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Storage I/O trends


This is part III in a series of posts pertaining to EMC ViPR software defined storage and object storage. You can read part I here and part II here.



ViPR architecture

More on the  object opportunity

Other object  access includes OpenStack storage part Swift,  AWS S3 HTTP and REST API access. This also includes ViPR  supporting EMC Atmos, VNX and Isilon arrays as southbound persistent storage  in addition.


object storage
Object (and cloud) storage access example


EMC is claiming that over 250 VNX systems can be abstracted to  support scaling with stability (performance, availability, capacity, economics)  using ViPR. Third party storage will be supported along with software such as OpenStack Swift, Ceph and others running on commodity hardware. Note that EMC has some  history with object storage and access including Centera and Atmos. Visit the  micro site I have setup called and watch for more content to be updated and added  there.

More on the ViPR control plane and controller

ViPR differs from some others in that it does not sit in the data path  all the time (e.g. between application servers and storage systems or cloud  services) to cut potential for bottlenecks.


ViPR architecture


Organizations that can use ViPR include enterprise, SMB, CSP or MSP and  hosting sites. ViPR can be used in a control mode to leverage underlying  storage systems, appliances and services intelligence and functionality. This  means ViPR can be used to complement as oppose to treat southbound or target  storage systems and services as dumb disks or JBOD.


On the other hand, ViPR will also have a suite of data services such as  snapshot, replication, data migration, movement, tiering to add value for when  those do not exist. Customers will be free to choose how they want to use and  deploy ViPR. For example leveraging underlying storage functionality (e.g.  lightweight model), or in a more familiar storage virtualization model heavy  lifting model. In the heavy lifting model more work is done by the virtualization  or abstraction software to create an added value, however can be a concern for  bottlenecks depending how deployed.


Service categories

Software defined, storage hypervisor, virtual storage or storage virtualization?

Most storage virtualization, storage hypervisors and virtual storage  solutions that are hardware or software based (e.g. software defined) implemented  what is referred to as in band. With in band the storage virtualization  software or hardware sits between the applications (northbound) and storage  systems or services (southbound).


While this approach can be easier to carry out along with add value add services,  it can also introduce scaling bottlenecks depending on implementations.  Examples of in band storage virtualization includes Actifio, DataCore, EMC VMAX  with third-party storage, HDS with third-party storage, IBM SVC (and their  V7000  Storwize storage system based on it) and NetApp Vseries among others. An advantage  of in band approaches is that there should not need to be any host or server-side software requirements and SAN transparency.


There is another approach called out-of-band that has been tried. However  pure out-of-band requires a management system along with agents, drivers,  shims, plugins or other software resident on host application servers.

fast path control path
Example of generic fast path control path model


ViPR takes a different approach, one that was seen a few years ago with  EMC Invista called fast path, control path that for the most part stays out of  the data path. While this is like out-of-band, there should not be a need  for any host server-side (e.g. northbound) software. By being a fast path control  path, the virtualization or abstraction and management functions stay out of  the way for data being moved or work being done.


Hmm, kind of like how management should be, there to help when needed,  out-of-the-way not causing overhead other times ;).


Is EMC the first (even with Invista) to leverage fast path control path?

Actually up until about a year or so ago, or shortly after HP acquired  3PAR they had a solution called Storage Virtualization Services Platform (SVPS)  that was OEMd from LSI (e.g. StorAge). Unfortunately, HP decided to retire that  as opposed to extend its capabilities for file and object access (northbound)  as well as

different southbound targets or destination services.


Whats this northbound and southbound stuff?

Simply put, think in terms of a vertical stack with host servers (PMs or VMs) on the top with applications (and hypervisors or other tools such as databases) on top of them (e.g. north).


software defined storage
Northbound servers, southbound storage systems and cloud services


Think of storage systems, appliances, cloud services or other target destinations on the bottom (or south). ViPR sits in between providing storage services and management to the northbound servers leveraging the southbound storage.

What host servers can VIPR support for serving storage?

VIPR is being designed to be server agnostic (e.g.  virtual or physical), along with operating system agnostic. In addition VIPR is  being positioned as capable of serving northbound (e.g. up to application  servers) block, file or object as well as accessing southbound (e.g. targets)  block, file and object storage systems, file systems or services.


Note that a difference between earlier similar  solutions from EMC have been either block based (e.g. Invista, VPLEX, VMAX with  third-party storage), or file based. Also note that this means VIPR is not just  for VMware or virtual server environments and that it can exist in legacy,  virtual or cloud environments.


ViPR image


Likewise VIPR is intended to be application agnostic  supporting  little data, big data, very big data ( VBD) along with Hadoop or other specialized processing. Note that while VIPR  will support HDFS in addition to NFS and CIFS file based access, Hadoop will  not be running on or in the VIPR controllers as that would live or run  elsewhere.


How will VIPR be deployed and licensed?

EMC has indicated that the VIPR controller will be  delivered as software that installs into a virtual appliance (e.g. VMware)  running as a virtual machine (VM) guest. It is not clear when support will  exist for other hypervisors (e.g. Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix/XEN, KVM or if  VMware vSphere with vCenter or simply on ESXi free version). As of the  announcement pre briefing, EMC had not yet finalized pricing and licensing  details. General availability is expected in the second half of calendar 2013.


Keep in mind that the VIPR controller (software) runs  as a VM that can be hosted on a clustered hypervisor for HA. In addition,  multiple VIPR controllers can exist in a cluster to further enhance HA.


Some questions to be addressed among others include:

  • How and where are IOs intercepted?
  • Who can have access to the APIs,  what is the process, is there a developers program, SDK along with resources?
  • What network topologies are  supported local and remote?
  • What happens when JBOD is used and  no advanced data services exist?
  • What are the characteristics of the  object access functionality?
  • What if any specific switches or data  path devices and tools are needed?
  • How does a host server know to talk with its  target and ViPR controller know when to intercept for handling?
  • Will SNIA CDMI be added and when as part of  the object access and data services capabilities?
  • Are programmatic bindings available for the  object access along with support for other APIs including IOS?
  • What are the performance characteristics  including latency under load as well as during a failure or fault scenario?
  • How will EMC place Vplex and its caching  model on a local and wide area basis vs. ViPR or will we see those two create  some work together, if so, what will that be?

Bottom line (for now):

Good move for EMC, now let us see how they execute  including driving adoption of their open APIs, something they have had success  in the past with Centera and other solutions. Likewise, let us see what other  storage vendors become supported or add support along with how pricing and  licensing are rolled out. EMC will also have to articulate when and where to  use ViPR vs. VPLEX along with other storage systems or management tools.


Additional related material:
Are you using or considering  implementation of a storage hypervisor?
Cloud and Virtual Data Storage  Networking (CRC)
Cloud conversations:  Public, Private, Hybrid what about Community Clouds?
Cloud, virtualization, storage  and networking in an election year
Does software  cut or move place of vendor lock-in?
Don't Use  New Technologies in Old Ways
EMC VPLEX: Virtual Storage  Redefined or Respun?
How many degrees separate you  and your information?
Industry adoption vs.  industry deployment, is there a difference?
Many faces of storage  hypervisor, virtual storage or storage virtualization
People, Not  Tech, Prevent IT Convergence
Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
Server and Storage  Virtualization Life beyond Consolidation
Should Everything Be  Virtualized?
The Green and Virtual Data  Center (CRC)
Two companies on  parallel tracks moving like trains offset by time: EMC and NetApp
Unified storage  systems showdown: NetApp FAS vs. EMC VNX
Various downloads and other  related material
VMware buys virsto,  what about storage hypervisor's?
Who is responsible  for vendor lockin?


Ok, nuff said  (for now)

Cheers gs

Storage I/O trends


FusionIO (FIO) who  recently bought Nexgen to expand their reach from just a server centric to a  more broad flash focus has seen their  CEO and founder David Flynn race out the door. Not surprisingly, wall  street who does not like to be surprised were surprised just a week or two  after the most recent earning announcements reacted with a sell off of the FIO  stock.




Here is the conundrum, those who were or are fans of Flynn,  FIO and their approach along with server centric in your face approach may not  be happy with this move.


On the other hand, those were not fans of Flynn, FIO and  their approach of getting in your face of having others do so if you did not  fall into their ranks may be happy with this move.


One question is was Flynn shown the door and left before  it could hit his backside on the way out, or, did he see something and pulled  the rip cord on his golden parachute, or some other or combination?


With the recent Nexgen acquisition which could be seen as  a move by FIO (and their board of directors) to make more attractive either for  an acquisition. Or, to transition from a server-side centric approach to a  broader focus.


If the former, perhaps Flynn sees or saw the writing on  the wall on who those suitors might or would be and decided to take his money  now and run joining the serial entrepreneur ranks now.


Otoh, perhaps Flynn was just too focused with a singular  focus and passion on the server space thus not able or interested in  transitioning to a broader focus, which might also have involved eating a bit  of crow. By eating a bit of crow, I mean given some of the in your face and  it’s the FIO way or the highway approach of server only flash.


With Nexgen to be successful that would involve aligning  more with the larger vendors and other startups who offer broader portfolios,  something that was targeted and mud or fud thrown at by FIO, something that  some CEOs or others can have challenges with. It should also be noted that FIO  has brought in new employees with experience in broader marketers, not to  mention industry veterans like John Spiers of Nexgen.


Candidly, I am not sure which of the above is the  scenario, however, for those involved with FIO as employees, partners,  customers and shareholders I hope some clarity arrives soon for them. Whether  that clarity is via an acquisition (who is one of many questions), or a launching  as FIO 2.0 or something similar with a focus on bring more capabilities to  customers, increasing their touch points selling more products, hardware,  software as opposed to leaving those for others (e.g. their competitors).


Ok, nuff said  (for now)

Cheers gs

Storage I/O trends


This is part II in a series of posts pertaining to EMC ViPR software defined storage and object storage. You can read part I here and part III here.



Some questions and discussion topics pertaining to ViPR:


ViPR architecture

Whom is ViPR for?

Organizations that need to scale with stability  across EMC, third-party or open storage software stacks and commodity hardware.  This applies to large and small enterprise, cloud service providers, managed  service providers, virtual and cloud environments/

What this means for EMC hardware/platform/systems?

They can continue to be used as is, or work  with ViPR or other deployment modes.

Does this mean EMC storage systems are  nearing their end of life?

IMHO for the most part not yet, granted there  will be some scenarios where new products will be used vs. others, or existing  ones used in new ways for different things.


As has been the case for years if not  decades, some products will survive, continue to evolve and find new roles,  kind of like different data storage mediums (e.g. ssd, disk, tape, etc).

How does ViPR work?

ViPR functions as a control plane across the data and storage infrastructure  supporting both north and southbound. northbound refers to use from or up  to application servers (physical machines   PM and virtual machines   VMs).  southbound refers target or destination storage systems. Storage systems can  be traditional EMC or third-party (NetApp mentioned as part of first release),  appliances, just a bunch of disks (JBOD) or cloud services.

Some general features and functions:

  • Provisioning and  allocation (with automation)
  • Data and storage  migration or tiering
  • Leverage scripts,  templates and workbooks
  • Support service  categories and catalogs
  • Discovery,  registration of storage systems
  • Create of storage  resource pools for host systems
  • Metering, measuring,  reporting, charge or show back
  • Alerts, alarms and notification
  • Self-service portal  for access and provisioning

ViPR data  plane (adding data services and value when needed)

Another part is the data plane for implementing data services and  access. For block and  file when not needed, ViPR steps out-of-the-way leveraging the underlying  storage systems or services.

object storage
Object storage access


When needed, the ViPR data plane can step in to  add added services and functionality along with support object based  access for little data and big data. For example, Hadoop Distributed File  System (HDFS) services can support northbound analytic software applications  running on servers accessing storage managed by ViPR.


Continue reading in part III of this series here including how ViPR works, who it is for and more analysis.


Ok, nuff said  (for now)

Cheers gs

Storage I/O trends

Introducing EMC ViPR


This is the first in a three part series, read part II here, and part III here.


During the recent EMCworld event in  Las Vegas among other things, EMC announced ViPR (read announcement here) . Note that this ViPR is not the same EMC Viper  project from a few years ago that was focused on data footprint reduction (DFR)  including dedupe. ViPR has been in the works for a couple of  years taking a step back rethinking how storage is can be used going forward.




ViPR is not a technology creation developed  in a vacuum instead includes customer feedback, wants and needs.  Its core themes are extensible, open and  scalable.




On the other hand, ViPR addresses plenty of  buzzword bingo themes including:

  • Agility, flexibility, multi-tenancy,  orchestration
  • Virtual appliance and control plane
  • Data services and storage management
  • IT as a Service (ITaaS) and Infrastructure as  a Service (IaaS)
  • Scaling with stability without compromise
  • Software defined storage
  • Public, private, hybrid cloud
  • Big data and little data
  • Block, file and object storage
  • Control plane and data plane
  • Storage hypervisor, virtualization and  virtual storage
  • Heterogeneous (third-party) storage support
  • Open API and automation
  • Self-service portals, service catalogs


Buzzword bingo


Note that this is essentially announcing the  ViPR product and program initiative with general availability slated for second  half of 2013.

What is ViPR addressing?

IT and data infrastructure  (server, storage, IO and networking hardware, software) challenges for  traditional, virtual and cloud environments.

    • Data growth, after all, there is no  such thing as an information recession with more data being generated, moved,  processed, stored and retained for longer periods of time. Then again, people  and data are both getting larger and living longer, for both little data and  big data along with very big data.


    • Overhead and complexities associated  with managing and using an expanding, homogenous (same vendor, perhaps  different products) or heterogeneous (different vendors and products) data infrastructure  across cloud, virtual and physical, legacy and emerging. This includes add,  changes or moves, updates and upgrades, retirement and replacement along with disposition,  not to mention protecting data in an expanding footprint.

road to cloud  

  • Operations and service management,  fault and alarm notification, resolution and remediation, rapid provisioning, removing  complexity and cost of doing things vs. simply cutting cost and compromising  service.


What is this software defined storage stuff?

There is the buzzword aspect, and then there  is the solution and business opportunity.


First the buzzword aspect and bandwagon:

  • Software defined marketing (SDM)   Leveraging  software defined buzzwords.
  • Software defined data centers (SDDC)    Leveraging software to derive more value from hardware while enabling agility, flexibility,  and scalability and removing complexity. Think the Cloud and Virtual Data  Center models including those from VMware among others.
  • Software defined networking (SDN)   Rather  than explain, simply look at Nicira that VMware bought in 2012.
  • Software defined storage (SDS)   Storage  software that is independent of any specific hardware, which might be a bit  broad, however it is also narrower than saying anything involving software.
  • Software defined BS (SDBS)   Something that  usually happens as a result when marketers and others jump on a bandwagon, in  this case software defined marketing.


Note that not everything involved with  software defined is BS, only some of the marketing spins and overuse. The  downside to the software defined marketing and SDBS is the usual reaction of skepticism,  cynicism and dismissal, so let us leave the software defined discussion  here for now.


software defined storage


An example of software defined storage can be  storage virtualization, virtual storage and storage hypervisors that are  hardware independent. Note that when I say hardware independent, that also  means being able to support different vendors systems. Now if you want to have  some fun with the software defined storage diehards or purist, tell them that  all hardware needs software and all software needs hardware, even if virtual.  Further hardware is defined by its software, however lets leave sleeping dogs  lay where they rest (at least for now ;)).


Storage  hypervisors were a 2012 popular buzzword bingo topic with plenty of  industry adoption and  some customer deployment. While 2012 saw plenty of SDM buzz including SDC,  SDN 2013 is  already seeing an increase including  software defined servers, and software defined storage.


Regardless of what you view of software defined storage,  storage hypervisor, storage virtualization and virtual storage is, the primary focus and goal  should be addressing business and application needs. Unfortunately, some of the  discussions or debates about what is or is not software defined and related  themes lose focus of what should be the core goal of enabling business and  applications.


Continue reading in part II of this series here including how ViPR works, who it is for and more analysis.


Ok, nuff said  (for now)

Cheers gs

StorageIO News Letter Image April 2013 News letter

Welcome to the April 2013  edition of the StorageIO Update. This edition includes more on  nand flash SSD, after all its not if, rather when, where, why, with what along with how much SSD is in your future. Also more on object storage, clouds, big data and little data, HDDs, SNW, backup/restore, HA, BC, DR and data protection along with data center topics and trends.

You can get access to this news letter via various social media venues (some are shown below) in addition to StorageIO web sites and subscriptions.

Click on the following links to view the April 2013 edition as (HTML sent via Email) version, or  PDF versions.

Visit the news letter page to view previous editions of the StorageIO Update.


You can subscribe to the news letter by clicking here.

Enjoy this edition of the StorageIO Update news letter, let me know your comments and feedback.

Ok Nuff said, for now


Industry trend


A couple of weeks ago I attended the spring 2013 Storage Networking  World (SNW) in Orlando Florida. Talking with SNIA Chairman Wayne Adams and SNIA  Director Leo Legar this was the 28th edition of the US SNW (two  shows a year), plus the international ones. While I have not been to all 28 of  the US SNWs, I have been to a couple of dozen SNWs in the US, Europe and Brazil  going back to around 2001 as an attendee, main stage as well as breakout, and  tutorial presenter (see here and here).


  SNW image


For the spring 2013 SNW I was there for a mix of  meetings, analyst briefings, attending the expo, doing some podcasts (see  below), meeting with IT professionals (e.g. customers), VARs, vendors along  with presenting three sessions (you can download them and others here).


Some of the buzz and themes heard included big data was a  little topic at the event, while cloud was in the conversations, dedupe and  data footprint reduction (DFR) do matter for some people and applications. However  also a common theme with customers including Media and Entertainment (M&E) is that not everything can be duped thus other DFR approaches are needed.


There was some hype in and around hybrid storage along  with storage hypervisors, which  was also an entertaining panel discussion with HDS (Claus Mikkelsen aka @YoClaus), Datacore, IBM and Virstro.


The theme of that discussion seemed for  the most part to gravitate towards realities of storage virtualization and less  about the hypervisor hype. Some software defined marketing hype I heard is that  it is impossible to spend more than a million dollars on a server today. I  guess with the applicable caveats, qualifiers and context that could be true,  however I also know some vendors and customers that would say otherwise.


Lunchtime at SNW Spring 2013


Not surprisingly, there was an increase in vendors  wanting to jump on the software defined and object storage bandwagons; however,  customers tended to be curious at best, confused or concerned otherwise. Speaking of object storage, check out this podcast discussion with Cleversafe customer Justin Stottlemyer  of Shutterfly and his 80PB environment.


In addition to Cleversafe, heard  from Astute (if you need fast  iSCSI storage check them out), Avere has a new NAS for dummies book out, Exablox a storage system startup with emphasis  on scalability, ease of use and NAS access and hybrid storage Tegile. Also, check out SwifTest for generating application workloads and measurement that had their customer Go  Daddy presenting at the event. A couple of others to keep an eye on include Raxco with their thin provision storage reclamation tool, and Infinio with their NAS acceleration for VMware  software tools among others.


download presentations


Here are the three presentations that I did while at the  event:


Analyst  Perspective: Increase Your Return on Innovation (The New ROI) With Data  Management and Dedupe
There is no such thing as an information recession with more data to move,  process and store, however there are economic challenges. Likewise, people and  data are living longer and getting larger which requires leveraging data  footprint reduction (DFR) techniques on a broader focus. It is time to move  upstream finding and fixing things at the source to reduce the downstream  impact of expanding data footprints, enabling more to be done with what you  have.


Analyst  Perspective: Metrics that Matter - Meritage of Data Management and Data  Protection
Not everything in the data center or information factory is the same. This  session recaps and builds off the morning increase your ROI with data footprint  and data management session while setting the stage for the rethinking data  protection (backup, BC and DR). Are you maximizing the return on innovation in  how using new tools and technology in new ways, vs. using new tools in old  ways? Also discussed performance capacity planning, forecasting analysis in  cloud, virtual and physical environments. Without metrics that matter, you are  flying blind, or perhaps missing opportunities to further drive your return on  innovation and return on investment.


Analyst  Perspective: Time to Rethink Data Protection Including BC and DR
When it comes to today's data centers and information factories including  physical, virtual and cloud, everything is not the same, so why treat business  continuance (BC), disaster recovery (DR) and data protection in general the  same? Simply using new tools, technologies and techniques in the same old ways  is no longer a viable option. Since there is no such thing as a data or  information recession, yet there are economic and budget challenges, along with  new or changing threat risks, now is the time to review data protection  including BC and DR including using new technologies in new ways.


You can view the complete SNW USA spring 2013 agenda here.


Podcasts are also available on StorageIO Podcast on Apple iTunes

Here are links to some podcasts from spring 2013 SNW:
Stottlemyer of Shutterfly  and object storage discussion
Dave Demming talking tech  education from SNW Spring 2013
Farley Flies into SNW  Spring 2013
Talking with Tony DiCenzo  at SNW Spring 2013
SNIA Spring 2013 update  with Wayne Adams
SNIA's new SPDEcon conference

Also, check out these podcasts from fall 2012 US and  Europe SNWs:
Ben Woo on Big Data  Buzzword Bingo and Business Benefits
Networking with Bruce  Ravid and Bruce Rave
Industry trends and  perspectives: Ray Lucchesi on Storage and SNW
Learning with Leo Leger  of SNIA
Meeting up with Marty  Foltyn of SNIA
Catching up with Quantum  CTE David Chapa (Now with Evault)
Chatting with Karl Chen  at SNW 2012
SNW 2012 Wayne's World
SNW Podcast on Cloud Computing
HDS Claus Mikkelsen  talking storage from SNW Fall 2012


Industry trend


What this all means?


While busy, I liked this edition of SNW USA in that it  had a great agenda with diversity and balance of speaker sessions (some tutorials,  some vendors, some IT customers, and some analysts) vs. too many of one  specific area.


In addition to the agenda and session length, the venue was  good, big enough, however not spread out so much to cause loss of the buzz and energy  of the event.

This SNW had some similar buzz or energy as early  versions granted without the hype and fanfare of a startup industry or focus  area (that would be some of the other events today)


Should SNW go to a once a year event?


While it would be nice to have a twice a year venue for convenience,  practicality and budgets say once would be enough given all the other  conferences and venues on the agenda (or that could be).


The next SNW USA will be October 15 to 17 2013 in Long Beach  California, and Europe in Frankfurt  Germany October 29-30 2013.


Thanks again to all the attendees, participants, vendor  exhibitors, event organizers and SNIA, SNW/Computerworld staffs for another  great event.


Ok, nuff said