August is both an exciting and busy month for me. It means another iteration of VMware’s annual VMworld conference which typically brings a flurry of new product announcements from VMware as well as the vendors in its rich partner ecosystem. Several meet-ups and social gatherings are being orchestrated such as the 1st Annual VMworld vFlipCup Tournament Monday evening at the Cable Car City Pub & Café. I’ll be representing Dell in this FlipCup competition along with a few other distinguished Dell team members. I’ve never played FlipCup before but I’m looking forward to friendly competition with peers in the industry, competitors such as NetApp and HP, and Dell partners including CommVault, Veeam, and Symantec. The following evening it’s the DellTechCenter User Group meeting at the Westin on Market Street. I’ll be delivering the first presentation of the meeting along with a live demonstration of a new vSphere integration feature Dell Compellent is releasing just before the start of VMworld. From there, I’ll cut out early to attend a prestigious VMware VCDX reception.
The US show in San Francisco will be my ninth VMworld, which includes two trips to Europe. While the networking has proven to be very valuable to me in developing opportunities and relationships, it’s also about new trends, new technology, and new integration points VMware and their partners bring to the table. In the past as a VMware customer and a datacenter administrator, I had a lot of technology at my fingertips, such as enterprise storage which represented a key convergence of all datacenter platforms. Now in my second year at Dell Compellent, I’m able to draw on my past experience as a vSphere and SAN customer and talk to existing Dell Compellent customers and prospective customers to enhance Storage Center’s current integration points with vSphere. I’m also able to develop new and incredibly useful product features for both current and future VMware portfolio offerings. At this point I think any vendor can sell highly available storage at the right performance. From a vSphere virtualized datacenter or private/public cloud perspective, the key differentiator for shared storage and the many storage vendors in the ecosystem is in the manageability and integrations it has with the other infrastructure in the customer’s datacenter. Statistics show that over the past many years, data has been growing at an alarming rate. I’ve witnessed this first hand as a customer and struggled with the solutions and tools I had to adapt and grow. The effort and/or complexity required to manage massive data growth or scale needs in the heterogeneous datacenter should not increase in parallel.
My first impression after joining Dell Compellent was that storage was much easier to manage compared to what I had been used to working with. Also, I saw that Dell Compellent had a lot to offer in terms of integration points, not only with vSphere, but also with other platforms commonly found in the datacenter.. The integration points build upon the foundation of a uniform set of Storage Center features which all fabric hosts can take advantage of such as Dynamic Capacity (Thin Provisioning of all volumes by default), Dynamic Block Architecture, and Data Progression. These features combine to provide automated tiering of active and inactive data at a very granular sub-LUN level, consisting of multiple RAID levels spanning various tiers of spindles. The result is Tier 1 performance. Tier 1 performance is needed for the active data, as well as cheap and deep capacity appropriate for less active, inactive, or lower tier data. The ROI is immediate in that the tiering for all provisioned volumes doesn’t need to be managed manually. Even more important, the inactive data (typically around 80%), as well as unused white space, is not stranded on expensive Tier 1 storage.
The vSphere Client plug-in is probably our most popular integration point in the VMware context. It’s designed to satisfy storage provisioning, management, replication, snapshot, data recovery, and monitoring needs all from within the vSphere Client. For those with the delegated authority, it eliminates the need to bounce between different management panes to get the job done. The result is efficiency and consistency in a tool that’s familiar to the vSphere administrator.
For larger environments, unified management across Storage Centers is accomplished with the vSphere Client plug-in, as well as Dell Compellent Enterprise Manager and its vSphere integrations. For those who prefer scripting, 75 PowerShell cmdlets, custom written for Storage Center, can be combined with vSphere PowerCLI to manage a vSphere environment built on Dell Compellent Storage Center. Each of these tools are freely available with the purchase of Storage Center.
Storage Center is a certified solution for VMware Site Recovery Manager. SRM leverages Storage Center Data Instant Replay and array based replication (fibre channel, iSCSI, or both) to provide disaster recovery, disaster avoidance, or planned migration services for the vSphere virtualized datacenter to accommodate even most aggressive Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective.
Last but not least is Live Volume integration which allows virtual machines and vApps, along with their associated storage, to be migrated live between vSphere hosts and Storage Centers. This feature lends itself well to maintaining uptime in disaster avoidance scenarios and stretched cluster architectures.
Each of these technologies has proven themselves useful in virtualized datacenters around the world. Whether you’re small, medium, or large, running a traditional vSphere datacenter, private/public cloud, or VDI, Storage Center and its integration points are a great fit for your environment.
I’m very much looking forward to VMworld 2012 and I hope you’ll join me there. If you have a chance, stop by the Dell booth on the Solutions Exchange show floor.
For more great info live from Dell at VMworld 2012 be sure to follow Jason on twitter.