Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM announces the second generation of Storwize V5000 flash and disk storage systems. There are the V5000F All-flash configurations, as well as the V5000 that can support a variety of flash and spinning disk drives.
There are three models:
To learn more, read the [Storwize V5000 Gen2 announcement letter].
technorati tags: IBM, Storwize, Spectrum Virtualize, Storwize V5000F, Storwize V5000, Storwize V5010, Storwize V5020, Storwize V5030, Thin Provisioning, FlashCopy, Easy Tier, Remote Mirroring, Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SAS, FCoE, Encryption, Intel AES-NI, SED, Real-time Compression
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Can you believe it has been a year already since IBM announced VersaStack?
In my May 2012 blog post, [EMC Strikes Back], I poked fun at the fact that Cisco had two
Cisco originally partnered with EMC to create a converged system called Vblock which combined Cisco UCS servers and switches with EMC storage. The partnership between VMware, Cisco and EMC was dubbed Virtual Computing Environment (VCE).
However, Cisco then partnered with NetApp to create Flexpod, a converged system that combined Cisco UCS servers and switches with NetApp storage. Many of my clients felt that Flexpod was an improvement over Vblock.
A lot has happened since then. In 2014, [drastically reduced its investment in VCE]. Last year, Dell then spent $67 Billion dollars to effectively take EMC out of the storage business. While this was a huge birthday present for IBM, not everyone is happy to see EMC fade away. Whitney Garcia has a great article titled [Crying at the Dell-EMC wedding: Why VCE customers should consider alternatives].
Before VersaStack, IBM had its own converged system, PureSystems, which combined IBM POWER and x86 servers with IBM storage. The x86 server portion of this business was sold off to Lenovo, but IBM continues to sell POWER-only and blended x86-and-POWER PureFlex systems, as well as PureApplication and PureData systems.
The [VersaStack] collaboration between IBM and Cisco offers an alternative to Vblock and Flexpod converged systems. Cisco is a leader in x86 blades and networking switches, and IBM is #1 in Flash and Software Defined Storage, including Storage Virtualization. VersaStack gives you the best of both worlds!
The VersaStack has Cisco Validated Designs for use with IBM's Spectrum Virtualize products:
Later this month, I will be attending the [InterConnect Conference] in Las Vegas, Feb 21-25, 2016. This is IBM's premier Cloud & Mobile conference for the year.
Fellow blogger Stuart Thomson has a great post title [Storage & infrastructure @ InterConnect 2016: The choices are all yours] which provides some interesting statistics:
Wow! That can seem overwhelming. While the conference spans multiple hotels on the strip, I personally will be focusing my time at the [Mandalay Bay resort]. My session will be held at the Solutions Expo on Wednesday 1:45pm. Here are the details:
To help attendees plan your week, InterConnect has a [Session Preview Tool]. I have already found over 40 sessions related to Storage that I am interested in attending!
Need to register? Here is the [Registration Link].
I will be there all week, so if you see me, stop and say "Hello!"
As you can imagine, I get a lot of email from around the world. This one, from a loyal reader from overseas, was particularly interesting. Normally, I would direct them to read the fantastic manual [RTFM], but decided instead to go ahead and tackle it here in my blog.
I will tackle this in three steps.
First, let's attach "Server 1" and the FlashSystem 900 to the SAN fabric. IBM Spectrum Virtualize can handle one, two or even four separate fabrics. Let's assume you have a dual-port Host Bus Adapter (HBA) in server 1, and two redundant fabrics. We will connect each server port to each FCP switch. Likewise, we will connect each FCP switch to the FlashSystem 900, carve up "Volume 1", and create SAN "Zone A1" and "Zone A2", which identify "Server 1" as the initiator, and "FlashSystem 900" as the target. This is all basic stuff.
For those who want to follow along, I suggest you review the full implementation guidance in the IBM Redbook [Implementing the IBM Storwize V7000 Gen2]. Here is an excerpt:
"All Storwize V7000 Gen2 nodes in the Storwize V7000 Gen2 clustered system are connected to the same SANs, and they present volumes to the hosts. These volumes are created from storage pools that are composed of mDisks presented by the disk subsystems. The fabric must have three distinct zones:
Second, we connect the Storwize V7000 Gen2 to the FCP switches. You don't need to connect all of the ports, but I recommend that you have each controller node to each FCP switch, requiring four cables. Add more connections for added performance bandwidth.
Carve up "Volume 2" and this will be referred to as a "managed disk", mDisk for short, and create a "storage pool" which were formerly known as a "managed disk group" which is why you often see MDG in the naming conventions and examples. Storage pools can have one or more managed disks, and you can add more dynamically as needed.
The "storage zone" indicates the Storwize V7000 Gen2 as the initiator, and the FlashSystem 900 as target. If you want to increase the performance bandwidth, consider more cables between the FCP switches and the FlashSystem 900. We create "Zone B1" and "Zone B2". I recommend a separate "storage zones" for each additional storage system that you choose to attach to the Storwize V7000 Gen2.
The "cluster zone" that connects all of the Storwize V7000 Gen2 node ports together for node-to-node (intra-cluster) communication. Storwize V7000 Gen2 ports can serve as both initiators and targets dynamically. For example, when you write to one node, the node then copies the cache block over to the second node so there are two copies stored safely on separate nodes. Since we have two fabrics, we create "Zone C1" and "Zone C2".
Third, we connect "Server 2" to FCP switches, same as we did with "Server 1". We create "Volume 3" which is a "virtual disk, or vDisk for short, from the storage pool containing Volume 2. The "host zone"indicates Server 2 as the initiator, and Storwize V7000 Gen2 as the target. We create "Zone D1" and "Zone D2". I recommend putting each additional server in its own set of host zones.
In theory, you could have a server connected to both Volume 1 and Volume 3. For example, a Windows server would have a "C:" drive connected directly to FlashSystem 900 for high-speed performance, and have a "D:" drive on Storwize V7000 Gen2 to contain data. The Storwize V7000 Gen2 introduces 60 to 100 microseconds of added latency, but provides added value such as FlashCopy, Thin Provisioning, and Real-time compression.
Of course, there are unique situations that might require special configurations, depending on the servers, operating systems, host bus adapters, FCP switches, and storage systems involved.
In the 2004 comedy ["A Day Without a Mexican"], the director envisions how disruptive life would be in California if all the Mexicans suddenly disappeared. The point is that sometimes you take things in the background for granted.
I was reminded of this when I saw Mark Underwood's blog post [Mainframe: Still Not Crazy After All These Years]. The article reminds us how critical IBM z Systems mainframes (and related storage like the IBM DS8880 disk systems) are in our lives. Here's an excerpt:
What would a comparable film depicting "A Day without a Mainframe" be like? I would imagine it somewhere between a disaster movie like  and an end-of-the-world zombie horror movie like [28 Days Later]. I would gladly take a million dollars to write the screenplay!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM and am a filmmaker as well. Earlier in my career, I was chief architect of IBM's Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem (DFSMS) which manages around 80 percent of the world's corporate data. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM's z13 System mainframes and DS8880 Disk Systems. I have personal experience with both and highly recommend them. I am neither a Mexican nor resident of California, but work regularly with both in my job responsibilities. Like Warren Buffett, I also own stock in both IBM and Berkshire Hathaway companies. I had no involvement in the making of any of the major motion pictures mentioned in this blog post, have no financial interest in their distribution, and have not been provided any compensation for mentioning them in this blog post. They are all great movies worth watching!)
What do you think the movie would be like? Enter your comments below!
Happy New Year!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
This week, the new model 314 is [now available in all countries] that IBM does business in.
(Actually, the [XIV Model 314] was announced on Nov 10, 2015 last year, but announcements made in November and December are often overlooked between distractions like holidays and year-end processing. Today's announcement was to eliminate the "not available in some countries" restriction. The last time I mentioned on this blog that a product was not available in some countries, I had tons of questions of "why". Hopefully, waiting until a product is available in all countries eliminates that concern.)
What does the XIV model 314 offer? IBM doubled the processors, up to 180 cores, and doubled the DRAM cache, up to 1440 GB. Both of these changes were done to improve the Real-time compression capability.
To reduce test effort cycle time, IBM simplified the configuration options:
Through a combination of thin provisioning and compression, you can define up to 2 PB of soft capacity per rack.
The firmware v11.6.1 reduces the minimum volume size for compression from 103GB to 51GB. Firmware perpetually licensed for Spectrum Accelerate can be used with the XIV Model 314.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Every December, the "birthday boys" -- Bill, Kris and I -- celebrate our birthdays. For me, it is the big five-0h. According to a recent Harris poll, it is [America's favorite age!] For some people, [fifty is the new thirty]!
From left to right: Melinda Jensen, Bill Terry, Lee Olguin, Kris Keller, Tony Pearson, and Kristy Knight.
The storage, cloud and analytics team celebrated with cake and party hats. None of us "birthday boys" eat chocolate, so this year we chose a new flavor: Strawberry Cream! It was delicious.
It was a good time to reflect on our success and accomplishments. In 2015, I helped close over $270 million USD in revenues for IBM, meaning that I helped close over a million [per day on the job].
The IT industry went through a lot of changes also. Hewlett-Packard [split into two smaller pieces]. Dell started [EMC's fade to non-existence]. Cisco and IBM joined forces to create VersaStack, a converged system that combines the most popular x86 servers with the industry's best storage. Analysts recognized IBM's leadershp in today's [Cognitive Era].
Looking forward to an exciting 2016!
My friends over at Appcessories sent me an awesome infographic on the Internet of Things. If you happen to receive any gifts this holiday related to any of these categories, mention them in the comments below!
Enjoy your time off with friends and family!
Last Friday, I helped students learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This was the annual [2015 Arizona STEM Adventure] event in Tucson, Arizona. This year, Pima Community College Northwest Campus provided the venue.
The event hosted more than 900 students, ranging from fourth to eighth graders. Buses collected them from 31 schools across seven cities and towns in the Tucson area. Home-schooled, private-schooled and charter-schooled children participated as well.
I was just one of 130 volunteers. IBM, [Raytheon], [Pima Community College], [Agents of STEM], [SARSEF, [StemAZing], [Office of Pima County School Superintendent], [UA Stem Learning Center], and other individuals volunteered their time to make this happen.
As I arrived, students lined up to ride this "hover chair". A lawn-blower motor floated a chair attached to a platform. A blue tarp represented water. Volunteers would pull the hover chair across the tarp, giving the kids a fun ride. I wanted to ride it myself, but it was not engineered for my body weight!
Students chose among the most interesting of 50 exhibits. IBM led two of these exhibits.
First, we had the [Bike Wheel Gyroscope]. The students would stand on a rotating swivel platform, holding a spinning bicycle wheel. When the student tipped the wheel left or right, the students body would rotate on the platform!
Second, we had Share with Storyboarding. This is the one I volunteered for. IMHO, the best part of STEM is the Arts and Design aspect needed to make products usable. Perhaps we should rename STEM to STEAM to add "A" for Arts and Design.
We held six 30-minute sessions with each group of students. Our team lead, Brenton Elmore, IBM Design Principal, explained what storyboards are, and then gave the students five topics to choose from:
Children paired up in two-person teams based on their topic interest. Why teams? Many creative collaborations involve the strengths of different teammates. For example, an author and an illustrator work together to create a comics or children's book. Broadway musicals often have a writer and composer.
Each team spent 10 minutes to draw a six-panel storyboard on [Post-it notes]. These would be stuck to a single sheet of paper. The team then would write underneath each panel the narrative of what was occurring.
Brenton taped five or six of these to the wall to share with the rest of the class. Each team would then explain to the other students what they drew, and the narrative to go with it.
When there were an odd number of students, one of us volunteers paired up with a student. Shown here is Marilynn Franco, IBM Manager, helping young Bailey in explaining their storyboard. I helped young Lili with her storyboard about a new mobile phone app idea she had.
Storyboards are an essential part of IBM's [Design Thinking]. We use them in a variety of ways, from designing business strategies and product enhancements, to creating videos about the [IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center]!
When I make presentations to clients at briefings or conferences, I use 36 slides per hour. Each PowerPoint slide serves like a storyboard panel, and I provide the narrative on each one.
Special thanks go to Kathy Carlisle, IBM Tucson Site Operations Manager, and Mike Hernandez, IBM IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Manager, for setting this up!
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Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(FCC Disclosure: This official launch also includes October 6 announcements. In any case, the usual disclaimer applies: I currently work for IBM, and this blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" of the IBM products mentioned below.)
IBM announced various updates to its Spectrum Storage product line. Here is a quick recap.
Here's a great quote from a leading IT industry analyst:
"In multi-petabyte, multivendor installations, overall storage costs of ownership for use of IBM Spectrum Storage solutions averaged 73 percent less than EMC, and 61 percent less than Hitachi equivalents" -- Brian Jeffery, Managing Director, International Technology Group, Naples, FL
As IBM continues its transition from a hardware-oriented company founded over a century ago, manufacturing meat scales and cheese slicers, to one more focused on higher value-add software and services, the Spectrum Storage software family will play a critical role of this transformation!
technorati tags: IBM, Spectrum Virtualize, data-at-rest, encryption, SVC, Storwize, Storwize V7000, FlashSystem V9000, VersaStack, storage hypervisor, distributed RAID, RAID-5, RAID-6, Spectrum Scale, Elastic Storage Server, OpenStack, OpenStack Swift, Amazon S3, HTTP, Compression, Quality of Service, QoS, Hadoop, Spark, Hadoop Connector, HDFS, GUI, XIV, DCS3700, DCS3860, Spectrum Control, Tivoli Storage, Productivity Center, TPC, CLI, NAS, Storage Insights, SoftLayer, IBM Cloud Managed Services,
Continuing my coverage of the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, here are the sessions that I presented or attended on Days 4 (Thursday).
Most IBM conferences are 4.5 days long, which means that there are typically two or three sessions on Friday morning. Unfortunately, the two sessions I was planning to attend on Friday were both cancelled, so Day 4 was the end of my week for this conference.
technorati tags: IBM, #ibmtechu, Jack Arnold, Andrea Sipka, Mo McCullough, Vinyl LP, Spectrum Scale, Elastic Storage Server, ESS, IP Replication, SVC, Storwize V7000, LTO-7, TS4500, Spectrum Virtualize, Mike Griese, Jim Blue
Continuing my coverage of the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, here are the sessions that I presented or attended on Day 3 (Wednesday).
The day ended with a trip to Universal Studios. Dinner on the City Walk offered entertainment with Dueling Pianos. This was then followed by a trip to Hogsmeade, the Harry Potter themed portion of the resort.
technorati tags: IBM, #ibmtechu, big data, analytics, BigInsights, BigSQl, Spectrum Scale, Hadoop, John Wilkinson, SVC, Storwize, Stretch Cluster, HyperSwap, Dave Willoughby, Thin Provisioning, Space-Efficient Snapshot, Deduplication, Real-time Compression, Spectrum Virtualize, FlashSystem V9000
Continuing my coverage of the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, here are the sessions that I presented or attended on Day 2 (Tuesday).
The second day ended with a "Networking" Reception in the Solution Center, serving food and my favorite grape-flavored beverages.
technorati tags: IBM, #ibmtechu, Andrew+Greenfield, Eric+Aquaronne, Jay+Kruemcke, XIV, FlashSystem, OpenStack, SDS, Soft
Continuing my coverage of the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, here are the sessions that I presented or attended on Day 1 (Monday).
The day ended with a Welcome Reception at the IBM Solution Center that had various z System, Power System and System Storage solutions, as well as solutions from various IBM Business Partners and other third parties.
technorati tags: IBM, #ibmechu, Clod Barrera, Brian Sherman, Mo McCullough, Tricia Jiang, Glen Corneau, Smarter Storage, Cloud Storage, Spectrum Storage, Spectrum Protect, Spectrum Scale, SDS, Software Defined Storage, AIX, Linux POWER, TSM, GPFS
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Oh my, it is Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM announced its latest storage arrays in its IBM System Storage DS8000 series: the DS8880 models. Similar to the "Business Class" vs. "Enterprise Class" distinctions of the DS8870, IBM announced two new models, the DS8884 and the DS8886.
All of the new DS8880 models are based on the latest IBM POWER8 processors, and are noticeably thinner! These are now standard 19-inch wide, fitting nicely into standard IBM racks alongside most other standard 19-inch rack equipment.
The DC-UPS that used to be on the side are now at the bottom of each frame, taking up 8U of space. The High Performance Flash Enclosures (HPFE) that formerly were stored vertically above the DC-UPS will be stored horizontally with the rest of the HDD and SSD drives.
In previous DS8000 models, clients would have one Hardware Management Console (HMC) inside the array, and an optional second HMC workstation somewhere else for high availability. While the second one was optional, it was always considered best practice to have it for redundancy sake. In the new DS8880 models, you can have both HMC in the array, and the Keyb
The new I/O enclosure pairs are four times faster, supporting six Device Adapters and two HPFE connections over PCIe Gen 3 network, the fastest available in the industry.
Lastly, IBM simplified the licensing of software features into three bundles, based on TB total capacity of Fixed Block (FB) LUNs and Count-Key-Data (CKD) volumes:
IBM also provided a "Product preview", announcing plans for a third member of the DS8880 family in 2016 that will be flash-optimized to provide an all-flash, higher performance storage system model.
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It's Tuesday, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements! This week I am in beautiful Orlando, Florida for the [IBM Systems Technical University] conference.
This week, IBM announced its latest tape offerings for the seventh generation of Linear Tape Open (LTO-7), providing huge gains in performance and capacity.
For capacity, the new LTO-7 cartridges can hold up to 6TB native capacity, or 15TB effective capacity with 2.5x compression that for typical data. That is 2.4x larger than the 2.5TB catridges available with LTO-6. Performance is also nearly doubled, with a native throughput of 315 MB/sec, or effective 780 MB/sec effective capacity with 2.5x compression. The LTO consortium, of which IBM is a founding member, has published the roadmap for LTO generations to LTO-8, LTO-9 and LTO-10.
IBM will offer both half-height and full-height LTO-7 tape drives. All the features you love from LTO-6 like WORM, partitioning and Encryption carry forward. These drives will be supported on a variety of distributed operating systems, including Linux on z System mainframes, and the IBM i platform on POWER Systems.
The Linear Tape File System (LTFS) can be used to treat LTO-7 cartridges in much the same way as Compact Discs or USB memory sticks, allowing one person to create conent on an LTO-7 tape cartridge, and pass that cartridge to the next employee, or to another company. LTFS is also the basis for IBM Spectrum Archive that allows tape data to be part of a global namespace with IBM Spectrum Scale.
LTO-7 will be supported on the TS2900 auto-loader, as well as all of IBM's tape libraries: TS3100, TS3200, TS3310, TS3500 and TS4500. You can connect up to 15 TS3500 tape libraries together with shuttle connectors, for a maximum capacity of 2,700 drives serving 300,000 cartridges, for a maximum capacity of 1.8 Exabytes of data in a single system environment.
In addition to LTO-7 support, the IBM TS4500 tape library was also enchanced. You can now grow it up to 18 frames, and have up to 128 drives serving 23,170 cartridges, for a maximum capacity of 139 PB of data. You can now also intermix LTO and 3592 frames in the same TS4500 tape library.
For comptability, LTO-7 drives can read existing LTO-5 and LTO-6 tape cartridges, and can write to LTO-6 media, to help clients with transition.
This week I am in beautiful Orlando, Florida for the [IBM Systems Technical University] conference.
Amy Hirst, IBM Director, z Systems, Power, & Storage Technical Training, kicked off the general session.
Dr. Seshadri "Sesha" Subbanna, IBM Corporate Innovation and Technology Evaluation, asked the audience what capability is needed to drive business growth. A recent poll indicated that the ability for businesses to innovate was the number one response.
The IT industry has had its own version of growth. Consider the Apollo 11 [Guidance Computer] used to land a man on the moon had just 4KB or RAM, and 36KB or ROM. A typical smartphone has 62,000,000 times as much.
The Appollo missions led and motivated the Integrated-Circuit technology, but soon, maybe in the next 10 years, Dr. Subbanna feels that Silicon may run its course. Today, both POWER8 and z13 servers are based on 22nm. IBM has projected possible reductions to 17nm, 13nm, 10nm, and finally 7nm. That's it, smaller than 7nm may not be possible without hitting atomic issues.
The City of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a good example. In 2010, heavy rains resulted in flooding and landslides that killed over 110 residents. To prevent such high death rates in the future, IBM helped the city government predictive analytics and forecasting that allows "rain simulations" to see how well the city can handle different situations.
IBM is already looking for a more holistic view of systems, and new technologies like cognitive computing. New 3D technology allows various chip technologies to be stacked as layers on a single chip. For example, you could have computer on the bottom layer, flash non-volatile storage in middle layers, and networking at top layer. Connecting the layers is merely a matter of drilling holds and filling them with metal.
The idea that compute is the center of the universe, with a mainframe server surrounded by input and output "peripheral" storage devices, is giving way to a more storage-centric model, where central storage repositories (or data lakes) are accessed by "peripheral" smartphones, tablets and variety of servers. For example, the IBM DB2 Accerlation Appliance acts as a storage-centric model that IBM z System mainframes can connect to, send data in, process complex database queries, and get the results 2000x faster.
In another client example, IBM helped a bank in China to determine optimal placement of bank branches, based on public information of average salary levels of each neighborhood.
CPU processors are also getting help from co-processor accelerators like GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) and FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). Comparing a single IBM POWER8 server that is CAPI-attached to an IBM FlashSystem to a stack of x86 servers with internal SSD, the POWER8 solution connsumes 12x less rackspace, consumes 12x less electricity, and reduces per-user costs from $24/user for x86 down to $7.50/user on POWER8.
While social media, mobile phones and the Internet of Things (IoT) generate a lot data. If you then factor the "context multiplier effect" of all the links, connections and cross-references, you quickly see that data is growing at incredible rates.
Another issue is the difficulty to identify application inter-dependencies. Forecasting disruptive anamolies can be quite difficult. In one example, adminstrators received warning messages 65 minutes before a major outage, but they did not respond in time because they were unable to understand the full implications.
Cognitive computing is different than the tabulating and programming paradigms of prior decades. It is focused on Natural Language Processing, citing evidence to base responsed, and the ability to learn and improve based on learning from experience. The IBM Watson group is working with Memorial Sloane Kettering to help oncology doctors with cancer patients.
In an interesting demo, IBM Watson computer analyzed thousands of "TED Talk" videos, and was able to respond to search queries by playing a 30-second video clip that most closely address the search topic.
Cognitive computing is also looking at "Neuro-Synaptic" chips that work very much like the neurons and synapses in the brain. I have seen some of this work already at the IBM Almaden Research Center in California.
The general session ended with a Q&A panel with Dr. Subbanna, Frank De Gilio, and Bill Starke.
technorati tags: IBM, #ibmtechu, Seshadri Subbanna, Frank DeGilio, Bill Starke, Apollo 11, Apollo Guidance Computer, IoT, context multiplier effect, Rio Brazil, weather prediction, GPU, FPGA, POWER8, cognitive computing, TED talk, Watson
This week I am in beautiful Orlando, Florida for the [Systems Technical University].
Here are the sessions I will be speaking at:
It looks like a busy week!
This post was originally written as a guest post for VMware for VMworld 2015 conference. Read the full blog post [IBM Storage and the Beauty and Benefits of VVol]. The following is an exerpt:
Back in 2012, I had mentioned that VMware was cooking up an exciting new feature called VVol, short for VMware vSphere Virtual Volume.
Officially, the VVol concept was still just a "technology preview" in 2012, to be fleshed out over the next few years through extensive collaboration between VMware and all the major players: IBM, HP, Dell, NetApp and EMC.
In 2013 and 2014, IBM attended VMworld with live demonstrations of VVol support. VMware vSphere v6 was not yet available, but when it was, we assured them, IBM would be one of the first vendors with support!
When vSphere v6 was finally made available earlier this year, [only four vendors support VVols on Day 1 of vSphere 6 GA]! Keeping true to its promises, IBM was indeed one of them.
To understand why VVol is such a game-changer, you have to understand a major problem with VMware version 4 and version 5, namely their Virtual Machine File System, or [VMFS].
Here is a picture to help illustrate:
On the left, we see that VMFS datastore is a set of LUNs from the storage admin perspective, and a set of VMDK and related files from the vCenter admin perspective.
If there was a storage-related problem, such as bandwidth performance or latency, how would the two admins communicate to perform troubleshooting? For many disk systems, it is not obvious which VMDK file sits on which LUN.
There are also a variety of hardware capabilities that work at the LUN level, such as snapshots, clones or remote distance mirroring, and this would apply to all the VMDK files in the data store across the set of LUNs, which may not be what you want.
There are two ways to address this in vSphere v4 and v5:
On the right side of the picture, using VMware v6, vCenter admins can now allocate VVols, which are mapped to specific "VVol Storage Containers" on specific storage systems. The storage admin knows exactly which VVol is in which container, so they can now communicate and collaborate on troubleshooting!
The vSphere ESXi host communicates to storage arrays via a new "virtual LUN id" called a "Protocol Endpoint". This is to allow FCP, iSCSI and FCoE traffic to flow correctly through SAN or LAN switches. For NFS, the Protocol Endpoint represents a "virtual mount point", so that traffic can be routed through LAN switches correctly.
Storage Policies can help determine which attributes or characteristics you want for your VVol. For example, you may want your VVol to be on a storage container that supports snapshots at the hardware level. The vCenter server can be aware of which storage arrays, and which storage containers in those arrays, through the VMware API for Storage Awareness, or VASA.
Different storage manufactures can implement their VASA provider in different ways. IBM has opted to have a single VASA provider for all of its supported devices, so as to provide consistent client experience. When you purchase any VVol-supported storage system from IBM, you are entitled to download the IBM VASA provider at no additional charge!
Initially, the IBM VASA provider will focus on IBM XIV Storage System, an ideal platform for your VVol needs. The XIV is a grid-based storage system, utilizing unique algorithms that give optimal data placement for every LUN or VVol created, and virtually guarantees there will be no hot spots. The XIV provides an impressive selection of Enterprise-class features, including snapshot, mirroring, thin provisioning, real-time compression, data-at-rest encryption, performance monitoring, multi-tenancy and data migration capabilities.
With the XIV 11.6 firmware level, you can define up to 12,000 VVols across one or more storage containers in a single XIV system. For more details, see IBM Redbook [Enabling VMware Virtual Volumes with IBM XIV Storage System].
Let me give some real world examples from Paul Braren, an IBM XIV and FlashSystem Storage Technical Advisor from Connecticut, who has been working directly with clients over the past five years:
In addition to XIV, all of IBM's Spectrum Virtualize products also support VVolLs, including SAN Volume Controller, Storwize including the Storwize in VersaStack, and FLashSystem V9000.
I am not in San Francisco this week for VMworld, but lots of my IBM colleagues are, so please, stop by the IBM booth and tell them I sent you!
Next week, I will return to Istanbul, Turkey to present at the [IBM Systems Technical Symposium], June 1-3 at the Hilton Bomonti hotel.
(Frequent readers of my blog may remember that I had been to Istanbul for a similar conference last year. I arrived a day earlier to do some sightseeing, which I documented in my April 2014 blog post [Arrived Safely to Istanbul].)
Like IBM Edge conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, this conference will not just be for Storage, but also include z Systems and POWER Systems content. Here are the sessions I will be presenting:
If you are attending next week in Istanbul, I will see you there!