Tag Archives: virtualisation

EMC World 2011 – Las Vegas – day 1

So after the first day at EMC World what Marvels of technology have been announced ?
What groundbreaking nuggets of geeky goodness to be announced. So, first things first VPLEX ! looks like they may have cracked it..   Active/active storage over a synchronous distances, Geoclusters will never be the same again !!..   and also a slightly ambiguous announcement around integration with Hadoop opensource (more to follow on that).

What was the message of the day though ? What was this years theme..   This year EMC are talking about Big data and the cloud. Clearly recent acquisitions of Isilon and Greenplum have planted EMC’s head firmly back in the clouds.  Greenplum giving end users the ability to scale out Database architectures for data analytics to mammoth scale with Greenplums distributed node architecture and massive parallel processing capabilities. To br frank, learning about the technology was borderline mind numbing, but my god its a cool technology. Then we have large scale out NAS with Isilon and its OneFS system giving the ability to present massive NAS repositories and scale NAS on a large scale. So obviously, EMC are talking about big data.

I also had the opportunity to sit in on an NDA VNX/VNXe session and what they’re going to do is….    aaah, I’m not that stupid. But needless to say, there are some nice additions on the way, the usual thing with higher capacity smaller footprint drives and getting more IO in less U space, but also some very cool stuff on the way which will enable EMC to offer a much cheaper entry point for compliance ready storage..  watch this space.

In true style EMC threw out some interesting IDC touted metrics further justifying the need to drive storage efficiencies and re-iterating the fact that there will always be a market for storage. So, our digital universe consists of 1.2 Zettabytes of data, currently, of which 90% of that is unstructured data and that figure is predicted to grow by x44 over this decade. Also 88% of fortune 500 companies have to deal with Botnet attacks on a regular basis and have to contend with 60 Million Malware variants.  So making this relevant, the 3 main pain points of end users are; firstly our time old friend budget, then explosive data growth and securing data.

So how have EMC addressed these ? Well, budget is always a fun one to deal with, but with efficiencies in storage by way of deduplication, compression, thin provisioning and auto tiering of data, end users should get more bang for their buck. Also, EMC easing up on the rains with pricing around Avamar and the low entry point of VNXe, this should help the case. Dealing with explosive data growth again tackles with deduplication, compression, thin provisioning and auto tiering of data, but also now with more varied ways of dealing with large sums of data with technologies such as Atmos, greenplum, Isilon. Then the obvious aquisition of RSA to tie in with the security message, all be it that has had its challenges.

I’m also recently introduced the concept of a cloud architect certification track and the concept of a Data Scientist (god knows, but I’ll find out). So I went over to the proven professionals lounge and had a chat with the guys that developed the course. Essentially it gives a good foundation for steps to consider when architecting a companies private cloud, around Storage, virtualisation, networking and compute. If you’re expecting a consolidated course which covers the storage consolidate courseware, Cisco DCNI2, DCUCD course and VMware install configure manage,  then think again, but it does set a good scene as an overlay to understanding these technologies. It also delves into some concepts around cloud service change management and control considerations and the concept of a cloud maturity model (essentially EMM, but more cloud specific). I had a crack at the practice exam and passed with 68%, aside from not knowing the specific cloud maturity terms and EMC specific cloud management jargon anyone with knowledge of servers, Cisco Nexus and networking, plus virtualization shouldn’t have to many issues, but you may want to skim over the video training package.

There was also a nice shiny demo from the Virtual Geek Chad Sakkac showing the new Ionix UIM 2.1 with Vcloud integration using CSC’s cloud service to demonstrate not only the various subsets of multi tenancy, but also mobility between disparate systems. When they integrate with public cloud providers such as Amazon EC2 and Azure, then things will really hot up, but maybe we need some level of cloud standards in place ?…   but we all know the problem with standards, innovation gives way to bureaucracy and slows up…   but then again with recent cloud provider issues, maybe it couldn’t hurt to enforce a bit of policy which allows the market to slow up a little and take a more considered approach to the public cloud scenario..   who knows ?

Anyway.. watch this space..  more to come


Interesting Times

I wanted to do a post simply based on some of the technologies which have facilitated this vision of…  the cloud and to look at some of those things in isolation with a view to understanding the bigger picture.

IT is at an interesting crossroads at the moment, there is a whisper in the wind accumulating Clarity and momentum by the day. A whisper which tells us that the way people think about IT is changing. The concept of the cloud is not a new one, but its shape and purpose have differed quite dramatically depending on who you talk to. For the moment at least and for the various vendor channels, its been very much business as usual. People are still buying tin, assessing the viability of virtualization, putting out to tender for the traditional server/SAN type solutions and vendors will continue to cater for those traditional needs. However, Vendors have also been doing something else…   better defining this cloud thing, how they can commoditise it, slap a price tag on it, stick it in a box and sell it.

Lets look at some of these technologies which have been developed to facilitate this transition.

Virtualisation on the whole giving us the ability to better utilise  tin and deploy new virtual servers with speed and ease. VMWare’s Vmotion/Dynamic power management/Distributed Resource Scheduling gives us the ability to move virtual servers between physical servers without disruption for any number of reasons (DPM allows us to reduce our power requirements by moving virtual servers onto a lesser number of physical machines, powering down machines left unused, as and when the business deems it suitable. DRS allows us to distribute virtual servers dynamically between physical servers based on the resource requirements of the virtual server).  This mobility allows the business be flexible and adaptive. The advent of virtualisation also allows us to in effect commiditise resource, be it memory, CPU resource or storage and distribute that in the most effective manner possible.

Storage has become something which is intelligent. Virtualisation and automation technologies in the storage world have given storage platforms the ability to adapt. Things like thin provisioning and online archive give us the ability to make better use of storage. Also players like compellent and EMC with their FAST technology gives storage the edge by digging down into the bare blocks of storage and moving individual blocks of data between fast/expensive and cheaper/high density storage based on how often those blocks of data are being access and their IOPS requirements. Deduplication, again another technology allowing transparency to the user while efficiently storing data.

Mobility. VMWare again, with virtual desktops being delivered on demand to where-ever the user needs it and maintaining access to all their bits and pieces. IP telephony and VPN, giving the external user the ability to access all the resources of the internal user and be as mobile as they need to. With networking capabilities becoming ever more efficient and robust also with things like 10GbE anf FCoE coming to the market, the datacenter is able to consolidate their network infrastructure and provide resources to the user in ever more efficient and increasingly more intelligent ways.

Here are a couple of video’s just showing some deployments of IP telephony and virtual desktops and the likes which I found interesting :

 Here’s a very cool way in which Subway have deployed IP telephony in their setup

and a video showing VMware virtual desktop offering

Management. We’re seeing integration between the network, the serverside and the storage in a big way. You can now manage EMC storage from within VMWare, VMware have pulled Ionix into their portfolio meaning they can manage physical and virtual infrastructure. Again, Ionix have released the unified infrastructure Manager which can manage Cisco Nexus networking tin, VMWare and EMC Storage. Meaning that not only can you have all these separate and different technologies working as one, but you can manage them as one.

 Here’s a video showing the fore mentioned Ionix Unified infrastructure manager

EMC/VMWare/Cisco have their offering with the Vblock, Netapp are hot on the tails of EMC and microsoft and HP/Lefthand are all working to a common goal (in competition with eachother ofcourse). To be right where its happening when service providers take a the next step from providing telecoms, disaster recovery, software as a service..  and start providing effectively resource as a service, infrastructure as a service.

When organisations are comfortable that they trust a 3rd party to host their applications, their user data and their desktops even, any vendor worth their salt wants to be there. Before long, we won’t be asking customers what switches, servers and storage they want. We’ll be asking broader questions…   How many IOPS do you want ? how much memory ? how much computing power you need ? and how much bandwidth you want?  How many people do you want to be able to make phone calls ? This adaptable, mobile architecture we’re seeing now will be doing the math….  Service Providers will be selling virtual commodities.

Below is a video by Gartner, with some of their analysts discussing some of the points of cloud computing :

Ofcourse, we’re a little while away from seeing that happen in the mainstream, a little way away from seeing the masses flock to these service providers.  People like to have control over their data, they know that if its in a rack they can walk up to and touch..   they have control. The market needs to have confidence in this concept that is the cloud…  and again, there are businesses who understand and are comfortable with this concept and have adopted it with aspects of their business. But when people start entrusting there critical core business applications, which are bound to OLA’s and SLA’s… this is when it will get really exciting.