Startup Intro: AetherStore

AetherStore Every once in a while you see a solution by a startup and you get all excited. AetherStore is one of those type of solutions. The funny thing is that AetherStore is not directly related to my day-to-day job, but I can fully relate to their pitch. So what is AetherStore and who are the folks behind it?

AetherStore was founded by three graduates from Scotland’s University of St Andrews. This by itself is worth mentioning in my opinion as especially in this space I don’t typically see an enormous amount of innovation coming out of Europe. (Although since then they moved to the US.) With experience in distributed systems, fault tolerance, databases and storage it is not surprising to see what problems they are trying to solve and how they are intending to solve it.

AetherStore is indeed a storage solution as you probably had already guessed. AetherStore is all about using spare resources, and in this case storage resources. Essentially what AetherStore is aiming to do for your company is leveraging the available local disk space of your desktops (and servers for that matter) and offer that up as a “data store”. In other words; if you have 20 desktops with a 1 TB disk but only 100GB is used then 900GB of that disk can be used for other purposes. Now reality of course is that it isn’t possible to use the full 900GB for other purposes but you get my point.

AetherStore essentially is a distributed data store solution. This distributed data store is served up to users as a regular network file share and all the magic AetherStore does is hidden from the user. I guess the big question that pops-up immediately is what about availability, security and performance? All three of those are typically what either keeps the user, or the administrator busy. AetherStore solves those problems in various ways:

  • Performance: a local cache is used to optimize the end-user experience
  • Availability: Data is replicated to multiple “nodes” meaning that if a “node” fails than data can be reconstructred. On top of that AetherStore offers the ability to backup (and restore) data to the “cloud” (Mozy, Amazon etc)
  • Security: Data is encrypted

That is not all, on top of that AetherStore offers versioning of files and ensure efficiency by offering deduplication. I guess it all sounds very promising right? In my opinion it does, and it is one of those solutions that I have on my “watch lists”.

I do wonder what the requirements are when it comes down to availability of data when people move around different desktops; and desktops are also powered-off or restarted by users at random. I also would like to point out here that I have not played with AetherStore, neither is this article sponsored or am I affiliated with AetherStore in any way. This is simply and introduction to a cool startup which managed to intrigue / interest me with their technology.

If you want to find out more about AetherStore, make sure to sign up on for early access if you are interested, and/or follow them on twitter. If you want to know more, I can recommend this white paper about AetherStore as it reveals some more of details of the implementation.

VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor-Manager 1.1 is out, sign up for it!

VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager 1.1 is a minor release with the following new capabilities:

  • Migration of virtual machines from Hyper-V to ESX or ESXi hosts.
  • Support for the latest Microsoft Hyper-V3 hypervisor (as well as the earlier versions).
  • Increased scalability with regards to the number of supported third-party hosts to 50 (from 20 in MHM 1.0).
  • Ability to provide custom certificates for the MHM server from the installer wizard.
  • Multiple objects selection in the UI and a number of other usability improvements.
  • Plus a number of server and client-side bug fixes.

If you have some Hyper-V hosts in your environment that you want to manage, or need to migrate from Hyper-V to vSphere, then make sure to download this nice vCenter add-on. It is in Beta, and I am certain the engineering team will appreciate all the feedback you can give.

Startup Intro: SoftNAS

Last week I had a chat with Rick Braddy from SoftNAS. Some of you might know Rick from when he was the CTO of a hosted virtul desktop company called Virtual-Q and others from when he was the CTO of Citrix for XenApp and XenDesktop. Today Rick is the CTO for SoftNAS, a software and appliance based storage solution. Rick gave me an introduction to what it is SoftNAS (Professional) does and offers and I figured I would do a short write-up as an introduction to SoftNAS.

Ultimately SoftNAS is a virtual appliance that offers up local storage as shared storage. SoftNAS is build on top of CentOS and leverages ZFS. It is deployed as a virtual machine, which means that it takes a couple of minutes to set up. SoftNAS has a nice looking user interface which allows you to quickly create shared storage for your virtual environment. When I say quickly I mean in a matter of minutes you have shared storage to your disposal: select your volumes –> create a storage pool –> create a volume –> use it. For those who care, besides VMware vSphere SoftNAS also supports Hyper-V and Amazon EC2. [Read more...]

What is: Current Memory Failover Capacity?

I have had this question many times by now, what is “Current Memory Failover Capacity” that is shown in the cluster summary when you have selected the “Percentage Based Admission Control Policy”? What is that percentage? 99% of what? And will it go down to 0%? Or will it go down to the percentage that you reserved? Well I figured it was time to put things to the test and no longer be guessing.

As shown in the screenshot above, I have selected 33% of memory to be reserved and currently have 99% of memory failover capacity. Lets power-on a bunch of virtual machines and see what happens. Below is the result shown in a screenshot, “current memory failover capacity” went down from 99% to 94%.

Also when I increase the reservation in a virtual machine I can see “Current Memory Failover Capacity” drop down even further. So it is not about “used” but about “unreserved / reserved” memory resources (including memory overhead), let that be absolutely clear! When will vCenter Server shout “Insufficient resources to satisfy configured failover level for vSphere HA”?

It shouldn’t be too difficult to figure that one out, just power-on new VMs until it says “stop it”. As you can see in the screenshot below. This happens when you reach the percentage you specified to reserve as “memory failover capacity”. In other words in my case I reserved 33%, when “Current Memory Failover Capacity” reaches 33% it doesn’t allow the VM to be powered on as this would violate the selected admission control policy.

I agree, this is kind of confusing…  But I guess when you run out of resources it will become pretty clear very quickly ;-)


VMworld 2013 call for papers open!

VMworld 2013 Call For Papers opened today. I know many of you are excited about this and hoping to have a session accepted at this top-of-the-bill event. Personally I always submit various sessions and for the last years always had atleast one of them excepted, and some years even multiple. So the obvious question I always get is “do you have tips”?

I guess at the risk of lowering my own chances, here they are, do note that as always there is a limited number of sessions that will be accepted. No guarantee that my tips will help in any shape or form, but these are my rules when I submit a session:

  • Be Original, make sure your suggestion is unique. If there are 10 others submitting the exact same, chances are slim you will get in. (Every year I see at least 5 or 6 community/bloggers panel sessions being submitted, with limited space make sure you work together on this and do not compete.)
  • Think Big, although your 2 host home-lab might be interesting to you VMworld is attended by 20.000+ people. So make sure your session appeals to the broader audience AND to the voting committee.
  • Quality over Quantity, really there is no point in submitting 10 sessions. Rather submit two or three, well thought out and developed submissions. This is what you will be judged on by the voting committee. They will read your title and summary, this will need to convince them!
  • Co-Present! Something I always try to do is to team up with someone. Not only will it make the “delivery” a lot easier, but a second pair of eyes on the submission will help!
  • Theme – Theme – Theme, although the theme for 2013 hasn’t been announced yet all of us can more or less guess what it will be about. We all know VMware has these three pillars they are focusing on, and that the SDDC is a major part of it… Make sure to submit something that hits that theme / fits in to those three pillars!

Now before you start running and submit a session, take a deep breath, sit down, relax and think about what you are going to submit. The Call For Papers will be open until April 12th so no need to rush, start scribbling down those ideas and go take your time to fine-tune them!