Decades of constantly advancing computing solutions have changed the world in tremendous ways, but interestingly, the IT folks running the show have long been stuck with only piecemeal solutions for managing and optimizing all that blazing computing power. Sometimes it seems like IT is a pit crew servicing a modern racing car with nothing but axes and hammers – highly skilled but hampered by their legacy tools.
While that may be a slight exaggeration, there is a serious lack of interoperability or opportunity to create joint insight between the highly varied perspectives that individual IT tools produce (even if each is useful in its own purpose). There simply has never been a widely adopted standard for creating, storing or sharing system management data, much less a cross-vendor way to holistically merge heterogeneously collected or produced management data together – even for the beneficial use of harried and often frustrated IT owners that might own dozens or more differently sourced system management solutions. That is until now.
OpsDataStore has brought the IT management game to a new level with an easy to deploy, centralized, intelligent – and big data enabled – management data “service”. It readily sucks in all the lowest level, fastest streaming management data from a plethora of tools (several ready to go at GA, but easily extended to any data source), automatically and intelligently relates data from disparate sources into a single unified “agile” model, directly provides fundamental visualization and analysis, and then can serve that unified and related data back out to enlightened and newly comprehensive downstream management workflows. OpsDataStore drops in and serves as the new systems management “nexus” between formerly disparate vendor and domain management solutions.
If you have ever been in IT, you’ve no doubt written scripts, fiddled with logfiles, created massive spreadsheets, or otherwise attempted to stitch together some larger coherent picture by marrying and merging data from two (or 18) different management data sources. The more sources you might have, the more the problem (or opportunity) grows non-linearly. OpsDataStore promises to completely fill in this gap, enabling IT to automatically multiply the value of their existing management solutions.
Storage performance technology – solid state or high-scale storage designed for high performance – has long been a tricky and fragmented market. While the market for flash-based storage has been growing steadily over the past few years, it still represents well under 10% of total installed capacity in the enterprise. A variety of storage acceleration solutions—based in the array, server and network—are now available, and yet many enterprise buyers are still poorly educated about these options and how best to address the performance needs of their business-critical apps.
Taneja Group’s latest multi-client sponsored research study addresses the relatively young and rapidly evolving market for storage acceleration and performance solutions in the enterprise. This study provides vendor sponsors with key insights into the current uptake and usage of storage acceleration and performance technologies, along with user-perceived value of key features and capabilities. The study findings will help vendors understand how to overcome sales and deployment barriers, improve and sharpen the positioning of their products/solutions, and determine where they should invest going forward, based on the technologies and use cases that will be most important to enterprise buyers over the next 2-3 years.
The 70-page research report features results from 694 completed online surveys, plus in-depth discussions with 9 selected enterprise participants. The study respondents – primarily senior IT and infrastructure managers – come from a broad range of enterprise-level organizations and industries, providing a highly representative sample of customers in the sweet spot for storage acceleration solutions.
The report begins with a description of the market landscape, which provides our perspectives on how the storage performance market has developed and where it is headed. This leads into an in-depth analysis and discussion of survey findings, including a profile of the respondents themselves. We then identify and explore several key customer populations that rose to the surface in our analysis. Understanding these different types of buyers and users is more important than ever, as we find that the market is quite fragmented, with a number of contrasting populations looking at performance from distinctly different perspectives. By studying these populations and what makes them tick, vendors will be able to assess and optimize product and marketing strategies for different classes of customers, while honing their competitive differentiation.
This Taneja Group research report was provided to our primary research sponsors in early September 2015, and is now generally available for purchase by other vendors. If you have an interest in learning more about the market and how you can make your acceleration offerings stand out, please contact Jeff Byrne (email@example.com) or Mike Matchett (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Taneja Group to put the insights in this report to work for you.
Flash technology has burst on the IT scene within the past few years with a vengeance. Initially seen simply as a replacement for HDDs, flash now is triggering IT and business to rethink a lot of practices that have been well established for decades. One of those is data protection. Do you protect data the same way when it is sitting on flash as you did when HDDs ruled the day? How do you take into account that at raw cost/capacity levels, flash is still more expensive than HDDs? Do data deduplication and compression technologies change how you work with flash? Does the fact that flash technology is injected most often to alleviate severe application performance issues require you to rethink how you should protect, manage, and move this data?
These questions apply across the board when flash is injected into storage arrays but even more so when you consider all-flash arrays (AFAs), which are often associated with the most mission-critical applications an enterprise possesses. The expectations for application service levels and data protection recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are vastly different in these environments. Given this, are existing data protection tools adequate? Or is there a better way to utilize these expensive assets and yet achieve far superior results? The short answer is yes to both.
In this Opinion piece we will focus on answering these questions broadly through the data protection lens. We will then look at a specific case of how data protection can be designed with flash in mind by considering the combination of flash-optimized HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage, HP StoreOnce System backup appliances, and HP StoreOnce Recovery Management Central (RMC) software. These elements combine to produce an exceptional solution that meets the stringent application service requirements and data protection RTOs and RPOs that one finds in flash storage environments while keeping costs in check.
VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) is one of the most important technologies that impacts how storage interacts with virtual machines. In April and May 2015, Taneja Group surveyed eleven storage vendors to understand how each was implementing VVols in their storage arrays. This survey consisted of 32 questions that explored what storage array features were exported to vSphere 6, how VMs were provisioned and managed. We were surprised at the level of differences and the variety of methods used to enable VVols. It was also clear from the analysis that underlying limitations of an array will limit what is achievable with VVols. However, it is also important to understand that there are many other aspects of a storage array that matter—the VVol implementation is but one major factor. And VVol implementation is a work in progress and this represents only the first pass.
We categorized these implementations in three levels: Type 1, 2 and 3, with Type 3 delivering the most sophisticated VVol benefits. The definitions of these three types is shown below, as is the summary of findings.
Most storage array vendors participated in our survey but a few chose not to, often due to the fact that they already delivered the most important benefits that VVols deliver, i.e. the ability to provision and manage storage at a VM-level, rather than at a LUN, volume or mount point level. In particular that list included the hyperconverged players, such as Nutanix and SimpliVity but also players like Tintri.
New enterprise-grade file systems don’t come around very often. Over the last two decades we have seen very few show up; ZFS was introduced in 2004, Isilon’s OneFS in 2003, Lustre in 2001, and WAFL in 1992. There is a good reason behind this: the creation of a unique enterprise-grade file system is not a trivial undertaking and takes considerable resources and vision. During the last ten years, we have seen seismic changes in the data center and storage industry. Today’s data center runs a far different workload than what was prevalent when these first-generation file systems were developed. For example, today’s data center runs virtual machines, and it is the exception when there is a one-to-one correlation between a server and storage. Databases span the largest single disk drives. A huge amount of data is ingested by big data applications, social media. Data must be kept in order to meet the requirements of government and corporate policy. Technology has dramatically changed over the last decade. For instance, flash memory has become prevalent, commodity x86 processors now rival ASIC chips in power and performance, and new software development and delivery methodologies such as “agile” have become mainstream. In the past, we were concerned with how to deal with the underlying storage, but now we are concerned with how to deal with this huge amount of data that we have stored.
What could be accomplished if a new file system was created from the ground up to take advantage of the latest advances in technology and, more importantly, had an experienced engineering team that had done this once before? That is, in fact, what Qumulo has done with the Qumulo Core data-aware scale-out NAS software, powered by its new file system, QSFS (Qumulo Scalable File System). Qumulo’s three co-founders were the primary inventors of OneFS – Peter Godman, Neal Fachan, Aaron Passey – and they assembled some of the brightest minds in the storage industry to create a new modern file system designed to support the requirements of today’s datacenter, not the datacenter of decades ago.
Qumulo embraced from day one an agile software development and release model to create their product. This allows them to push out fully tested and certified releases every two weeks. Doing this allows for new feature releases and bug fixes that can be seamlessly introduced to the system as soon as they are ready – not based on an arbitrary 6, 12 or even 18-month release schedule.
Flash storage has radically changed the face of the storage industry. All of the major file systems in use today were designed to work with HDD devices that could produce 150 IOPS; if you were willing to sacrifice capacity and short-stroke them you might get twice that. Now flash is prevalent in the industry, and we have commodity flash devices that can produce up to 250,000 IOPs. Traditional file systems were optimized for slower HDD drives – not to take advantage of the lower latency and higher performance of today’s solid state drives. Many traditional file systems and storage arrays have devised ways to “bolt on” SSD devices to their storage to boost their performance. However, their initial architecture was based around the capabilities of yesterday’s HDD drives and not the capabilities of today’s new flash technology.
An explosion in scale-out large capacity file systems has empowered enterprises to do very interesting things, but has also come with some very interesting problems. Even one of the most trivial tasks—determining how much space the files on a file system are consuming—is very complicated to answer on first-generation file systems. Other questions that are difficult to answer without being aware of the data on a file system include finding out who is consuming the most space on a file system, and which clients and files or applications are consuming the most bandwidth. Second-generation file systems need to be designed to be data-aware, not just storage-aware.
In order to reach performance targets, traditional high performance storage arrays were designed to take advantage of an ASIC-optimized architecture. ASIC architecture is good in the sense that it can speed up performance for some storage related operations; however, this benefit comes at a heavy price – both in dollars and in flexibility. It can take years and millions of dollars to embed new features in an ASIC. By using very powerful and relative inexpensive x86 processors new features can be introduced very quickly via software. The slight performance advantage of ASIC-based storage is disappearing fast as x86 processors get more cores (Intel E5-2600 V3 has up to 18 cores) and advanced features.
When Qumulo approached us to take a look at the world’s first data-aware, scale-out enterprise-grade storage system we welcomed the opportunity. Qumulo’s new storage system is not based on an academic project or designed around an existing storage system, but has been designed and built on entirely new code that the principals at Qumulo developed based on what they learned in interviews with more than 600 storage professionals. What they came up with after these conversations was a new data-aware, scale-out NAS file system designed to take advantage of the latest advances in technology. We were interested in finding out how this file system would work in today’s data center.
Every large IT shop has a long shelf of performance management solutions ranging from big platform bundles bought from legacy vendors, through general purpose log aggregators and event consoles, to a host of device-specific element managers. Despite the invested costs of acquiring, installing, supporting, and learning these often complex tools, only a few of them are in active daily use. Most are used only reactively and many just gather dust for a number of reasons. But, if only because of the ongoing costs of keeping management tools current, it’s only the solutions that get used that are worth having.
When it comes to picking which tool to use day-to-day, it’s not the theory of what it could do, it’s the actual value of what it does for the busy admin trying to focus on the tasks at-hand. And among the myriad of things an admin is responsible for, assuring performance requires the most management solution support. Performance related tasks include checking on the health of resources that the admin is responsible for, improving utilization, finding lurking or trending issues to attend to in order to head off disastrous problems later, working with other IT folks to diagnose and isolate service impacting issues, planning new activities, and communicating relevant insight to others – in IT, the broader business, and even to external stakeholders.
Admins responsible for infrastructure, when faced with these tasks, have huge challenges in large, heterogeneous, complex environments. While vendor-specific device and element managers drill into each piece of equipment, they help mostly with easily identifiable component failure. Both daily operational status and difficult infrastructure challenges involve looking across so-called IT domains (i.e. servers and storage) for thorny performance impacting trends or problems. The issue with larger platform tools is that they require a significant amount of installation, training, ongoing tool support, and data management that all detract from the time an admin can actually spend on primary responsibilities.
There is room for a new style of system management that is agile, insightful and empowering, and we think Galileo presents just such a compelling new approach. In this report we’ll explore some of the IT admin’s common performance challenges and then examine how Galileo Performance Explorer with its cloud-hosted collection and analysis helps conquer them. We’ll look at how Performance Explorer crosses IT domains to increase insight, easily implements and scales, fosters communication, and focuses on and enables the infrastructure admin to achieve daily operational excellence. We’ll also present a couple of real customer interviews in which, despite sunk costs in other solutions, adding Galileo to the data center quickly improved IT utilization, capacity planning, and the service levels delivered back to the business.