Coming up next month is Storage Field Day 3 which will be held on April 24th through the 26th and is part of the Gestalt IT – Tech Field Day events. I will be participating as a delegate (as I have before) and will be meeting with a number of storage companies in the Denver Colorado area to learn about their product offerings from a technical perspective and how they will fit into the virtualization realm.
The companies that will be presenting at this event are; Avere Systems, Cleversafe, Marvell, NetApp, NEXGEN Storage, PernixData, SanDisk, Starboard and two other companies that have not yet been named.
I am very familiar with NetApp, NEXGEN and Starboard since I have been working on NetApp systems for quite a few years and also met NEXGEN and Starboard at a prior Tech Field Day event, but I am interested to hear about the new product(s) and to engage in more technical detail about the presented material from each.
As always, I do my homework when meeting these companies so that I can start to pry open the inner workings of their product(s). Being a huge fan of file based storage, I fully intend to have some technical conversations with Avere Systems about their FXT Edge filers and to learn more about the way they tier and scale their platform from a capacity vs. performance standpoint.
After reading about Cleversafe’s product, I am very interested in the products they have listed in their portfolio. The product looks to have three components to it. The Manager, Accesser and Slicestor. Without going to far into what each of these components do, I am refraining from further discussion in this post and will wait to have a fact to face with them about it.
Marvell’s DragonFly product looks interesting with their NVRAM for SAN & NAS and NVCACHE & NVDRIVE that look to be designed for cloud solutions. I will make a note of talking to them more about the NVDRIVE since that product is stated on the website to target public and private cloud environments with the PCIe SSD accelerator with write-back caching on their tiered non-volatile memory.
I am very curious about PernixData’s “Flash Virtualization Platform”, that upon preliminary review, looks to have a play in the virtualized datacenter space with a application data tiering method that is targeted towards application acceleration.
Look for follow up posts about these and the other companies that we will be meeting at this event. With the lineup of delegates that they have planned for this, I expect some very technical discussions.
Many companies have very strict rules on who can enter the datacenter and your VMware infrastructure should not be any different! Sure there are various levels of access in datacenters, I’ve been in quite a few and I sleep better at night knowing that the necessary precautions are taken to secure these facilities. Jason Boche wrote a great article back in 2009 that describes in detail, how the security model works in vCenter and within the article, shows some of the pitfalls of providing too much access for what seems to be minimal rights.
What we need to understand is that the virtual infrastructure should be protected in the same manner that we employ in the physical world. If the wrong person got in as an administrator, it could spell disaster for your entire infrastructure/datacenter. The following recommendations may seem too stringent for some folks, but we should not simply give certain access just to “get things done”. VMware vCenter has some really nice predefined templates that you can use to minimize the attack footprint while allowing different levels of administrators the ability to do their job, but always double-check what permissions are granted with them.
Here are a few guidelines you should follow:
Changes in the authentication mechanism
vSphere 5.1 – along with vCenter 5.1 comes with a requirement to run the environment with single sign-on (or SSO). The implementation has a few components to it and I’m sure many of you have already tested this out in the lab or have deployed some parts of it already. The following diagram is a depiction of the authentication process and how your credentials (tokens) are sent to endpoint.
With the implementation of SSO, VMware is trying to reign in and protect authentication to the core components of the virtual infrastructure and doing your part with these access control guidelines, you will ensure a stable and secure virtual datacenter.
I got the chance to attend the Next-Generation Storage Symposium in San Jose yesterday that is organized by Tech Field Day and hosted by Steven Foskett. There were a number of vendors that spoke at the event and if I could put a theme on this event it would be centric around flash based storage. I am going to summarize on what each vendor brought to the table at this event in order to give you an overview of what was talked about.
Nexsan - Hybrid storage platform through SAN, NAS and Unified Storage Systems including their NS model that they referenced in their presentation.
Nimbusdata - The presentation revolved around their memory-based protocol storage systems and they discussed how simplistic the platform is and they emphasized a 10yr warranty on their platform.
Permabit - This company focuses on Enterprise Flash Array’s and cache solutions through their Albireo dedupication methods for SSD’s.
Purestorage -This is a pure flash-based storage platform that reads and writes to flash disks fundamentally different to take advantage of performance and sustain longevity.
Solidfire - They are focused on cloud-scale computing and the performance requirements behind it. Their point is that traditional storage platforms are not designed for this level of storage. Solidfire’s presentation focused on taking advantage of unique properties of these solid state drives.
Starboard - This company fell in line with the other presenters in that they have a hybrid storage platform that is focused on delivery at a certain price point. They also make note of cost savings from consolidating and mixing workloads with dynamic storage pooling.
Tegile - This presentation focused on their Hybrid storage system that utilizes spinning disk as well as flash based. They touched on their management capabilities with this technology around VDI as well.
Towards the end of the day, some of the Tech Field Day delegates hosted a number of sessions that had various panelists talk about a number of topics that pertained to the architecture of these next generation storage platforms.
Flash Storage overview – Comments from the moderator and panelists centered on the delivery mechanisms for each company that is focused on solid state as the primary tier for all levels. A strong argument was made from one of the attendees that some of these problems have been addressed at a higher layer and if these technologies have these same issues in mind when products are delivered.
Scaling storage for the future – Comments from the panelists revolved around how large scale environments can effectively be moved to the next level and maintain the service levels that the original deployment was designed to deliver.
Storage for the Virtual Infrastructure – Questions and statements in this panel talked about how these new storage platforms are going to affect how data is accessed and stored. One of the main highlights in this discussion were centered around how the storage layer is aware of the type of I/O that is being passed to it. VMware’s VAAI was called out specifically as well as other API’s that are coming to market.