Here are Pure Storage, virtualized environments have been one of our strongest deployment use cases for early adopter customers, both virtual server and VDI environments. This should really come as no surprise, since storage has emerged as one of the biggest “speed bumps” in the deployment of virtualization.
The Challenge: The IO Blender
Many customers leap head-long into virtualization and see significant economic and operational gains, only to then realize that the “IO blender” effect of virtualization is absolutely toxic on their traditional disk storage architecture. In the end they turn around and hand much of the money they saved through virtualization over to their storage vendor to purchase higher-performance storage and expensive flash add-ons to deliver the performance that VMware needs. And this problem is only getting worse as customers continue to virtualize Tier 1 applications with higher and higher IO requirements.
The Result: $torage $henanigans
So what do customers end-up doing? They end-up implementing a bunch of “work-arounds” in their virtualization environment that we call storage shenanigans…those little work-arounds that keep VMware running, but do so at a cost of either additional spend on hardware or reduced flexibility.
Do any of these shenanigans sound familiar in your environment?
- Small LUNs and datastores: even though vSphere 5 now supports up to 64TB datastores, most customers deploy very small datastores and separate their workloads between them. This ensures that a relatively small set of disk spindles are dedicated to each datastore, but multiplies the work at both the storage and VMware tiers.
- VM / application isolation: in addition to keeping datastores small, many people often separate workloads between datastores out of a desire to ensure that workloads don’t interfere with one another. They take all the benefits of virtualization at the server tier and then significantly limit their flexibility at the storage tier, creating many, many more LUN objects to manage.
- Over-provisioning DRAM: many environments load-up on the DRAM to ensure that more of the IO gets cached and managed at the server tier and never hits disk. DRAM is, of course, the most expensive tier of storage to buy and power.
- Not virtualizing Tier 1 applications: the biggest sin, of course, is to keep a certain tier of applications running on physical machines, as the potential for performance variability in the virtual environment running on spinning disk is just too high.
Check out Chris Wahl’s take on his own personal storage shenanigans on the Wahl Network.
Flash Enables Virtualization to the Fullest
Pure Storage’s goal is simple: to enable virtualization to the fullest. We believe that with flash storage underneath, it is possible to make the virtualized infrastructure perform better than the legacy physical infrastructure, and as such your application owners will be begging to go virtual.
Our customers have seen dramatic improvements in many dimensions of their virtualization architectures by moving to 100% flash storage, including:
- Virtualizing Tier 1 applications: with the IO blender issues around disk contention out of the way, even mission-critical databases and performance-intensive analytics environments can be virtualized with ease. Check out how Siemens eMeter virtualized Oracle as an example.
- Leveraging up to 64TB datastores: with disk contention issues out of the way, you can now easily maximize your datastore size and gain the management simplicity of large datastore pools. Check out how we ran 1,000 VMs in two 64TB datastores while delivering <1ms latency.
- Reducing overall power consumption: with storage consuming 40% of the power in the data center, your new lean VMware environment’s efficiency is being held back by rotating disk. Moving to flash storage can cut power consumption from 70-90%, and help improve your overall virtualization efficiency ROI.
- Making everything simpler and faster: the operational benefits of flash should not be under-estimated…what if every management operation you did took 5-10x less time? What if VM types didn’t matter? What if VM alignment didn’t matter? What if you never had to worry about RAID, LUNs, striping, and disk performance issues again?
Plain and simple, virtualization loves flash. Drop us a line if you’d like to see some of these benefits first-hand in your VMware environment.