Posts Tagged ‘SAN’

When It Comes To Data, Isolation Is The Enemy Of Insights

Brandon Whitelaw

Senior Director of Global Sales Strategy for Emerging Technologies Division at Dell EMC

Latest posts by Brandon Whitelaw (see all)

Within IT, data storage, servers and virtualization, there have always been ebbs and flows of consolidation and deconsolidation. You had the transition from terminals to PCs and now we’re going back to virtual desktops – it flows back and forth from centralized to decentralized. It’s also common to see IT trends repeat themselves.

dataIn the mid to late 90s, the major trend was to consolidate structured data sources into a single platform; to go from direct detached storage with dedicated servers per application to a consolidated central storage piece, called a storage array network (SAN). SANs allowed organizations to go from a shared nothing architecture (SN) to a shared everything architecture (SE), where you have a single point of control, allowing users to share available resources and not have data trapped or siloed within the independent direct detached storage systems.

The benefit of consolidation has been an ongoing IT trend that continues to repeat itself on a regular basis, whether it’s storage, servers or networking. What’s interesting is once you consolidate all the data sources, IT is able to finally look at doing more with them. The consolidation onto a SAN enables cross analysis of data sources that were otherwise previously isolated from each other. This was simply practically infeasible to do before. Now that these sources are in one place, this enables the emergence of systems such as an enterprise data warehouse, which is the concept of ingesting and transforming all the data on a common scheme to allow for reporting and analysis. Companies embracing this process led to growth in IT consumption because of the value gained from that data. It also led to new insights, resulting in most of the world’s finance, strategy, accounting, operations and sales groups all relying on the data they get from these enterprise data warehouses.

Next, companies started giving employees PCs, and what do you do on PCs? Create files. Naturally, the next step is to ask, “How do I share these files?” and “How do I collaborate on these files?” The end result is home directories and file shares. From an infrastructure perspective, there needed to be a shared common platform for this data to come together. Regular PCs can’t talk to a SAN without direct block level access, a fiber channel, or being connected in the data center to a server, so unless you want everyone to physically sit in the data center, you run Ethernet.

Businesses ended up building Windows file servers to be the middleman brokering the data between the users on Ethernet and the backend SAN. This method worked until companies reached the point where the Windows file servers steadily grew to dozens. Yet again, this led to IT teams being left with complexity, inefficiency and facing the original problem of having several isolated silos of data and multiple different points of management.

So what’s the solution? Let’s take the middleman out of this. Let’s take the file system that was sitting on top of the file servers and move it directly onto the storage system and allow Ethernet to go directly to it. Thus the network-attached storage (NAS) was born.

However, continuing the cycle, what started as a single NAS eventually became dozens for organizations. Each NAS device contained specific applications with different performance characteristics and protocol access. Also, each system could only store so much data before it didn’t have enough performance to keep up, so systems would continue expanding and replicating to accommodate.

This escalates until an administrator is startled to realize 80 percent of his/her company’s data being created is unstructured. The biggest challenge of unstructured data is that it’s not confined to the four walls of a data center. Once again, we find ourselves with silos that aren’t being shared (notice the trend repeating itself?). Ultimately, this creates the need for scale-out architecture with multiprotocol data access that can combine and consolidate unstructured data sources to optimize collaboration.

Doubling every two years, unstructured data is the vast majority of all data being created. Traditionally, the approach to gaining insights from this data has involved building yet another silo, which prevents having a single source of istock_000048860836_largetruth and having your data in one place. Due to the associated cost and the complexity, not all of the data goes into a data lake, for instance, but only sub-samples of the data that are relevant to that individual query. An option to ending this particular cycle is investing in a storage system that not only has the protocol access and tiering capabilities to consolidate all your unstructured data sources, but can also serve as your analytics platform. Therefore your primary storage, the single source of truth that comes with it and that ease of management will lend itself to become that next phase, which is unlocking its insights.

Storing data is typically viewed as a red-ink line item, but it can actually be to your benefit. Not because of regulation or policies dictating it, but as a deeper, wider set of data that can provide better answers. Often, you may not know what questions to ask until you’re able to see data sets together. Consider the painting technique, pointillism. If you look too closely, it’s just a bunch of dots of paint. However, if you stand back, a landscape emerges, ladies with umbrellas materialize and suddenly you realize you’re staring at Georges Seurat’s famous panting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Similar to pointillism, with data analytics, you never think of connecting the dots if you don’t even realize they’re next to one another.

Dell & EMC Showcase Their Synergies with the All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Node

Jason Brown

Consultant Product Marketing Manager at Dell EMC

scaleioimage1In case you missed it, on September 15th we announced the Dell EMC ScaleIO Ready Node. This announcement highlights months of collaboration between Dell and EMC to combine the best of both worlds – Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EMC ScaleIO. The ScaleIO Ready Node brings All-Flash capabilities to Software-Defined Storage to enable customers to transform their data centers, making the path to the modern data center easier with Dell EMC:

There are tons of specs and details about the ScaleIO Ready Node which I won’t rehash here. You can check out the data sheet, spec sheet, and FAQ to get all the details you need. What I’d like to highlight are two key points regarding this announcement:

  1. Bringing best of breed EMC software-defined storage and Dell server hardware together
  2. Optimizing All-Flash with SDS

The first point is really important. There’s a reason why Dell spent 500 gazillion dollars on EMC… oh, it was only $67 billion you say? Peanuts then! But seriously, there are obviously a lot of synergies and opportunities between Dell and EMC, and the ScaleIO Ready Node is one of the first examples. Dell builds best-of-breed servers with its PowerEdge line. EMC is a leader in software-defined storage (SDS), with ScaleIO as its block storage offering. And guess what? ScaleIO runs on x86-based industry standard servers! Bringing PowerEdge servers and ScaleIO together was a no-brainer. It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Or mac and cheese. Or even “peas and carrots”*.

But, it’s not as simple or straightforward as you think. A ton of thought and work went into the planning and R&D processes associated with the ScaleIO Ready Node. Yeah, we’ve loaded ScaleIO onto a variety of Dell PowerEdge servers. But it doesn’t stop there. We’ve introduced a system that is pre-configured, pre-validated, and optimized for running ScaleIO. Plus, it comes with “one throat to choke” for procurement and support: Dell EMC.

I can’t emphasize how important that is. When I talk to customers, they get SDS, they understand there can be significant 3-5-year TCO savings, and they absolutely love the performance, scalability, and flexibility of ScaleIO. But, when the rubber meets the road, a majority of customers are not going to buy ScaleIO software and then procure <insert your favorite brand> servers from another vendor (but if they do, I hear Dell has good stuff). So, we’ve simplified the process and enabled faster time-to market by using Dell EMC’s supply chain and services so customers can hit the ground running – while preserving the flexibility which is a huge differentiator for ScaleIO. See what two ScaleIO veterans have to say about this:

The second point is the formal introduction of ScaleIO into the All-Flash (AF) arena. Yeah I know, every product out there has AF capabilities, and yeah, flash is becoming commoditized, and yeah, you could run AF ScaleIO clusters before the ScaleIO Ready Node. Regardless, AF is the way of the future and one of the foundations of the modern data center. So, we’re combining two key foundations to transform your data center – All-Flash and Software-Defined Storage – into a single platform to make it much easier for customers to start their journey to the modern data center.

What’s important about the AF ScaleIO Ready Node is how we optimize flash with SDS. ScaleIO’s architecture is unique and is the key behind unlocking the power of AF. All of the SSD drives within the All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Node work in parallel, eliminating any and all bottlenecks. Each node scaleioimage2participates in IOPS and there’s no cache to get in the way – for reads or writes. The ability to take full advantage of the aggregate performance of all SSDs makes it possible for performance to scale linearly as you add more servers.

Customers have the ability to migrate Tier 1 and Tier 2 application workloads with high-performance requirements to All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Nodes without missing a beat! Check out Dell EMC’s All-Flash page for more details, and if you want to see some guy talking about the All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Node, click here.

We’re extremely excited about the release of the ScaleIO Ready Node. It’s awesome to be one of the first products to be released by Dell Technologies that highlights the synergies between Dell and EMC. With this collaboration, we’re able to bring peace of mind to customers and provide unique product capabilities now and in the future. Please visit the Dell EMC ScaleIO Ready Node page to learn more! #GoBigWinBig

*If you’ve never seen Forrest Gump, go watch it. Now!

“Live Free or Cry!”…Liberated Data Centers Don’t Cry!

Rodger Burkley

Principal Product Marketing Manager at EMC

Whether you manage a small business; regional office; mid-size enterprise, or full blown enterprise data center with regional/multi-geo sites…data of all types is exploding and costs are increasing steeply. Storage inefficiencies (from innumerable copies, snaps, back-ups and save sets); constant provisioning; data migrations and fork lift upgrades of specialized storage hardware, raw capacity and bandwidth are hemming you in and cramping your style – and data center CAPEX, OPEX and budget. Your hair’s turning white, BP’s up and your spouse or significant other (and the kids and dog/cat) seldom see you.

On top of that, you’re battling vendor lock-in, insidiously escalating shadow IT public cloud usage (and monthly fees) and growing mumbling/grumbling from your less than happy users and SLA clients.  Oh…and, yes, it’s time to go back to the well and ask for even more $$$s as you realize your recently purchased and installed storage array is getting full/utilized at around 50% or so. Time to do a SWAG on how much additional raw storage capacity you’ll be needing over the next couple years and order another sizable array upgrade….and brace yourself for some downtime and tedious data migration(s) and provisions for RAID aggregates, groups, folders and volumes.  Billy Joel’s hit song “Pressure” comes to mind!  Is there a better way to go?  Yes!

Storm Cloud

What can I say, ‘The Cloud’ can be dark and scary as far as your data security is concerned…and it can sneak up on you.

Why not liberate your data center?  Liberate your data center with vendor and hardware neutral commodity based server platforms that monetize your host application servers’ direct attached storage (DAS) for  maximum performance and flexibility.  Also enjoy in the process lower TCO and a new software defined storage architecture that yields true linear capability for compute, storage capacity and throughput.  Liberate your data center with a storage platform that gives you total elasticity to add or remove resources in response to real-world, real-time compute and storage needs with the ability to scale (on the fly, with no down time) to many Petabytes and millions of I/Os per second (IOPS).   So liberate your data center with a software-defined (SDS) server SAN…and EMC’s ScaleIO!

Incidentally, SDS server SANs are optimal for building hyper-scale private, hybrid or public clouds.  Or perfect for building hyper-performance scalable and elastic enterprise storage systems (as in millions of IOPS) for high performance applications (HPAs).  Just start with a minimum of three servers (with DAS of any media type and amount of excess raw storage capacity)…and grow to thousands of nodes with Petabyte scale capacities. Grow at your convenience and need over time – with no disruptions to your operations. Just scale-out with more servers/nodes, repurposed or purpose bought to add to your server SAN..   And scale-up with more DAS devices on those same participating servers. What could be simpler?

The beauty is you won’t miss the extensive upfront planning and justification for additional storage provisioning, forklift upgrades, data migrations, long hours and downtime involved. Just grow in small, ‘baby step’ increments by adding new Flash SSDs and HDDs to existing or new host server local storage….and even create your own storage performance ‘tiers’ (or sub-pools) to match your application or volume’s performance or resource capacity requirements.  Make adjustments to your server SAN cluster using a simple dashboards GUI to monitor system status and enter simple English commands to manage this ‘fluid’ SDS based system.  THIS is the power (and freedom) of software defined platforms. They create an abstraction layer between physical resources and logical management of operations….monitored from a ‘single pane of glass’ application-like software install right on your host server(s).

ScaleIO GUI

ScaleIO’s GUI Dashboard monitors your server SAN’s status, performance and operation in real-time — and tells you when (and how fast) it’s rebuilding data (when servers and/or DAS devices are taken off-line for MX or any reason) or auto balancing across participating host servers.  Simple CLI English language inputs adds/removes host servers and storage devices; designate Protection Domains (for multiple tenants/data partitioning); create Server Fault Sets (to increase high availability and/or scheduled MX) and so on ….. ALL ‘on the fly’ with no service disruption or “outage”….leveraging your DAS excess capacity!

How does this all work?  Simply put, a SDS server SAN system pools together disparate, isolated local storage (DAS) from participating host application servers and forms a single, aggregated virtual SAN that grows bigger and faster as you add more host servers and storage devices to it.  Non-traditional storage….that’s what we’re talking about here.  No specialized storage hardware (host bus adapters, hardware arrays, FC switches or extensive racking and thick expensive interconnect cabling need not apply).  Freedom via commodity hardware-based systems and vendor neutral/agnostic storage solutions….  Live free!

Folks, this is what’s driving hyper-converged storage solutions in the storage industry now…for block (structured data) or file data and object data (unstructured data)  storage. What about the Cloud?  Why rent when you can own….cheaply…using familiar commodity based physical or virtualized servers?  Ever look closely at somebody’s (hopefully not yours) monthly usage utility bill from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure or Google’s public cloud?  Be prepared for sticker shock from the ‘we charge you for everything’ usage detail and escalating costs as your “user troops break ranks” and create their own shadow IT operation by subscribing to more and more Cloud services and compute and storage capacity.

And with a robust, resilient and fast performing SDS server SAN you can build your OWN private Cloud on premises….and not have to worry about data security or access when relying on the Public Cloud.

EMC’s ScaleIO is an example of “a robust, resilient and fast performing SDS server SAN.”  OK…so I work at EMC.  Just search for “ScaleIO” on the web and you’ll see what I mean.  YouTube videos walk you through this new technology, architecture and SDS product platform too.  If for no other reason, get up to date on this newest emerging technology that is truly liberating data centers with software based, hyper-converged (all application, CPU, networking and storage functions/resources in one HW platform…or “node”) infrastructure.  Skeptical?  Why not try ScaleIO yourself with EMC’s free and frictionless ScaleIO download. Just like that memorable TV ad a few decades back…”Try it, you’ll like it.”…

Sure, other vendors out there are offering similar SDS product solutions…either via pure software only licensing (usually capacity based) or a pre-packaged/bundled “hyper-converged storage appliance” or both forms. ScaleIO is sold in both forms….software or appliance…and that gives you more flexibility as both formats serve their purposes.  You might also have heard about Ceph and “ICE” (Inktank’s Ceph Enterprises distributed commercially by RedHat).   But when you look at ScaleIO’s inherent high performance, ability to scale from 12TB to 16PB raw capacity, dynamic elasticity and flexibility to add or remove nodes, storage devices and servers without any disruption to operations and other quality of service (QoS) features/functionality ScaleIO brings to your datacenter rack(s)….nothing out there comes close.  Bold statement?  Indeed.  But as they say, “an informed buyer is an educated and confident buyer…” 🙂 (OK…I took some liberties with that saying for sure.)

Does this mean the end to “traditional storage platforms” as we know and (mostly) love them today?  No.  Not hardly.  There will always be a need, use and place for traditional SAN (block), NAS (file) and archival (object/cloud) storage platform products.

The challenge, of course, is in identifying and rationalizing respective use cases, assimilating new technology/architectures and integrating ‘the new and old’ into seamless, efficient deployments that leverage (and monetize) each other’s strengths, specialized features/capabilities and value add that fit YOUR data center and IT needs.   With the storage industry leader like EMC, you’ll be getting all the advice, support, products and solutions (across the entire storage spectrum) to help you take advantage of both newer and traditional storage technologies and value propositions.

In closing, this was definitely an unabashed paid endorsement for EMC’s ScaleIO.  But more importantly, hopefully this post highlights just how much these new SDS server SANs in general are changing the datacenter landscape and freeing IT/MIS CIOs, directors, admins and managers from hardware and vendor lock-in and older, more traditional storage architectures.  It’s happening as you read this….

Want to know more?  Check out @EMCScaleIO on Twitter!   Get on board the emerging storage technology and ScaleIO train.  Live Free…and Don’t Cry!

ScaleIO: When More is Better…and Less is More!

Rodger Burkley

Principal Product Marketing Manager at EMC

By now, you’ve no doubt heard how Software Defined Storage (SDS) and hyper-converged server SANs are reshaping the storage industry (and use case) landscape.  Market acceptance continues to grow at an accelerated pace.  There are now many established and new vendors offering hyper-converged storage appliances and SDS systems.   EMC’s own ScaleIO SDS platform continues to score mounting recognition, kudos and accolades with our growing list of customers.Hyperconverged  ScaleIO has even won-over storage techies and IT Management who were initially skeptical that ScaleIO would actually completely deliver on its value proposition and capabilities.

Why all the buzz and hype?  Customers – and the IT datacenter and storage market — get it and are embracing this new, “disruptive” technology by introducing it to their enterprise data centers or using it to create hyper-scalable virtualized infrastructures for cloud applications.  The promise and appeal of installing software on individual commodity host application servers to create a virtual storage pool (i.e., “server SAN”) from each participating server’s excess direct attached storage (DAS) without requiring additional specialized storage/fabric hardware is alluring…and almost too good to be true.  High Availability, commodity based hardware, linear performance and storage capacity scalability, “SAN-less” data storage, lower TCO, elasticity and flexibility are just a few compelling arguments in favor of hyper-converged architectures in general and SDS system in particular. (more…)

Ceph is free if your time is worth nothing!

Jyothi Swaroop

Director, Product Marketing at EMC

Latest posts by Jyothi Swaroop (see all)

Ironic how we grow up listening to our parent’s tell us “Nothing in life is free” yet the moment someone claims they have or do something for “free”, we forget that simple truth.

Is anything ever really free?
There are offerings out there today that claim they are open source, free and always will be. However, if we remember what Mom and Dad said – then we need to look deeper into this. Time, overhead and hardware requirements to run these open source solutions are not free.

For this discussion, let us take a look at Ceph and Ceph “Enterprise” editions. Ceph is an open source distributed object store and file system which claims to be free. As an open source platform the code is indeed free but if Ceph is free, why would any company pay to acquire a “commercial wrapper” for it, such as Inktank? When it comes to open source, large companies make their money by selling “enhanced” versions of the software along with professional consulting, services, and support.

Enterprise versions are not free and often expensive. Customers pay more in server hardware, server OS licenses & disk drives. Licensing and support can run as much as $4K per server.

Now, some will say, “I will go with the free version of the open source solution and not the “enhanced” or “enterprise” edition offered – it’s more cost effective and I can support it myself”. It is definitely an option, and in some instances may make sense, but before you make that commitment ask yourself:
• Can I get 24×7 worldwide support – the support I need, when I need it?
• Do I have to wait for a community to help solve my problem and even if a fix is suggested, will it work for me, in my environment?
• Will my customers wait till tomorrow or the next week for a fix?
• Does ‘ongoing support by committee’ really work?
• What am I willing to give up?

If it is free – do you get what you pay for?Car

When it comes to software-defined scale out block storage for high performing applications and / or delivering Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), “free” may not be better. Will you simply be getting what you pay for?

Starting with installation, as a software-defined offering, Ceph does not constrain or confine you like current hyper-converged appliances do. However, installation is actually extremely complex. Architecting and running Ceph as a storage platform requires deep Linux and Ceph expertise and experience. It requires a multi module, multi-step, deployment process (with different processes for each OS) which complicates management and incurs a larger performance hit to the underlying hardware. Ceph also takes a ‘non-native’ layered approach to delivering block storage, where block is on top of object. David Noy, VP Product Management at EMC pointed out in his blog last month, that with a layered approach “problems come when you have a system that is designed to optimize around the underlying abstraction and not the service layered on top”. This is evident in Ceph’s approach to block (RADOS Block Device – RBD) which has extreme overhead resulting in high latency and an inability to exploit Flash media.

OK, so you know there will be a great deal of work to set up and manage Ceph. You still feel you are ready to deal with this cryptic approach including: compile/decompile/manually edit crush maps; limited system visibility using a command line interface (CLI); and even the manual placement group (PG) planning and repair. Yes, the free approach, even with all of this, will meet your needs. Maybe but let’s not forget what really matters. When delivering IaaS or high performance applications, delays in response are simply not acceptable to your customers or users. How does Ceph measure up where it really counts: Performance and Scalability!

The Proof is in the Numbers
We recently tested Ceph against EMC ScaleIO and the findings were clear as day. Both were tested on the same hardware and configuration with the following assumptions:
• Test “SSD only” using a small volume that will fit the SSD capacity
• Test “SSD+HDD” using a small+large volume spanning HDD capacity
• Test SSD as Cache for HDD using a small+large volume spanning HDD cap
• Test a Mixed workload of 70% Reads, 30% Writes, 8KB IOs

Findings:
• ScaleIO achieved ~7X better performance than the best Ceph IOPs value for a drive limited configuration
• ScaleIO achieved ~15X better performance than Ceph, when the drives are not the limit
• ScaleIO has ~24X better Response Time with an SSD only configuration
• ScaleIO can support the IOPs at 1/3rd the latency of Ceph, as a result there is no need to second guess performance for applications you run on ScaleIO.

Similar to Ceph, EMC ScaleIO is a software-only solution that uses existing commodity hardware servers’ local disks and LAN to realize a software-defined, scale-out SAN. However, EMC ScaleIO delivers elastic and scalable performance and capacity on demand and beyond what Ceph is a capable of for enterprise deployments. ScaleIO also does not require additional servers for providing storage and supports multiple platforms including OpenStack via a Cinder Plugin. It requires 1/5th to 1/10th the number of drives that Ceph needs to deliver the same performance. This actually results in significant floor and power savings.

The evidence speaks for itself when it comes to performance, scale and enterprise grade capabilities – sometimes you just get what you pay for. But don’t just take our word for it. Here is a perfect example of the kind of issues a company can face, including the potential loss of date, when delivering services with Ceph. Also, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) recently published a Lab Spotlight demonstrating extremely high IOPS performance and near-linear scaling capabilities of ScaleIO software on commodity hardware.

If you STILL want to be able use software for free BEFORE you make a long term, strategic commitment, EMC provides you the same opportunity with ScaleIO. May 2015, EMC is offering a free download of ScaleIO, for non-production use, for as much capacity and time as you want. You can experience all of the features and capabilities and see for yourself why enterprise grade software-defined scale out SAN with EMC ScaleIO is better than “free” with Ceph. Virtual Geek is ready! Are you?

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