been announced yet. Atlantis Computing partners which have done a training will be able to provide pricing.  USX is available starting now, through certified partners.

Evaluation
Evaluation versions which can be used for a limited time are expected to be available by the end of February.

More information

The press release of Atlantis Computing on ILIO USX.
Atlantis ILIO USX Techical FAQ
Atlantis ILIO USX information

The Register: Mystical VM-accelerating beast emerges from Atlantis

Blogs on ILIO USX

Atlantis launches USX. In-Memory storage for your VMware environment by Luca Dell’Oca of virtualtothecore.com

Atlantis ILIO USX, In-Memory Performance for Servers by Marco Broeken of vClouds.nl

Atlantis launches ILIO USX – pooled storage for virutalized serversby IT Candor

Atlantis ILIO USX – unified software-defined storage by Andrea Mauro of vInfrastructure.it 

Atlantis Computing Releases ILIO USX – Deploy Up to 5x More VMs / Lowers Costs by up to 50% by  dabcc.com

StarWind SAN V8 Beta 3 is available

StarWind software released StarWind SAN V8 Beta 3.

The software products uses local storage on servers running Windows Server to provide SAN features. It supports features like VMware HA, vMotion, Hyper-V Live Migration etc. It also does replication and deduplication and much more.

This is an interesting storage solution for small and midsized organisaties who do not have the budget for expensive SAN solutions.

This will be the last beta release. A release candidate is expected soon. The final release will probably made available second half of February 2014.

If you are using SAN V8 Beta 1 or Beta 2 you can update by installing Beta 3 over the existing installation.

New in this third beta:

LSFS device:
• Correct processing of device size parameters and usage of available storage of underlying disk.
• Fixed he issue which led to disk write errors (when certain amount of data was written on the device and device files multiplied).

Synchronous replication for LSFS device:
• Fixed snapshot management functionality: creation and deletion of snapshots now works correctly.
• Fixed the issue, where the state of HA node changed to “unsynchronized ” without any reason.

VSS providers:
• Hardware VSS provider is now available for LSF S devices and LSFS devices with synchronous replication.
• Software VSS Provider is now available for LSFS devices.

Asynchronous replication:
• Replication on very slow channels is now possible.
• Mounting of snapshot fixed.
• Replication algorithm fixed.
Minor fixes to the VAAI commands processing implemented.

Release notes are here.

Download the software here

Maxta presents software defined storage for vSphere challenging traditional SAN/NAS. Software eats storage!

Software defined storage (SDS) is hot. Today Maxta came out of stealth mode and presented the world their software defined storage solution for VMware vSphere which looks like a perfect mix of VMware Virtual SAN and Nutanix capabilities. No SAN or NAS needed but  resilient local storage for caching (consumergrade SDD) and persistent storage (HDD). Through its software-only solution, Maxta turns standard servers into a converged compute and storage solution

While the Maxta Storage Platform  has been running for over a year in production now at an undisclosed number of customer sites, untill today the company did not do a lot of marketing. The current version of Maxta Storage  Platform or MxSP is 2.2.3.

This skepticism about SDS was part of the reason why Maxta has kept under the radar since its 2009 start. Maxta decided not to announce the company until it had technology validation, and market validation.

The software is installed as a virtual machine running on each hypervisor (vSphere 5.0 Update 1 and higher). This virtual appliance aggregates local storage and presents it over NFS to the hypervisor. Hyper-V and KVM support is currently in Limited Availability)

Because it is a very cost-effective solution and is VM-centric  (cost based on raw storage capacity) Maxta Storage Platform can be used for remote offices/branch offices instead of traditional storage solutions  like Dell EqualLogic, Lefthand, HP StorageWorks 1000 Modular Smart Array, VMware Virtual Storage Appliance, VMware Virtual SAN.

Other use cases are VDI, Disaster Recovery and Test/dev.

Maxta-nosan

Quite a few software defined storage solutions are based on ‘converged storage and  compute’ or ‘datacenter in a box’. It means that storage for virtual machines is located in the same enclosure as compute (cpu+memory). The raw local storage in multiple servers is aggregated, replicated and made available to the server nodes in a resilient way. Storage is presented and managed either in kernel or by a software appliance running on the host. This architecture has many advantages over traditional SAN/NAS solutions.

VMware Virtual SAN or VSAN is a software defined storage solution currently in open beta. It gets a lot of attention from VMware customers as it  reduces costs while enhancing performance & agility  and simplifying management of storage compared to using traditional SAN/NAS solotions.

Nutanix has a packaged software and proprietry hardware solution which gets a lot of attention as well. Other players delivering Datacenter in a Box solutions are SimpliVity and Scale Computing. See my earlier blog in which I compare VMware VSAN with Nutanix.

At November 12 Maxta  showed the world their software defined storage solution which is a hypervisor agnostic, highly resilient, scalable, VM-centric storage platform.

This post will introduce Maxta as a company and will provide all the technical details about their solution. Subjects discussed are:

  • The features
  • Installation
  • The architecture
  • Storage features
  • Support
  • Pricing

For a three minutes introduction showing benefits of Maxta see the video below.

Inside-bigdata.com has a video presentation by Maxta of 21 minutes. Yoram Novick, CEO of Maxta, presents the solution.

Read more of this post

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