Converged compute and storage solutions

Lately I have been looking more and more in to converged compute and storage solutions, or “datacenter in a box” solutions as some like to call them. I am a big believer of this concept as some of you may have noticed. Those who have never heard of these solutions, an example of this would be Nutanix or Simplivity. I have written about both Nutanix and Simplivity in the past, and for a quick primer on those respective solutions I suggest to read those articles. In short, these solutions run a hypervisor with a software based storage solution that creates a shared storage platform from local disks. In others, no SAN/NAS required, or as stated… a full datacenter experience in just a couple of U’s.

One thing that stood out to me though in the last 6 months is that for instance Nutanix is often tied to VDI/View solutions, in a way I can understand why as it has been part of their core message / go-to-market strategy for a long time. In my opinion though there is no limit to where these solutions can grow and go. Managing storage, or better said your full virtualization infrastructure, should be as simple as creating or editing a virtual machine. One of the core principles mentioned during the vCloud Distributed Storage talk at VMworld, by the way vCloud Distributed Storage is a VMware software defined storage initiative.

Hopefully people are starting to realize that these so-called Software Defined Storage solutions will fit in most, if not all, scenarios out there today. I’ve been having several discussions with people about these solutions and wanted to give some examples of how it could fit in to your strategy.

Just a week ago I was having a discussion with a customer around disaster recovery. They wanted to add a secondary site and replicate their virtual machines to that site. The cost associated with a second storage array was holding them back. After an introduction to converged storage and compute solutions they realized they could step in to the world of disaster recovery slowly. They realized that these solutions allowed them to protect their Tier-1 applications and expand their DR protected estate when required. By using a converged storage and compute solutions they can avoid the high upfront cost and it allows them to scale out when needed (or when they are ready).

One of the service providers I talk to on a regular basis is planning on creating a new cloud service. Their current environment is reaching its limits and predicting how this new environment will grow in the upcoming 12 months is difficult due to the agile and dynamic nature of this service they are developing. The great thing though about a converged storage and compute solution is that they can scale out whenever needed, without a lot of hassle. Typically the only requirement is the availability of 10Gbps ports in your network. For the provider though the biggest benefit is probably that services are defined by software. They can up-level or expand their offerings when they please or when there is a demand.

These are just two simple examples of how a converged infrastructure solution could fit in to your software defined datacenter strategy. The mentioned vendors Nutanix and Simplivity are also just two examples out of various companies offering these. I know of multiple start-ups who are working on a similar products and of course there are the likes of Pivot3 who already offer turnkey converged solutions. As stated earlier, personally I am a big believer in these architectures and if you are looking to renew your datacenter or at the verge of a green-field deployment… I highly recommend researching these solutions.

Go Software Defined – Go Converged!

Storage vMotion does not rename files?

A while back I posted that 5.0 U2 re-introduced the renaming behavior for VM file names. I was just informed by our excellent Support Team that unfortunately the release notes missed something crucial and Storage vMotion does not rename files by default. In order to get the renaming behavior you will have to set an advanced setting within vCenter.. This is how you do it:

  • Go to “Administration”
  • Click on “vCenter Server Settings”
  • Click “Advanced Settings”
  • Add the key “provisioning.relocate.enableRename” with value “true” and click “add”
  • Restart vCenter service or vCenter Server

Now the renaming of the files during the SvMotion process should work again!
All of you who need this functionality, please make sure to add this advanced setting.

storage vmotion does not rename files

Awesome appliance, vCenter Support Assistant

Today an awesome appliance called the vCenter Support Assistant was made available to the world. I have seen some screenshots and a demo and feel that this appliance is a MUST HAVE for anyone who files Support Requests. Just the fact that you can do that from a single interface, which also allows you to upload the support bundle just makes life a whole lot easier.

vCenter Support Assistant

Ryan Johnson wrote an excellent article on this topic… and I am going to steal his thunder so I suggest you head over to the VMware TAM Program blog (open to everyone) and read up on this excellent Appliance.

Disk.SchedulerWithReservation aka mClock

A long time ago when playing around in my lab with vSphere 5.1 I stumbled across this advanced setting called Disk.SchedulerWithReservation. I start digging to see what I could do with it and what it was about… if I could anything with it at all.

The description was kind of vague but it revealed what this disk scheduler was, it mentioned “mClock”. For those who don’t collect academic papers for night time reading like me, mClock is a new disk scheduler which is being researched by VMware and partners. The disk scheduler, in contrary to the current scheduler SFQ, will allow you to do some more advanced stuff.

For instance mClock will allow you to set an IOps reservation on a VM. So in other words, when you have a virtual machine that needs to have 500 IOps guaranteed you will be able to do so with mClock. Now I have been digging and asking around and unfortunately this logic to set reservations has not been implemented in 5.1.

If you are interested in mClock and its benefits I would recommend reading this academic paper by my colleagues Ajay Gulati (One of the leads on: DRS, Storage DRS, SIOC). I find it very interesting and hope it will be fully available sometime soon. And before you ask, no I don’t know when or even if this will ever be available.

How to disable ESXi firewall

For a project I had to disable the ESXi firewall on a host permanently. To be honest, it isn’t something I would do normally or would recommend even. It wasn’t listed in “chkconfig”, which kinda makes sense, so I looked at the networking section of esxcli. What an awesome command by the way! Quickly after “tab’ing” through esxcli I figured out how to disable it permanently:

esxcli network firewall set --enabled false

I figured I would write it down, because this is the stuff I tend to forget easily.

PS: If you ever need anything around esxcli, the vSphere Blog is a good place to check as most of the relevant posts are tagged with “esxcli”.