Startup News Flash part 3

Who knew so quickly after part 1 and part 2 there would be a part 3, I guess not strange considering VMworld is coming up soon and there was a Flash Memory Summit last week. It seems that there is a battle going on in the land of the AFA’s (all flash arrays), it isn’t about features / data services as one would expect. No they are battling over capacity density aka how many TBs can I cram in to a single U, not sure how relevant this is going to be over time, yes it is nice to have dense configurations, yes it is awesome to have a billion IOps in 1U but most of all I am worried about availability and integrity of my data.  So instead of going all out on density, how about going all out on data services? Not that I am saying density isn’t useful, it is just… Anyway, I digress…

One of the companies which presented at Flash Memory Summit was Skyera. Skyera announced an interesting new product called skyEagle. Another all-flash array is what I can hear many of you thinking, and yes I thought exactly the same… but skyEagle is special compared to others. This 1u box manages to provide 500TB of flash capacity, now that is 500TB of raw capacity. So just imagine what that could end up being after Skyera’s hardware-accelerated data compression and data de-duplication has done its magic. Pricing wise? Skyera has set a list price for the read-optimized half petabyte (500 TB) skyEagle storage system of $1.99 per GB, or $.49 per GB with data reduction technologies. More specs can be found here. Also, I enjoyed reading this article on The Register which broke the news…

David Flynn (Former Fusion-io CEO) and Rick White (Fusion-io founder) started a new company called Primary Data. The WallStreet Journal reported on this and more or less revealed what they will be working on:”that essentially connects all those pools of data together, offering what Flynn calls a “unified file directory namespace” visible to all servers in company computer rooms–as well as those “in the cloud” that might be operatd by external service companies.” This kind of reminds me of Aetherstore, or at least the description aligns with what Aetherstore is doing. Definitely a company worth tracking if you ask me.

One of the companies I did an introduction post on is Simplivity. I liked their approach to converged as it not only combines just compute and storage, but they also included backup, replication, snapshots, dedupe and cloud integration. They announced this week an update on their Omnicube CN-3000 platform and introduced two new platforms Omnicube CN-2000 and the Omnicube CN-5000. So what are these two new Omnicubes? Basically the CN-5000 is the big brother of the CN-3000 and the CN-2000 is its kid brother. I can understand why they introduced these as it will help expanding the target audience, “one size fits all” doesn’t work when the cost for “all” is the same and so the TCO/ROI changes based on your actual requirements, but in a negative way. One of the features that made SimpliVity unique that has had a major update is the OmniStack Accelerator, this is a custom designed PCIe card that does inline dedupe and compression. Basically an offload mechanism for dedupe and compression where others are leveraging the server CPU. Another nice thing SimpliVity added is support for VAAI. If you are interested in getting to know more, two white papers were released which are interesting to read: a deep dive by Hans de Leenheer and Stephen Foskett and one with a focus on “data management” by Howard Marks.

A bit older announcement, but as I spoke with these folks this week and they demoed their GA product I figured I would add them to the list. Ravello Systems developed a cloud hypervisor which abstracts your virtualization layer and allows you to move virtual machines / vApps between clouds (private and public) without the need to rebuild your virtual machines or guest OS’s. What I am saying is that they can move your vApps from vSphere to AWS to Rackspace without painful conversions every time. Pretty neat right? On top of that, Ravello is your single point of contact meaning that they are also a cloud broker. You pay Ravello and they will take care of AWS / RackSpace etc. of course they allow you to do stuff like snapshotting, cloning and create complex network configurations if needed. They managed to impress me during the short call we had, and if you want to know more I recommend reading this excellent article by William Lam or visit their booth during VMworld!

That is it for part 3, I bet I will have another part next week during or right after VMworld as press releases are coming in every hour at this point. Thanks for reading,

With a single Datastore can I still use HA’s Datastore heartbeating?

I had a question last week around HA’s datastore heartbeating, the question was if datastore heartbeating still worked if you only have 1 datastore in your environment. I can understand where the question comes from as HA throws this error that you need to have 2 datastores at a minimum for HA datastore heartbeating to function correctly. I want to point out that even though HA says that 2 datastores is the minimum, even when only one datastore is available it will be used for heartbeat purposes. Yes this error will be there on your cluster, and yes you can suppress it using “das.ignoreInsufficientHbDatastore“. I figured others might be hitting the same error and have the same question so why not document it?!

Minimum bandwidth requirements per concurrent vMotion?

I have been digging for a long time now to figure out what the minimum bandwidth requirements are per concurrent vMotion. After a long time I finally managed to get a statement. In the past the statement was made that 622Mbps was the minimum required bandwidth for vMotion, it appears that this is incorrect for vSphere 5.0 and higher. With vSphere 5.0 a new feature called Stun During Page Send (SDPS) was introduced and this has decreased the bandwidth requirements from 622Mpbs down to 250Mbps per concurrent vMotion.

Always nice to know right?!

ESXi “Management traffic” tickbox, what does it do?

I have seen this popping up various times over the last few years. That little tickbox on your VMkernel NIC that says “Management traffic” (aka management network) what is it for? What if I untick it, will SSH to that VMkernel still work? Will the HA heartbeat still work? Can I still ping the VMkernel NIC? Those are all questions I have had in the past, and I can understand why… I would say that the term “Management traffic” is really really poorly chosen, but why?

The feature described as “Management traffic” does nothing more than enabling that VMkernel NIC for HA heartbeat traffic. Yes that is it. Even if you disable this feature, management traffic, you can still use the VMkernel’s associated IP address for adding it to vCenter Server. You can still SSH that VMkernel associated IP address if you have SSH enabled. So keep that in mind.

Yes I fully agree, very confusing but there you have it: the “management traffic” enables the HA heartbeat network, nothing more and nothing less.

Startup News Flash part 2

First part of the Startup News Flash was published a couple of weeks ago, and as many things have happened I figured I would publish another. At times I guess I will miss out on a news fact or a new company, if that happens don’t hesitate to leave a comment with your findings/opinion or just a link to what you feel is newsworthy! As mentioned in part 1 the primary focus of this article is Startup news / Flash related news. As you can see most flash related except for one.

Nimbus Data launched two brand new arrays: Gemini F400 / F600 arrays. These are all flash arrays, and bring something unique to the table for sure… and that is costs: price per useable gigabyte is $0.78. Yes, that is low indeed. How do they bring it down? Well of course by very efficient deduplication and compression. On top of that, by leveraging standard hardware and getting all smarts from software the price can be kept low. According to the press release these new arrays will be able to provide between 3TB and 48TB of capacity (I almost said disk space there…) and will be shipping end of this year! Although Nimbus declared Hybrid Storage officially dead, mainly because of the cost of Nimbus all flash solution (the F400 starts under US$60,000, the F600 starts under US$80,000.), I still think there is a lot of room for growth in that space and many customer will be interested in those solutions. My question yesterday on twitter was to Nimbus which configuration they did the math with to declare hybrid dead, because cost per gigabyte is one thing, the upfront investment to reach that price point is another. It will be interesting to see how they will do the upcoming 12-18 months, but it is needless to say that they will be going after their competition aggressively. Talking about competition….

Last year at VMworld I briefly stopped at the Tegile booth, besides the occasional tweet I kind of lost track until recent as Tegile just announced series C funding… Not pocket money I would say but a serious round, $35 million, led by Meritech Capital Partners and original stakeholder August Capital and strategic partners Western Digital and SanDisk.  For those who don’t know, Tegile is a storage company who sells both a hybrid and an “all-flash” solution and they have done this in an interesting modular fashion (all-flash placed in front of spinning disks = modular hybrid). Of course they also offer functionality like dedupe/compression and replication. Although I haven’t heard too much from them lately it is a booth I will surely stop by at VMworld. Again, there is a lot of competition in this space and it would be interesting to see an “All-flash / Hybrid Storage bake off”. Tegile vs Nimbus, Nimble vs Tintri, Pure Storage vs Violin…

Violin Memory just announced the 6264 flash Memory Array. This new all flash storage system can provide a capacity of 64 TiB/70.3 TB with a footprint of just 3U, and that is impressive if you ask me. On top of that, it can provide up to 1 million IOps and at a ultra low latency! Who doesn’t want to have 1 million IOps to its disposal right? (More specs to be found here.) To me though what was more exciting in this press release was the announcement of a management tool called Symphony. Symphony provides a single pane of glass for all your Violin devices (read more details here.) It provides a smart management interface that allows you to create custom dashboard, comprehensive reporting, tagging and filtering and of course they provide a RESTful API for you admins out there who love to automate things. Nice announcement from Violin Memory, and those already running Violin hardware I would definitely recommend evaluating Symphony as the video looks promising.

CloudPhysics just announced the Card Store is GA as of today (13th August 2013) and a new round of funding ($ 10 million) led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Previous investors the Mayfield Fund, Mark Leslie, Peter Wagner, Carl Waldspurger, Nigel Stokes, Matt Ocko and VMware co-founders also participated in this round. I would say an exciting day for CloudPhysics. Many have asked over the last year why have I always been enthusiastic about what they do? I think John Blumenthal (CEO) explains it best:

Our servers receive a daily stream of 80+ billion samples of configuration, performance, failure and event data from our global user base with a total of 20+ trillion data points to date. This ‘collective intelligence,’ combined with CloudPhysics’ patent-pending datacenter simulation and unique resource management techniques, empowers enterprise IT to drive Google-like operations excellence using actionable analytics from a large, relevant, continually refreshed data set.

If you are interested in testing their solution, sign up for a free trial  at Pricing starts at $49/month per physical server, more details here. For those wondering what CloudPhysics has to do with flash, well they’ve got a card for that!

That was it for Part 2, hope you found it a useful round-up and I will expect to be able to publish another startup news flash within 2 weeks!