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Research Areas

Cloud Platforms and Apps

Includes Cloud Platforms; IaaS, PaaS and SaaS; enabling infrastructure technologies; deployment types; and cloud development technologies and approaches.

This category covers all types of cloud platforms, including IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, along with all types of cloud deployments, such as private, public, hybrid and multi cloud. We cover enabling cloud infrastructure technologies in areas such as compute, storage and networking. This practice spans cloud apps development and deployment, including containers and microservices architectures, and the DevOps functions to manage them. We look at cloud platforms in the context of displacing traditional on-premises IT infrastructure and enabling new on-demand apps and services, providing customers with greater flexibility and agility. Though cloud is growing rapidly, we believe that cloud and traditional datacenter infrastructure will co-exist for many years to come, with companies electing to maintain some of their IT workloads and processes on-premises for reasons such as security, control and/or cost. We address the pain points and opportunities resulting from this transformation, to help vendors and end users optimize their cloud investments.

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Massively Scalable, Intrinsically Simple: Tintri’s Low TCO for the Virtualized Data Center

Fast-growing virtualized environments present a thorny storage challenge to IT. Whether mission-critical applications with demanding SLAs, VDI rollouts with boot storms, or deploying a private cloud for large dev & test environments: delivering virtualized environments and cloud deployments using traditional storage can stall or break a virtualization project.

Flash technology is certainly part of the solution to performance challenges posed by virtualized workloads, but can be prohibitively expensive to broadly implement across the environment. Although flash can be deployed in a number of targeted ways and placed in the infrastructure, the more it is tied down to specific hosts and workloads, the less benefit it provides to the overall production environment. This in turn causes more management overhead.

Recently Taneja Group ran Tintri VMstore storage through our hands-on validation lab and documented significant large factors of improvement over traditional storage. Those factors accrue through Tintri’s cost-effective acquisition, simplicity and ease of deployment and data migration, effective high performance and availability and smooth expansion over time.

This Field Report validates our impressive lab findings with feedback from the field: six customers who have Tintri storage in production environments. While each customer has a unique own story to tell, we found that everyone documented a compelling value proposition based on TCO factors. Throughout our research we found that Tintri’s approach provides significantly lower TCO than traditional storage solutions.

Publish date: 10/13/14
Technology Validation

Scale Computing HC3 And VMware Virtual SAN Hyperconverged Solutions - Head to Head

Scale Computing was an early proponent of hyperconverged appliances and is one of the innovators in this marketplace. Since the release of Scale Computing’s first hyperconverged appliance, many others have come to embrace the elegance of having storage and compute functionality combined on a single server. Even the virtualization juggernaut VMware has seen the benefits of abstracting, pooling, and running storage and compute on shared commodity hardware. VMware’s current hyperconverged storage initiative, VMware Virtual SAN, seems to be gaining traction in the marketplace. We thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare and contrast Scale Computing’s hyperconverged appliance to a hyperconverged solution built around VMware Virtual SAN. Before we delve into this exercise, however, let’s go over a little background history on the topic.

Taneja Group defines hyperconvergence as the integration of multiple previously separate IT domains into one system in order to serve up an entire IT infrastructure from a single device or system. This means that hyperconverged systems contain all IT infrastructure—networking, compute and storage—while promising to preserve the adaptability of the best traditional IT approaches. Such capability implies an architecture built for seamless and easy scaling over time, in a "grow as needed” fashion.

Scale Computing got its start with scale-out storage appliances and has since morphed these into a hyperconverged appliance—HC3. HC3 was the natural evolution of its well-regarded line of scale-out storage appliances, which includes both a hypervisor and a virtual infrastructure manager. HC3’s strong suit is its ease of use and affordability. The product has seen tremendous growth and now has over 900 deployments.

VMware got its start with compute virtualization software and is by far the largest virtualization company in the world. VMware has always been a software company, and takes pride in its hardware agnosticism. VMware’s first attempt to combine shared direct-attached storage (DAS) storage and compute on the same server resulted in a product called “VMware vSphere Storage Appliance” (VSA), which was released in June of 2011. VSA had many limitations and didn’t seem to gain traction in the marketplace and reached its end of availability (EOA) in June of 2014. VMware’s second attempt, VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN), which was announced at VMworld in 2013, shows a lot of promise and seems to be gaining acceptance, with over 300 paying customers using the product. We will be comparing VMware Virtual SAN to Scale Computing’s hyperconverged appliance, HC3, in this paper.

Here we have two companies: Scale Computing, which has transformed from an early innovator in scale-out storage to a company that provides a hyperconverged appliance; and VMware, which was an early innovator in compute virtualization and since has transformed into a company that provides the software needed to create build-your-own hyperconverged systems. We looked deeply into both systems (HC3 and VSAN) and walked both through a series of exercises to see how they compare. We aimed this review at what we consider a sweet spot for these products: small to medium-sized enterprises with limited dedicated IT staff and a limited budget. After spending time with these two solutions, and probing various facets of them, we came up with some strong conclusions about their ability to provide an affordable, easy to use, scalable solution for this market.

The observations we have made for both products are based on hands-on testing both in our lab and on-site at Scale Computing’s facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Although we talk about performance in general terms, we do not, and you should not, construe this to be a benchmarking test. We have, in good faith, verified all conclusions made around any timing issues. Moreover, the numbers that we are using are generalities that we believe are widely known and accepted in the virtualization community.

Publish date: 10/01/14

IBM FlashSystem V840: Transforming the Traditional Datacenter

Within the past few months IBM announced a new member of its FlashSystem family of all-flash storage platforms – the IBM FlashSystem V840. FlashSystem V840 adds a rich set of storage virtualization features to the baseline FlashSystem 840 model. V840 combines two venerable technology heritages: the hardware hails from the long lineage of Texas Memory Systems flash storage arrays, and the storage services feature set for FlashSystem V840 is inherited from the IBM storage virtualization software that powers the SAN Volume Controller (SVC). One was created to deliver the highest performance out of flash technology and the other was a forerunner of what is being termed software defined storage. Together, these two technology streams represent decades of successful customer deployments in a wide variety of enterprise environments.

It is easy to be impressed with the performance and the tight integration of SVC functionality built into the FlashSystem V840. It is also easy to appreciate the wide variety of storage services built on top of SVC that are now an integral part of FlashSystem V840. But we believe the real impact of FlashSystem V840 is understood when one views how this product affects the cost of flash appliances, and more generally how this new cost profile will undoubtedly affect traditional data center architecture and deployment strategies. This Solution Profile will discuss how IBM FlashSystem V840 combines software-defined storage with the extreme performance of flash, and why the cost profile of this new product – equivalent essentially to current high performance disk storage – will have a major positive impact on data center storage architecture and the businesses that these data centers support.

Publish date: 09/16/14

HP ConvergedSystem: Altering Business Efficiency and Agility with Integrated Systems

The era of IT infrastructure convergence is upon us. Over the past few years Integrated Computing systems – the integration of compute, networking, and storage - have burst onto the scene and have been readily adopted by large enterprise users. The success of these systems has been built by taking well-known IT workloads and combining it with purpose built integrated computing systems optimized for that particular workload. Example workloads today that are being integrated to create these systems are Cloud, Big Data, Virtualization, Database, VDI or even combinations of two or more.

In the past putting these workload solutions together meant having or hiring technology experts with multiple domain knowledge expertise. Integration and validation could take months of on-premise work. Fortunately, technology vendors have matured along with their Integrated Computing systems approach, and now practically every vendor seems to be touting one integrated system or another focused on solving a particular workload problem. The promised set of business benefits delivered by these new systems fall into these key areas:

·         Implementation efficiency that accelerates time to realizing value from integrated systems

·         Operational efficiency through optimized workload density and an ideally right sized set of infrastructure

·         Management efficiency enabled by an integrated management umbrella that ties all of the components of a solution together

·         Scale and agility efficiency unlocked through a repeatedly deployable building block approach

·         Support efficiency that comes with deeply integrated, pre-configured technologies, overarching support tools, and a single vendor support approach for an entire-set of infrastructure

In late 2013, HP introduced a new portfolio oSDDCffering called HP ConvergedSystem – a family of systems that includes a specifically designed virtualization offering. ConvergedSystem marked a new offering, designed to tackle key customer pain points around infrastructure and software solution deployment, while leveraging HP’s expertise in large scale build-and-integration processes to herald an entirely new level of agility around speed of ordering and implementation. In this profile, we’ll examine how integrated computing systems marks a serious departure from the inefficiencies of traditional order-build-deploy customer processes, and also evaluate HP’s latest advancement of these types of systems.

Publish date: 09/02/14
Technology Validation

Accelerating the VM with FlashSoft: Software-Driven Flash-Caching for the Virtual Infrastructure

Storage performance has long been the bane of the enterprise infrastructure. Fortunately, in the past couple of years, solid-state technologies have allowed new comers as well as established storage vendors to start shaping up clever, cost effective, and highly efficient storage solutions that unlock greater storage performance. It is our opinion that the most innovative of these solutions are the ones that require no real alteration in the storage infrastructure, nor a change in data management and protection practices.

This is entirely possible with server-side caching solutions today. Server-side caching solutions typically use either PCIe solid-state NAND Flash or SAS/SATA SSDs installed in the server alongside a hardware or software IO handler component that mirrors commonly utilized data blocks onto the local high speed solid-state storage. Then the IO handler redirects server requests for data blocks to those local copies that are served up with lower latency (microseconds instead of milliseconds) and greater bandwidth than the original backend storage. Since data is simply cached, instead of moved, the solution is transparent to the infrastructure. Data remains consolidated on the same enterprise infrastructure, and all of the original data management practices – such as snapshots and backup – still work. Moreover, server-side caches can actually offload IO from the backend storage system, and can allow a single storage system to effectively serve many more clients. Clearly there’s tremendous potential value in a solution that can be transparently inserted into the infrastructure and address storage performance problems.

Publish date: 08/25/14
Free Reports

HP StoreVirtual VSA and VMware Virtual SAN - A Closer Look

The age of the software defined datacenter (SDDC) and converged infrastructure is upon us. The benefits of abstracting, pooling and running compute, storage and networking functions together on shared commodity hardware brings unprecedented agility and flexibility to the datacenter while driving actual costs down. The tectonic shift in the datacenter caused by software-defined storage and networking will prove to be as great as, and may prove to be greater than, the shift to virtualized servers during the last decade. While software-defined networking (SDN) is still in its infancy, software-defined storage (SDS) has been developing for quite some time.

LeftHand Networks (now HP StoreVirtual) released its first iSCSI VSA (virtual storage appliance) in 2007, which brought the advantages of software-based storage to small and midsize company environments. LeftHand Networks’ VSA was a virtual machine that hosted a software implementation of LeftHand’s well-regarded iSCSI hardware storage array. Since that time many other vendors have released VSAs, but none have captured the market share of HP’s StoreVirtual VSA. But the release of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) in March of 2014 could change that as VSAN, with the backing of the virtualization giant, is poised to be a serious contender in the SDS marketplace. Taneja Group thought that it would be interesting to take a closer look at how a mature, well regarded and widely deployed SDS product such as HP StoreVirtual VSA compares to the newest entry in the SDS market: VMware’s VSAN.

The observations we have made for both products are based on hands-on lab testing, but we do not consider this a Technology Validation exercise because we were not able to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison between the offerings, primarily due to the limited hardware compatibility list (HCL) for VMware VSAN. However, the hands-on testing that we were able to conduct gave us a very good understanding of both products. Both products surprised and, more often than not, did not disappoint us. In an ideal world without budgetary constraints, both products may have a place in your datacenter, but they are not by any means interchangeable. We found that one of the products would be more useful for a variety of datacenter storage needs, including some tier 1 use cases, while the other is more suited today to supporting the needs some of tier 2 and tier 3 applications.

Publish date: 08/21/14
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