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Trusted Business Advisors, Expert Technology Analysts

Research Areas

Technology

Includes iSCSI, Fibre Channel or FC, InfiniBand or IB, SMI-S, RDMA over IP, FCoE, CEE, SAS, SCSI, NPIV, SSD.

All technologies relating to storage and servers are covered in this section. Taneja Group analysts have deep technology and business backgrounds and several have participated in the development of several of these technologies. We take pride in explaining complex technologies in a simple enough manner for IT, the press community and the industry at large to understand.

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Report

EMC PowerPath: Optimized IO Multipathing for All Flash Arrays

All-flash arrays are changing the datacenter for the better. No longer do we worry about IOPS bottlenecks from the array: all-flash arrays (AFA) can deliver a staggering amount of IOPs. AFAs with the ability to deliver hundreds of thousands of IOPs are not uncommon. The problem now, however, is how to get the IOPS from the array to the servers. We recently had a chance to see how well an AFA using EMC PowerPath driver works to eliminate this bottleneck—and we were blown away. Most comparisons with datacenter infrastructure show a 10-30% improvement in performance; but, the performance improvement that we saw with PowerPath was extraordinary.

Getting bits from an array to server is easy —very easy, in fact. The trick is getting the bits from a server to an array in an efficient manner when you have many virtual machines (VM) on multiple physical hosts that are transmitting the bits over a physical network with a virtual fabric overlay; this is much more difficult. Errors can get introduced and must be dealt with, the most efficient path must be obtained and established, re-evaluated and reestablished continually, and any misconfiguration can produce less than optimal performance. In some cases, this can cause outages or even data loss. In order to deal with the “pathing,” or how the I/O travels from the VM to storage, the OS running on the host needs a driver, or in the case where multiple paths can be taken from the server to the array, a multipathing driver needs to be used to direct the traffic.

Windows, Linux, VMware and most other modern operating systems include a basic multipath driver; however, these drivers tend to be generic and not code optimized to extract the maximum performance from an array and come with only rudimentary traffic optimization and management functions. In some cases these generic drivers are fine, but in the majority of datacenters the infrastructure is overtaxed and its equipment needs to be used in the most efficient manner possible. Fortunately, storage companies such as EMC are committed to making their arrays work as performant as possible and spend a considerable amount of time and research to develop multipathing drivers optimized for their arrays. EMC invited us to take a look at how PowerPath, their optimized “intelligent” multipath driver, performed on an XtremIO flash array connected to a Dell PowerEdge R710 server running ESX 5.5 while simulating an Oracle workload. We looked at the results of the various tests EMC ran comparing PowerPath/VE multipath driver against VMware’s ESXi Native Multipath driver and we were impressed—very impressed—by the difference that an optimized, multipath driver like PowerPath can make in a high IO traffic scenario

Publish date: 01/01/15
Profile

Dell XC Web-Scale Hyperconverged Series: A Solution for your Most Dynamic Virtualized Environments

Over the past few years, to reduce cost and to improve time-to-value, converged infrastructure systems – the integration of compute, networking and storage - have been readily adopted by large enterprise users. The success of these systems results from the deployment of purpose built integrated converged infrastructure optimized for the most common IT workloads like Private Cloud, Big Data, Virtualization, Database and Desktop Virtualization (VDI). Traditionally these converged infrastructure systems have been built using a three-tier architecture; where compute, networking and storage, while integrated together in same rack, still consisted of best-in-breed standalone devices. These systems work well in stable, predictable environments, however, when a virtualization environment is dynamic with unpredictable growth, traditional three-tier architectures often times lack the simplicity, scalability and flexibility needed to operate in such environment.

Enter HyperConvergence, where the three-tier architecture has been collapsed into a single system that is purpose-built for virtualization from the ground up with virtualization, compute and storage, along with advanced features such as deduplication, compression and data protection, are all integrated into an x86 industry-standard building block node. These devices are built upon scale-out architectures with a 100% VM centric management paradigm. The simplicity, scalability and flexibility of this architecture make it a perfect fit for dynamic virtualized environments.

Dell XC Web-scale Converged Appliances powered by Nutanix software are delivered as a series of HyperConverged models that are extremely flexible and scalable. In this solution brief we will examine what constitutes a dynamic virtualized environment and how the Dell XC Web-scale Appliance series fits into such an environment. We can confidently state that by implementing Dell’s XC flexible range of Web-scale appliances, businesses can deploy solutions across a broad spectrum of virtualized workloads where flexibility, scalability and simplicity are critical requirements. Dell is an ideal partner to deliver Nutanix software because of its global reach, streamlined operations and enterprise systems solutions expertise. The company is well positioned to bring HyperConverged platforms to the masses and introduce the technology to a new set of customers previously unreached.

Publish date: 12/16/14
Technology Validation

Unified Storage Array Efficiency: HP 3PAR StoreServ 7400c versus EMC VNX 5600 (TVS)

The IT industry is in the middle of a massive transition toward simplification and efficiency around managing on-premise infrastructure at today’s enterprise data centers. In the past few years there has been a rampant onset of technology clearly focused at simplifying and radically changing the economics of traditional enterprise infrastructure. These technologies include Public/Private Clouds, Converged Infrastructure, and Integrated Systems to name a few. All of these technologies are geared to provide more efficiency of resources, take less time to administer, all at a reduced TCO. However, these technologies all rely on efficiency and simplicity of the underlying technologies of Compute, Network, and Storage. Often times the overall solution is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. The storage tier of the traditional infrastructure stack is often considered the most complex to manage.

This technology validation focuses on measuring the efficiency and management simplicity by comparing two industry leading mid-range external storage arrays configured in the use case of unified storage. Unified storage has been a popular approach to storage subsystems that consolidates both file access and block access within a single external array thus being able to share the same precious drive capacity resources across both protocols simultaneously. Businesses value the ability to send server workloads down a high performance low latency block protocol while still taking advantage of simplicity and ease of sharing file protocols to various clients. In the past businesses would have either setup a separate file server in front of their block array or buy completely separate NAS devices, thus possibly over buying storage resource and adding complexity. Unified storage takes care of this by providing ease of managing one storage device for all business workload needs. In this study we compared the attributes of storage efficiency and ease of managing and monitoring an EMC VNX unified array versus an HP 3PAR StoreServ unified array. The approach we used was to setup two arrays side-by-side and recorded the actual complexity of managing each array for file and block access, per the documents and guides provided for each product. We also went through the exercise of sizing various arrays via publicly available configuration guides to see what the expected storage density efficiency would be for some typically configured systems.

Our conclusion was nothing short of astonishment. In the case of the EMC VNX2 technology, the approach to unification more closely resembles a hardware packaging and management veneer approach than what would have been expected for a second generation unified storage system. HP 3PAR StoreServ on the other hand, in its second generation of unified storage has transitioned the file protocol services from external controllers to completely converged block and file services within the common array controllers. In addition, all the data path and control plumbing is completely internal as well with no need to wire loop back cables between controllers. HP has also made the investment to create a totally new management paradigm based on the HP OneView management architecture, which radically simplifies the administrative approach to managing infrastructure. After performing this technology validation we can state with confidence that HP 3PAR StoreServ 7400c is 2X easier to provision, 2X easier to monitor, and up to 2X more data density efficient than a similarly configured EMC VNX 5600. 

Publish date: 12/03/14
Profile

OneCloud Software: DR For the Masses

With the advent of server virtualization, many adopters erroneously think that disaster recovery (DR) is a problem of the past. They cite the ability of the hypervisors to replace the two most common yet imperfect DR choices: 1) infrastructure replication to a secondary replica site – fast to restore but very expensive, or 2) economical tape backup with off-site long-term storage – economical but slow to recover from.

The reality is that while server virtualization has certainly helped the industry get closer to simpler and less expensive DR products, DR still remains one of the major challenges for IT. This is especially true for applications that fall somewhere between the most mission critical where RTOs and RPOs of a few seconds is needed (and cost is often no object) and those that find RTOs and RPOs of a day or two to be adequate. Today, DR products available for these “intermediate” applications are few and far between, especially when overall cost of DR is considered.  

The missing piece so far has been a cost-effective DR solution with excellent RTO and RPO for the majority of business applications -- without requiring a secondary site. OneCloud steps into the gap by replacing that expensive site with the hyper-scale public cloud. This Profile will discuss how OneCloud works to extend the primary data center onto the cloud, and how this impacts the ease and speed of VM recovery.

Publish date: 11/19/14
Free Reports

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 offering 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: 10/16/14
Report

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
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