A lot has been written about HP's acquisition of 3PAR. I see it as a real game changer in our industry. This screencast explains why.
A lot has been written about HP's acquisition of 3PAR. I see it as a real game changer in our industry. This screencast explains why.
Posted at 09:25 PM in 3PAR, Adaptive Optimization, Autonomic, Efficient, energy, enterprise storage, green computing, HP, multi-tenant storage, performance, reservationless, storage management, storage services, thin provisioning, tiering, utility computing, video, virtualization | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, Autonomic, Converged Infrastructure, Efficient, HP, Multi-tenant
I'm only about 6 months behind many of the world's leading independent storage bloggers on learning about HP's storage products, so I've been eager to catch up to them. Imagine my delight this morning when I picked up Greg Knieriemen's tweet on the most recent report from ESG on our X9000 Scale-Out NAS systems. Thanks to Brian Garret and Vinny Choinski of ESG for their straightforward analysis.
I was somewhat familiar with Ibrix as a software product that powered NAS clusters, but the new ESG Labs report helped me grasp HP's vision for the X9000 storage appliances much better.
Interested readers should view the report to see the results as well as the methodology that was used. There were three test beds covering throughput, content delivery and file creation metrics culled from a mix of X9000 configurations. The X9320 is a storage appliance with internal disks and the X9300 is a gateway version of the product that connects to external SAN storage. Another model, the 9720, which is the super-sized version of the 9320 (full 42u rack) not used in the tests.
3PAR customers will be familiar with the processing architecture of the X9000. The granular "head unit" of the X9000 system is called a couplet, and is a pair of fault-tolerant NAS heads. This is similar to 3PAR's storage system architecture where nodes are added in pairs.
But the surprising thing about scalability for the x9000 is not necessarily how large it can grow, but how effectively it can also be employed in much smaller environments. As the ESG Labs report concludes:
Who would have guessed that companies overwhelmed by Word and PowerPoint archives could benefit from the same solution as those burdened by 100-TB annual growth of genome sequencing data? Who knew that a NAS file system developed for high-performance computing could evolve into a graceful, cost-effective scale-out solution with predictable and near-linear performance for small and large files and exotic and everyday applications? The challenges that scale-out NAS solves are much more “everyday” than “lunatic fringe,” and the X9000 makes it consumable by almost anyone. If you are facing file system growth and complexity challenges, you should consider the X9000. It’s affordable, includes commercial features like snapshots and replication, and lets NFS and CIFS work on the same file system. You can buy a scale-out architecture that will grow with you and meet the needs of your business without interruption. The Fusion segmented file system, combined with HP’s servers and storage (not to mention HP’s buying power and supply-chain advantage), brings what started as a niche solution to the masses.
Lest he start feeling too smug about IBM's approach to organic technology development, it's worth pointing out that IBM acquired a storage company called XIV in January of 2008. They later released a product of the same name.
When the XIV product was subsequently introduced we were concerned at 3PAR because it had the potential to be a serious competitor to what we were doing. Moshe Yanai, XIV's founder, was known to be a talented engineer and the rumor was that he had developed a 3PAR killer. With all the sales resources at IBM's disposal, a technology that was even remotely competitive could be very dangerous to us.
Turns out it wasn't much of a killer and we rarely run into it in our accounts any more. IBM claims it is succeeding, but where we sell our wares, its more or less invisible. Frankly speaking, our sales people like it on the rare occasion that XIV is the competition. It doesn't scale or perform nearly as well as our systems do and it's far less efficient in terms of operating cost. With 3PAR, less does more. With IBM XIV, more does less.
After being named as an IBM fellow in 2008, it appears that Mr. Yanai has left IBM, leaving one to wonder what the future of XIV is going to be. Certainly the technology can continue to be developed without him, but there is an awful lot of work left to make it more competitive with 3PAR storage.
The barriers to entry in this business are very high, as IBM has found out with XIV. The question I have is how much longer they are going to continue to try.
Terremark is a leading cloud service provider that delivers just in time infrastructure services, as described in this excellent post on the Boxed Ice blog today titled, The New Server Density Infrastructure. This post, written by a Terremark customer shows that Terremark is not only interested in driving down their own costs, but also in helping their customers be more efficient too.
If you are interested in a behind the scenes look at how Teerremark does it, you owe it to yourself to check out this case study on Wikibon today. This chart from the Wikibon study shows how Terremark derives its operational savings (click on it to see an enlarged version)
Savings from storage were projected to be 86%.
Guess who their storage vendor is? (The report says what equipment they are using). But one big clue is that it isn't EMC, as EMC's Chuck Hollis suggested back in July.
Cloud industry insiders know this stuff. We don't have all the cloud customers, but we have some of the most largest and most influential ones. Nobody really knows what changes cloud computing will bring to our industry, but 3PAR is very well prepared to be a key component of those infrastructures.
Posted at 12:23 PM in 3PAR, bloggers, cloud computing, clustered storage, customers, EMC, enterprise storage, HP, multi-tenant storage, partners, SAN, storage companies, storage management, thin provisioning, virtualization | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, cloud, EMC, HP, Terremark, virtualization, Wikibon
The last three weeks at 3PAR have been very satisfying. People throughout the industry have been calling us and emailing their regards, congratulations and best wishes regarding 3PAR's pending acquisition and future.
Last week at the VMworld conference, we saw a significant boost in customers coming to our booth to learn about our company and products. It was obvious that a lot of people were responding to the recent news stories and wanted to know what all the commotion was about. Some of these customers had never seriously considered 3PAR before because we were a smaller company than they typically do business with, but they were now anticipating that our products will be sold by a company that they already have a long-standing relationship with.
It was a bit like coming to an opening on a trail after walking through a forest and seeing a vast expanse of land before you. There is an enormous potential ahead for 3PAR. New customers will be much easier to find and pursue. These new customers will bring a different perspective to 3PAR's business, including new expectations and requirements that we will have to invent solutions for.
The good news is that we already understand the process of innovating at 3PAR and we've always been able to bring new, unique functionality to the market. That's where the satisfaction has always come from and where it will continue to come from. The recent recognition in the news has certainly been gratifying for all of us at 3PAR and it validates the way we have always approached this business.
As part of HP, 3PAR will become a key element of HP's Converged Infrastructure strategy, which encompasses server, networking and storage products. This is a much larger vision than we've been able to afford as a smaller best-of-breed storage company and it will be exciting and challenging to work out the details of this vision in our products. Dave Donatelli has a reputation for being very intelligent and having a strong compassion for our business. The fact that he has taken such an important role in the future of 3PAR speaks volumes. The best for 3PAR is yet to come.
This communication is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to purchase or a solicitation of an offer to sell securities. The tender offer described herein is being made only pursuant to the Offer to Purchase, Letter of Transmittal and related materials that Hewlett-Packard Company and Rio Acquisition Corporation filed with the SEC on a Tender Offer Statement on Schedule TO on August 23, 2010. In addition, 3PAR Inc. filed a Solicitation/Recommendation Statement on Schedule 14D-9 with respect to the tender offer on September 7, 2010. The Tender Offer Statement (and related materials) and the Solicitation/Recommendation Statement contain important information that should be read carefully before any decision is made with respect to the tender offer. Those materials may be obtained free of charge from Innisfree M&A Incorporated, the information agent for the tender offer, toll-free at (888) 750-5834 (banks and brokers call collect (212) 750-5833). In addition, all of those materials (and all other offer documents filed with the SEC) are available at no charge on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Statements in this communication that relate to future results and events are forward-looking statements based on 3PAR’s current expectations. Actual results and events in future periods may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements because of a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including the expected benefits and costs of the transaction; management plans relating to the transaction; the expected timing of the completion of the transaction; the ability to complete the transaction; any statements of the plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations, including the execution of integration plans; any statements of expectation or belief; and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Risks, uncertainties and assumptions include the possibility that expected benefits may not materialize as expected; that the transaction may not be timely completed, if at all; that, prior to the completion of the transaction, 3PAR’s business may experience disruptions due to transaction-related uncertainty or other factors making it more difficult to maintain relationships with employees, licensees, other business partners or governmental entities; that the parties are unable to successfully implement integration strategies; and other risks that are described in 3PAR’s Securities and Exchange Commission reports, including but not limited to the risks described in 3PAR’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2010. 3PAR assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
Posted at 08:26 AM in 3PAR, cloud computing, customers, enterprise storage, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, partners, performance, SAN, storage management, storage services, thin provisioning, tiering, utility computing, video, Virtual Domains, VMware | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, hotspot, virtualization, VMware, VMworld
To a lot of people, especially those who are unfamiliar with the storage industry, one of the obvious questions is "Who are these people and where did they come from?"
The answer is that the company was formed by a group of server-cluster engineers from Sun and has been around for over a decade developing and selling large scale storage products designed for something that used to be called "utility computing" seven years ago, but today is just called "the cloud".
We've been very successful with our cloud strategy and have 7 of the top 10 IAAS (infrastructure-as-a-service) customers as clients. 3PAR products work very hard in the background for a lot of household-name customers. Most people don't know or care.
However, cloud industry vendors know 3PAR because they are also very heavily involved with those same customers, competing with their own products. They see our storage systems in those large data centers and our customers tell them that they need to make sure they work with us. There's nothing unusual about that sort of thing, but we definitely are a player.
Here's what we do very well:
The thing that we didn't completely understand at 3PAR was how quickly the onset of the virtualized data center was going to tilt the storage world in our direction. 3PAR storage systems are based on a highly advanced, granular storage architecture. It's not always the easiest thing for people to understand because it is so different than any other vendor's architecture. However, people familiar with virtualized server features have a much easier time understanding how our technology works. There is nothing like a terrific, relevant analogy for explaining how your different widget works.
3PAR is a relatively small company, competing with much larger companies who use the benefits of their size, global reach and service organizations against us every day in sales opportunities. It hasn't been easy, but we've continued to grow our business in a very hotly contested arena where our competitors like to position us as the "small, new company" Storage purchases in this market are high stakes and careers can be made or lost on the right decision. We certainly don't win all the deals we are in, but we very seldom lose on technical merit. Usually it's because we are lesser known or because we can't match the service offerings of our larger competitors.
It appears that some of those variables will be changing for us relatively soon.
Posted at 09:08 AM in 3P, cloud computing, clustered storage, customers, Dell, enterprise storage, HP, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, partners, storage companies, storage management, thin provisioning, utility computing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, cloud computing, Dell, HP, multi-tenant, storage , utilization
Derek Seaman posted in his blog yesterday about capacity thinning, zero reclamation technologies and included a test of 3PAR's Thin Persistence software. In his post he lists the steps he took to run the test, including the setup and final results. Please go read what he wrote, but I thought I'd post his summary:
This test proved that the 3PAR zero reclaim feature worked as advertised, happens in real time, and take very little effort to use. The same process would work for a virtual machine as well. If I was using the Veritas Storage Foundation I would not have to use the sdelete command and it would be fully automated. Hopefully they will work with Microsoft and VMware to support a fully automatic and native method to reclaim the deleted space. Until then, you can run sdelete from time to time to drop those extra pounds from your fat LUNs.
3PAR sees thinning technology as a strategic advantage that we are committed to advancing in the industry with software partnerships. Examples of progress on these fronts include the automated thinning for Oracle ASM and implementing VMware's VAAI Block Zeroing, which turns a thick volume into a thin one on 3PAR storage with Thin Persistence.
Posted at 08:26 AM in 3PAR, bloggers, customers, enterprise storage, green computing, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, Oracle, storage management, thin provisioning, VMware | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, block zeroing, Oracle ASM, reclamation, storage, Thin persistence, VAAI, VMware
Yesterday I posted a demo of our new, updated InForm Management Console 4.1 and so I thought today I'd re-post a two-part video showing our VMware vCenter plug-in that was made by 3PAR architect Maneesh Jain. Make sure to pay attention to the Recovery Manager section of the demo that shows how easy it is to recover VMs, directories and files.
Virtualized storage from 3PAR flexibly adapts to mid-range up through enterprise VMware environments because our single software architecture runs the same code on both platforms. The skills used to manage one platform are preserved when switching to the other.
Posted at 06:00 AM in 3PAR, clustered storage, enterprise storage, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, Recovery Manager, snapshots, storage management, tool talk, utility computing, video, virtualization, VMware | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, DR, integration, Recovery Manager, vCenter, VMware
3PAR designs its systems to provide huge time savings for storage administrators. Below is a video of our new InForm Management Console (IMC) 4.1, announced today, showing how incredibly easy it is to configure and operate 3PAR's Remote Copy application.
Things that the demo didn't show that are advantages of 3PAR's single software architecture are:
Here is a brief description of all the software functions available through IMC 4.1. As you can see, it's a pretty comprehensive list of features:
Posted at 06:00 AM in 3PAR, Adaptive Optimization, clustered storage, Dynamic Optimization, enterprise storage, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, remote copy, snapshots, storage management, thin provisioning, tool talk, utility computing, video, Virtual Domains, wide striping | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, console, GUI, IMC 4.1, remote copy, replication
It's getting very hard to keep up with all the crazy social media stunts coming out of Hopkington, but they seem to have done it to themselves again. First was the questionable spamming for viewers so they could claim they had a viral video, then today they just "leaked" a 3PAR sales "kill sheet" - and also apparently established a "secret" site with the URL Notapp.com, where they compared their own guarantee program to Netapp's. According to Simon Sharwood at Search Storage Australia, the site was removed and accessing the URL directed browsers to EMC's site.
Perhaps it is all part of a new marketing strategy by newcomer Jeremy Burton, who joined EMC as Chief Marketing Officer back in March. As best I can tell, Burton's new marketing strategy for the company is that people will believe anything. Maybe he doesn't think there are enough new products coming out of EMC - or that the delays in getting their ballyhooed FAST out the door are too embarrassing - but instead of trying to promote EMC on its own merits, it looks like he is doing his utmost to mud wrestle. Is that what EMC is paying him the big bucks for?
EMC suddenly is taking a bigger interest in 3PAR. That's good. Search Storage Australia just published parts of a competitive document that EMC was circulating to it's partners about 3PAR. It certainly wasn't a surprise because we'd seen it previously, but I was sorry to see it published because it made EMC look ridiculous, which was working pretty well for us. But now that it's been outed, here is what we have to say about it (in the guise of Ineption's lead character, the CRO)
The messaging is not built in, but our zero detection technology for optimizing capacity is. The host SW commands to do this are short and do not require "careful coordination". Veritas, Oracle, Windows Server and Linux software all work with minimal operator effort. For instance, this document from Oracle, describes the whole process, with the sole operator command being this: #bash ASRU LDATA.
Can EMC provide online reclamation of zeroed space without risking capacity overruns and with tolerable performance? 3PAR can. Does EMC have these capabilities in both mid-range and enterprise storage arrays? 3PAR does.
3PAR has both Flash and 1 TB SATA drives. We also have Adaptive Optimization software that uses Flash SSDs for storage tiering. EMC still doesn't have it after they made such a big deal about it last year. They like to tell customers that their size gives them development advantages, but their track record doesn't support their claim.
3PAR arrays allow users to create many tiers, but without the need for disk pools. Tiers are constructed from the combination of drive type plus RAID level. For instance, you can have separate tiers for SATA, FC and Flash SSD drives with the RAID level you select. Our Dynamic Optimization software allows admins to move data from one tier to another. You can "dial in" the performance and protection you want.
All systems have a peak output , ours just happens to have a lot more throughput than theirs - and at higher disk utilizations. We have published benchmarks that show how our systems perform. They don't. Adding disk drives to a system and utilizing those drives is far easier with a 3PAR system than either VMAX or Clariion where you have to wrestle with putting drives in the pools you want to use them for.
There are no disk pools in 3PAR storage. Pools trap resources so you can't use them. Work isolation in pools leads to hot spots and storage admin nightmares. Wide striping does not mean you can't have tiers. That is an idiotic statement.
VMAX can configure large pools - and all the drives in them have to be at the same RAID level meaning you can't create multiple tiers within those pools. If you want multiple tiers, you need multiple pools and all the headaches that involves. Change management in an environment with multiple pools is complicated. You also need to consider the pools needed for snapshots and remote replication. Are those easy to provision and change on EMC storage. Most would say "no".
3PAR uses all disk spindles all the time for delivering IOPS and pro-active sparing is done using reserved space on those drives. Rebuilds do process quickly. Would EMC have you believe they never have to perform drive rebuilds? Really?
Our front end archiecture was designed for large-scale parallel connectivity to match the massive bandwidth capabilities of our wide striped back end. Our benchmarks and the cost per IOPs in those benchmarks speak for themselves. Our customers also tend to run 3PAR systems at much higher disk utilizations than they run other vendor's arrays.
We support a huge number of ports on our systems w/full active/active data access across all controllers. All controller nodes can be used to access all data volumes. We have a number of customers that run fairly sizable SANS without switches because they have enough ports on their arrays so they don't need to consolidate access through switches.
5- 9s? We're there. Our systems get pounded on every day in some of the largest private and public data centers in the world. They are designed with complete redundancy in all components and have advanced capabilities such as Persistent Cache to maintain high levels of performance even after the loss of a controller.
The delays in bringing their FAST tiering software - a product they were hyping in April of 2009 - to market have shown that size doesn't matter much when it comes to delivering technology on time. I'm not saying 3PAR always delivers on time, but EMC is far from immune to these problems. In fact, the need for them to coordinate across multiple product lines creates certain disadvantages for them.
As to their comments on our support; they are pure FUD and grasping for straws. We would not be able to maintain the customers we have if it were not for our efforts at supporting them.
* * * * * *
The following content was added on July 30th by Rusty Walther, 3PAR's Vice President of Customer Services & Support.
Stating that 3PAR “outsources support” is just plain silly, especially coming from a company that keeps most of the worlds’ largest offshore outsourcing companies in business. Like EMC, 3PAR uses Third Party Maintenance suppliers (TPM’s) for break-fix field activities. In some geographies, EMC and 3PAR even use the “same” TPM. But EMC also outsources most of their volume call center
and Level-1 Technical Support to offshore suppliers. Not so at 3PAR. Everyone that touches a 3PAR support case is a 3PAR-badged employee. I challenge EMC to identify a single outsourcing company that handles 3PAR technical support. EMC’s outsourced technical support sub-contractors could be listed alphabetically, by geography, or by technology category … but you’d need a couple of sheets of paper to do it.
Posted at 03:40 AM in 3PAR, Adaptive Optimization, benchmarks, bloggers, clustered storage, customers, Dynamic Optimization, EMC, enterprise storage, flash, INEPTION, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, Oracle, performance, remote copy, SAN, SSD, storage companies, storage management, thin provisioning, tiering, wide striping | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, array, EMC, FUD, Netapp, Netopp, Oracle, RAID, storage, tiering, VMAX
The twitterverse is busy again today with discussions surrounding EMC's us of spambots to generate views of videos they are trying to make viral. If you are interested in seeing what is being said, check out these people's tweets and you'll be off on a trip down a dark hole.
Here are a couple cartoons I made about it last week from my new cartoon, Ineption:
Netapp's Val Bercovici suggest this viral spamming as the end of innocence in social media, but innocence exited the social media stage long ago.
I'm much more concerned about how large companies like EMC can use social media to suggest product and customer relationships that stretch the truth well beyond the impressions that a reader might take away from reading suggestive blog posts from respected corporate voices. As "unofficial company statements" that are more influential than press releases, social media pieces can distort things in a way that more-accountable corporate marketing are not allowed to.
Last week, Chad Sakac and Chuck Hollis published blog posts that pointed to an EMC white paper about details of a VMAX implementation at Terremark, an excellent 3PAR customer. Readers of these posts would probably think that VMAX was being used as the storage behind Terremark's multi-tenant, Enterprise Cloud service offering. That would be stretching things more than just a little bit. I commented on both blogs and the responses to my comments were interesting. I guess I feel a little kinder towards Chad as a result.
It is possible that somewhere in the world, a VMAX is being used by Terremark. One would expect Terremark to be looking at various storage platforms as a matter of course, it only makes sense for them. After all, VMware made a significant investment in Terremark last year and we all know who owns VMware. There are certain favors that EMC can ask that vendors such as 3PAR can't. But Terremark also has to operate Enterprise Cloud in their US major data centers every day and the storage they use for that is not in a test lab - it's production - and it is 3PAR storage.
And its not for lack of trying on EMC's part. Last November when VCE was announced, Terremark was discussed as a featured customer in both Chad's and Chuck's blogs. That was OK, I understand the excitement that surrounds a big announcement. But nine months later, to suggest that this announcement had given birth to a major production environment for a service that it is not supporting sort of stuck in my craw.
Here is a video I made at VMworld with Jason Lochhead, CTO of Hosting Solutions at Terremark last year where he talks about vCloud Express and Enterprise Cloud. Very cool offerings and definitely on the leading edge of VMware-based service offerings.It's not a viral video, but it has a lot more to say about what people care about than the videos EMC has been chasing with spambots.
Virtual Geek and I had a discussion on his post yesterday about vSphere's VAAI capabilities announced yesterday.
I wrote about the fact that we already had zero detect technology in our product, which is useful for the new Full Copy command because it allows customers to remove zeroed data from clones when they are created and return them to array free space.
The discussion became a bit confused when Chad interpreted what I was saying as pertaining to Block Zeroing.
Block Zeroing and Full Copy are different aspect of the VAAI API. The intent of block zeroing is to reduce the amount of CPU effort and storage traffic required to write zeroes across an entire EagerZeroThick (EZT) VMDK when it is created. The intent of Full Copy is to make clones of VMs quickly without consuming I/O bandwidth. Things get interesting when you start thinking about making a full copy of an EZT VMDK that was created using VAAI with block zeroing - but I'll discuss that later.
I also want to clarify what zero detection technology is. 3PAR T and F class arrays have zero detection technology, which is enabled by Thin Persistence software, that recognizes zeroed blocks as they are read by the array and returns them to the array's free pool. Any read requests made to these block addresses will return a zero value. In essence it is dedupe for zeroes.
However, Zero detection is not needed when an EZT VMDK is created using the VAAI plug-in because the array will recognize the intent of the command and not write the zeroes. In other words, the VMDK will only contain a very small amount of reserved space when it is created. Again, any attempts to read blocks in those ranges will return zero values. Zero detection is effectively bypassed during the creation of the EZT VMDK.
The exception to this behavior is when the EZT VMDK being created is written to a thick volume - in that case the array will write zeroes across the entire VMDK.
The remaining cases for the creation of EZT VMDKs on 3PAR arrays occur when the VAAI is not used. For a thick volume, the entire VMDK has zeroes written to it. Thin volumes not using zero detect also have zeroes written over the entire VMDK. Thin volumes with zero detect will not have zeroes written to them and will contain only a small amount of reserved space.
FWIW, the reserved space is used as instantly-available capacity that can be allocated on-demand when writes start coming into the volume. 3PAR arrays always "read ahead" free space to improve the performance of thin provisioning.
The next bit here could be a bit thorny, so clear your head. The matter of making a Full Copy of an EZT VMDK to a thinly provisioned volume was something Chad said was not allowed. My assumption here is that the type of thin provisioning used makes a big difference.
For instance, if you are using TP from VMware, I could see where they would not allow a full copy to be made. The problem is that the full copy will return all the zero values for the source VMDK, whether or not those zeroes were ever actually written - and write them to the target TP volume. In other words, the target could be much larger than the source. In the VMware TP scheme, this could make for problems in a hurry if you were making a bunch of clones this way.
In contrast, if you were using a 3PAR array with zero detection, the Full Copy of the source VMDK would return zeroes for the entire VMDK, but the zero detection would strip them out again as the target was being written. You could make as many clones as you wanted this way, knowing that the physical capacity they consume would be a multiple of the physical capacity consumed by the source VMDK. In other words, you wouldn't have to worry about virtual zero bloat making a mess of your VMFS volume.
One of the big differences between 3PAR's zero detection technology and other vendors zero-reclaim technology is that 3PAR's process is real-time-on-ingestion as data comes into the array, whereas zero-reclaim works in a post processing fashion after the zeroes have already consumed disk space. This could be a significant difference in many cases because the post-processing method has the potential to create unexpected capacity-full conditions before the zero-reclamation process even has a chance to start.
Posted at 02:15 PM in 3PAR, bloggers, clustered storage, de-dupe, EMC, enterprise storage, green computing, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, storage management, thin provisioning, virtualization, VMware | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, emc, VAAI, VMware, vSphere, vSTorage, Zero detect
We've been anxiously waiting for VMware's announcement of vSphere 4.1 for weeks. There are many big things in this release, including significantly scaling the management capabilities of vCenter and increasing the number of simultaneous vMotions that are supported. The door is open for ESX deployments to achieve much greater densities than they could previously and that's a big deal to large enterprises who want to get more resources under the control of fewer points of management. There are still great gains to be made in consolidation - more on that later.
In the storage world, there are a couple big things, SIOC and array integration through the VAAI API. Technodrone has put together an excellent post on SIOC and I highly recommend that anyone wondering how to make this functionality works should go to this post and read it. Array integration has been advanced in three ways:
Array integration through the VAAI API is already at a very advanced status at 3PAR with some of the most important functions implemented through our I/O co-processor ASIC. While some companies want to write off the importance of hardware, 3PAR believes there are many things that need to be done in hardware to get the performance needed to truly scale storage for virtual environments. Our co-processors are key to getting much greater storage utilization and higher VM ratios and are one of the 3PAR innovations that separate our best of breed products from everybody else. The capabilities discussed below are available in the hardware today, and will be enabled with a software upgrade in September.
OK, lets talk about hardware assisted locking first. For customers that have experienced locking problems, this is a big deal. The problem has been well-documented online - but in a nutshell, customers have run into problems where an operation that locked the LUN for a VMFS did not complete, thereby freezing all I/Os for all systems using that LUN. That was certainly a nasty problem - not a bug necessarily, but certainly an incredible pain in the rear to all involved.
VMware's response in vSphere 4.1 was to include a command in the VAAI API using an atomic test and set instruction for implementing fine grained locks for small block sizes. There will still be locking in VMware, but on a much smaller scale.
Unique to 3PAR is the fact that this new locking mechanism is implemented in our I/O co-processors where it completes very quickly, as opposed to implementing it in code in the controller. If you consider an environment with high VM ratios and multiple vMotions going on you want this granular locking mechanism to as quickly as possible. Nobody else comes close to the speed that 3PAR processes them.
Next is the new Full Copy capability - also with co-processor assistance to reduce the capacity of the copy that is made. 3PAR has zero detect and reclaim technology integrated into the co-processor. With zero detection running in an array, as new writes are made, strings of zeros are detected by the co-processor and those blocks are returned to free space inside the array. If future reads are made to those blocks, zero values are returned, but not from disk. The result is that copies of VMDKs with lots of zeros in it, will be much smaller after the copy is made - and the copy will proceed much faster.
This sort of functionality works amazingly well with EagerZeroThick (EZT) volumes in vSPhere. VMware requires EZT for Fault Tolerance (FT) and MSCS clusters and also recommends EZT for high performance. The main complaints about EZT are that it takes extra time to write all those zeroes when the VMDK is created and that it doesn't work well with thin provisioning. With 3PAR's zero detection, the time it takes to writes all those zeros and the space they consume is a non-issue, but more on that later. Virtual Geek at EMC wrote about VAAI today and in his discussion of what does not work for full copy he mentioned copying from an EZT volume to a thin provisioned one. Actually, he's wrong about that where 3PAR is concerned, because EZT to Thin works very well on a 3PAR array with zero detect.
The image below illustrates the advantages of using EZT on a 3PAR array with zero detection:
The last API element to discuss is Block Zeroing. The idea is that the host communicates to the array to write a string of zeros when it is provisioning storage or overwriting blocks to a non-EZT VMDK. vSphere writes a lot of zeroes in order to maintain data integrity with multi-tenancy. The hypervisor zeroes zero out blocks prior to writing them in order to ensure that a virtual data imprint from an old VM does not occur for a new VM.
But writing all those zeroes consumes CPU and I/O bandwidth that could actually be used productively, so VMware included a new command to offload the host from writing zeroes, effectively shunting that workload to the array. Voila - problem solved with 3PAR!! The zero detection and reclamation technology in a 3PAR array not only offloads the host from writing zeroes, but it also gives customers instantaneous reclamation of capacity with a smaller digital footprint (less capacity consumed) and faster performance. That's pretty cool and it's a trifecta that only 3PAR has.
What is amazingly cool about today's vSphere announcement for 3PAR customers is that all three API elements, hardware assisted locking, full copy and block zeroing are already implemented in 3PAR's T and F series hardware platforms, and will be usable by the end of September with a firmware upgrade.
Our co-processor architecture really delivered for us this time. But it's been delivering the goods for our customers for a long time already. In virtualized environments our customers tell us they double their VM density, while cutting their storage capacity in half - all while reducing the amount of storage administration necessary by 90%. Those stats can be hard to believe, but when you look at what we delivered on the first day vSphere 4.1 was announced - when most people didn't even know we were working on it - it might make it easier for people to understand why.
We take virtualized environments very seriously. People that don't know about 3PAR don't consider us to be a leader in virtualization, but when they find out the depth of technology we have and how well it works across our entire product line they understand we are leading in ways that really pay off for them. And the bigger they are, the bigger the rewards can be - especially after today.
Posted at 10:57 AM in 3PAR, bloggers, cloud computing, EMC, enterprise storage, mid range storage, multi-tenant storage, performance, storage companies, storage management, thin provisioning, virtualization, VMware | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: 3PAR, array, full copy, integration, locking, storage, vaai, VMware, vSphere
I've been going slightly nuts since yesterday after Cisco announced the CIUS. It looks like the perfect tablet for the sorts of things I really want a personal screen device for - communicating with other people. This review by Erik Parker of InfoWorld is a pretty good read and it summarizes key advantages and disadvantages of CIUS. If it can make the technology of video conferencing transparent to end users, it will be a big deal.
But the hidden story to this is that Cisco is also making a play to get into the corporate desktop/laptop business with the CIUS. The idea that companies could deploy these with VDI is definitely part of Cisco's grand plan for world domination. Whether or not the CIUS could replace laptop or desktop computers remains to be seen, but there are reasons to think they could eventually if the stars align.
The arguments for VDI are strong, but there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome, such as back end storage performance to support boot storms. By the way, people looking at large VDI implementations might want to look at 3PAR's wide striping storage systems to get the sort of affordable IOPS needed to support large VDI environments. My previous post illustrates our design for massive throughput, which supports a huge number of IOPS without needing SSDs or requiring storage administrators to create special disk pools to isolate the VDI workload from other applications running in the same storage array.