Software-defined storage defines a trend, evolves to meet demand

March 11, 2015
Software-defined storage defines a trend, evolves to meet demand

By Ian Jansen van Rensburg, Senior Systems Engineering Manager at VMware Southern Africa

It was in 2011 that Marc Andreesen famously said, “Software is eating the world.” This has become increasingly true, although with a suspicious lack of crunching noises. The reality is that most agile organisations are digital and built on software, key competencies around software management making them more capable of thriving in the marketplace than those who refuse to change or acknowledge this fundamental shift.

The widespread adoption of virtualization has already transformed compute into software-defined. Networking has followed suit and storage is now firmly centre stage. Data centre architecture is undergoing a transition into the software-defined space and solutions within this arena are starting to mature and provide the business with sustainable and substantial answers to their requirements.

As with all tech there are key words linked to a viable software-defined storage (SDS) solution – agile, flexible, scalable, affordable and manageable. We’d like to add a sixth word – simple.

Virtual SAN 6 and vSphere Virtual Volumes are our two new releases that have been designed to enable the mass adoption of SDS within the enterprise easily. Virtual SAN 6 is simple, radically so, with four times the performance, double the scale and with new enterprise-specific features. VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes is another industry first that enables native virtual machine awareness across a broad range of third-party storage systems.

These two partners in SDS crime have been designed to tap into the market need for a new approach to SDS that addresses storage-related operational complexity and cost challenges. Their job is to leverage the hypervisor to advance storage in the cloud while also giving the business the operational efficiency already enjoyed by server virtualization. In this post we will be looking at what VMware Virtual SAN 6 is capable of delivering to the enterprise, in the next it’s all about Virtual Volumes…

Virtual SAN 6 enables a two tier all-flash architecture where flash devices can be used intelligently for caching and data persistence. This provides more than four times the input/output throughput per note compared with Virtual SAN 5.5 with predictable sub-millisecond latency. Lots of big words, plenty of big deliverables.

Our SDS offers a maximum throughput of seven million input/output operations per second with superb linear scalability, this is further boosted by 64 nodes per cluster that enables up to 6, 400 virtual machines per cluster. Each of these clusters can exceed eight petabytes of storage capacity. In addition, snapshot depth is increased to 32 per virtual machine with a minimised performance overhead.

Virtual SAN 6 also allows for the intelligent placement of virtual machine objects across server racks which vastly improves application availability, even in the case of rack failures, and customers can scale Virtual SAN 6 clusters to large capacity in server blade environments thanks to support for direct attached JBODs.

This solution delivers radically simple, hypervisor-converged storage for virtual machines with rich storage policy-based management. The storage model is being shifted from the device to the application and administrators can provision storage for applications at impressive speeds – within minutes. Already we have seen impressive uptake from customers with more than 1000 purchases of VMware Virtual SAN 6 since its launch. We believe this is thanks to its ease of management, deep integration with the VMware stack, high performance, elastic scalability and lower total cost of ownership. It ticks all five of the keyword boxes and still keeps it simple. Welcome to SDS evolved.


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