VMware VAAI: Clumsy Acronym, Great Strategy
With the announcement of VMware vSphere 4.1, I think VMware's set the bar very high, again. Continued advances in scalability, memory management, and resource scheduling build on VMware's history of innovation...they pioneered these concepts for server virtualization, after all. And I'm impressed by the integration of additional functionality to vCenter Server, though I still think the management strategy, overall, needs some work.
I am particularly excited by the availability of the vStorage API for array integration, or VAAI. With this rich set of APIs, VMware extends the value and power of the VMFS file system while protecting the performance of the vSphere server platform. By offloading VM operations that should be handled at the array level—storage vMotion, VM provisioning, thin provisioning, cloning, etc—storage vendors can ramp up innovation at the array level, where they have a host of new technologies ready to shine. Look for storage performance in virtual environments to be a hot topic for the rest of the year, with VAAI-based VM movement, cloning, thinning, and protection solutions from all the major storage vendors.
I’ve been tracking Dell and 3PAR’s recent announcements closely and know these storage innovators are eagerly taking advantage of VAAI. 3PAR announced its VAAI plugin today, enabling even thinner, more efficient VM persistence. This will lower storage costs and improve virtualization returns for customers and service providers alike, opening new opportunities for 3PAR’s Utility Storage offerings in VMware installations.
Also, check out Dell’s terrific new addition to the EqualLogic iSCSI family: the PS6000XVS, which delivers a hybrid array of SSD and SAS disks with automated, intelligent tiering of data based on actual workload requirements. When combined with VAAI, the XVS should give a major boost to desktop virtualization efforts that are stalled by “boot storm” performance problems. Dell has been a real innovator across the EQL PS series line, and we expect the power, scalability and elasticity offered by Dell iSCSI storage will open up entirely new virtualization value channels for customers and cloud service providers alike.
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