Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013. Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.
Contributed article by Len Rosenthal, Senior Vice-president, Astute Networks
Top 3 Virtualization Predictions for 2013 to Unleash the Full Potential of Virtualized Environments by Transitioning to Flash-Based Virtualization-Optimized Storage
Virtualization is continuing to dramatically change the economics
of many IT organizations, yet most IT organizations have still only virtualized
about 35-40% of their applications. VDI
is touted by nearly every vendor, but VDI penetration is still less than 2% of
all desktops. Why are these adoption
rates still so low? Simply put, I/O-intensive
applications like virtualized databases and VDI have demanding performance
characteristics that legacy storage architectures were never designed to
support. These challenges will only be overcome by adoption of Flash-based
storage technologies, which are perfectly suited to meet these new performance requirements
and simultaneously helping drive down the cost of implementation. The impact of flash storage was big in 2012,
but it will explode in 2013.
Top 3 Predictions:
#1: VDI becomes a more mainstream technology as performance and cost issues are
addressed by solid state flash storage technologies.
VDI enables customers to streamline management and costs by
consolidating and centralizing the desktop while delivering end user mobility
and the freedom to access virtual desktops anytime, from anywhere, on any
device. Because of its high value, many organizations have initiated large
desktop virtualization implementations only to find that a serious undertaking
can result in a heavy investment in time, cost and resources. In most cases,
VDI deployments have been held back by performance issues and the cost of
implementation. For VDI to be successful from both a business and technical
level, these two primary issues must be addressed.
New flash-based storage technology, optimized as a high-performance,
sharable resource over pervasive Ethernet networks, is addressing these
challenges. Designed from the ground up with VDI environments in their sights,
virtualization-optimized application acceleration appliances use the most
recent advances in solid state technology, without the restrictions inherent in
legacy storage solutions. They are designed to eliminate the overhead
associated with network (TCP) and storage (iSCSI) protocol processing that can
negatively affect performance. Solutions
like the Astute ViSX application acceleration appliance incorporate protocol
processing technology that completely offloads and dramatically accelerates
network and storage protocol processing. The combination of a network-optimized
flash and protocol processors eliminate all critical I/O bottlenecks that
affect virtualized application and VDI performance. By deploying such a solution, the virtual
infrastructure is high performance, free of oversubscriptions and ready to
support 1000s of VDI users. With performance and cost barriers eliminated, the
true value of VDI can be realized for a much lower investment in time,
resources and budget. This means that VDI adoption can grow exponentially into a
mainstream technology paradigm.
#2: Flash storage technology becomes both easily deployable and affordable as a
true HDD replacement for virtualized Tier 1 applications.
Traditional storage options for virtualized applications have also
inhibited the true potential of the virtual enterprise. For this reason, many
tier 1 applications remain outside the virtual infrastructure because it
doesn't deliver the predictable, sustained performance required to meet business-critical
application demands. Virtualization highly randomizes I/O, which
significantly drives up IOPS requirements beyond what traditional storage
systems can support. This is driving the
need for solid state flash storage. According to IDC, enterprise solid
state storage revenue will grow from $1.7 billion in 2011 and reach $5.6
billion by 2016.
So why is flash storage technology a more attractive option than
traditional storage? There are four key reasons:
1. Hard Disk Drive Performance is Limiting - Simply
put, hard disk drives are limited by their I/O latency. This latency, often
impacted by the performance gap between storage processors and the spinning
speed of the drives themselves, means that processors are consistently waiting
for hard disk drives to read or write data. This has a dramatic negative impact
on overall application performance.
2. Oversubscription of Virtual Machine LUNs - One of
the greatest challenges of virtualization is the common problem of Virtual
Machine LUN (logical unit number) oversubscription. This is an indirect
consequence of the hypervisor virtualizing storage LUNs and the result can
deliver performance drops that are intermittent and unpredictable. Storage
systems simply do not understand that multiple virtual machines are trying to
access the same hard disk resources at the same time.
3. SAN Oversubscription - Similar
problems happen with storage area networks (SANs) even though they are often
architected for oversubscription. Typical SANs have an oversubscription rate of
8:1. However, if the average number of virtual machines on a virtual server is
10 (or a 10:1 ratio), then the total virtual machine to target storage port
ratio is closer to 80:1 - an oversubscription that is sure to lead to
significant performance problems.
4. Environmentals -
Flash-based storage systems simply consume 1/10th the power, cooling
and floor space compared to traditional disk-based storage systems.
Flash technology optimized for virtualized
application storage overcomes these challenges because it is purpose-built to
deliver unprecedented random IOPS performance and IOPS per dollar value. Thus,
the enterprise can finally virtualize the I/O-intensive tier 1 applications
#3: Advancements in hypervisor capabilities eliminates the need to procure expensive
storage management software from legacy storage vendors.
With increasing hypervisor innovations
coming from VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat and Citrix, combined with flash storage technology,
organizations no longer need to inefficiently spend their budgets on legacy
storage software and hardware that can't keep up with the performance demands
of virtualization. The hypervisor is quickly becoming the focal point for
storage management and storage services.
In a VMware environment, most storage provisioning and management of the
storage vendor products is now happening via vCenter plug-ins. VMware has added snapshot, deduplication,
backup, replication and mirroring directly into the hypervisor. The challenge,
however, can be performance of many of these storage services. But now flash technology
is coming to the rescue. New flash storage innovations are cost-effectively increasing
both storage I/O performance and the performance of the related storage
There are two main benefits for
using the hypervisor vendor supplied storage tools as opposed to the tools from
the legacy storage vendors. The most
glaring benefit is the huge cost savings as most of the hypervisor-based tools
are either included in the "enterprise" editions of their products or are
available as optional add-on products at a fraction of the cost of the legacy
storage vendor-supplied tools. The
second reason is the direct integration of the storage facilities with the
hypervisor. These storage tools have a
look and feel to them that is very familiar to the virtual server administrator
and all of these storage services are ‘virtual machine aware'. This makes life much easier for
administrators from both a deployment and ongoing management perspective.
Flash-based products like the
Astute ViSX application acceleration appliance are designed to be managed by
the virtual server admin. They are much
more cost-effective to deploy and manage as they specifically utilize the
hypervisor vendor-supplied storage services for nearly all management
functions. I strongly believe that this
trend of the hypervisor being the central point of control will accelerate in
2013 and sales of those expensive legacy storage vendor-supplied storage
management tools have now peaked.
In summary, flash storage as a simple to deploy additive
performance datastore tier will fundamentally change the economics of
virtualization and VDI. The cost per
IOPS and TCO advantages of flash are becoming so compelling that nearly every
medium to large IT shop will have to start deployments in 2013.
About the Author
Len Rosenthal, Senior Vice President Marketing of Astute Networks
Len Rosenthal is responsible for Astute Networks
overall marketing including corporate marketing, product management, product
marketing, demand generation, and channel marketing. Len is a proven marketing
executive with over 26 years of marketing management experience at both leading
public and privately held technology companies. Prior to joining Astute
Networks, Len was Vice-President of Marketing at Virtual Instruments, the leader
in infrastructure performance monitoring solutions for virtualized data
centers. Before Virtual Instruments, Len was Chief Marketing Officer at
Panasas, the leading supplier of high-performance parallel NAS storage systems.
Prior to Panasas, Len was Vice-President of Marketing at QLogic for their
System Interconnect Group. QLogic had acquired PathScale, a leading supplier of
InfiniBand networking products, where Len was a founder and VP of Marketing and
Business Development. Before PathScale, Len was the Director of Channel Partner
Development at Internet infrastructure software supplier Inktomi Corporation,
the Marketing Director for Internet and Media servers at Silicon Graphics
(SGI), and held various server product line management positions at Hewlett-Packard
(HP). Len has an MBA from the Haas Business School at the University of
California at Berkeley, a BSEE from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in
Economics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School.