Once again, VMware added a ton of new storage enhancements to vSphere. With storage rapidly becoming the limiting factor in scalability and performance of virtual machine environments, this is no surprise. Also not surprising is the fact that major features like Policy-Driven Storage and Storage DRS (along with SIOC) are exclusive to “Enterprise Plus” licenses.
I am often questioned during my Storage for Virtual Environments seminar presentations about VMware’s Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA). This system is fairly straightforward and concept: VMware provides native multipathing support for a variety of storage arrays, and allows third parties to substitute their own plug-ins at various points in the stack. But the profusion of acronyms and third-party options makes it difficult for end-users to figure out what is going on.
VMware’s vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) is one of the most-important storage technology advances of the decade, allowing the ESX to integrate and coordinate operations with supported enterprise storage arrays. IBM was notably absent from the party, but they’ve turned on the VAAI heat, releasing full support for the XIV and SVC and promising DS8000 in the near future.
I have been asked to write an article for TechTarget on the subject of selecting a virtual server backup product. I’d like to request input for this piece, and hope we can work together to produce a useful list of recommendations. Note that this isn’t a buyer’s guide like the DCIG effort: There will be no exhaustive lists of functions and features here. Instead, I’m writing about the options available in a more general sense.
Next Thursday I will present my new-for-2011 Storage for Virtual Environments seminar. I hit on an interesting twist while working on the content: Virtual environments pose a challenge but also create an opportunity for storage people. Virtual environments are very demanding of storage features and performance, but we have the necessary tools in our arsenal. We just have to use them!
The most exciting enhancements in VMware vSphere 4.1 is the addition of vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI). This new API allows VMware ESX to offload storage processing functions to capable storage arrays, reducing the workload on the server hardware in introducing new and exciting possibilities for performance and efficiency. VAAI in ESX 4.1 includes three separate capabilities: block zeroing, full copy, and hardware assisted locking.
I spent last week tying up loose ends before Tech Field Day 5 in San Jose. It’s going to be a great event, with presentations by Symantec, Drobo, Xangati, NetEx, InfoBlox, HP, and a new company making their US launch! In the mean time, I am working hard to wrap up the Small Enterprise Storage Array Buyers’ Guide for DCIG and continuing my regular work – spreading the word about state of the art IT! I’ve been researching VMware extensively, and building a home lab server, in preparation for my Storage for Virtual Servers seminar, too.
I’m building a home/lab server to run a variety of workloads, but VMware ESX is chief among these. Sadly, VMware ESX is especially picky about network interface cards (NICs): Although many are supported, most are intended for servers and thus very expensive and difficult to find at retail. So I set out browsing through the VMware ESX HCL, Newegg, and Amazon to find the best network card for my home lab machine. Here’s what I’ve found out so far.
The VMware ESX hardware compatibility list is awesome but it’s kind of hard to wade through. It’s super-detailed, but difficult to navigate if one is browsing for compatible hardware. Although SATA and especially PATA aren’t exactly mainstream in enterprise datacenters, they’re the most-likely storage attachment for labs and tinkerers like me.
VMware has one awesome hardware compatibility list, but its thoroughness can be daunting. It’s fairly easy to search for a specific piece of hardware, but it’s difficult to tell what’s supported in a general sense. I’ve boiled down certain key hardware categories into a general plain-english list of what’s in and out of the ESX HCL. Let’s kick things off with FCoE CNAs.