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.
Although I consider it the main stumbling block for thin provisioning, communication (or lack thereof) is being addressed with metadata monitoring, WRITE_SAME, the Veritas Thin API, and other ideas. But communication isn’t the only issue. Let’s talk about page sizes. You’ll often see vendors tossing this “softball” objection at their competitors, claiming that their (smaller) page size makes for more-effective thin provisioning. And that’s true, to a some extent.
Perhaps the previous discussion of spindles left you exhausted, imagining a spindly-legged centipede of a storage system, trying and failing to run on stilts. The Rule of Spindles would be the end of the story were it not for the second horseman: Cache. He stands in front of the spindles, quickly dispatching requests using solid state memory rather than spinning disks. Cache also acts as a buffer, allowing writes to queue up without forcing the requesters to wait in line.
Hard disk drive makers are adding flash storage to their conventional spinning-platter drives to improve performance and are targeting the performance PC market. Wait a second, haven’t we seen this before? As Rocky eventually said to Bullwinkle, “but that trick never works!”
EMC’s Iomega unit today released the rack-mount storage product we have all been waiting for. The new ix12-300r packs 12 drive bays, scaling from 4 TB all the way to 24 TB, and backs it with quad gigabit iSCSI, redundant power, and everything else the small data center needs.