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March 2014 StorageIO Update Newsletter : Cisco Cloud, VMware VSAN and More

March 2014 StorageIO Update Newsletter : Cisco Cloud, VMware VSAN and More

By Greg Schulz

Industry Trends Perspectives: Cisco Cloud and VMware VSAN

Welcome to the March 2014 edition of the StorageIO Update (newsletter) containing trends perspectives on cloud, virtualization and data infrastructure topics. Technically it is now spring here in North America and to say that we have had abnormal cold weather would be an understatement. However it is March with April just around the corner meaning plenty to do including several upcoming events (see below).

Clouds and Cisco

Some recent industry activity has included Cisco announcing its Cloud intentions (e.g. more than simply selling servers and networking hardware). So far the Cisco Cloud move appears to be more about hybrid and partner ecosystem including channels vs. going toes to toe with an Amazon Web Service (AWS). Cisco appears to playing the hybrid theme of being a technology supplier as well as provider or partner. Thus, it looks like for the near term the Cisco cloud target is not as much AWS as the likes of an IBM who recently added Softlayer or an HP.

Greg Schulz Storage I/OGreg Schulz on break

This will also be interesting to watch where along with how other Cisco partners such as EMC, Microsoft, NetApp, VCE and VMware participate. Keep in mind that some of these and other Cisco partners also have their own public, private and hybrid cloud initiatives, services along with being a supplier to each other.

VMware VSAN Software Defined Storage

Another industry activity involving servers storage I/O networking hardware software and virtualization (aka software defined) was the general announcement (GA) by VMware of Virtual SAN (VSAN). VMware VSAN went into public beta shortly after VMworld 2013 timeframe when many of us downloaded, installed and did various types of testing with it.

For those not familiar with VSAN, it is added licensed software functionality for VMware that creates a cluster to host Virtual Machines (VMs) along with its own shared resilient storage solution (e.g. Software Defined Storage). How VSAN works is to use PCIe, SAS, SATA dedicated direct attached storage (DAS) including that are local to the VMware host server (physical machine or PM). The VMware host PMs support DAS Hard Disk Drives (HDD), Solid State Devices (SSD) including PCIe cards, drives or DIMMs, along with Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHD). This local DAS storage is served and shared among the nodes (up to 32 host or PMs) per VSAN cluster balancing performance, availability (and resiliency) along with space capacity to host VM objects. Note that VM objects include VMDKs (e.g. virtual disks) and are not to be confused with the other type of object storage or access such as CDMI/SWIFT/S3/HTTP/REST.

VMs (and those managing them) see in the VSAN cluster datastores that are familiar with other VMware implementations including storage policies and other tools. Here is a link to a great piece by Patrick Schulz a data infrastructure systems engineer in Germany (no relation, at least not that I know of yet) where he shares his experiences with VSAN implementation.

storage I/O vsan
Generic VSAN example

Instead of using an external iSCSI, Fibre Channel (FC) or FC over Ethernet (FCoE) shared SAN or NAS storage system / appliance to create the storage repository, local DAS is leveraged in groups spread across the hosts in the VSAN cluster (up to 32 nodes ). VSAN requires a percentage of SSD for each storage group on the host cluster nodes that a part is used for caching data which is persistently stored on HDD based media.

VSAN software is licensed by the number of active sockets (not the cores) in the host servers (PM) that are in the cluster or by number of VDI users (guest VMs). For example if there are four servers two with one socket and two with dual sockets there would be six socket licenses. MSRP License cost per processor socket is $2,495 USD which also assumes core VMware licenses already exist. There are also a per guest VM license of $50 per VDI instance, as well as other optional license models and bundles with different features or upgrades.

What is different with VSAN vs. other VMware clusters is that a) the storage is only accessible to VMs that are in the VSAN cluster (unless a VM exports and serves to others via NFS, iSCSI, etc which is a different conversation for another day). Another difference is that today VSAN leverage storage inside of servers or direct attached as opposed to using iSCSI, FC, FCoE SAN or NAS storage systems.

Btw, the current maximum LUN, volume or target storage device size is 4TB so if you were thinking of taking a SAS attached storage system and creating a bunch of small LUNs, you might want to review that from a cost perspective, or at least for today.

There is much more to VSAN including how it works, what it can and can not do, who it is for and whom should not use for different app's, however IMHO besides lower-end, SMB, workgroup, departmental, VMware centric environments, the number one scenario today is VDI along with where converged solutions such as those from Nutanix, Simplivity and Tintri among others are playing.

Watch for more StorageIO posts, commentary, perspectives, presentations, webinars, tips and events on information and data infrastructure topics, themes and trends. Data Infrastructure topics include among others cloud, virtual, legacy server, storage I/O networking, data protection, hardware and software.

Check out our downloads page (Under the resources section on for extra content.

StorageIO Industry Trends and Perspectives Industry trends tips, commentary, articles and blog posts
What is being seen, heard and talked about while out and about

The following is a synopsis of some StorageIOblog posts, articles and comments in different venues on various industry trends, perspectives and related themes about clouds, virtualization, data and storage infrastructure topics among related themes.

StorageIO in the newsRecent StorageIO comments and perspectives in the news

SearchSolidStateStorage: Comments on automated storage tiering and flash
EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on Cloud-Storage Mergers and Acquisitions
SearchDataBackup: Comments on near-CDP nudging true CDP from landscape
EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on Ways to Avoid Cloud Storage Pricing Surprises
SearchDataBackup: Q&A: Snapshot, replication 'great approach' for data protection
SearchDataBackup: Comments on LTFS-enabled products

StorageIO tips and articles Recent StorageIO tips and articles in various venues

InformationSecurityBuzz: Dark Territories – Do You Know Where Your Information Is?
InformationSecurityBuzz: Rings Of Security For Data Protection Or For Appearance?
SearchSolidStateStorage: Q&A on automated storage tiering and flash
SpiceWorks: My copies were corrupted: The 3-2-1 data protection rule

StorageIOblog postRecent StorageIOblog posts and perspectives

  • Missing MH370 reminds us, do you know where your digital assets are? Click to read more
  • Old School, New School, Current and Back to School - Click to read and view poll
  • USENIX FAST (File and Storage Technologies) 2014 Proceedings - Click to read more
  • Spring 2014 StorageIO Events and Activities Update Click to view
  • Review - iVMcontrol iPhone VMware management, iTool or iToy? Click to read more
  • February 2014 Server StorageIO Update Newsletter
  • Remember to check out our page where you will find a growing collection of information and links on cloud and object storage themes, technologies and trends from various sources.

    Server and StorageIO seminars, conferences, web cats, events, activities StorageIO activities (out and about)
    Seminars, symposium, conferences, webinars
    Live in person and recorded recent and upcoming events

    The StorageIO calendar continues to evolve, here are some recent and upcoming activities.

    129/78/148/103/1527/350/242/91 = 650
    June 12, 2014 The Many Facets of Virtual Storage and Software Defined Storage Virtualization Webinar
    9AM PT
    June 11, 2014
    The Changing Face and Landscape of Enterprise Storage Webinar
    9AM PT
    May 16, 2014 What you need to know about virtualization (Demystifying Virtualization) Nijkerk Holland
    May 15, 2014 Data Infrastructure Industry Trends: What’s New and Trending Nijkerk Holland
    May 14, 2014 To be announced Nijkerk Holland
    May 13, 2014 Data Movement and Migration: Storage Decision Making Considerations Nijkerk Holland
    May 12, 2014 Rethinking Business Resiliency: From Disaster Recovery to Business Continuance Nijkerk Holland
    May 5-7, 2014 EMC World Las Vegas
    April 22-23, 2014 SNIA DSI Event

    Presenting - The “Cloud” Hybrid Home Run
    Life beyond they Hype

    Santa Clara CA
    April 16, 2014
    Open Source and Cloud Storage - Enabling business, or a technology enabler? Webinar
    9AM PT
    April 9, 2014
    Storage Decision Making for Fast, Big and Very Big Data Environments Webinar
    9AM PT
    April 8, 2014 NAB National Association Broadcasters (e.g. Very Big Fast data Event) Las Vegas
    March 27, 2014
    Keynote: The 2017 Datacenter - PREPARING FOR THE 2017 DATACENTER SESSIONS Edina
    Register Here

    Click here to view other upcoming along with earlier event activities. Watch for more 2014 events to be added soon to the StorageIO events calendar page. Topics include data protection modernization (backup/restore, HA, BC, DR, archive), data footprint reduction (archive, compression, dedupe), storage optimization, SSD, object storage, server and storage virtualization, big data, little data, cloud and object storage, performance and management trends among others.

    Vendors, VAR's and event organizers, give us a call or send an email to discuss having us involved in your upcoming pod cast, web cast, virtual seminar, conference or other events.

    Thank you to the current site sponsor advertisers

    Druva (End Point Data Protection)
    Unitrends (Enterprise backup solution and management tools)
    Veeam (VMware and Hyper-V virtual server backup and data protection tools).

    Contact StorageIO to learn about sponsorship and other partnership opportunities.

    Click here to view earlier StorageIO Update newsletters (HTML and PDF versions). Subscribe to this newsletter (and pass it along) and click here to subscribe to this news letter. View archives of past StorageIO update news letters as well as download PDF versions at:

    Ok, nuff said (for now)


    Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
    twitter @storageio

    All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2014 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

    Read the original blog entry...

    More Stories By Greg Schulz

    Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

    In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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