Weekly Review
     Volume 5, Issue 39
     August 26, 2009




    In this issue:
•   Two Views - EMC’s New Virtualization...
Two Views - EMC’s New Virtualization-Aware Storage So-
lutions

EMC Launches VMware-Enhanced CLARiiON Solutions
By Charles...
did, but those more-efficient boxes require and consume far more bandwidth and memory
than their pitifully underutilized f...
Navigating Virtualization Storage Waters with EMC’s Navisphere
Manager
By David Hill, Mesabi Group

Server virtualization ...
EMC’s new Navisphere Manager supports automated changes to the discovery and report-
ing processes, requiring only two scr...
IBM’s POWER7 at Hot Chips 21 — Putting POWER on the
Front Burner
By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.

At the Hot Chips 21 confe...
IBM. Regarding the former, it appears likely that POWER7 will significantly ratchet up the
pressure on rivals already unde...
VirtenSys Makes the Case for I/O Virtualization
By David Hill Mesabi Group

When the word “virtualization” is used, the im...
adapters and no non-standard hardware or drivers are required; changes to existing driv-
ers, software, and operating syst...
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Weekly Review

  1. 1. Weekly Review Volume 5, Issue 39 August 26, 2009 In this issue: • Two Views - EMC’s New Virtualization- Aware Storage Solutions • EMC Launches VMware-Enhanced CLARiiON Solutions By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. • Navigating Virtualization Storage Waters with EMC’s Navisphere Manager By David Hill, Mesabi Group • IBM’s POWER7 at Hot Chips 21 — Putting POWER on the Front Burner By Charles King, Pund- IT, Inc. • VirtenSys Makes the Case for I/O Virtual- ization By David Hill Mesabi Group Pund-IT, Inc. Contact: Hayward, CA Office: 510-383-6767 U.S.A. 94541 Mobile: 510-909-0750 charles@pund-it.com www.pund-it.com
  2. 2. Two Views - EMC’s New Virtualization-Aware Storage So- lutions EMC Launches VMware-Enhanced CLARiiON Solutions By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. EMC unveiled new virtualization-aware features for its midrange CLARiiON CX4 networked storage systems optimized for VMware environments. These include: • A new version of EMC Navisphere Manager enables virtualization-aware storage manage- ment. Through integration with VMware vSphere, the resulting solution delivers end-to-end physical-to-virtual mapping, helping administrators meet Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Quality of Service (QoS) goals. • Shared 10Gb/s Ethernet and 8Gb/s Fibre Channel (FC) connectivity options, which allow CLARiiON owners to flexibly choose technologies with the right blend of availability, con- nectivity and performance for their storage and business needs. • New EMC RecoverPoint and EMC Replication Manager’s capabilities which deliver en- hanced ease-of-use, cost efficiency and data availability for VMware environments. Accord- ing to EMC, these new features are key enablers for private clouds and ‘fully virtualized’ in- formation infrastructures. EMC offers 8Gb/s FC today solutions and will offer 10Gb/s Ethernet on CLARiiON CX4 net- worked storage systems in the third quarter of 2009. Both 8Gb/s and 10Gb/s Ethernet are available today on EMC Celerra systems. Virtualization-aware Navisphere Manager and the new versions of RecoverPoint and Replication Manager are available worldwide from EMC, its Velocity2 Program Velocity2 Authorized Services Network (ASN) Partners and are also being offered by Dell. The Pitch New EMC solutions expand midrange storage options for VMware customers. Mission Accomplished? Server virtualization, particularly in x86/64-based systems, continues to drive fundamental datacenter transformation in businesses of every sort. In particular, solutions, such as VMware’s ESX Server enable companies to efficiently execute significant, often massive datacenter consolidation efforts, reducing the total number of servers they require to a fraction of what was once necessary. This provides obvious benefits related to acquisition (or CAPEX) costs but also results in often profound, long-term operations (OPEX) savings. It is also one of the reasons that VMware has grown from a niche technology specialist to an innovative vendor with nearly $2 billion in annual revenues, and why Microsoft, Citrix and others have enthusiastically joined the hunt. However, as these transformational efforts ripple into virtually every corner of the datacen- ter, their immediate benefits tend to obscure often considerable challenges. Consolidating applications and workloads means that an organization requires fewer servers than it once 2
  3. 3. did, but those more-efficient boxes require and consume far more bandwidth and memory than their pitifully underutilized forebears. Vendors have addressed many or most of these issues—virtualization-enhanced systems based on Intel’s new Xeon 5500 (Nehalem) chips are good examples. But what happens to IT processes and administration beyond the server? Particularly in areas, like data storage, which are tangibly responsible for the continuing health and well-being of individual busi- ness applications and entire organizations? These are the issues that EMC’s new virtualiza- tion-aware solutions for CLARiiON CX4 are designed to address. EMC Navisphere Manager’s new features aim to simplify elemental provisioning and man- agement practices in VMware-based datacenters, helping administrators meet critical SLA and QoS goals. The new 10Gb/s Ethernet and 8Gb/s Fibre Channel (FC) solutions provide powerful assurance that CLARiiON owners can support the network demands of VMware- enabled systems. Their new capabilities mean EMC RecoverPoint and EMC Replication Man- ager can more easily and cost-effectively support critical CLARiiON-based back-up to disk and disaster recovery processes. Just as importantly, while these solutions will be effective in existing VMware-based data- centers, they can also be applied in emerging cloud computing infrastructures enabled by VMware’s vSphere. That demonstrates an admirable level of “future-proofing” available in EMC products. According to the company, CLARiiON is the only mid-tier array that supports the automated discovery and reporting of virtual machines. It also illustrates EMC’s longer- term strategy of integrating comprehensive virtualization support into all of its products. Perhaps most notably, EMC’s new CLARiiON CX4 features highlight the degree to which vir- tualization is demolishing the walls between storage and system administrators. In tradi- tional datacenters, cabling marked the physical connections and boundaries between sys- tems and storage. In virtualized environments, those relationships are abstracted to a de- gree that can materially impact administrators’ efforts and efficiency. EMC’s new virtualiza- tion-aware features reflect the company’s recognition of the growing interdependency of storage and system administrators and its intention to provide solutions to these myriad challenges both today and in the future. © 2009 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved. About Pund-IT, Inc. Pund-IT emphasizes understanding technology and product evolution and interpreting the effects these changes will have on business customers and the greater IT marketplace. 3
  4. 4. Navigating Virtualization Storage Waters with EMC’s Navisphere Manager By David Hill, Mesabi Group Server virtualization continues to be near the top of the IT top priorities hit list. A recent Goldman Sachs survey of IT spending priorities showed server virtualization in third place followed by closely related server consolidation in fourth place. And both are closely corre- lated with the #1 (and not at all surprising) IT spending priority of cost reduction. But new technologies can also introduce new challenges and complexities, and so it is with server virtualization’s relationship to storage. With direct attached storage (DAS), the horse and carriage relationship between servers (CPU horsepower) and storage (data carriage) was clear. Both the physical server and its storage were tightly coupled in a one-to-one rela- tionship (each server and the storage that it “owned”). Even though the introduction of stor- age area networks (SANs) physically decoupled servers from storage, still each server was physically assigned an allocated piece of the SAN storage infrastructure. So, the relation- ship between a server and storage was clear even if the assignment of storage could be changed from time to time (which was not possible with DAS). Thus, the distinction be- tween a server as a physical device versus a server as an operating system and the software environment that it controlled was irrelevant. That situation has changed fundamentally with server virtualization with the result that storage has relationships with virtual machines (VMs) instead of physical servers. And VMs themselves are not tied to a particular physical server but can move around as needed, such as for load balancing and performance reasons. That capability is powerful and very useful for the management of workloads and application performance. However, at the same time, storage administrators now face challenges in gaining visibility into which VMs are consuming storage resources. This is necessary to ensure that VMs have the storage they need to run effectively, to ensure that the overall performance of the server-storage environment meets service level agreements and to be able to resolve any problems that may arise. Quite clearly, without the proper software management tools, achieving those goals can be very challenging. The problem up until now has been that performing virtual infrastructure discovery and reporting necessary for management of the virtual environment, including storage, was very difficult. And that meant that managing the virtual environment of VMs working with storage was difficult, at best. EMC's introduction of new automated virtualization-aware Navisphere Manager capabilities for CLARiiON CX4 has changed all that. The company cited an example of a medium-sized VMware environment of 100 VMs spread across 10 ESX servers in which the storage admin- istrator had to view 200 screens for the 10 ESX servers and then record the information on each screen manually to a spreadsheet! Naturally that required hours to complete, but to further compound the problem, the process needed to be repeated to reflect any change to the environment. Obviously, this was a task that overburdened administrators did not look forward to and one that cried out for automation not only to free up time, but also to re- duce the possibility for error. But a proper solution should also not inhibit VMware admin- istrators from moving VMs as needed without having to worry about recording and man- agement issues. 4
  5. 5. EMC’s new Navisphere Manager supports automated changes to the discovery and report- ing processes, requiring only two screens to report the latest virtual to physical mapping and export automatically to an Excel or CSV. EMC says that the process takes only seconds to complete in contrast what used to take hours. Frankly, that takes an unmanageable manual process and turns it into an eminently simple automated feature. But Navisphere Manager also addresses issues well beyond infrastructure and process man- agement. Previously, VMware administrators were not storage-aware and storage adminis- trators were not virtualization-aware. Enabling the storage administrator to become virtual- ization-aware occurs through an enhancement to Navisphere Manager. On the server virtu- alization side, the VMware administrator can use the EMC Storage Viewer for CLARiiON, a free downloadable VMware vCenter plug-in, to become storage aware. For the VMware user, EMC’s Storage Viewer provides integrated views of the relationship between VMware virtual machines, disk files, data stores and underlying CLARiiON storage systems, information that can be used to check for best practice settings. For the storage administrator, the enhancements to EMC Navisphere Manager for CLARiiON CX4 enable automatic discovery of virtual machines and ESX servers, with end-to-end virtual to physical mapping and new advanced search for instant VM discovery capabilities. Mesabi Musings The introduction of a new technology, such as server virtualization, may spawn new chal- lenges and complexities. Addressing these issues can only occur as a new technology be- comes widely adopted and mature. Before that the challenges were either not recognized (as no one had enough experience previously) or not relevant (as the potential challenges were at too small a scale to matter). VMware continues to maintain a strong leadership position in server virtualization through the introduction of more powerful and useful capabilities that extend the breadth and depth of doing server virtualization implementations. But, in the process of doing so, the challenges and complexities of dealing with storage in conjunction with these capabilities, such as the ability to move VMs fluidly for better load balancing and performance, has be- come apparent. With its new Navisphere Manager and Storage Viewer capabilities, EMC has virtually elimi- nated storage management challenges and complexities arising from the broader deploy- ment of server virtualization. Not only will this improve the productivity of both VMware and storage administrators but may very well help remove a potential inhibitor to the fuller deployment of server virtualization. Virtualization may cause the server “horse” to be con- nected to the storage “carriage” in a different way, but the connection still exists. Overall, IT organizations should look favorably on EMC’s new software capabilities. © 2009 Mesabi Group. All rights reserved. About the Mesabi Group The Mesabi Group (www.mesabigroup.com) helps organizations make their complex storage, storage management, and interrelated IT infrastructure decisions easier by making the choices simpler and clearer to understand. 5
  6. 6. IBM’s POWER7 at Hot Chips 21 — Putting POWER on the Front Burner By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. At the Hot Chips 21 conference in Palo Alto, IBM discussed details of its upcoming POWER7 microprocessors, including advances in balanced design and innovative new eDRAM tech- nologies, which support dramatic boosts in both chip and system performance and energy efficiency. Hot Chips 21 occurs a week after a POWER7-focused analyst event IBM hosted at its Power Systems facility and lab in Austin, Texas, where the company discussed its plans for Power System solutions based on the new chips. So is POWER7 really such a big deal? Absolutely, for both technological and market strategy reasons. Regarding the former, IBM’s mixture of utterly recognizable and entirely new features makes POWER7 one of the most intriguing enterprise-class processors to come down the pike since, well, POWER6. Like many of its competitors, IBM is leveraging proven 45nm technologies in POWER7. Like others, IBM is delving deeper into multi-core options—various systems will be available with 4-, 6- and 8-core chips, with each core supporting 4 threads. Balanced POWER7-based systems can scale up to 32 sockets, 256 cores and 1024 threads. Practically speaking, this means that POWER7-based commercial solutions are likely to maintain or extend IBM’s continuing leadership in system and RAS (reliability, availability and security) performance. In addition, Customers leveraging IBM’s Power Virtualization can deploy over 1000 mobile and flexible virtual machines on a similarly tricked-our 32 core system, providing ammunition for the company to pitch highly scalable Power7 solu- tions for server and datacenter consolidation projects. Finally, POWER7 will serve as the ba- sis of IBM’s efforts in DARPA’s next-generation PERCS (Productive, Easy-to-use, Reliable Computing System) initiative. One of the most innovative new POWER7 features is an on-chip memory technology IBM calls eDRAM, which provides 32MB of internal L3 cache, delivering 6:1 latency improve- ments over traditional external L3 technologies and a 2X boost in bandwidth. IBM’s eDRAM is not quite as fast natively as SRAM but it requires just one-third the space of conventional 6T SRAM and uses one-fifth the standby power. Bottom line? New eDRAM and other im- provements mean that POWER7 cores will deliver higher performance at lower frequency than POWER6 cores and will provide more than quadruple the chip level performance of POWER6 in the same energy envelope. What will this mean in the datacenter? According to IBM, POWER7-based servers will en- hance aggregate throughput by 2-5X and improve overall performance by 2-3X in the same energy envelope as comparable POWER6-based systems. Despite these leaps, the new sys- tems will be extremely familiar to IBM clients. POWER7 servers will be available in a portfo- lio of modular, scalable systems similar to POWER6 and binary compatibility between POW- ER7 and POWER6 should ease customer transitions. IBM is further simplifying the transition process by offering customers who buy new Power 595 systems processor book upgrades to POWER7 and is planning a transition program for owners of Power 570 systems, as well. This all sounds great, but how will POWER7’s improvements translate in the larger IT mar- ketplace? Overall, we believe there is both excellent and somewhat cautionary news for 6
  7. 7. IBM. Regarding the former, it appears likely that POWER7 will significantly ratchet up the pressure on rivals already under siege. In Austin, IBM executives provided some details on the success of the company’s Migration Factory solutions, designed to ease the move of Sun UltraSPARC and HP Integrity systems owners to IBM Power. In the three years since the Migration Factory’s debut, over 1750 businesses switched to Power, with some 89% coming from Sun and HP. More importantly, that number appears to be expanding. In the first two quarters of 2009, wins from Sun grew by 111% QTQ while wins from HP grew by 44% QTQ. Considering current circumstances, this is hardly surprising. Sun’s planned acquisition by Oracle has increased uncertainty (and anxiety) about a number of the company’s technolo- gies, particularly its server business. In addition, rumors have been rife about the shaky state of “Rock,” Sun’s next-generation UltraSPARC processor, with some reports claiming the chip is headed for a tumble. HP’s situation is certainly less dire, but development prob- lems with Intel’s Itanium microprocessor have dinged the company’s (and other Itanium supporters’) enterprise server strategies. Next-generation Itanium chips (codenamed “Tukwila”) are announced to ship to Intel OEMs early next year, but delays (Tukwila was originally to have appeared in 2007) and the chip’s reported quad-core configuration and use of 65nm processes will make it look rather old-school compared to POWER7. However, while a loss of faith might inspire clients to consider moving away from a vendor or platform, successful migration requires they have a promising destination. Fortunately for IBM, POWER7, like POWER6 and POWER5 before it, reliably delivers significant techno- logical improvements and enhanced value, making it an excellent choice for the company’s AIX, IBM i series and Linux customers, and for owners of competing UNIX solutions looking for better, more salubrious climes. Overall, if things go according to plan and schedule, we expect POWER7-based solutions to continue the enthusiastic adoption of Power Systems, which has led IBM from a distant third to a commanding first position in the UNIX market. That said, we are less sanguine about points in the company’s go-to-market strategy which propose POWER7 systems as able solutions for mid-market companies and ideal substi- tutes for VMware-based virtualization and consolidation purposes. It is true that innovative engineering has made POWER7 a compelling enterprise platform but it is also clear that technological superiority is not the ‘be all/end all’ sales driver that many seem to believe. Instead, IT purchasing decisions are often driven by expedience or simple habit—in some cases dictated by decision makers long gone and in others by current, forward thinking ex- ecutives. Like any habit, once computing systems become established they are difficult to change or displace. That is as true for x86/64-based solutions as it is for IBM mainframes. IBM obviously recognizes that issue. The company’s Dynamic Infrastructure initiative fo- cuses, in part, on “fit for purpose” computing—pairing business applications and work- loads with server platforms whose capabilities can best support their essential require- ments. IBM’s new POWER7-based systems fit very well into that schema, both from the standpoint of improved performance and via long-term OPEX benefits related to energy and management efficiencies. But as good as POWER7 and upcoming Power Systems are likely to be, we do not believe they will significantly or singularly turn the rising tide of x86/64 technologies. Instead, we expect them to reside among IBM’s other systems platform offer- ings and to help drive the company’s continuing success. © 2009 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved. 7
  8. 8. VirtenSys Makes the Case for I/O Virtualization By David Hill Mesabi Group When the word “virtualization” is used, the implicit assumption is that the speaker or writer is talking about “server virtualization.” But other types of virtualization exist, such as stor- age virtualization. And now I/O (input/output) virtualization is starting to encroach upon our consciousness. Just what is I/O virtualization? Answering that question requires a brief review of the role of I/O in a system. The job of a computer is to perform "data processing." A CPU processes data from its associated transient memory, but the data typically has to be acquired from storage somewhere, and a network is used to link the two. The movement of data is all about I/Os (inputs are reads from storage to a server and outputs are writes to storage). To be clear, the use of a network may be grandiose when using direct attached storage where a bus or I/O interconnect is sufficient rather than a LAN or SAN, but logically any connectivity is still part of a network. Now if I/O needs to get in or out of the server chassis box in conjunction with an external network composed of such things as cables and switches, an I/O adapter is necessary to connect and translate network protocols to the CPU/memory complex of a server. If the network is a SAN, a Fibre Channel HBA (host bus adapter) may be the I/O adapter or if to a LAN or WAN an Ethernet NIC (network interface card) may be used. However, the I/O adapter is located within the server box. What I/O virtualization does is move these adapters from the server box to a new box called an I/O virtualization switch box external to the server. VirtenSys is joining the I/O virtualization party (where NextIO has played for over a year) by providing such a switch. With the VirtenSys solution, a single PCIe cable connection is made between each physical server and the I/O virtualization switch. What each server now has is no longer a dedicated I/O adapter, but rather, virtual I/O connectivity through non-dedicated access to I/O adapter resources on the I/O virtualization switch. What does this do and why does it matter? One of the big drivers of virtualization in gen- eral has been that IT assets have been underutilized, a situation also true of I/O adapters. VirtenSys says it has found that adapters are only utilized 10% to 15% and their virtualiza- tion switch can raise this utilization to more than 80%. That obviously can lead to better asset utilization. Using VirtenSys’ solutions, an IT organi- zation can defer the need to purchase additional I/O adapters until the demand for I/O in- creases sufficiently to warrant them. And even when additional purchases are needed, fewer adapters will be required than in the past. Moreover, some currently redundant I/O adapters can simply be taken out of service. That reduces the power and concomitant cool- ing requirements. That is nothing to sneeze at as up to 30% of power is consumed by I/O cards and switches. Those are obvious benefits, but there are a couple of other points which, although not as obvious, can be critical. First, however, note that a VirtenSys switch is non-disruptive in that it works with the existing infrastructure in data centers. That means no changes to 8
  9. 9. adapters and no non-standard hardware or drivers are required; changes to existing driv- ers, software, and operating system infrastructures are likewise not required. In addition, the performance transparency of VirtenSys’s switch means there is zero to minimal per- formance overhead. So except for inserting a new switch box in the network, no real barri- ers to adoption exist. But that transparency leads to a hidden benefit. The VirtenSys switch in effect creates a vir- tual I/O cloud in which different bandwidth requirements can be accommodated. As Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and SAS increase their bandwidths over time, the old and the new bandwidths can be mixed and matched so transitions can be accommodated incrementally rather than as a rip and replace. IT can move in an evolutionary manner rather than a revo- lutionary manner, which means that organizations can buy bandwidth upgrades when they can afford them and phase in new implementations when IT staff and the infrastructure are ready. The second benefit may be a little more obvious, but maybe not. That is that I/O virtualiza- tion enables denser server configurations. Removing the I/O from a server leaves only a CPU and memory so what was once a 2U configuration can often fit into a 1U rack, opening up critical space. Another side effect of virtualizing I/O is that the number of cables can be dramatically decreased. Many a data center manager would gladly allow an extra switch box just for that benefit alone, as cable problems are notoriously hard to diagnose. For that reason, I/O virtualization is a good complement to blade environments as it simplifies all the processes required to manage blades, such as configuring, failing over and load bal- ancing. Mesabi Musings The first indication that a data center manager might want to I/O virtualization is when you hear him or her say: “Not another virtualization story. Not another box I have to put in my network.” However, upon further reflection that same data center manager will probably see that I/O virtualization is eminently sensible. If the transformation of a data center is going to take place anyway, whether it is called a next-generation data center, a utility or an internal cloud, half measures are not going to be enough. All forms of virtualization should be examined and adopted as appropriate. And a good case can be made that I/O virtualization should be part of the package. The any-to-any connectivity that I/O virtualization offers makes traditional fixed I/O infrastruc- tures essentially obsolete. The VirtenSys solution makes true I/O resource sharing possible at the same time as it ensures complete I/O compatibility. Overall, we believe that carefully examining VirtenSys’ solutions is a good move for companies considering I/O virtualization or datacenter transformation. © 2009 Mesabi Group. All rights reserved. 9

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