Virtualization Technology News and Information
Astute Networks: Top 3 Virtualization Predictions for 2013

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this 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:

Prediction #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.

Prediction #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 with confidence.

Prediction #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 services. 

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.

Published Friday, January 04, 2013 5:13 PM by David Marshall
Comments - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 6:59 AM

First, I'd like to personally thank everyone for being a valued member and reader of VMblog! Once again, with the help of each of you, VMblog has been able to remain one of the oldest and most successful virtualization and cloud news sites on the Web

Disruptive–not a bad word when used correctly… | The SAN Technologist - (Author's Link) - February 8, 2013 4:33 AM
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