XtremIO & AppSync – Magic for Application Owners!

[This blog was written by Avishek Kumar, Product Manager for XtremIO]

When talking to our customers these days, I find very few people who want to understand what flash technology is – most of them are already on the path to using flash-based products in some way, shape or form. There is no point in telling them that flash is faster than spinning disk drives and that their application will run faster when they move it to flash – they already know that!  It’s not about flash vs. disk – each has a place.  It’s about making the best choice for an all-flash array.

Some of the thought provoking questions that I hear customers asking is – “how do I integrate XtremIO technology in my application stack in the most effective way?” and “does XtremIO enable new use cases and deployment models for my application that I have not even thought about yet?”  Our customers don’t just want their applications to run faster; they want their storage and application architecture to leverage all the other benefits XtremIO provides.  The integration between XtremIO and AppSync is a step in that direction. And this is what I will focus on in this blog.

AppSync for XtremIO

What is AppSync?

EMC AppSync allows you to manage XtremIO snapshots from an application perspective. In other words, it allows you to schedule the snapshot management activities in an “application aware” fashion.  It comes with additional goodies like being able to take (and delete) application consistent snapshots according to a pre-defined schedule and subscribing applications to a “service plan”.  AppSync provides integration for Oracle, SQL Server and VMware when working with an XtremIO storage array, with more application stacks coming in the future.

Simplified Replica Management

Okay – but how is it going to help me and why should I care?

A very good question for you to ask J AppSync is mainly beneficial for the following three use cases.

AppSync Use CasesLet’s go one level deeper and find out the benefits of this integration with XtremIO and some real world applications.

  • Databases (Oracle and SQL Server): Databases are they #1 customer use case for XtremIO.  Among other architectural benefits of the array, things like space & metadata efficient snapshots and inline, always-on compression make XtremIO a very attractive choice for our database customers.

However, the DBAs want us to go the extra mile and make it easier for them to take application consistent snapshots without having to go through the typical headaches.  AppSync provides exactly that capability. With AppSync, you can discover the database – which means that AppSync will automatically know the LUNs on which your database is provisioned.  When you want to take an application consistent snapshot for the database (manually or through a scheduler), AppSync will:

    • Quiesce the database in the background
    • Create an application consistent snapshot on XtremIO
    • Enable the database for normal processing
    • If you want, AppSync can automatically mount the snapshots to another server for test/dev, reporting, or backups and repurpose the database.

AppSync Provisioning Management

  • Server Virtualization (VMware): The second most popular use case for XtremIO is in a virtualized environment.  Virtualized applications typically have lot of deduplication and compression friendly datasets and the applications exhibit high amounts of random I/O – ideal conditions for XtremIO. But there are some unique challenges that AppSync helps solve in such use cases. For example, let’s assume you have a VMware datastore with 50 virtual machines and you take a snapshot of that datastore through AppSync.  Now, you can do any of the following:
    • You can restore the entire datastore – wherein all the virtual machines on that datastore will be restored to their previous state. Assuming that you have taken multiple snapshots, AppSync will allow you to choose the snapshot that you want to restore the datastore to, but this is not all that you might want to do in certain situations.
    • You may not want to restore/penalize all users using the VMs on that datastore just because one specific VM needs to be restored. With AppSync, you can restore a particular virtual machine within the datastore to a previous state. That’s right – AppSync will identify all the VMs that exist on that datastore and allow you to restore a specific VM, if you wanted to.
    • You may not want to restore the entire datastore or even the entire VM – you may want to restore a particular file within a specific VM on a specific datastore. Guess what – AppSync allows you to do that too!

There are some customers who want to be able to do all storage related activities – which includes XtremIO and AppSync operations – from within the vCenter environment. You could already do that for XtremIO using the VSI plugin for XtremIO.  With the VSI plugin 6.4 release, AppSync is also supported through the VSI plugin and you can configure protection, run AppSync service plans, mount datastores, restore files – all from within vCenter!

AppSync & VSI Plugin

The Sky is the Limit!

All the use cases and examples discussed above are very powerful, but more importantly – storage operations are now becoming much simpler and intuitive for the application administrator.  We already have customers who are leveraging XtremIO snapshots for their database copies and for the first time the application owners are not worried about the performance and storage capacity needed by all the database copies. AppSync makes this story even better!  Use the AppSync free 90 day trial and give it a try.

AppSync Free Trial

The opportunities and potential use cases with AppSync are endless. Think about more enterprise applications that we can support, think about more application operations that can be supported, think about being able to handle replication through AppSync – and you get the idea!  To learn more, check out the demo below for what AppSync can do today (Thank you Itzik!) – and stay tuned for more goodies to come soon.

About the Author: Dell Technologies