How Backend Storage Impacts the Cloud

We all know that there are a variety of factors that impact application performance running on cloud infrastructure, such as network latency and bandwidth, server compute power and, one that is often overlooked, storage. Service providers need strong storage solutions supporting their infrastructure so they can differentiate themselves in this increasingly competitive space, while providing superior service and performance to their end users.

WebSupport, a leading European Cloud Service Provider supports thousands of customers, all requiring differing levels of performance and reliability. WebSupport needed to achieve specific performance metrics with their storage in a cost-effective manner. To solve their dilemma, they deployed an all-flash NexentaStor system that exceeds their performance requirements of 600K read IOPS and 300K write IOPS. Utilizing the advanced caching built into our filesystem, WebSupport is able to deliver 1.2M read IOPS. In addition, NexentaStor’s data reduction reduces their disk space capacity by 40%, providing additional cost-savings for their business.

Earlier this year, WebSupport ran their VPS performance benchmark test against some top regional and global Cloud Service Provider competitors in the market today. To learn more about the results of the testing and to get an in-depth analysis of their findings, read their Benchmarking White Paper here.

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Posted in all flash, cloud, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

Declare Your Independence From Legacy Storage

Independence: [in-di-pen-duh ns], noun

Freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

Today’s enterprise IT administrators are looking to declare their independence from the legacy vendors that have dominated the technology landscape for decades. This freedom has manifested in the form of software-defined solutions.

The revolution began in the late 1990s, when VMware was founded to disrupt the server empire that had long been controlled by mainframe systems from the likes of IBM and Sun Microsystems. The battle for dominance in the server world has now clearly been won by server virtualization software- still, the war wages on in the realm of enterprise storage.

Software-defined storage companies are now fighting to give power and flexibility back to the enterprise in key areas of their data centers. These solutions range from software-only products bundled into certified reference architectures to appliances that utilize a software-based solution to provide the freedom users need.

Freedom from Vendor Control

Storage Administrators no longer have to rely solely on the limited and costly tools offered by legacy vendors. The use of API-driven solutions, like NexentaStor, allows for simple automation and management. With Software-Defined, you now have control over what a configuration looks like for your business.

However, many companies want the benefits of software-defined without the hassle of piecing together their own configurations from scratch. Solutions like the Lenovo DX8200N give you the autonomy that software-defined affords, ranging from high performance all-flash configurations to all-disk archive systems, with the ease of an appliance model.

Freedom from Influence

Legacy vendors configure solutions to be as cost effective as possible for themselves and don’t place as much emphasis on the user’s needs or price challenges. Deploying a software-defined solution lets the user choose the drives they need and the speed they desire at a lower price point than traditional vendors.

An example of this is the numerous drive and PCI card options that are available with the Lenovo DX8200N. Your options range from 200Gb solid state drives to 4,6,8 and 10TB spinning disks with connectivity options including the latest Fibre Channel (FC) and IP connectivity. The freedom to customize a solution around your needs in a simplified manner is core to Nexenta SDS.

Freedom to Choose Your Support

Choosing to liberate your datacenter with software-defined does not mean that support will be lacking. There are many open source SDS products on the market that rely solely on community support. It can often take days, weeks or even longer to get help with a problem. That is a timeframe that enterprises cannot afford.

In contrast, a mature software-defined storage solution is not complicated to support. Nexenta has developed strong partnerships with key alliance partners, such as Lenovo, which ensures customers receive full support for the entire solution through Lenovo. Ultimately, this makes it simple to implement software-defined storage with full end-to-end support that enterprises need.

Freedom to Take Back Your Data Center

At its core, software-defined is about freedom. The freedom to make your own hardware choices, the freedom to run your enterprise with reliability and dependability, and the freedom to take control of your datacenter. Nexenta puts the power back in your hands and provides your company with the tools you need to win the battle, and as you move towards a full software-defined datacenter, one day win the war.

To learn more about the Lenovo DX8200N Powered by Nexenta, register for our upcoming webinar.

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Posted in Corporate, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

3 Simple Ways To Protect Your Data From Ransomware

By: Michael B. Letschin, Field CTO

Ransomware attacks have become one of the biggest threats to enterprise data. WannaCry was released just a few months back, and yesterday, an even more sophisticated attack was launched called Petya.

This new attack locks down a computer’s hard drive and demands payment in Bitcoin to unlock the user’s system. They claim it will send a password after payment, but there is a slim chance that a password that will ever arrive.

The one thing these attacks have in common is they are based on the EternalBlue tool that was leaked from the NSA.  The tool specifically attacks vulnerabilities on Windows systems.

So how do you protect your corporate data? There are 3 Simple ways.

  • Store your Data on a Centralized Storage Array like NexentaStor

Since the file services stack in NexentaStor is not based on Windows, these vulnerabilities are not present in our software and you can be more confident that your data won’t be at risk.

  • Create a Snapshot Schedule

Another benefit of using an enterprise storage array is the ability to create a snapshot schedule that will allow you to roll back to a point in time before any attack on a connected system might have occurred.  With unlimited snapshots in NexentaStor, you can be sure you have a timely and accurate copy of your data, regardless of user interactions.

  • Replicate your Data to a Secondary System

Finally, a centralized array offers you the ability to replicate that data offsite to a secondary system within your own corporate firewall or even to one of the many service providers that use NexentaStor as their replication targets.

Data integrity has always been a core, fundamental component of the Nexenta software stack. We consistently make this a priority to ensure you get the full benefit of that and your critical corporate data isn’t held ransom.  If you’d like to learn more about our storage solutions, click here.

Posted in Data Protection, Software-defined storage

How to Get More from All-Flash Using Software Defined Storage

By: George Crump, Storage Swiss

Flash often makes the hardware selection less important, but makes the software selection very important. The right software can not only ensure optimal flash performance, but also extend flash implementation beyond the typical high-transaction database use cases and into modern apps and big data analytics. It is critical though that IT professionals make sure software defined storage solutions (SDS) include core enterprise features that they have come to count on.

Why is Storage Hardware Less Important?

Storage systems used to be full of proprietary hardware so they could extract every last drop of performance from the array. These custom chips were used because CPUs were relatively slow, software was cumbersome to create and maintain, and rotational hard disks were highly latent. Times have changed. CPU processing power is almost too plentiful, software development is much easier to start and continuously maintain, and most importantly, flash media has almost no latency when comparing the alternatives.

Although it matters what hardware IT uses, a mid-range configuration can help many organizations reach the performance levels they require. While they do exist, most data center workloads will not be able to take advantage of additional hardware investments to extract additional performance. A software-first approach provides IT professionals flexibility, enabling them to select hardware components that are the most affordable while balancing the right quality and the right amount of performance.

Once the organization meets performance requirements, it needs to focus on the other values flash media brings to the data center. For example, flash is denser and requires less power, making it ideal for rapidly growing organizations that are trying to avoid the cost of building another data center.

Why is Software More Important?

If it is flash-enabled, storage software really shouldn’t care what type of storage hardware it runs on. But it should take advantage of the reality of excess storage performance to provide a richer feature set to customers. For legacy data centers, this means a greater focus on data efficiency like inline compression, data management enabled by quality of service, data protection to lower recover point objectives and most importantly ease of use to lower administrative costs.

Flash’s Next Steps

Flash, in the form of either all-flash arrays or hybrid arrays, is now the dominant storage type for core applications based on Oracle or MS-SQL as well as virtualized environments based on VMware or Hyper-V. These environments typically leverage a scale-up storage architecture and SDS vendors need to support this very popular deployment model. Doing so allows the SDS solution to leverage storage hardware already in-place instead of forcing the customer to upgrade or change hardware to support a scale-out solution.

Flash as Deep Storage

An increasing number of organizations are looking to use flash storage not only to take advantage of its performance, but also its density. A flash-based system can store petabytes of information in less than half a data center rack. When factoring the cost of data center floor space, power and cooling, these offerings may actually be less expensive than the hard drive alternative. Then, applications like Splunk and Hadoop can leverage this density to access a broad data set that responds instantly to their queries to deliver deeper analysis and faster answers.

But these environments require a new approach to flash storage system architectures. They need to scale-out the same way the applications do, via commodity servers that act as storage nodes creating a cluster delivering a single pool of storage. Once again, the software creating this storage cluster is critical, as it needs optimization for flash media, automatic scaling and ease of management. In addition to storage management, the SDS software has the added responsibility of cluster management and network management.

StorageSwiss Take

A storage vendor traditionally delivers three elements to their customers: hardware, software and service. While storage vendors need to be aware of and take advantage of flash performance and density, they don’t need to be as concerned about designing proprietary hardware. The flash performance equalizer enables them to focus on the storage software and delivering quality support and service to customers. A focus on software also enables flexibility so customers can choose the hardware that makes the most sense for their environment.

Posted in all flash, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

A Turnkey Storage Architecture for OpenStack and Docker

By George Crump, Storage Swiss

Click here to learn from George and the team about the Scale-Out All-Flash Solution with Nexenta, Micron and Supermicro…

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Posted in all flash, Object Storage, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

Is DevOps changing storage from simple to API?

“Storage should be easy. It should be that anyone can manage it, it’s something you put in the closet and forget about.”

This was the mantra of storage vendors over the last 10-15 years. We saw vendors like EqualLogic make a dent and then get acquired after selling on simplicity. Then, EMC announced the VNXe and invited a third-grader to come onstage and configure it.

This worked well when selling into the small to medium business space, and many companies jumped on the bandwagon, but is it the future? As we see cross-cloud integration like VMware announced at VMworld, and the rise of containers into the enterprise, is simplicity really the key selling point?

I would argue it is not. The new paradigm is another one of the buzzwords of the past few years: DevOps.

If you are like most people in the market, you are still trying to figure out exactly what DevOps means. Do you need to have programmers on staff even though you sell insurance or auto parts? You don’t. In fact, you just need staffers that understand the underlying concepts.

The most general definition I have found was on Wikipedia: “A movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.”

For this purpose, think about the integration you need as you move from an isolated enterprise to one that works with SaaS tools and newly developed applications. There is a glue that holds all these components together and allows us to achieve tight integration — that is the API.

“API” can be a scary term for many SysAdmins, since they are used to a GUI that lets them manage everything (back to the third-grader deploying storage). However, it does not need to be scary anymore, since more companies are making it easier than ever to work with an API.

The Open API Initiative (OAI) has influenced vendors to keep APIs more consistent and simpler for everyone. Combining the REST APIs with something like Swagger UI tool gives the general admin a simple representation of what an API can do. Swagger even provides a public-facing demo, “Swagger Petstore,” so that any administrator can understand how easy an API can be to use.

Most of the newer storage companies, and specifically those touting “software-defined,” utilize something like the Swagger UI as a web interface to clearly detail exactly what you need to put in a script to make the storage do what you want.

Take the Petstore example: When you use the “Try It Out” under the store inventory, it produces a new command to run

curl -X GET –header ‘Accept: application/json’ ‘’

No longer is a developer needed; you simply go to a website and cut and paste into the script. This impact can be felt throughout the data center.

This shift to a simplistic API, and even more importantly a simplistic and powerful interface to those APIs, can be used by enterprises to change the way the SysAdmins of today work. This will not eliminate the need for vendors to make simple, easy-to-navigate graphical interfaces, but it will give the freedom and flexibility that is needed as enterprises move more and more into the software-defined data center.

Posted in Software-defined data center

Designing an All-Flash Object Store

by George Crump, Storage Swiss

Object storage is set to become THE way organizations will store unstructured data. As this transition occurs those same organizations are expecting more from object storage than just a “cheap and deep” way to store information. They expect the system will deliver data as fast as their analytics applications want it. The problem is that in terms of performance most object storage systems are sorely lacking. The reality is the transition to high performance object storage will require more than simply throwing flash at the problem. Underlying object storage software needs to change. 

More than Flash

Our entry “The Need for  Speed – High Performance Object Storage” shows the decisions to use flash for object storage gets support from improving time to results and increased density. The problem is that “just throwing flash at the problem” will lead to less than desirable outcomes. The key to optimizing a flash investment is making sure the rest of the storage infrastructure does not add the latency that flash removes. This is a particular problem for many object storage systems.

The Object Storage Bottlenecks to Flash Performance

One of the key inhibitors to maximizing flash performance is one of object storage’s biggest advantages….

To read this blog in its entirety, please visit:

Posted in Object Storage, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

The difference between NexentaStor and NexentaEdge

By: Thomas Cornely, Chief Product Officer

Deciding between NexentaStor and NexentaEdge is relatively easy if you understand the products and your applications. NexentaStor delivers unified file and block storage services, where NexentaEdge is our scalable object storage platform. So the question is simple: what are you looking for, file protocols or object storage APIs?

Key Differentiators Between NexentaStor and Nexenta Edge

It is true that both systems provide block services, although NexentaEdge’s block support is limited to iSCSI. But one easy way to choose between the two is if you want shared file services (e.g. NFS, SMB) then only NexentaStor offers that functionality. But if you want to start storing data the modern way using an object storage API such as S3 or Swift, then only NexentaEdge has that capability.

Other differences include that NexentaEdge is built on a Linux kernel versus NexentaStor that is built using OpenSolaris and ZFS. NexentaEdge was also built from the ground up to be our most scalable product, so if scalability is important to you, NexentaEdge will offer you the best choice.

Which one is right for you?

So the next question is, what applications and systems are you running, and what kind of storage are they looking for? If you are considering an OpenStack deployment, NexentaEdge was specifically designed with it in mind, along with full support for both the Swift and S3 APIs. NexentaEdge would, therefore, be the obvious choice for OpenStack.

What about containers – especially those with persistent storage? Cinder is one of the more promising ideas in that space, something NexentaEdge has full support for. In fact, NexentaEdge is so convinced of the concept of containers that we build it on containers. Using containers in our core product gives us a lot of experience with the challenges of running persistent storage with containers, and this experience is found in NexentaEdge.

If you are running a legacy application that requires NFS or SMB access, then NexentaStor is your product of choice. In addition, if you need Fiber Channel block access, only NexentaStor offers this.

The question is a little bit harder when discussing iSCSI, since both platforms offer iSCSI block access. Perhaps the deciding factor will be scalability or performance. While both products offer some level of scalability, we made scalability one of the core things we wanted to accomplish with NexentaEdge. NexentaStor can scale to petabytes, but NexentaEdge can scale to hundreds of them. On the other hand, if performance and low latency are your primary concern then NexentaStor is for you.

Most data centers will need both systems. First, a high performance, feature rich NAS that supports a variety of protocols. Legacy applications and data will be with us for decades consolidating them to a single storage platform that can reduce complexity and increase performance just makes sense. We deliver this with NexentaStor.

NexentaEdge is your choice for storing the petabytes of data that the internet of things (IoT) will generate, as well as delivering that data to modern applications like Splunk, Spark, Cassandra and CouchBase.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nexenta Releases Storage for Persistent Docker Containers by Storage Swiss

What if you do not consider one of the greatest advantages of containers to be an advantage to you? Many tout the stateless nature of containers as their single greatest feature. They start up, they accomplish their task, and they go away – no stateful storage necessary. Many within the container community consider a stateful container to be a violation of best practices.

And yet there is a growing desire by some to run stateful containers. One of the arguments for doing this is it allows development and production to use the exact same infrastructure. This makes it easier to move an app from development to test to production – something essential to a devops workflow. Unfortunately, however, limitations of Docker and its associated partners create difficulties for those wanting to do this….

To read more, please visit

Posted in Uncategorized

Efficient Replication using Multicast Protocols

By Oscar Wahlberg, Director of Product Management

Replication as Data Protection

The use of replication as a data protection method is not new. Historically, it was relegated to disaster recovery for tier-1 applications and did not have a role in day-to-day backups.

Recently, however, many customers are using replication as their primary mechanism for backup and recovery for all tiers of systems – primarily due to the advent of object storage systems with built in replication and versioning. Unfortunately, the side effect is that this significantly increases the amount of data that needs to be replicated.

If one is to rely on replication as the primary method of data protection, one must replicate each version of every object to multiple nodes. Many systems transmit the entire object when it changes, then replicate the object multiple times if they are replicating it to multiple destinations. This exacerbates the issue by requiring even more bandwidth.

There is another way to protect your data…

NexentaEdge reduces the amount of bandwidth necessary to send the data to multiple nodes by doing two things: 1) using a multicast replication protocol that can send data to multiple nodes with a single transmission and 2) sending only portions that have been changed within an object instead of the entire object.

Replicast is our multicast replication protocol that allows us to transmit data to as many nodes as necessary without having to transmit it multiple times. An object is split into many chunks and each chunk transmitted by a single Replicast transmission to multiple destinations.
During transmission, the chunk is split into multiple UDP datagrams. Those destinations then reassemble received datagrams and compare them against a SHA-256 hash value for the chunk. This provides a much stronger check against data corruption than typical network checksums. Replicast transmission is intelligent enough to sustain the loss of UDP datagrams during chunk transmission and will retransmit only lost datagrams – hence, this greatly reduces bandwidth usage on busy networks.

Replicast also results in efficiencies when determining where to send data. Most replication systems decide which nodes to replicate on a round-robin basis without any consideration for how busy an individual node happens to be. Replicast uses multicast datagrams to dynamically select the storage servers for each chunk.

Instead of deciding amongst all servers, Replicast looks up a multicast group that is a subset of all nodes, then those nodes dynamically select which nodes will ultimately store the chunk. This allows fewer nodes to serve a higher number of IOPs by ensuring that the most available nodes are the ones that will receive new data, and other nodes that are congested may be given a break.

Splitting each object into chunks also gives us the ability to use cryptographic hashes to identify which chunks have changed and which haven’t. To store a new version of an object, we only need to replicate the chunks that have changed and update the metadata for that object. This results in significant bandwidth savings over alternative approaches.

Replication is playing a much greater role in day-to-day data protection, and there is significant room for improvement in its efficiency. The combined use of Replicast, our multicast replication protocol, and only transmitting changed chunks for new object versions is about as efficient as replication can get.

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Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design – Part 3: Speed

By: Edwin Weijdema

No-speed-limitIn this third post of the multi-post Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design we will dive deeper in the dimension: Use and specifically the application Workloads part characteristic Speed. Depending on the application workload requirements, you will need to size the storage system for The Need for Speed. So let us dive deeper into IOPS.

Speed with computer storage devices like hard disk drives (HDD), Solid State Drives (SSD) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) is expressed in Input/Output Per Second (IOPS). Applications will interact with storage for retrieving and storing data.


What are IOPS?

IOPS are expressing the performance a storage device can achieve with completing read and write commands in a second. We will look at a simplified example for how many IOPS a disk can deliver within the boundaries of physics. These are called the back-end IOPS. Simply put how many IOPS can the disk(s) in the back-end deliver. Every disk in your storage system has a maximum IOPS value that is based on a formula, namely:

IOPS = 1000ms / (Average Seek time in ms + Average Latency in ms)

  • Rotational speed is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). How fast the disk platters are rotating inside the disk.
  • Average Latency is the time taken for the platter to undergo half a disk rotation. Why half? Well at any one time the data can be either a full disk rotation away from the head, or it might already be right at it. The time taken for a half rotation therefore gives us the average time it takes for the platter to spin round enough for the data to be retrieved. To calculate the average latency take the RPM and use the following formula: Average latency = ((60 seconds / RPM speed)/half rotation 2)*1000ms.
  • Average Seek time is the time in milliseconds (ms) it takes for the disk’s head to position itself over the track being read or written. When the I/O request comes in for a particular bit of data, the head will not be above the correct track on the disk. The arm will need to move so that the head is directed over the correct track where it must then wait for the platter spin to present the target data beneath it. As the data could potentially be anywhere on the platter, the average seek time is time taken for the head to travel half way across the disk. There are both read and write seek times; by taking the average of those two values give you the average seek time.

Theoretical IOPS for Calculation Sizing

For disk (HDD and SSD) I normally use the numbers in the following table as a rule of thumb to calculate raw backend random IOPS from disks. Raw? Yes RAW, because we don’t factor in caching/buffering in the whole chain (disk, controller, head, adapter, hypervisor, operating system, application, workstation), RAID influence, interface connection, driver configurations, queue depths, etc. But lets keep this simplified to have a workable model to calculate the IOPS from the backend easily.

Disk RPM IOPS ~ Average IOPS range Average Latency (ms)
5.4K HDD 55 50-65 5,6
7.2K HDD 80 75-100 4,2
10K HDD 120 120-140 3,0
15K HDD 180 175-210 2,0
SSD (WI) 40000 65000-115000 0,1**
SSD (MU) 8500 7000-25000 0,1**
SSD (RI) 3000 2000-15000 0,1**
BSSD (ICE) 20000 5000-85000 0,1**


** Latency on SSD is not because the spinning of the disk (duhhh no mechanical moving parts in here, latency on SSDs is on average 0.03ms!), but the network chain between the processing and the SSD. For more insight in different SSDs and their IOPS number take a look at this wiki page.

Front-End versus Back-End IOPS

Often you will hear that an application will need 2.400 IOPS and that it communicates with 64K block size. Like for instance Microsoft SQL Server 2014 OLTP Log files. These are the so-called Front-End IOPS, but to let that data land on the Back-end storage systems they generate Back-End IOPS.

Size does matter!

Lets compare a storage system that stores the data with a block size of 128K and a storage system with 4K blocks.


We will see that it will require 15 disks and 1.200 IOPS in the back-end when the storage system can store with 128K blocks. If you store this same I/O stream on a storage system that utilizes 4K blocks you will need a whopping 38.400 IOPS. To back those incoming IOPS you will need to run with 480x 7.2K NL-SAS disks!!!

Like most applications you can have different front-end IOPS and block sizes per workload, even within one application. Microsoft SQL 2014 server is a good example that uses a different disk access pattern as shown in the following table:

Typical SQL Server Disk Access Patterns

Info: Oracle DB default block size is 8K, and the Hadoop default block size is 64M.

Ok now we know that size does matter but why should you care? Most SQL Server performance issues in (virtual) environments can be traced to improper storage configuration. SQL Server workloads are generally I/O heavy, and a misconfigured storage subsystem can increase I/O latency and significantly degrade performance of SQL Server. Running Microsoft SQL server on VMware? Checkout this valuable resource about Architecting Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere.

Playing the Tetris Storage Block gameStorage_Tetris

With virtualization we introduce another layer into the I/O path. So what about all those different layers? If you look at a complete stack in a datacenter you could see an Application running on an Operating System that is installed within a VM. This VM runs on a Hypervisor, where this hypervisor talks to a storage backend and eventually lands on spinning disk and/or flash.


  1. Application – Microsoft SQL server – Logs 64K
  2. Operating System – Microsoft Windows 2008R2 – 4K
  3. Hypervisor – VMware vSphere 6 (ESXi) – runs VMFS-5 data store – 1M Unified Block
  4. Storage – NexentaStor 4 – 128K Block
  5. Disk – SanDisk BSSD – 16K block with a 4K Sector size

HDDs have a block size of 512 Bytes or 4K. With the up rise of flash we see the Block size being increased. Looking at the SanDisk – Board Solid State Drive (BSSD) card with its ICE chips gives the flash card 8TB storage capacity, which has a 16K physical block size (virtual page) and a logical 4K or 512 bytes sector size.

Block Size versus Sector Size

While sector specifically means the physical disk area, the term block has been used loosely to refer to a small chunk of data. Block has multiple meanings depending on the context. In the context of data storage, a filesystem block is an abstraction over disk sectors possibly encompassing multiple sectors. Most file systems are based on a block device, which is a level of abstraction for the hardware responsible for storing and retrieving specified blocks of data, though the block size in file systems may be a multiple of the physical block size.

Determining block size while formatting the file system in an OS is a case of tradeoffs. Every file must occupy at least one block, even if the file is zero bytes, so there’s something for the file’s metadata to be attached to. Unless you can guarantee that your files will ALWAYS be some multiple of the block size in size (e.g. in a 4k block OS, all files are 4k), there’ll be a certain amount of wastage for the files that don’t exactly fit within that block.

It’s all about Balance

Going with small block sizes is good when you need to store many small files. On the other hand, more blocks is more metadata, so you end up wasting a portion of your storage system on overhead, tracking the location of all the files. On the flip side, large blocks means less metadata, but also mean greater wastage when you’re storing small files. e.g. a 4 byte file stored in a 4k block wastes 99% of that block.

Sectors are an obsolete concept in modern drives. They existed when “locations” on a drive were specified by the old CHS (cylinder, head, sector) definition, which wasted a lot of space. All modern drives use LBA – logical block addressing, so sectors don’t really exist anymore. However, an OS can still chain multiple blocks/sector into a single logical OS-level block to reduce space. E.g. “every 8 real blocks/sectors on the drive will be considered 1 block by the Operating System”. A sector is a unit which is normally 512 bytes or 1K, 2K, 4K etc. depending on hardware.

When the logical block size of a drive is not in multiples of 512 bytes, geometry information is not available because the file system does not support other block sizes. Linux does not discover such drives, and Windows shows such drives in disk management, but does not allow you to execute any operations on them.

Partition Alignment

Aligning file system partitions is a well-known storage best practice for database workloads. Partition alignment on both physical machines and VMFS partitions prevents performance I/O degradation caused by unaligned I/O. An unaligned partition results in additional I/O operations, incurring penalty on latency and throughput. Lets look at the example we used before with the SanDisk BSSD, this BSSD uses 16KB Blocks and 4K sector sizes. For protection of the data and increasing the total amount of IOPS and throughput we stripe/mirror several cards together.

Properly Aligned


If a workload with blocksizes is properly aligned you will see that it looks like a Tetris game filling up and because of striping over more than one disk in storage systems you really want to get the most out of it.



When for instance a block size of 17K is chosen for the stripe it means that you will have all kinds of problems. The Writes and Reads will cross sectors, blocks and disks carving them up into all kind of chunks and messes the data stream up with lots of additional I/O, latency and fragmentation.

Aligning with VMware vSphere 5.x or later

vSphere 5.0 and later automatically aligns VMFS-5 partitions along a 1 MB boundary (1MB Unified block). If a VMFS-3 partition was created using an earlier version of vSphere that aligned along a 64KB boundary, and that file system is then upgraded to VMFS-5, it will retain its 64KB alignment. 1 MB alignment can only be achieved when the VMFS volume is create using the vSphere Web Client.

More to the equation

There is more to the whole equation about Speed than discussed so far. Factors like:

  • Protection levels like for instance RAID, where you get write penalties or multipliers with Read that effect the overall Speed. I will dive deeper and explore this further in the next blog part(s) around the Storage Dimension Protect.
  • Caching on several levels in the whole I/O data path like Application, OS, Hypervisor, Host, HBA, Storage System, Disk, etc. which makes it much more complicated to predict the Speed and IOPS.
  • Data reduction techniques, which I will highlight in the Storage Dimension Manage.

In the next part of Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design we will dive deeper into workload characteristic Throughput (MB/s).


Posted in Uncategorized

Raise Your SDS IQ (6 of 6): Practical Review of Containerized SDS

by Michael Letschin, Field CTO

This is the sixth of six posts (the last one was Virtual Storage Appliances) where we’re going to cover some practical details that help raise your SDS IQ and enable you to select the SDS solution that will deliver Storage on Your Terms. The sixth (and final) SDS flavor in our series is Containerized.

Containers are a relatively new entrant on the storage scene – and they’re hot, because unlike virtual machines, they use shared operating systems; this means they’re incredibly more efficient than hypervisors in terms of system resource usage. The big benefit is that you can get more apps (think four to six times more) on the same old servers, and you can run those apps basically anywhere. Because the container space is virtualized, storage via Containers could be considered SDS. For storage, the containerization approach varies: It’s either all local storage as in the diagram on the left, or, as on the right, external components sharing file, block, or object presentation that gets integrated into container as staple storage. You can use solutions like Flocker to get stateful storage, which is important because not every app is completely stateless.

Containerization is useful for testing in DevOps or for use in hyperscale environments; and the storage is highly portable, which means flexibility is high. Currently few enterprises are actually moving production apps into these environments, with key issues being the ability of apps to write to containers and limited (but growing) knowledge of IT staff on this new virtualization paradigm. Containers aren’t designed to scale up to accommodate a lot of storage—which enterprise apps usually need – but it may be that a solution to this emerges.. You’ll notice that we’ve let off the grades for Performance and Cost Efficiency. For Performance, because Containers run in a virtual environment, there are far too many variables to provide a standard ranking; for Cost Efficiency, again, lots of dependencies on the underlying environment, although the ability to use existing infrastructure is a big plus.

Overall grade: (soft) B – incomplete grading

See below for a typical build and the report card:

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.51.23 PM

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Posted in Raise Your SDS IQ, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design – Part 2: Workloads

By Edwin Weijdema, Sales Engineer, Nexenta

In this second post of the multi-post Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design we will dive deeper in the dimension: Use and specifically the application Workloads part. By developing an understanding of the different kind of workloads and their characteristics will enable you to look at your different workloads and determine what impact that will have on the design and sizing. Knowing, understanding and classifying which applications will run as a workload interacting with the storage, gives you an important puzzle piece.

Knowing workloads

Applications have been created to support us and automate processes to work efficient and swift with the available data. Today we use, protect and manage an overwhelming amount of data that is being transformed into information through all kinds of applications. Most of these applications also interact with our storage systems. Overlooking the divers application landscape and how they interact with the storage systems(s), we can organize them in several categories where the most common ones are:

Transactional Enterprise Applications – are used to work with data that triggers an internal or external event or transaction that takes place as an organization conducts its business. A lot of people also like to simplify this by calling it the database backend. For example an online ordering system, where orders are being entered through a web interface, and than stored in a database.  (e.g. SQL, Exchange, CRM, e-Business, Oracle, SAP, PostgreSQL, Sharepoint, Call Centre Systems, etc.)

Virtualization – translates the physical hardware and operating system the application runs on and creates a virtual machine in the form of a few files gathered in a folder. Most organizations are using Virtual Machines and/or Virtual Desktops to run their applications. This is a great way to consolidate infrastructures onto a few physical machines, reducing costs and making infrastructures more agile and flexible. By consolidating the different applications, servers and desktops onto a virtual environment also consolidates and changes the I/O data path to and from the storage. (e.g. VMware vSphere, VMware Horizon, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xenserver, Cloudstack, Openstack, etc.)

Generic Enterprise Fileservers – stores small to large files from all kinds of applications. Often you will see documents, pictures, media files and such. Any sort of file saved by applications and usually accessed over SMB/CIFS/NFS protocol.

Back-up & Archive – back-up and archiving systems have two distinct and complementary functions within an enterprise: backup for high-speed copy and restore to minimize the impact of failures, human error or disaster; and archiving to effectively manage data for retention and long-term access and retrieval. (e.g. Veeam, Commvault, Veritas, etc.)

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Understanding workloads

Understanding workloads and specifically the Disk I/O pattern of enterprise applications helps tremendous with designing and sizing your storage solution(s). So you can make sure that your users, with their applications, are being optimal supported by the storage system. Vendors of enterprise application software often do not inform users about their workload characteristics. This is because the same application may generate different workload patterns depending upon the user’s configuration, or they simply do not know!

Workload characteristics

In this post we will just do a high level overview of the different workload characteristics and the relationship between them. In the next post we will dive deeper into the technical background of speed, throughput and response.


Workloads have several characteristics that define the workload type:

  • Speed – measured in IOPS (Input/Output Per Second), defines the IOs per second. Read and/or Write IOs can be of different patterns (for example, sequential and random). The higher the IOPS the better the performance.
  • Throughput – measured in MB/s, defines data transfer rate also often called bandwidth. The higher the throughput, the more data that can be processed per second.
  • Response – measured in time like ns/us/ms latency, defines the amount of time the IO needs to complete. The lower the latency the faster a system/application/data responds, the more fluid it looks to the user. There are many latency measurements that can be taken throughout the whole data path.

 Random versus Sequential access pattern

While looking at your applications and how they access their data gives you a good indication if the access pattern is random or sequential. Sequential access means all data blocks will be accessed/written after each other so 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 where Random access can mean 5 > 1 > 3 > 2 > 4. Accessing data sequentially is much faster than accessing it randomly, because of the way disk hardware works. With spinning disk the seek operation takes the most time in the whole I/O process. The disk head needs to position itself at the correct disk platter to access the requested data. Randomly reading data takes a larger number of seek operations than sequential reading, meaning that the throughput with random will be much lower than sequential. The same applies to random writing. Examining the used workloads might be useful for designing and sizing the storage system. You could use for instance Lakeside Systrack software to give a good indication in the way the workload runs and interacts with the storage.


I/O Size in the mix

The amount of throughput we can achieve is dependent on the pattern to be random or sequential and the I/O size that is being issued. For a workload with an I/O size of 4k block-size you can calculate the throughput by multiplying the number of IOPS times the I/O size.

Throughput in MB/sec = (IOPS x I/O size) / 1024

So 10.000 IOPS with an 4k block-size will be (10.000 x 4k)/1024 = 39.06 MB/sec throughput you can achieve. The whole data path should be addressed too get a clear insight and more accurate number though!

Looking at a random workload you will see that latency will start to kick in which will reduce the number of IOPS that can be achieved by the storage so random IOPS can reduce the amount of throughput significantly. A SSD produces much more IOPS and throughput against very low latency, because it does not contain moving parts. So why not go all flash than? Its all about knowing and understanding your workloads and deciphering if you need that amount of power against the cost associated with it. Balancing costs against requirements is the best way to go forward.

Classifying workloads

Lets start classifying the different workloads we identified, with the different characteristics that are important for storage. Looking at the four most common workloads:

Transactional Enterprise Applications

Transactional Enterprise Applications often are backed by a database where response is key. Looking at an Oracle database you will see that by decreasing latency will reduce the Wait states and by decreasing the Wait states the usage of CPU capacity will be reduced. If you are running virtualized Oracle database you might want to consider reducing latency and free up CPU cycles so you can run more database on that same CPU, therefore reducing your Oracle licensing cost.

Transactional Enterprise Applications tend to have a high amount of small random read I/O and a desire for fast response (low latency).


Virtualization is a unique workload because it consolidates several different application workloads with their corresponding characteristics on the hypervisor. So you will have several applications doing for instance random 4k, 8k and 16k blocks within the VM but the hypervisor absorbs those in memory and transforms them into 1MB or 2MB blocks which it sends and requests from the storage. VMware ESXi with VMFS5 uses 1MB unified blocks, while Microsoft Hyper-V uses 2MB blocks.

Virtualization and its consolidation also bring some storage benefit because not every application workload is going to peak at the same time. So rather than over provision it is better to look at the total picture.

Virtualization workloads tend to be fully random with a desire for speed (IOPS).

 Generic Enterprise Fileserver

Generally a File Share is used by lots of users in an organization and different applications storing their data on those file shares. Users will open a file and work in/with it for some time before saving it to the file share again. So throughput to get and save the file for the user is often most important. But depending on the applications storing files it can also be that speed is required in terms of IOPS.

Generic Enterprise Fileserver workloads tend to be often sequential, but can be random with a desire for throughput (MB/s). 

 Back-up & Archive

Back-up & Archive workloads look like a workload that would benefit the most by maximizing throughput. This is really depending on how you use the application and which options you configure.

Lets look at for instance Veeam, the performance of many Veeam Backup & Replication functions, such as Reverse Incremental, Synthetic Full, SureBackup and Instant Restore are most impact by the ability of the storage array to deliver random IOPS.

Veeam Backup & Replication offers two primary modes for storing backups to disk, Forward and Reverse incremental. Due to the differences in how these modes write backups to disk they have very different storage I/O profiles.

Forward Incremental backups offer the advantage that they perform only sequential writes to the target repository meaning that performance is significantly higher than reverse incremental backups. However, this backup mode does come with costs, primarily in the requirement to schedule periodic full backups. These backups will take additional time to create and, based on the method, addition space on the target repository.

There are three options for creating new full backups:

Synthetic Full — this method uses the most recent full backup, and any incremental backups created since then and builds a new full backup using this data. This requires space for a new full backup, and random I/O on the target repository and can take a long time to process.

Synthetic Full w/Transform — this method uses the most recent full backup, and any incremental backups created since then and builds a new full backup using this data, while converting the incremental backups to reverse incremental files. This requires only a small amount of additional space on the target repository, but usage a large amount of random I/O and can take a very long time to process

Active Full — this method simply runs a new full backup by reading all data from the source VMs. This requires I/O on the source storage, enough space to store a new full backup and sequential write I/O on the target repository.

Back-up & Archive workloads tend to be often sequential, but can be fully random with a high desire for throughput (MB/s) and speed (IOPS).


Interestingly, workload characterization is not only useful for sizing and designing storage systems but also useful for application developers to help them optimize their I/O routines or to document best practices based on such analysis. In the next part of Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design we will dive deeper into workload characteristics speed (IOPS), throughput (MB/s) and Response (ms).


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Raise Your SDS IQ (5 of 6): Practical Review of Virtual Storage Appliances

By Michael Letschin, Field CTO

This is the fifth of six posts (the last one was Hyperconverged “SDS”) where we’re going to cover some practical details that help raise your SDS IQ and enable you to select the SDS solution that will deliver Storage on Your Terms. The fifth SDS flavor in our series is Virtual Storage Appliances.

One of the lesser known flavors of SDS is the Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA); it’s less common because it requires a virtual machine environment (think Microsoft’s Hyper-V or VMware), and because there are only a few, software-only options for it (like FreeNAS, LeftHand VSA, or Nexenta’s NexentaStor).   There also tend to be feature limitations as a result of the virtual machine environment, such as lack of replication across hosts. That said, for the right use case – such as remote offices, branch offices, small and medium-sized businesses, and multitenant apps – a virtual storage appliance (VSA) can offer a cost-effective storage solution. To use the VMware example, multiple head nodes each connect with vSphere and a VSA to present storage as one or more pools, with data from one or more VSAs.

Virtual storage appliances offer excellent flexibility through the hypervisor, because you can choose which one you’d like. The hypervisor host does confine scalability to VM size, that’s an important limitation. While managing individual VSAs across different hosts can bring some challenges, it also supports flexibility. You can spin up VSAs per group or per application to create multitenancy using VSAs. IT maintains control, even though individual teams might think they’re managing their storage pools. This approach offers good performance: even a loaded hypervisor only has minimal impact. And finally, this model doesn’t require any additional hardware, so there’s a nice cost benefit.

Overall grade: C

See below for a typical build and the report card:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 1.58.47 PM

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Posted in Raise Your SDS IQ, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Raise Your SDS IQ (4 of 6): Practical Review of Hyperconverged “SDS”

by Michael Letschin, Field CTO

This is the fourth of six posts (the last one was Scale-out) where we’re going to cover some practical details that help raise your SDS IQ and enable you to select the SDS solution that will deliver Storage on Your Terms. The fourth SDS flavor in our series is Hyperconverged “SDS”.

Hyperconverged systems are the subject of much industry hype and analyst debate. Some consider hyperconverged systems to be a form of SDS, others keep them out of the category for not having software-only options. What to know: a hyperconverged system is a single integrated hardware and software system comprising multiple head nodes that present all storage as one virtual pool (think Nutanix or VMware’s EVO Rail). This means that some of the software-only SDS benefits – like flexibility and cost effectiveness – are severely limited.

That said, because it’s fast and easy to set up and drop in a hyperconverged system, it’s a good choice for branch offices or green-field deployments, where there are no existing storage systems to integrate with. Hyperconverged systems are somewhat of a “black box”– meaning you’re not going to have access to software to tune – but you can dial up the performance by increasing the number of nodes.

The downside of Hyperconverged “SDS” is that it’s difficult to impossible to change the system later. Hyperconverged “SDS” provides building block only. You buy what the vendor is selling, which narrows your options. Because you’re tied to a vendor and their pricing models, cost efficiency is also limited. Plus, you’ll need to buy equal amounts of storage and compute capacity. Unless you’re an organization where requirements for storage and compute capacity scale in perfect step, this means you’ll end up with too much of one or the other, wasting part of your investment.

Overall grade: C

See below for a typical build and the report card:

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.19.33 AM

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Raise Your SDS IQ (3 of 6): Practical Review of Scale-out

This is the third of six posts (the last one was Scale-up Software-Only “SDS”) where we’re going to cover some practical details that help raise your SDS IQ and enable you to select the SDS solution that will deliver Storage on Your Terms. The third SDS flavor in our series is Scale-out.

Scale-out is a fundamentally different approach from scale-up; with Scale-out, multiple head nodes can be attached over the network to dramatically increase scalability. This is a broad category, and solutions for it could be either vendor-defined / hardware based (think EMC’s Isilon), or software-only (Nexenta’s NexentaEdge); while we’d consider the software-only approach to be the SDS version, the technical benefits of either type of scale out are similar. You use low-latency networking to connect as many nodes as you want and form a cluster that provides storage services out to applications as unified name space.

The scale-out approach works well for Archive or Web 2.0 applications use cases. Scalability is top notch, because you can start small and grow just by adding nodes. While it provides the performance needed to handle huge capacities, there’s an important dependence on the network – the quality of your gear will significantly impact performance, because of the amount of communication between nodes; that may mean that your IOPS aren’t great

The flexibility of scale-out SDS is generally good but currently offers limited protocol support. Often the maturity of the platforms themselves limits your flexibility; for example, you can’t use Exchange to write to an object back end. Likewise, object-oriented applications won’t work with some back ends, either. Protocol support considerations also impact the cost effectiveness of Scale-out: they may restrict your hardware choices and lock you in to more expensive purchases.

Overall grade: B

See below for a typical build and the report card:

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.26.20 AM

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Posted in Raise Your SDS IQ, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

Lenovo Selects Nexenta for Lenovo StorSelect Program; Introduces Joint OpenSDS-Based Enterprise Storage Solution

Earlier today, you may have heard about Lenovo’s StorSelect Program, which allows customers to confidently deploy new storage technologies using pre-loaded appliances with software from best-of-breed, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) on proven Lenovo systems. The StorSelect solutions enable easy expansion for scalable deployments, as well as integration with existing storage infrastructures. The program will also offer quality, engineering expertise and access to Lenovo’s worldwide global services.

In March 2016, we announced our partnership with Lenovo as part of this program with a shared initiative to drive broader adoption of next-generation software storage solutions. We introduced a joint solution that integrates our award-winning, software-defined storage (SDS) with Lenovo x86 servers: The Lenovo Storage DX8200N powered by NexentaStor.

The Lenovo Storage DX8200N powered by NexentaStor allows you to accelerate and simplify unified file and block storage deployments. At the same time, this pre-validated turnkey solution provides easy scalability and simplified management at a fraction of the cost of legacy systems—without trade-offs in availability, reliability or functionality.

The integrated solutions will offer Lenovo customers worldwide, both scale-up and scale-out reference architectures on all flash, hybrid and spinning media systems. These solutions with Lenovo’s industry leading service and support will deliver a new SDS standard.

Target use cases for the Lenovo Storage DX8200N powered by NexentaStor solution include:

  • Unified File (NFS and SMB) and Block (Fibre Channel and iSCSI) services
  • VMware cloud backend storage
  • OpenStack and CloudStack backend storage
  • Generic NAS file services and Home Directory storage
  • Near-line archive and large scale backup repositories

“Lenovo recognizes Software-Defined Storage as the strategic storage solution to deliver revolutionary economics for enterprise and cloud storage needs,” said David Lincoln, General Manager of the Storage Business Unit at Lenovo. “We have selected Nexenta as a key partner for our StorSelect Program and are leveraging Nexenta’s deep storage software R&D skills and Lenovo’s proven enterprise servers to deliver an innovative, trusted, and scalable enterprise storage solution. Lenovo Storage DX8200N powered by NexentaStor will give customers the freedom to scale their data to meet business needs today and tomorrow.”

While pricing will vary on capacity and media types, you can expect affordable cents per gigabyte pricing for complete systems including three years of technical support.

Additional Resources:

Lenovo Storage DX8200N powered by NexentaStor data sheet

Lenovo StorSelect video

Lenovo StorSelect 3D tour

Lenovo StorSelect analyst paper

Lenovo and Nexenta: Strategic Partnership to Redefine Open Software-Defined Storage Solutions webinar

Lenovo StorSelect blog

If you’re planning to attend Lenovo’s Tech World conference on June 9, 2016 in San Francisco, please visit the Data Center Group showcase at the Fairmont to see demos of the new Lenovo Storage DX8200N powered by NexentaStor solution.

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Raise Your SDS IQ (2 of 6): Practical Review of Scale-Up Software-Only SDS

by Michael Letschin, Field CTO

This is the second of six posts (the last one was Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS”) where we’re going to cover some practical details that help raise your SDS IQ and enable you to select the SDS solution that will deliver Storage on Your Terms.  The second SDS flavor in our series is Scale-up Software-Only SDS.

Scale-up Software-Only SDS is just that – SDS benefits delivered via a software-only approach; the software sits on industry standard servers (think Cisco, Dell, Supermicro) and can leverage a variety of JBODs (like Fujitsu, Supermicro, Quanta).  The end result is similar to what you get with Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS” — one or two commodity head nodes with JBOD behind it – but with two big differences: much better cost efficiency because it’s more vendor agnostic, and greater opportunity for scale up by leveraging big disks for the JBODs (like Supermicro’s 90-bay). Both provide REST-based management with rich APIs via front-end software, to enable easy, automatic provisioning and management of storage. Unlike Vendor-Defined, Scale-up Software-Only SDS offers good scalability and excellent cost efficiency and flexibility because of it’s software-only approach.

Scale-up Software-Only SDS is an excellent option for companies running virtual machines or the legacy apps that help run their business. It’s a good choice if you have accounting applications and legacy hardware because its performance in this use case is excellent. Unlike vendor-defined options, this one gives you the flexibility to design your solution as needed; and that applies both to the solution you need today, as well as creating flexibility for the future.. Plus, you can choose the most cost-effective commodity-priced machines rather than paying a premium for proprietary hardware – we’ve seen as much as 50-80% cost difference between identical solutions of the different types.  Scale-up Software-Only SDS is limited to one or two head nodes, but you can put larger drives behind them, so you can scale up pretty big, but obviously scale out is limited.

Overall grade: A-

See below for a typical build and the report card:

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.11.24 AM

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Is 2016 the year of the software-defined data center? Part 2

In the last blog we determined that the world has changed since the early 2000s and that x86 has won the server war, now giving you a chance to have vendors compete for you. But that’s only part of the data center — we still have to look at the rest of the infrastructure.

Networks that can shift and deliver at the same time

In the past, if you wanted to have the fastest network infrastructure you had to buy from one or two specific vendors. In reality, they still have a huge share of the networking market, but we’ve seen a transition in recent years.

That being said, it is not just about the software layer — with scale-out systems, the network has become critical for more than just inter-rack and inter-data center connectivity, and critical for processing power and speed as well. The move from 1GB to 10GB to 40GB, and even up to 100GB, is allowing for larger amounts of traffic than ever before to move around the globe. This is all done at a scale that can give even the smallest enterprise access to faster connectivity, but it still comes at a cost.

While 10GB is starting to become commonplace, it is still a much more expensive option than 1GB and not something that has trickled down to the end user yet. The true question is, does it need to? If the data center is driven by commodity hardware that is governed by software and all the compute happens there, do we really need to be faster at the endpoint? To answer that, we will have to wait and see.

The brains behind the brawn

The No. 1 buzzword of the last few years has been “software-defined,” and rings true for the transition we have seen in the data center over the last 10 years. The first step is compute, with virtualization taking its place as a stalwart to provide the processing power needed on commodity hardware.

The next two parts that need to move to the software-defined space to allow for a commodity-driven data center are storage and networking. Some would argue that we are already there, with executives from major storage vendors making statements as early as 2010 that “we all run on commodity hardware.”

In reality, you are normally limited to the hardware that a vendor chooses. Moving into a software-defined model means we have choice in vendors and can truly liberate the storage needs from the hardware vendor’s grasp. The growth of open source-based solutions has helped this along the way, and we will see if 2016 is the year we take the leap to make software-defined the norm.

Networking, on the other hand, is the last step forward. You cannot buy a blank switch off the shelf and just layer on the software of your choosing and make it work at the speed and capacity that you desire, but we are starting to see a transition toward this. The combination of software-defined solutions is what gives companies the agility to transition to the enterprises of tomorrow, providing the ability to custom-fit a solution into the business instead of the other way around. It appears that software-defined is more than just a buzzword.

So is it the year?

My gut says the commodity-based data center is not ready to go mainstream, but for intrepid companies willing to source the right gear, it may be. We have seen so many changes in the data center since the ’90s and the early 2000s that I have to believe the pace of change will continue.

Before we cross into 2020, the data center will be in the domain of the business again, not the vendors. That will be the commodity data center that anyone who has managed a data center in the last 20 years has been dreaming about.

Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design – Part 1: Overview

By Edwin Weijdema, Sales Engineer Benelux & Nordics

Why do we build ICT infrastructures? What is the most important part in those infrastructures? It is Data! With the digital era we need to store bits of information, or so called data, so we can process, interpreter, organize or present that as information by providing context and adding value to the available data. By giving meaning and creating context around data we get useful information. We use data carriers to protect the precious data against loss and alteration. Exchanging floppies/tapes with each other was not that efficient and fast. So storage systems came into play, to make it easier to useprotect and manage data.

Networks and especially the internet connects more and more data and people. Designing and sizing storage systems that hold and protect our data can be a bit of a challenge, because there are several different dimensions you should take into consideration while designing and sizing your storage system(s). In the Three Dimensions of Storage Sizing & Design blog series we will dive deeper into the different dimensions around storage sizing and design.


edwin1In this digital era we are using and creating more data than ever before. To put this into perspective, the last two years we created more data than all years before combined! Social media, mobile devices and smart devices combined in internet of things (IoT) accelerate the creation of data tremendous. We use applications to work with different kind of data sources and to help us streamline these workloads. We create valuable information with the available data by adding context to it. A few examples of data we use, store and manage are: documents, photos, movies, applications and with the uprise of virtualization and especially the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) also complete infrastructures in code as a backend for the cloud. In the last two years we created more data worldwide, than all digital years before!


To make it easier and faster to work with data, applications have been created. Today we use, protect and manage a lot of different kind of workloads that run on our storage systems. The amount of work that is expected to be done in a specific amount of time, has several characteristics that defines the workload type.

  1. Speed– measured in IOPS (Input/Output Per Second), defines the IOs per second. Read and/or Write IOs can be of different patterns (for example, sequential and random). The higher the IOPS the better the performance.
  2. Throughput– measured in MB/s, defines data transfer rate also often called bandwidth. The higher the throughput, the more data that can be processed per second.
  3. Response– measured in time like ns/us/ms latency, defines the amount of time the IO needs to complete. The lower the latency the faster a system/application/data responds, the more fluid it looks to the user. There are many latency measurements that can be taken throughout the whole data path.

It is very depended on the type of workload which characteristic is the most important metric. For example stock trading is very latency dependent, while a backup workload needs throughput to fit within a back-up window. You can size and design the needed storage system if the workloads are known that will be using the storage system(s). Knowing what will use the storage is the first dimension for sizing and designing storage systems correctly.


A key factor to use storage systems for, is to protect the data we have. We must know the level of insurance the organization and users need/are willing to pay for, so we can design the storage system accordingly. We need to know the required usable capacity combined with the level of redundancy so we can calculate the total amount of capacity needed in the storage system. Always ask yourself do you want to protect against the loss of one system, entire data centers or even across geographic regions, so you can meet the availability requirements.

  1. Capacity– measured in GB/TB/PB or GiB/TiB/PiB. The amount of usable data we need to store on the storage and protect.
  2. Redundancy– measured in number of copies of the data or meta data which can rebuild the data to original. e.g. measures like for instance parity, mirroring, multiple objects.
  3. Availability– measured in RTO and RPO. The maximum amount of data we may lose called the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and the maximum amount of time it takes to restore service levels Recovery Time Objective (RTO).


Knowing how much data we must protect, against defined protection/service levels (SLA’s), gives us the second dimension for sizing and designing the storage system correctly.


Working with storage systems and designing them takes some sort of future insight or like some colleagues like to call it: a magic whiteboard.  How is the organization running, where is it heading towards and what are the business goals to accomplish. Are business goals changing rapidly or will it be stable for the next foreseeable future? That are just a few examples of questions you should ask. Also a very important metric is the available budget. Budgets aren’t limitless so designing a superior system that is priceless will not work!

  1. Budget– an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. So whats the amount of money that can be spend on the total solution and if departments are charged whats the expected income and how is that calculate, e.g. price per GB/IOPS/MB, price per protection level (SLA’s) or a mix of several. Also specific storage efficiencies features, that reduce the amount of data, should be taken into account.
  2. Limitations– know the limitations of the storage system you are sizing and designing. Every storage system has a high-watermark where performance gets impacted if the storage system fills up beyond that point.
  3. Expectations– How flexible should the system be and how far should it scale?

Its all about balancing cost and requirements and managing expectations to get the best possible solution, within the limitations of the storage system and/or organization. Managing the surroundings of the proposed storage solution gives us the third and final dimension for sizing and designing storage systems.


Sizing and designing storage systems is, and will always be, a balancing act about managing expectations, limitations and available money to get the best possible solution. So the proposed workloads will run with the correct speed, throughput and responsiveness while full-filling the defined availability requirements. With the uprise of clouds and Infrastructures as a Service (IaaS) vendors, organizations just tend to buy a service. Even if that’s the case it helps tremendous selecting the correct service when you understand how your data is used, against which protection levels so you can manage that accordingly.

To get the best bang for your buck its helps to understand how to determine the three dimensions correctly, so you can size & design the best solution possible. In the next parts of this blog series we will dive deeper into the three dimensions of storage sizing & design: UseProtect and Manage. In part 2 we will dive into the first Dimension Use with determining workloads.

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Raise Your SDS IQ (1 of 6): Practical Review of Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS”

by Michael Letschin, Field CTO

This is the first of six posts (aside from the Introduction) where we’re going to cover some practical details that help raise your SDS IQ and enable you to select the SDS solution that will deliver Storage on Your Terms. The first SDS flavor in our series is Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS”.

Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS” is where most of the traditional “big box” vendor solutions lie – think EMC’s VNX, NetApp’s FAS, or IBM DS4000 Series – each one being one or two usually commodity head nodes with JBOD behind it. While sold as an appliance, the argument is that SDS comes into play as front-end software that delivers REST-based management with rich APIs, to enable easy, automatic provisioning and management of storage.

Companies choose scale-up vendor-defined “SDS” often because it’s a well recognized brand, they have the vendor in-house already, and it appears to bring SDS benefits while maintaining a familiar in-house infrastructure. Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS” is often selected for legacy applications and some virtual apps, largely because its performance in these use cases is excellent. It’s a great choice if you’re running virtual machines with NFS, Exchange, or MS SQL. But, it’s still vendor-defined and not true SDS, so your hardware choices, and your flexibility, are restricted. It also means giving up one of the core SDS benefits – cost effectiveness – because you’ll be paying a premium for proprietary hardware. And that hardware is generally only one or two head nodes, so scalability is limited too.

Overall grade: D+

See below for a typical build and the report card: scale-up_vendor-defined


Watch this space for the next review in our series – Scale-up, Software-Only SDS

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Posted in Raise Your SDS IQ, Software-defined storage

Is 2016 the year of the software-defined data center?

Even with my 20 years of experience working in technology, I am just a baby compared to some people I have encountered along the way.

Still, I sometimes think about the “old days” in IT. It was a time when data centers were dominated by mainframe systems and midrange monoliths like the AS/400. A time when virtualization was something done only on these big systems, and the only need for an x86 system was under your desk to access a mainframe when you didn’t have a classic thin client.

When my career in IT really began, I was working with systems like Windows NT and Exchange 5.5, and we were creating Web pages with this mysterious language called HTML that magically made things appear. Even in those days, there was this thought that there was no need for companies to be beholden to the largest vendors.

There was a notion/belief in the early 2000s that with the growth of VMware, eventually the data center would become a blend of multiple vendors and companies would be able to take back their own infrastructure, enabling them to control the way they supported their business. This transition marked the evolution from the traditional data center to the commodity-based data center, driven by business needs and created using software, rather than the monolith systems that big vendors charged exorbitant amounts for.

Fast-forward to 2016

Are we there yet? Not quite, but this could be the year. Most enterprises have nearly 90% of their systems virtualized on VMware, Xen or KVM and are managed by newer solutions like OpenStack. 2016 could finally be the year we see the commodity-based data center become reality.

To make this happen, there are so many components that need to be in the right place. We need to see x86 servers with enough power to support large database systems — check. We need the ability to choose between multiple vendors that all produce a similar-quality product, but differentiate themselves with their support and supply chain — check. We need to have networks that can handle multiple systems and the communication between them, without losing packets and without being based on a single large infrastructure — check. (Well, sorta . . . we will get to that one in a few.) Finally, we need software to drive all these systems and define the solutions, whether it is storage, compute or even networking.

We are just about there and are seeing an influx of companies that can provide these services, but can they unseat the incumbent large, publicly traded vendors that look to buy up all the small fish? That just may be the key to 2016 being the year of change for the data center we have all dreamed about since we walked away from worrying about what happens when the clock strikes midnight for the new millennium.

Over the next couple of blogs I will take a look at each of the categories and see if we are really as close as we think to 2016 being “The Year,” starting with the server and compute side.

Won the battle and the war

There is little doubt that the data center is now dominated by x86 server hardware. The hardware can run with multiple CPU manufacturers, and has more cores than we could imagine in the ’90s and memory levels that exceed what helped put a man on the moon. All of this hardware is going to support everything from the large single applications to scale out big data apps that let us analyze every picture that was posted on Instagram or Facebook about kittens in the last 24 hours.

Let the vendors compete for you

Most users probably have their preference now in server vendors, and it is all about the extras these companies provide. It is not about the components within the servers. Most network cards are from one or two companies, and most processors are from one of two companies — you may have hard drives from multiple firms, but overall it’s just different-shaped, bent metal with a different label on the front.

The true differentiator for vendor choice comes in the form of supply chain and parts availability. The supply chain has begun to collapse around fewer global vendors, making it easier to price match between them. If you are only looking for regional or local support, that too has limited choice, and all the vendors know it. The choice is now truly in the hands of the consumer and, if planned out, can result in a race to the bottom on price, along with increased “hand-holding” when the equipment arrives.

Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

GleSYS’ joint NexentaStor/InfiniFlash system deployment to be focus of upcoming webinar

In April, we announced that GleSYS Internet Services AB (GleSYS), a next-generation cloud platform provider based in Sweden, had deployed ours and SanDisk’s joint All Flash Software-Defined Storage Solution. The NexentaStor/InfiniFlash solution delivers cost effective, high performance storage architecture, empowering GleSYS and its customers to quickly scale capacity as required.

Providing hosted internet solutions to nearly 3,500 customers around the world, GleSYS specializes in offering its public cloud services to small- and medium-sized businesses on a self-serve basis.  Prior to selecting the joint solution, the company was struggling to ensure the reliability of its storage solutions for customers, many of whom require extra performance provisioning instantly. However, GleSYS now has access to flexible and reliable storage architecture and, with unparalleled and limitless scalability to boot, the company has a tool that can support its impressive year-on-year growth predictions.

The deployment has been a huge success with GleSYS able to provide powerful and reliable cloud architectures to its increasing customer base. The solution has provided the company with numerous technical benefits, including:

  • The new architecture runs at a constant 20k Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS), with a latency of less than 1.5ms in its daily operations. The previous solution was only able to reach a maximum of 12k IOPS
  • While IOPS currently peak at around 80k, GleSYS believes this is not the limit of the solution, but rather the max utilization that it has seen from its current hardware
  • In regards to data center footprint, GleSYS has a 64TB hybrid storage solution allocating 16U. The joint solution can hold up to 512TB in only 7U

The GleSYS success story will be discussed in more detail during an upcoming webinar, May 11th 2016, 7am PT.  Executives from GleSYS, Nexenta, SanDisk and Layer 8 will take a deep dive into the challenges that the organization was facing with its legacy storage set-ups, and how the NexentaStor/InfiniFlash system is ensuring better storage performance and reliability for the company and its customers. Register for the webinar here:

For more information on the GleSYS deployment, the full case study can be viewed here (English) or here (Swedish).



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Posted in Software-defined storage

It’s time to raise your SDS IQ

by Michael Letschin, Field CTO

If you’re like other storage buyers – you’re going to invest in a solution, you want storage on your terms – optimized for your organization, its requirements, now and in the future. When it comes to distinguishing the wealth of Software Defined Storage (SDS) solutions from one another, you probably have a better shot of telling monkeys apart (note: there are 260 species of monkeys). Even respected analysts like Gartner, IDC, 451 Research and TechTarget have different SDS definitions – SDS must be software only, SDS can be hyperconverged, SDS is open source, or SDS can be hardware-based.   What most people seem to agree on is that SDS enables storage services through a software interface, and often runs on commodity hardware, enabled by the decoupling of storage software and hardware.

Yet that still doesn’t help answer the question, what meets YOUR needs? It may seem a little unconventional for a vendor blog, but our goal in this series (expect another six blogs after this one) is to give you some practical information on SDS types – what are the flavors, what works best where, how different SDS types rate against common use cases, and what you should select to bring up your organization’s SDS IQ.

We’re going to cover six types of SDS solutions:

  • Scale-up Vendor-Defined “SDS”
  • Scale-up Software Only
  • Scale Out
  • Hyperconverged
  • Virtual Storage Appliance
  • Containerized

Review our report cards to see whether your favorite SDS solution made the grade – we’ll look at each type and rate them on four critical categories: flexibility, scalability, performance, and cost; we’ll suggest the best use cases for each solution, and even share a few vendors to look at. We’ll be using a 5 point grading system:

  • A: Excellent; well-rounded and recommended solution
  • B: Very Good; above average solutions, especially for certain use cases
  • C: Passing; improvement needed for overall usage
  • D: Close fail; almost passing, solution with numerous gaps
  • F: Failing, not a workable solution

What’s on your SDS wish list?

To help you raise your SDS IQ, it’s helpful to start by doing your homework – what’s on your SDS wish list? For example, making sure you’re still in charge of managing drives, so you can handle predictable drive failures. Many organizations also want policy-based provisioning using REST-based APIs, specifically thin provisioning and scripted storage solution. Tiering is also often a must-have for SDS because of its ability to match data with storage types and maximize your return on investment. You might also be looking for SDS that’s independent of hypervisors. Hyperconvergence expands the portfolio of solutions even further. Take a few minutes to think through what matters most, and we’ll help you figure out how to get it.

Watch this space for the first review in our series – Scale-up, Vendor-Defined “SDS”

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Posted in Raise Your SDS IQ, Software-defined storage

Nexenta has joined Intel’s new Storage Builders Program for Open Software-Defined Storage

by Nexenta

Earlier in April, Intel hosted its Intel Data Center Group (DCG) Cloud Day. The event brought together its vast network of industry partners across the cloud and networking space, as well as journalists, analysts and other influencers, to discuss the the industry’s progress in the adoption of Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI), highlighting the importance of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) to SDI. As part of this discussion, Intel announced it would be launching a Storage Builders Program – an extension of the Intel Builders Program.

We were delighted to be invited to join the exclusive group of vendors supporting the program – many of which we’ve worked with before and we’re excited to extend those partnerships further.

The program is a cross-industry initiative designed to increase ecosystem alignment, ignite innovation, reduce development efforts, lead open storage standards development and accelerate adoption of intelligent, cost-effective and efficient SDS.

There is no doubt that SDS has become an increasingly important market segment, and the introduction of this program is yet more evidence of that fact. Organizations across the world are finding that their legacy storage systems just aren’t up to scratch, cost far too much and, on top of that, they’re tied to a single vendor. At Nexenta our long-term mission has been to make storage open and we’re excited that Intel has the same future in mind.

As a participant in the program, we’ll continue to build on our current OpenSDS offerings, but will have the added benefit of using Intel’s expertise to create joint solutions for customers. We’ll have the ability to collaborate with other Intel Storage Builders members to drive broader market adoption of software-defined technologies across the data center and seriously accelerate traction in the storage market.

Our participation in the Intel Storage Builders program supplements our existing and continued support of all Intel server providers including Cisco, Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Inspur, Lenovo, SuperCloud and Supermicro.

“Supermicro is raising the bar on performance and density with the Industry’s broadest portfolio of all-flash NVMe storage solutions and complete support for Intel’s latest Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors across our server platforms,” said Don Clegg, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Supermicro. “As a member of Intel Storage Builders with longstanding partner Nexenta, we are developing and deploying next generation software-defined storage solutions which deliver the most innovative, highly scalable, hyper-converged infrastructure, with lowest overall TCO.”

“We are proud to join Nexenta and select others as part of the Intel Storage Builders program. We’ve worked with Nexenta for a long time in supporting our mission to provide customers with the industry’s widest-range of tested and validated OpenSDS solutions,” said Travis Vigil, Executive Director Product Management at Dell Storage. “We are excited to continue working together along with Intel to produce high-end results for our customers.”

“Nexenta’s solutions will enable our customers to deploy flexible, software-defined storage environments on purpose-built HPE Apollo 4000 big data servers,” said Susan Blocher, Vice President of Compute Solutions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “The collaboration between HPE, Nexenta and Intel ensures our customers benefit from the combined innovation and high-quality of our next generation solutions.”

“Nexenta is a strong partner in supporting our growth in the enterprise storage market,” said Stuart McRae, Director of Product Marketing for the Lenovo Storage Business Unit. “At Lenovo, we strive to bring innovative customer value to our enterprise customers, and together with Intel and Nexenta, we will continue to expand our reach to bring new economics to data center storage. “

“We are pleased to partner once again with Nexenta, as they continue to support our company’s vision of shaping the future of software-defined storage by creating unprecedented value and opportunities for our customers and partners,” said Philippe Vincent, CEO at Load DynamiX. “Ensuring that software defined storage will perform and scale to enterprise data center requirements is a key focus of Load DynamiX. We are confident that, together with other Intel Storage Builder partners, we can achieve these goals.”

“Nexenta has proven to our customers the joint benefits of SDS in conjunction with our expertise in cloud computing hardware, software and services,” said Yuzhen Fang, CEO at SuperCloud. “We look forward to continuing development of these solutions with both Nexenta and Intel.”

“Nexenta and VMware have worked together for many years to provide mutual customers with flexible storage solutions to enable increased efficiency and availability, while lowering costs,” said Howard Hall, senior director, Global Technology Partnering Organization, VMware. “We look forward to working with both Nexenta and Intel to create additional value and drive broader adoption of software-defined technologies.”

For more information, visit: Storage on Your Terms: Nexenta Software Defined Storage with Intel


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Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Questions from the Field: How do you define Software-defined?

By Michael Letschin, Field CTO

If you’re in IT, and attending the usual industry events, you can’t help but notice the explosion of companies, from those making software to those making hardware, claiming to have Software-defined solutions.  I even bumped into someone (we’ll leave him nameless) who claimed that his company’s flash controller was “software-defined”, because after all, it was software that defined how the hardware should be managed; right?  Right …

Yes, software needs hardware, but that doesn’t make the resulting solution Software-defined.  While there are an increasing number of Software-defined solutions out there, it’s still a bit of the Wild West, and buyers best beware.  Have some healthy caution as you explore solutions and understand how your vendor defines Software-defined.  Getting that base-level understanding is important, because the solutions that flow from the definition have different characteristics that either will or won’t work with your use case.

So, how do we define Software-defined?  Well, we are Nexenta after all, the storage software company; we would say that the only true SDS solutions are ones where the software is hardware agnostic, architecturally flexible, and able to deliver business agility (along with the usual storage software features).  But don’t take our word for it, for a deeper dive into SDS definitions, check out George Crump’s latest blog “What Exactly is Software Defined Storage“.  The important takeaway here is that the definition of SDS matters when you’re trying to solve a problem – it defines the benefits that the solution is capable of delivering to you.

Next week we’ll be starting a blog series on how to Raise Your SDS IQ, where we’ll walk through the six different types of SDS, as the industry defines them, and explain where and why they excel, and fall down.  So, watch this space as we work to build out your buyer’s toolkit; that way you won’t be the guy (or gal) with the knife at the gun fight ;).

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Posted in Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Using the Right Storage Protocol for the Right Use Case

By Michael Letschin, Field CTO

IT professionals have no shortage of storage protocols to choose from, such as NFS, SMB, Fibre Channel (FC), iSCSI and Object. “Experts” are writing books about which protocol is best, usually taking the side of a vendor with a particular axe to grind. The truth is they each have their sweet spot. The key is to make sure that your storage solution is flexible enough to support all your data center’s needs at the same time.


In most data centers the virtual infrastructure supports the majority of the business critical applications and workloads. The virtualization platform of choice, at least for now, is VMware. While FC is still very prevalent in VMware environments and VVOLs makes FC more flexible, we believe NFS is the ideal choice for most VMware environments. Let’s face it, VMs are essentially files and what better way to store files than a protocol designed specifically for file based data like NFS. The advantages of NFS are well documented but the key is that NFS provides a much easier mapping of a VM to its datastore. You can now make decisions, like what tier of storage to place a VM on, at a discrete VM level.

Mission Critical Applications

Many environments, for a variety of reasons, choose not to virtualize certain mission critical applications. They may already be clustered or there may be too many performance concerns. For these situations, many data centers will leverage a block protocol like FC or iSCSI. If the high performance storage requires low latency access, then FC is ideal, but iSCSI can hold its own for other applications where latency is not critical. Again, your storage software should give you the flexibility to choose any or all of these protocols as it makes sense.


Managing file data, or unstructured data for those who want to sound cool, is one of the biggest challenges facing IT. And just like applications not all this data is equal. Most IT professionals immediately think of user data here, created by office productivity applications. It needs to be put on moderately performing storage but not the fastest storage since most users today are connecting via WiFi or even broadband. You need to keep it a long time because users never want you to delete their files. For this data, assuming most users are running Windows, SMB is the protocol of choice.

Another type of file data comes from machines like cameras, recording devices and sensors. It can range in size from trillions of very small sensor files to a few very large files from video cameras. The industry will tell you that object storage is the way to go here, and it very well may be. But we encourage you to use NFS first. It takes a lot of data to exceed the maximum potential of a modern NFS server. Again, the storage solution should not force you to make a choice.

At the other end of the file spectrum is high performance data that you need to access rapidly or a process that needs to write data quickly. For this, NFS is ideal. It is a high performance file system and with the appropriate use of flash delivers the performance that these use cases demand.


If you noticed, NFS is most appropriate in the majority of the use cases but not all of them. We think the storage solution you use should not also force you into a specific protocol. You should choose the one that makes sense for your specific use cases. And that’s why we built NexentaStor.

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Posted in Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Build better containers—with Intel’s latest processor plus NexentaEdge

By Oscar Wahlberg, Director of Product Management, Nexenta

If you’ve been wanting to start using containers—or use them more extensively—here’s some great news: The Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v4 product family and NexentaEdge make an ideal infrastructure for building containers.

Containers have become an important approach for building apps that can scale up to the demands of the cloud. With containers, you can bundle an application with all the parts it needs— such as libraries and other dependencies—and ship it all out as one package. With a Docker container, the application will run on any other Linux machine regardless of customized settings.

Containers are an easy choice for stateless applications that require little or no persistent storage. But they can also work for stateful applications, too, as long as you have persistent storage solutions that integrate with container deployments—like NexentaEdge scale-out storage software.

NexentaEdge’s scale-out storage architecture shifts the burden of compute-intensive workloads into the storage tier where they can take advantage of underlying Intel server technologies, like the Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v4 product family, which supports containerized storage with more CPU cores and higher memory speeds. The Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v4 product family provides up to 22 cores with top memory speeds of 2400 MT/s which significantly improves both single- and multi-threaded performance. NexentaEdge storage algorithms—such as deduplication, real-time compression, tiering, erasure coding, and encryption—benefit tremendously from the Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v4 product family because of its higher level of parallelism and performance on large data sets. The Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v4 product family provides high-bandwidth, low-latency access to memory and enhanced power management features for high performance with low power consumption. The net result is a reduction in disk space—and the need for drives and physical assets—in the datacenter, improving your datacenter operational efficiencies.

From a software configuration perspective, NexentaEdge leverages Linux containers (Docker) to simplify deployments and configuration. Depending on your needs, you might choose to:

  • Connect containers into your existing environments, providing the containers access to existing network-attached shared storage using NFS or iSCSI, and potentially leveraging ClusterHQ Flocker volume plug-ins for NexentaEdge.
  • Connect iSCSI-based block storage to the container hypervisor for persistent storage when the infrastructure has separate compute and storage servers.
  • Run containers alongside containerized NexentaEdge storage microservices on the same Linux servers. NexentaEdge storage microservices manage and pool the storage capacity across all nodes in the cluster and deliver low-latency, high-performance block services to application containers.

To deliver optimal performance for your containers, NexentaEdge leverages:

  • Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 v4 product family optimized instruction sets for high performance
  • Intel Xeon processor E5 and E3 families together with integrated Intel Data Direct I/O technologies to help remove bottlenecks, decrease latency, and increase data throughput
  • Intel SSD and Intel NVMe devices for write caching/acceleration
  • Intel 10GbE Ethernet cards, such as the X520 model or X540 model for networking.

To move your apps and scale them up to the cloud more easily, start building containers using NexentaEdge on the latest Intel architectures. Read more about Nexenta and Intel on our Intel Storage Builders Membership page., or click here to get your copy of our Solution Brief – Storage on Your Terms: Nexenta Software Defined Storage with Intel.

You can also find us on Intel’s The Data Stack – an IT Peer Network.

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Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Questions from the Field: Hyperconvergence

By Michael Letschin, Field CTO

Having the most complete portfolio of Software-Defined Storage solutions in the industry is something that Nexenta pride’s itself on, but with that comes questions about all sorts of other storage technologies when I am out talking with our customers and partners.  Their questions range from trying to understand the latest trends like enterprise containers to the impact of the Internet of  Things and augmented reality, but more often than not their questions are about how some of the newer datacenter technologies will help their business.  These technologies range from Software-Defined Networking to public cloud and of course hyperconverged solutions.  Sometimes we integrate very well, for instance with the VMware vCloud Air where we can run inside the public cloud and be a DR target for our existing customers, at a public cloud price point.  In other environments we have to explain that many solutions are not one size fits all.  Hyperconverged falls into that camp and George Crump, an analyst for Storage Switzerland, has a great write-up here – Is Hyperconverged worth the Hype? – on the pros and cons to that market.  I think a key takeaway is that if you’re looking at a new project or a new datacenter with fixed needs, then the simplicity of hyperconverged could be the answer; but if you are growing a datacenter or expect unpredictable growth there are some caveats: the inability to separate storage and compute as you grow can result in over-buying, and losing the benefits you get from virtualization and consolidation.  In those cases, the idea of a traditionally isolated compute and storage solution has real benefit.  Utilizing new technologies like Software-Defined Storage to give you the flexibility of choosing the right hardware for you when you need it gets the enterprise closer and closer to the dream of a next generation or Software-Defined Datacenter.

For more on hyperconverged, check out Is Hyperconverged worth the Hype? by George Crump at Storage Swiss.

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Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Why is Fibre Channel resurging?

By Michael Letschin, Field CTO

There was a time when Fibre Channel was the only solution for those looking for a high speed transport. But that is not the case anymore. The predominant storage protocol in many virtualization environments is NFS, primarily because virtualization administrators know that administering file-based datastores is much easier than those based on LUNs. In addition, advances in NFS and combining NFS with flash storage make the system’s performance ideal for hosting virtualized workloads.

But Nexenta is seeing a resurgence in customers expressing an interest in using NexentaStor’s Fibre Channel option. This is particularly interesting because, unlike other platforms, NexentaStor does not lock you into a particular protocol. Customers are free to choose NFS, SMB, Fibre Channel, or iSCSI. This means the only reason they would be using Fibre Channel is that it offers something that the other alternatives don’t – performance.

Performance is the main historical reason IT professionals prefer Fibre Channel over Ethernet; however, some may read that statement and disagree. Ethernet offers 40 Gb and Fibre Channel is only 16 Gb. If Ethernet has more bandwidth, how could Fibre Channel have better performance? The answer is bandwidth is not the primary performance consideration for some applications. If an application is looking for low latency, Fibre Channel will win over Ethernet almost every time. A look at the design of the two protocols will explain why.

Fibre Channel design assumes very short connections that are never longer than a Kilometer and usually much shorter. In contrast, Ethernet networks can stretch around the world. Due to this design difference, Fibre Channel can assume that all frames make it to the other side, where Ethernet assumes that many of them will not make it. This means Fibre Channel doesn’t have to do as much error checking and re-transmitting as Ethernet does. This translates into significantly lower latency numbers.

Another low latency device that is quite popular is Flash. Fibre Channel offers a better latency match to Flash than Ethernet does. Perhaps one has to look no further to see the reason behind this resurgence in Fibre Channel. If a customer has a latency-sensitive application, they are going to consider Flash as their storage medium. And if they are going to use Flash, they will want a low-latency protocol to communicate with their storage – and Fibre Channel meets the bill.

Whatever the reason for this particular resurgence in Fibre Channel, Nexenta’s solution allows customers to take advantage of whatever storage protocols they think are appropriate for their environment. And if they change their mind at a later date, they can start using a different protocol without changing their storage product. This is the flexibility of an open storage product like NexentaStor.

For additional information, read up on NexentaStor.

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Posted in Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

March Madness of Home Brews Community Contest

They say it takes a village to raise a child and at Nexenta we believe that technology start-ups are similar to children.  The community has been a critical part of Nexenta’s success and we want to share the excitement that our community members have with the world.  To do this, we are kicking off monthly contests to show the growth, support and amazing intelligence of the Nexenta Community.

The first of these contests begins today with the March Madness of Home Brews!  We ask that you submit a brief description of your home storage kit, along with a picture.  After all, a picture is worth 1000 words.  To coincide with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, we will create a bracket of the entries for the community to vote on until we narrow it down to the final four and a champion.

The final four will be sent a gift set of Nexenta swag along with being showcased as a featured build on the Nexenta Community website.  The winner will receive an even larger kit that includes a custom-branded Nexenta Basketball.

We are excited to see how creative you have all been.  Make sure to get your entry submitted no later than midnight PST on March 16th.  We will kick off voting on the 17th with the first round, just like the basketball tournament. Good luck!

To register, please click on the following link and fill out the form:

*Note: To win, you must be a registered member of the Nexenta Community.

Posted in Uncategorized

Citrix and Nexenta Deliver Flexible and Cost-efficient Software-Defined Approach to VDI

By Michael Letschin, Director of Product Management, Solutions

We had a great time at Citrix Summit 2015 and had a chance to talk to partners about our new converged infrastructure validated solution stack for VDI workloads using Citrix XenServer. XenDesktop and NexentaStor.

Available as an industry standard x86 architecture, this economically viable, converged and integrated solution is geared for small and mid-sized businesses that are looking to embrace and benefit from the security and efficiencies of desktop virtualization and Software-Defined Storage. NexentaStor brings dramatic economic benefits through substantially higher performance, lower cost per terabyte and a pre-integrated converged infrastructure stack based on Citrix XenDesktop MCS.

The solution starts at a minimal 4U of physical space and is able to present 355 desktops at full workload.  The Citrix XenDesktop and Nexenta converged architecture can easily scale to provide up to a 1000 desktops in only 6U, a 25% density improvement compared to EVO: RAIL. The solution minimizes storage latency with over a 98 percent cache hit ratio, giving the fastest possible end user experience.

Over the past few years, we’ve collaborated with Citrix to produce multiple cost-efficient, flexible and scalable infrastructures for customers to build and scale VDI workloads. NexentaStor has proven to deliver the best performance and value on hybrid or pure storage configurations, as part of the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Validation Program. This is just another step in the collaboration.

“Citrix sees great value for customers from the integration of Citrix XenDesktop and NexentaStor,” said Calvin Hsu, vice president of product marketing, Desktop and Apps, Citrix. “The end result is that our existing customers and prospects will benefit from the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of this solution.”

Details of this solution can be obtained by downloading the Citrix Validated design reference architecture.

Additional Resources: Nexenta Delivers a Converged Infrastructure Citrix Ready Validated Solution Stack

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2015 Predictions: What Goes Around Comes Around

by Michael Letschin, Director of Product Management, Solutions, Nexenta

Everything in culture has a way of repeating itself, it happens in every arena of our life.  In fashion we look at items as vintage, whether it is from the 70s or the roarin’ 20s.  In music, artist like Justin Timberlake harken back to the days of early Michael Jackson and we have some artists today that people view like the modern day Rat Pack of Sinatra’s era.  Technology is no different, and as we move into 2015, life is in fact repeating itself.  I have spent nearly 20 years in technology, starting with working on mainframes and green screen clients, then came the shift to the x86 server. Over the past few years we have seen virtual servers become mainstream, being us back to a centralized server setup and as virtual desktops gain traction we move towards thin clients and back to what I remember from growing up… simplicity and efficiency.

What have we learned from all this?  The importance of versatility, simplicity and efficiency… Over the past few years we have heard buzzwords that have driven the technology decisions but now that IT departments have finally shrunk to point where you can’t “do any more with less”, CIOs have the choice of either outsourcing all their products or going with something that makes it easier on the staff they have.  The efficiency comes from not only simplicity but also on an economic front, you pay for a service like you would electricity.  During 2014 we talked of Software-Defined Data Centers but I have yet to see any single enterprise truly adopt the notion that hardware is not the answer.  Deploying hardware in the traditional sense is starting to move to the wayside, with the software controlling the hardware, the “bent metal” is not the treasure.  Add in the idea that an enterprise can have freedom to deploy their choice of hardware and remove the proprietary upgrades and process of the past and we move towards the software defined future.

2015 will begin with more and more enterprises adopting the idea that hardware independence means that their staff can be more efficient by concentrating on the software and letting the hardware vendors spend their time competing for their business.  The rise of DevOps will continue to make datacenters simpler and more automated.  Projects like OpenCompute can finally gain traction in the enterprise as hardware is bought as simply a platform regardless if the need is for servers, storage or networking.  Software-Defined Storage will continue to grow in the enterprise as IT staff see that they no longer can support the complexity of forklift migrations just to get some more speed.  Software-Defined Networking has been lagging in the past year or so but the efficiency need will surely allow networking teams to built the global enterprise.

We used to say that no one got fired for buying IBM, well now IBM is services and buying from all the cloud based services.  What goes around comes around and the giants in the IT industry may just end up being the users and admins in 2015, not the hardware vendors of the last decade.

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Posted in Corporate, Software-defined storage

Epidemics at the Speed of Software

By Michael Letschin, Director, Product Management, Solutions, Nexenta

In today’s global economy and 24/7 news culture, word of health risks spread faster than ever before. If a child is diagnosed with a rare disease in Asia at 10 AM, it could be sent to the US Center for Disease Control and reported on US news outlets in time for the 11 o’clock news (a 2 hour time lapse). But, that’s even slow compared to how quickly it could spread through social media. This is not to say that health concerns are sensationalized or should not be treated with the utmost urgency and concern.

The scare over Ebola has shed new light on how quickly news and information flows around the globe. It also showcases how quickly NGOs (non-governmental organizations) can be spun up around an issue. A quick search on the USAid web site lists 60 NGOs responding to the Ebola crisis. These organizations range from religious groups to relief groups to groups dedicated to specific continents. Some of which are smaller organizations, scarcely known of, like BRAC (creating ecosystems in 11 countries in which the poor have the chance to seize control of their own lives), while others are some of the largest organizations in the world, like the Red Cross. One thing that ties all of these groups together is their need to keep up-to-date on news and information, which is highly dependent on technology. It’s these same technology networks that spread panic and concern via the news and social media, that also transport critical, life-saving information to these organizations in need.

The worldwide growth of this need-to-know data is exponential. Some Gartner reports have shown that enterprise data is growing at rates of 40-60% year over year. If enterprises are growing this fast, you can only imagine the growth rate of data collection during a health crisis. This explosion of data is also what drives innovation, enabling organizations to move away from legacy systems that slow down data accessibility.

A key innovation in the effort to easily track the spread of disease is the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). The SDDC changes the game by providing software based solutions where any hardware can be repurposed for various purposes. In the time of a crisis, these Software-Defined solutions will ensure your data includes the most up-to-date trends for the next airborne illness.

While server virtualization has made a huge impact by enabling compute power to live in the data center, storage has previously lagged behind. Now, Software-Defined Storage, a robust scalable storage solution, is being deployed on any existing hardware allowing organizations to rapidly analyze complex issues. For instance:

Imagine being a researcher or doctor in a remote location. You have critical information that could show trends of treatment practices, but you have no place to store all the millions of data points that have been collected on paper. You also have no way to get or install traditional legacy limited hardware solutions, nor a place to power and store such solutions. The easy answer is to use the existing industry standard hardware and deploy a software solution. I am in no way saying that the Software-Defined movement is going to save the world in a health crisis, but I only hope that the NGOs and world leaders see that Software-Defined technology can lead to a more cost-effective and faster time to market. And hopefully time to cure.

To hear more about the benefits of Software-Defined Data Centers and Storage easing health crises, please join Forrester, VM Racks and Nexenta on 12/16 at 8am PT. Click here to register for this webinar.

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

Big Data Meets Software-Defined Storage at

Allison Darin, Director of Communications & Public Relations, Nexenta Systems, Inc.

Big Data and Software-Defined Storage go hand in hand as part of the NexentaStor implementation for – the world’s leading Secure Private Cloud Service for the entire Big Data Pipeline – are market leaders in the innovative area of “high performance data analysis ” (HPDA) for industries from media and entertainment, life sciences, financial services, oil & gas, engineering and more.

They recently added Software-Defined Storage to their IT toolkit through their deployment of NexentaStor and other leading Software-Defined Data Center solution providers including Brocade, SanDisk (FusionIO) and VMware. Take a look at our new case study here for lots more information.

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined storage

Managing Dynamic Storage Demands at ServerCentral

Allison Darin, Director of Communications & Public Relations, Nexenta Systems, Inc.

Scalability and economics go hand in hand as part of the NexentaStor implementation for ServerCentral. ServerCentral has been delivering managed data center solutions since 1999 for customers such as Ars Technica, CDW, DePaul University, Discovery Communications, New Relic, Outbrain, Shopify, TrueCar, and USG.

They recently added software-defined storage to their IT toolkit through their deployment of NexentaStor. Take a look at our new case study here for lots more information.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Sofware-Defined Storage – Vertical Sectors Sharing the Love

Allison Darin, Director of Communications & Public Relations, Nexenta Systems, Inc.

First, the good news. We are in a year that promises to shake up the storage world with open source Software-Defined Storage (SDS) solutions revolutionizing the market and helping today’s organizations build toward the Software Defined Enterprise (SDE) of the future.

Even better, the SDS revolution, spearheaded by Nexenta, is spreading to more and more vertical markets and countries. And while the institutions and organizations adopting an SDS approach have made their choice for a number of reasons, they all have one thing in common: they’re very happy with what it delivers. But don’t take our word for it – read on for the stories of several customers and their journey towards becoming Software Defined.

In Germany, regional energy supplier Stadtwerke Tuttlingen (SWT) provides electricity, gas, and water utilities to over 34,200 residents across 980 square miles in the South West area of the country.

SWT’s existing storage solution was proving inadequate to run multiple high performance databases (Oracle, MSSQL) and incapable of supporting a planned VDI deployment. Searching for a storage system that offered high performance, flexibility and high availability, SWT found NexentaStor.

One of the key selling points for SWT was the simplicity of Nexenta’s products. There was no need for complex licensing and NexentaStor provided features such as unlimited snapshots, thin provisioning and hybrid storage pooling that helped SWT to implement cost-effective storage with high performance.

In the UK, the University of Sussex turned to Nexenta when its original solution started to approach end of life. The IT department at the University provides support to the entire university – 13,000 students and over 2,100 staff – with a single home directory service that enables users to access files from whatever device and operating system they are using, wherever they are on the campus.

NexentaStor was selected because of its flexibility, scalability and attractive economics. It delivered the performance the University sought, and paved the way for sustainable expansion. The stability, scalability and performance of Nexenta has proven so effective that it has prompted the IT department to look at other campus storage systems and further opportunities to consolidate, increase speed and grow efficiently.

In the media industry, London-based boutique VFX organization BlueBolt was searching for an adaptive storage solution to manage the growing workload of its creative and technical staff and to keep up with the evolving demands of the industry.

BlueBolt has provided the visual effects for many award-winning productions including the BBC’s Great Expectations, Game of Thrones (Season 1) and Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom. Needing to implement a secure, reliable, scalable storage solution, the company chose Nexenta’s SDS solution to centralize and manage its storage infrastructure and replace the various storage platforms in situ.

Best of all, Nexenta provided all of the features BlueBolt expected from an enterprise storage platform while remaining one of the most cost-effective solutions on the market.

There are many advantages for organizations like SWT, University of Sussex and BlueBolt that opt for Nexenta’s SDS approach. They escape from vendor lock-in, total cost of ownership (TCO) is radically improved, performance gets significantly better and the result is true scalability. In other words, it’s future-proof.

Nexenta helps customers to bypass the MESS (Massively Expensive Storage Systems) produced by traditional vendors and concentrate on growing and building their business – boosting productivity and customer service. It’s a win win for everybody.

No wonder customers in industries as diverse as media (BlueBolt), energy supply (SWT) and education (the University of Sussex) are turning to Nexenta, the global leader in SDS, to deliver easy to use, secure and ultra low cost storage software solutions.

By now, some of you are probably starting to ask: That’s great, but what happened to the bad news? Good news everybody, there isn’t any.

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined storage

Managing Software-Defined storage for your virtualized infrastructure just got a whole lot easier.

Nexenta is proud to announce our first vCenter Web Client plugin to support the NexentaStor platform. The NexentaStor vCenter Web Client Plugin is a plug-in for vSphere 5.5 and NexentaStor 4.0.3 that provides integrated management of NexentaStor storage systems within vCenter. The plug-in will allow the vCenter administrator to automatically configure NexentaStor nodes via vCenter.

VMware administrators can provision, connect, and delete storage from NexentaStor to the ESX host, and view the datastores within vCenter.

04CreateiSCSINot only can you provision the storage but managing it is also simple with integrated snapshot management.

05SnapshotThe plugin also allows for closer analytics and reporting on the storage through vCenter as detailed below.

Check out the screenshots below, and download the vCenter Web Client Plugin today from the NexentaStor product downloads page.

General details about Storage:

  • Volume Name
  • Connection Status
  • Provisioned IOPs
  • Provisioned Throughput
  • Volume available space and Used space

Storage Properties

  • Datastore name
  • NFS Server IP address
  • Datastore Path and capacity details

Datastore Properties:

  • Total capacity
  • Used capacity
  • Free capacity
  • Block size
  • Datastor IOPs, Throughput, and Latency

Snapshot Management:

  • List existing snapshots
  • Create new snapshots
  • Clone existing snapshots
  • Restore to a snapshot
  • Delete Snapshots
  • Schedule snapshots

End-to-End Datastore Provisioning:

  • Creating a new volume in Storage Array
  • Attach the volume to host as datastore
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Posted in Virtualization

Accelerate your Horizon 6 deployment with NexentaConnect 3.0!

Nexenta is proud to announce the general availability of NexentaConnect 3.0 for VMware Horizon (with View).  The VDI acceleration and automation tool provides increased desktop density and higher IO performance for existing storage deployments as well as greenfield new VDI solutions.  NexentaConnect 3.0 introduces many new features and enhancements for a VDI solution to include

  • Full support for VMware Horizon 6NexentaConnect for Horizon 3
  • Pass Through Support for VMware GPU
  • Import Horizon View desktop pools
  • Fast desktop pool restoration from backup

Combining all these great new features allows you to now accelerate and grow your existing Horizon deployment, which may have been limited by traditional storage solutions.

To learn more about NexentaConnect for VMware Horizon go to and download the 45 day free trial.



Posted in Corporate, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Virtualization

Nexenta Launches Revolutionary Software-Defined Scale Out Object Storage Solution for OpenStack and Big Data Infrastructures

NexentaEdge – Taking Nexenta’s ZFS DNA to Cloud Scale

Thomas Cornely, Chief Product Officer, Nexenta

VMworld 2014 in San Francisco promises to be an incredible event for Nexenta. In addition to our OpenSDx Summit on 8/28, as a VMworld 2014 Platinum Sponsor we’re gearing up for a slew of new product announcements and demos. We’re particularly excited about the opportunity to showcase NexentaEdge, the latest addition to our Software-Defined Storage portfolio, specifically targeting the petabyte scale, shared nothing, scale-out architectures required for next generation cloud deployments. NexentaEdge is a software only solution deployed on industry standard servers running Ubuntu, CentOS or RHEL Linux. Version 1.0 will support iSCSI Block services with OpenStack Cinder integration, Swift and S3 Object APIs as well as a Horizon management plugin. File services are part of our design and will be delivered in follow-on versions.

If you’re familiar with Nexenta, you know all about NexentaStor, our unified block and file Software-Defined Storage solution built on the ZFS file system. What made ZFS great were some key design choices that took advantage of emerging trends in the hardware landscape. Things like Copy On Write, delivering guaranteed file system consistency at very large scale, as well as high performance unlimited snapshots and clones. Things like block level checksums, trading increasingly cheap CPU cycles for way more valuable end-to-end data integrity. This strong technology heritage, paired with Nexenta’s continued investment on performance, scale and manageability has led service providers across the globe and a growing number of enterprise customers to rely on NexentaStor as the storage backend for their legacy cloud and enterprise applications.

If you’re in technology, you know that the only constant is change. Our service provider customers are busy scaling their infrastructure, moving to next generation open source cloud infrastructure like OpenStack and CloudStack and looking for even more scalable and cost efficient storage backends. For that, we’ve built NexentaEdge. And rather than quickly combine existing open source pieces and hack on top of them, we deliberately took some time to design a solution from the ground-up, and we made sure our design reflected the lessons we learned from our years of working with ZFS. We also made sure our design looked forward and was ready for what we see as new emerging trends in the storage landscape. The net result is a truly next generation scale out solution that incorporates what we like to call our ZFS DNA.

For example, one core design aspect of NexentaEdge is something we call Cloud Copy On Write. While the system is fully distributed truly, without any single point of failure, data in the cluster is never updated in place. Very much like ZFS, but applied in a distributed context, this gives us a great foundation for advanced data management and the ability to gracefully handle a variety of failure scenarios that affect large scale out clusters. Another example is end-to-end data integrity. All chunks of objects in NexentaEdge are stored with cryptographic hash checksums that deliver ultimate data integrity. The system is also built with automatic self-healing in case corruption is detected in a chunk.

Another critical aspect of the design is the recognition that building large scale out clusters is as much a storage challenge as a networking one. So we paid particular attention to how we consume precious network bandwidth and how we automatically route data around hot spots and busy nodes. These functions are implemented as part of what we call FlexHash (for dynamic flexible hashing that automatically selects the best targets for data storage, or data access based on actual load states) and Replicast (our own network protocol that minimizes data transfers and enables lower latency data access).

Last but not least, a great design proves itself by how advanced features naturally flow out of it. One such feature is cluster wide inline deduplication. NexentaEdge clusters get inline deduplication of all data at the object chunk or block level. These are variable sizes and can be as small as 4KB as we will demonstrate at the Nexenta booth at VMworld 2014 we will create 100’s of virtual machines on iSCSI LUNs while consuming slightly more than one copy worth in the cluster.

NexentaEdge is here. And we think it will be big. Over the coming weeks, we’ll dig a bit deeper into the technology and share details on Cloud Copy On Write, Flexhash and Replicast. See you at the Nexenta booth at VMworld 2014!

Posted in Corporate

Software-Defined Storage Saving the Economy

Jill Orhun, VP of Marketing and Strategy, Nexenta

Faced with the challenge of an explosion of data from macro trends like social media, mobile, the Internet of Things, and Big Data, many organisations are faced with snowballing technology requirements and yet declining IT budgets that mean doing more with less.

Storage is often the highest single line item in these reduced or static IT budgets, making the strategy of throwing more storage hardware at the data explosion problem less and less acceptable. Many of today’s organisations, such as picturemaxx, University of Sussex and the Institut of Laue Langevin have found a way to step away from such a MESS (massively expensive storage systems) solution and have discovered more scalable, flexible, available and cost effective storage solutions – Software-Defined Storage (SDS) solutions.

Open Source SDS solutions can be deployed in conjunction with industry standard hardware, avoiding the vendor lock-in of expensive proprietary models. This gives organisations the freedom to choose their hardware, ensuring they always get the right hardware their requirements – and with the right price. Democratising infrastructure in this way delivers cost savings of up to 80%.

Software-Defined Storage will change everything

2014 is the year that SDS is shaking up the market by delivering on its promise of a truly vendor agnostic approach, and providing a single management view across the data centre. Organisations are beginning to coalesce around a standard definition of Software-Defined Storage, and clearing up the confusion that arises from the proliferation of approaches taken by vendors purporting to provide “Software-Defined” solutions.

Some vendors claim to offer SDS but are merely providing virtualised storage, characterised by a separation and pooling of capacity from storage hardware resources. Others claim to have SDS solutions even though their solution is 100% reliant on a specific kind of hardware. Neither definition fulfills the fundamental SDS requirement of enabling enterprises to make storage hardware purchasing decisions independent from concerns about over or under-utilisation or interoperability of storage resources. It is important to be aware of these subtle distinctions, otherwise the key SDS benefits of increased flexibility, automated management and cost efficiency simply won’t be realised.

True SDS solutions let organisations work with any protocol stack to build specialised systems on industry standard hardware, rather than limiting their choices to the expensive specialised appliances sold by the ‘MESS’ vendors.

Storage-Defined Storage changes the economic game for the Storage-Defined Data Centre

SDS is one of the three legs of the stool that make up the Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC), along with the server virtualisation and Software-Defined Networking (SDN). As the most costly leg, however, SDS is also a target for mis-direction of terms and capture of high margins. Many vendors claiming to deliver SDS are selling hardware products with the 60% to 70% margin that has come to define the enterprise storage market. SDS is about much more than new technology innovation. True SDS lets customers do things they couldn’t do before and, most critically, fundamentally changes the economics of the enterprise storage business by increasing the hardware choices available to end customers.

Making the right choices

Organisations are in the middle of a data tsunami. According to recent reports the global tidal wave of data has been predominantly created in the last two years is going to get faster as we all demand 24/7 connection.

According to Research and Markets Global Software Defined Data Centre report, the market is set to explode, growing at a CAGR of 97.48% between this year and 2018. Much of this growth is due to an increased demand for cloud computing, which creates a companion demand for Software-Defined technologies to achieve large scale, economically.

Customers realise that SDDC technologies offer flexibility, security, storage availability and scalability. All organisations should get informed on what true Software Defined solutions are – so they can make better decisions on which vendors to invest in for the SDDCs in their future. The first step is understanding the definitions, asking the right questions, and moving towards SDS solutions as a first critical step on their Software-Defined journey.

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined storage

Welcome to the Software-Defined World

Thomas Cornely, VP of Product Management, Nexenta

It’s no secret that today’s organizations are experiencing an unprecedented data explosion. As much as 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years and the pace of data generation continues to accelerate thanks to trends like cloud, social, mobile, big data, and the Internet of Things. These developments create additional pressure on data centre managers already struggling to make do with flat or decreasing IT budgets.

Thankfully, help is on the horizon with the emergence of the Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC). The SDDC promises to deliver new levels of scalability, availability and flexibility, and will do so with a dramatically lower total cost of ownership. As companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook prove every day, SDDC is the future and is built on three key pillars: compute, storage and networking.

The last decade saw the transformation of the compute layer thanks to technologies from the likes of VMware, Microsoft and the open source community. The next stages are storage and networking. While Software Defined Networking (SDN) was all the rage a couple of years ago, actual market traction and customer adoption has been slower than expected as industry players continue to work to align all the technology pieces required to deliver full SDN solutions. The story is quite different for storage. With storage typically being the most expensive part of an enterprise infrastructure, we are witnessing a dramatic acceleration in Software-Defined Storage (SDS) adoption.

2014 promises to be very significant for Software-Defined Storage as customers realize its potential for addressing their critical pain points: scalability, availability, flexibility and cost. As SDS increasingly takes centre stage, it is important to ensure customers see through legacy vendor marketing seeking to preserve their hegemony by dressing up high margin, inflexible proprietary hardware in SDS clothes. Thanks to fairly creative marketing teams most, if not all, storage vendors make some claim related to Software-Defined Storage. It is amusing to note, however, that almost all are selling closed hardware products with the 60% to 70% margin that has been the norm in the enterprise storage market over the past decade. Calling a product SDS does not make it so.

Having a lot of software in a given hardware product (as most storage arrays do) might make a product Software-Based, but it does not make it Software-Defined. Similarly, adding an additional management layer or abstraction layer on existing proprietary hardware (a la EMC ViPR) might increase the amount of software sold to customers, but really does not make the solution Software-Defined. What legacy storage vendors are doing is very similar to what Unix vendors of old (remember Sun, HP and IBM) did when they added visualization and new management software to their legacy Unix operating systems to compete with VMware. While these were technically interesting extensions to legacy technology, it was VMware running on standard Intel based servers that truly unleashed Software-Defined compute and changed the economics of enterprise compute forever. The same is true for SDS.

Done right, Software-Defined Storage allows customers to build scalable, reliable, full featured, high performance storage infrastructure from a wide selection of (low cost) industry standard hardware. As such, SDS is about much more than the latest technology innovation. True SDS allows customers to do things they could not do before while fundamentally changing the economics of the enterprise storage business. True SDS allows customers to deal with their storage assets in the same way they deal with their virtualized compute infrastructure: pick a software stack for all their storage services and seamlessly swap industry standard hardware underneath as cost, scale and performance requirements dictate. Eliminating vendor lock-in without compromising on availability, reliability and functionality is how SDS will change the storage industry.

From a technology perspective, true SDS must be able to support any ecosystem (VMware, HyperV, OpenStack and CloudStack) and any access protocol (block, file and object), while running on a wide variety of hardware configurations, be they all flash, all disk, or hybrid. Having a strong open source DNA helps in getting an active community of users and developers around the SDS solution. SDS openness will play an increasingly important role as customers move towards converged software-led stacks that harness technologies such as cloud, hyperscale, big data, NoSQL, flash hybrids, all flash, object stores and intelligent automation.

As mentioned earlier, the SDDC will deliver new levels of scalability, availability and flexibility with significantly lower cost than today’s approaches. With storage playing such a critical role in the SDDC, the accelerating adoption of SDS in 2014 will make it a breakthrough year for what we like to call Software-Defined Everything aka SDx. When the building blocks of software defined compute, storage and networking have all been put in place, enterprises will be free from expensive vendor lock-in and free to scale more easily, innovate more rapidly and bring new solutions to market more efficiently. More than yet another technology fad, SDDC is poised to change core data centre economics and free enterprises to invest more in their own business.

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined data center

Software-Defined Storage – Savior of The Internet of Things

Jill Orhun, VP of Marketing at Nexenta investigates how a new, software driven approach to storing data could end up saving hosting providers a small fortune…

‘The Internet of Things’, or connected devices, is an integral part of many people’s daily lives. From its beginnings in Internet banking and online grocery shopping, the Internet of Things has moved on to driverless cars, learning thermostats and wearable fitness technology – and the future only holds more opportunities. As these advancements in technology continue and become more widely adopted, we will become increasingly reliant on the services they deliver and the data they generate. And the Internet of Things is only one of several ingredients contributing to today’s explosion of data – key trends like mobility, social media and big data also are driving strong demand.

The net effect of these trends and technical advancements is that data is growing at an exponential rate. Analyst firm IDC1 predicts the digital universe will increase to 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020, equating to more than 5,200 gigabytes for every man, woman and child. It also forecasts the digital universe will double every two years from now until 2020. This data growth is not only driven by people, but also by the huge number of devices permanently connected to the Internet, transmitting data 24/7. Important questions arise – where will all this data live? And how will we manage it?

Over the next 5 years, CIOs anticipate up to 44% growth in workloads in the Cloud, versus 8.9% growth for “on-premise” computing workloads 2. While consumer behavior often lags behind that of enterprises, the expectation is that over time greater and greater amounts of data will live in Clouds.   All of this data will put huge pressure on hosting providers to deliver industry-leading data management systems – ones that are simple, flexible, and economically friendly. We see evidence of this not only locally, but also globally.

For example, large, multinational hosting providers like Korean Telecom manage 100+ Petabyte environments that will be multi-Exabyte ones in the not so distant future. With a demanding portfolio of enterprise clients, its critical, to keep performance high, access flexible, and costs down. To do this, hosting providers need high functioning data centers, ones that take advantage of leading edge technologies. To achieve this goal, we need to address each layer of the data center- compute, network and storage – with storage having the most significant budget impact.

To address the storage component, hosting providers should explore the benefits of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) solutions. SDS is already helping 1000+ Nexenta hosting provider customers to keep a competitive edge by delivering high performance environments with the economics required to address demanding trends like ‘The Internet of Things’. True SDS solutions – meaning software defined, not software-based – provide flexible, simple, manageable, enterprise-class, high performance, infrastructure – with no vendor lock in.

SDS technology is deployed on industry standard hardware rather than tied to expensive proprietary models. This freedom of choice gives organizations the flexibility they need to select hardware that matches their requirements, for both new and legacy environments. Combine this with all the expected storage services, plus a price point that is often 50-80% less than proprietary models, and organizations now have the means to handle the data explosion gracefully – and competitively.

And don’t just take our word for it, our customers agree.

“We have spent less than one third of the investment we could have made with one Oracle SAN unit. This cost saving provides us with additional capital, which can be used for other IT resources to ensure we are meeting all our service level agreements.”

“SDS has helped us to provide the highest performance, scalability and flexibility to our growing customer base at a fraction of the cost of legacy vendors. The new solution has met all of our needs, offering enterprise features with the open source background we trust.”

“SDS has resolved all of our storage issues. We are now able to provide our customers with instant access to mission critical data. This has helped us not only to save money and time, but also to remain competitive in an increasingly growing industry.”

To embrace growing trends like ‘The Internet of Things’, hosting providers should recognize that SDS solutions belong on their infrastructure roadmaps. Flexible, manageable, simple and low cost – SDS is the future.


2 Tech Trader Daily

Posted in Corporate, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Virtualization

Independence and Freedom is at the Heart of the Software-Defined Movement

Independence and freedom is at the heart of the software-defined movement in IT today. Whether you are looking for your choice of hypervisors, from ESX to Microsoft to KVM, or building a cloud with OpenStack or CloudStack, to the networking world with the likes of Nicira (VMware NSX), Big Switch and even Cisco, the options seem almost endless. The options available in the Software-Defined Storage world are no less proliferate. Traditional storage has been migrating from the big iron of yesteryear to choices that include all flash arrays, hyper-converged solutions and hybrid arrays, all custom built for the requirements of today’s enterprise.

Nexenta has been at the leading edge of the Software-Defined Storage movement for years, with NexentaStor as one of the first software-only enterprise storage solutions. Over the past year we have continued to innovate, developing a hyper-converged solution around virtual desktops with NexentaConnect. Our software, however, is only part of the overall storage solution. Nexenta has built and continues to grow strategic relationships with some of the largest hardware companies in the IT world. Building upon success with Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Supermicro and others, Nexenta continues to enable our customers with the flexibility of hardware options.

This unique flexibility not only lets the customer separate the data and control plane, but also gives them the reassurance to know that the pieces will work together flawlessly. To further this reassurance and sense of reliability, Nexenta also provides reference architectures with tested and validated solutions for each vendor.

Let’s take our strategic partnership with Dell as an example. This week, CRN pointed out that Dell has built their software-defined vision around Nexenta. As a certified Dell technology partner, Dell and Nexenta continue to develop solutions covering most aspects of your enterprise storage needs, including the only solutions to deliver the lowest cost deployment for non-HA environments with shared pooled desktops and Fibre Channel support. The partnership also means that customers can not only purchase their entire storage solution from Dell with the flexibility of the Nexenta Software-Defined Storage options, but get the Dell global supply chain and world class support structure at the same time.

If you are looking for a next-generation storage solution that is cost effective and can easily scale from the smallest builds up to almost a petabyte in a single array, opt for the Dell PowerEdge storage array servers combined with PowerVault backup powered by NexentaStor software-defined storage. Or, maybe the project you are working on requires you to deploy virtual desktops. Then, opt for a solution based on NexentaConnect with Dell hardware. Validated solutions on Dell VRTX, PowerEdge R620s and R720s give you building blocks to make the transition from proof of concept to production less of a concern and more of the independence that software-defined enterprise storage gives to the IT teams of today and tomorrow.


Michael Letschin
Director of Product Management, Solutions

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Posted in Dell, Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

Software. Defined. Everything. The Next Big Thing.

100% Software. Total Freedom. All Love.

By Tarkan Maner, CEO Nexenta Systems
@tarkanmaner, #nexenta, #OpenSDx

Every day at Nexenta we start the day energized and pumped up because we are part of a true revolution – The Next Big Thing – the Software Defined Everything revolution. It’s going to fundamentally change enterprise computing, as we know it today – and tomorrow.

Our team has been blessed working with some of the most innovative companies in the past 25 years; from E-commerce to E-business, On-Demand computing to Enterprise Infrastructure Management and Thin Computing to Cloud Computing. We have been blessed working with some of the most innovative people around, including leading innovators, entrepreneurs and business and technology leaders with truly innovative ideas. So many ideas and technologies have come to pass but only a few have truly been disruptive: E-commerce, social media, virtualization, and cloud computing to count a few. Having watched and experienced the success and failure of countless companies and technologies, we can say with 100% confidence that the Software Defined Everything trend is real. It’s disruptive. It’s now. It’s changing everything.

Over the past few years I kept hearing about Nexenta. Especially over the past 12 months when our field folks were always talking about Software Defined Storage-driven Infrastructures and Enterprises. We were a bit skeptical at first. We were working with our customers and partners on big data, mobility and virtualization projects, and there was a big buzz around becoming a Software Defined enterprise. We quickly realized that the big inhibitor to all of this innovation was the high cost of information management and storage. It was simply too expensive and customers were locked into rigid and chaotic infrastructure systems, trapped around onerous long-lasting vendor contracts. Customers wanted flexible and open alternatives to the old school hardware vendors, who were holding them hostage by design with proprietary solutions developed with the single-dimensional IT vision of the 90s.

Finally, I met with the Nexenta team and was amazed by their story. The company has passionate customers worldwide across many verticals and engaged partners; from the largest players in the Western world to smallest partners in the developing world, along with unbelievably well-designed IP. We have come to realize that Software Defined Everything is The Next Big Thing and Nexenta has built a solid Global Leadership in Software Defined Storage. I joined the company as the CEO and most importantly as a humble servant for our customers who have been craving this game-changing solution for decades. We have over 5,000 customers, hundreds of partners and almost an Exabyte of storage under management. Nexenta has a start-up soul that comes through in its innovative products – like NexentaEdge for Object Storage Management and Nexenta Fusion, the only true and open single pane of glass Orchestration solution for any storage sub-system, hardware or software; it is your Nexenta Glass to your storage infrastructure.

After being with Nexenta over the past six months and talking with hundreds of customers, partners, investors, analysts and experts, I am more convinced than ever before that Software Defined Everything is the future. Its open and innovative solutions are what’s needed to deal with today’s big trends around social media, mobility, Internet of Things, Big Data, and cloud computing, and bring TCO of computing to the lowest levels we have ever seen. What we have seen has proven that Software Defined Everything is more than a buzz-word. It’s what’s needed to deliver a true Software Defined Storage platform, to build a true Software Defined Data Center, to support delivery of a true Software Defined Infrastructure, and achieve the Software Defined Enterprise end game – through a complete and open Software Defined Everything vision; which we simply call #OpenSDx.

VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and others have successfully liberated “Compute” over the past decade. Virtualizing infrastructures planted the undeniable seed for today’s cloud computing frenzy. That revolution led Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter and many leading public cloud service providers around the world to prove cloud computing cannot be economically viable unless these service providers have completely open and disruptive Software Defined Infrastructures to service their own customers. From their rightful “selfish” innovation to out-innovate each other came more innovation from countless developers and innovators who were finished with the dictatorships of the overall IT industry. Countless open source projects, including OpenStack and CloudStack, opened the way for enterprises to prove that they can Amazon-ize themselves in much more innovative and cost-effective ways. They learned fast that “Goliath” service providers like Amazon also crave long-lasting and onerous contracts – just like the old-school system vendors of the 90s with the similar shackles of punitive and locked-in contracts with little room for innovation and collaboration. And the divine comedy continues. Or does it?

We, the free people of innovation and collaboration, see the Year 2014, the Year of the Horse in Chinese Zodiac, as the “breakthrough” and “improvement” year for The Next Big Thing. Software Defined Everything, especially its critical ingredient of Software Defined Storage, is real. This year, we expect several more Fortune 1000 enterprises to become liberated and Software Defined in some shape or form. This collaborative and open revolution for liberation will result in greater agility, interoperability, faster speed to market, improved risk management, new opportunities for innovation and, most importantly, achieving all of this at TCO levels we have never seen before. So, maybe the divine comedy stops here and turns into divine innovation and collaboration by those who seek true Freedom via The Next Big Thing.

At Nexenta, we move fast. We listen. We rationalize. We deliver with open innovation and collaboration with our customers and partners. We believe we have the best team in the industry. We have the most innovative solutions with tens of patents and awards under our brand – and ALL built on an unashamed Open Source vision. We are committed to bringing Software Defined solutions for the enterprise to our customers and partners. We are now crossing that exciting chasm from a small start up to becoming a fast-growing world-class enterprise company. If the last six months are any indication, the next phase of Nexenta will be simply AMAZING!

Keep your eyes on Nexenta and our open, independent, free and friendly Software Defined Storage vision – it’s the first step towards The Next Big Thing.

Nexenta. 100% Software. Total Freedom. All Love.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Corporate

Nexenta Software-Defined Storage Ranked #1 with Lowest Cost, Highest Performance for Virtualization

Nexenta recently participated in the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Validation Program for Storage Partners white paper, resulting in a series of reports looking individually at how a variety of storage solutions implemented Citrix XenDesktop using the VDI FlexCast approach.

As described in the program overview, Citrix constructed a turnkey “VDI Capacity” test rig in its Santa Clara Solutions Lab. The VDI farm was complete and fully operational with the exception of storage. Citrix storage partners were invited to connect their storage to the VDI farm and participate in a “VDI Capacity” test that simulated “a day in the life” of a 750 user Citrix farm. Upon completion, Nexenta and 11 other storage solutions became “750 User Verified” partners for XenDesktop. To read the full analysis of NexentaStor’s performance and ROI results, download the free white paper “Nexenta Liberates Storage to Deliver a Better ROI.”

What we found most interesting about the report, however, was the economics of storage vendors that was made transparent as part of this process.

We weren’t the only ones to notice. Take a look at this graphic from a recent blog post entitled The real cost of VDI storage by Gartner Research Director Gunnar Berger.

Storage vendors comparison chart

Berger created this comparison chart of the cost of storage per desktop from all twelve vendors that received verification from the program. Nexenta delivers the most cost-efficient storage solution for Citrix XenDesktop users, providing an unprecedented full-featured storage solution for $15 per desktop. This beats the nearest competition with savings of $22 per desktop. The last-place finisher in Citrix’s validation testing was an astounding 36x more expensive than NexentaStor, NetApp was approximately 2.5x more costly than Nexenta and EMC more than 6.5x more expensive.

This validation demonstrates what we’ve known for some time: that the Massively Expensive Storage System (MESS) vendors have been giving storage a bad name and preventing IT departments all over the world from developing a true VDI environment. In the Citrix validation study, Nexenta delivered the best operational performance with the best ROI.

Simply put, Nexenta shattered the competition.

Nexenta is working tirelessly to help customers implement a software-defined approach to data center storage. We’re proud of these results and will continue to innovate in order to help customers unlock the true ROI potential of their move to VDI and a software-defined data center.


Michael Letschin
Director of Product Management, Solutions
Nexenta Systems

Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage

10+ Lessons from my Software-Defined (SDx) Life

After an exciting week in Amsterdam, Paris and London, where we had Nexenta’s quarterly sales meeting, the first of our global OpenSDx Summits, our French launch in Paris, and my first TV interview for Nexenta in London (@cloudchantv) a number of key themes are bubbling up.  Multiple industries, organizations, people and technologies are energized by the promise of Open, SoftwareDefined “everything” – from storage, servers, and networks, to data centers, infrastructure and ultimately enterprises.  Few vendors are delivering on this promise, and few organizations understand that Software Defined Storage (#softwaredefinedstorage) (SDS) is the first critical step on this journey.  Here’s what’s top of mind from a week with the movers, shakers and influencers of OpenSDx:

  1. Hip or Hype? the Future of OpenSDx
  2. Software-Based and Software-Defined are different
  3. “Open” is also for Organizations
  4. CIOs have new imperatives – and new opportunities 
  5. Evolution is the name of the game
  6. Scale changes everything
  7. Agility + Simplicity = Happy
  8. Macroeconomics affect storage economics
  9. CIOs need a better technology cost basis
  10. Think twice about the cost of Cloud
  11. Civil rights mean data rights
  12. UK, France & Spain lead SDS pack

1. Hip or Hype? the Future of OpenSDx

There’s a lot of buzz in the industry right now around Software Defined “everything”– even traditional hardware vendors suddenly have “software-defined”, yet inexplicably hardware-based, solutions.   The resulting market fog means end users can’t get a clear view of OpenSDx.  What to do?  Get the facts straight.  Look to industry leaders like VMware who invite you to master the new reality of the Software Defined Enterprise.  Look to analysts like IDC pointing to the starring role that software increasingly plays in IT infrastructures, and survey data that show over 50% of companies in leading countries considering software defined solutions.  There’s a lot of hype, but at the end of the day, your enterprise will be software defined, and SDS is the first platform on which to achieve competitive advantage.

2. Software-Based and Software-Defined are different

To improve the view of SDx, we need standards and definitions that we can all agree on.  Analysts differentiate between Software Based and Software Defined solutions.  Why shouldn’t you?  If you want to tell the difference, ask, “How many hardware platforms does your Software Defined Solution run on?”  One is not the right answer … Software Based means you should expect hardware dependency, Software Defined means hardware, application, and protocol agnostic, enabling a Software Defined Infrastructure, for your Software Defined Enterprise.

3.  “Open” is also for Organizations

Open Source started a fundamental shift in how people think about technology – collaborative, flexible, cross-functional, team oriented.  OpenSDx is the next generation of Open Source for enterprise technology, be it compute, storage, or networking  –  like Nexenta – 100% Software.  Total Freedom.  All love. :)  Development of such solutions means breaking down barriers to create integration opportunities, increasing communication between both people and technologies.  As the gravitational pull of OpenSDx gets stronger, organizational movements are beginning to reflect this desire for open, collaborative environments, from the creation and empowerment of cross-functional Dev Ops teams, to industry collaborations like the Open Compute framework.

4. CIOs have new imperatives – and new opportunities 

The best CIOs have never been just about technology – they have a holistic view of the business and IT, and now they’ll be rewarded as they use this special insight to qualify OpenSDx solutions and understand where and why it best fits in their organization.  OpenSDx holds incredible power for CIOs – it helps transform them from IT service providers to strategic partners, capable of improving the speed of business and delivering not just technology but innovation.   OpenSDx = Efficiency = Innovation = Competitive Advantage.

5.  Evolution is the name of the game

Revolution is a scary thought for most IT leaders – few organizations want to be on the bleeding edge of technology innovation for their mission critical systems – but rapid, low risk evolution is oh so attractive, especially when your initial steps build a foundation giving a competitive advantage.  Organizations taking steps now to implement Software Defined solutions will find not only near term business benefits, but also longer term competitive ones.  This is why so many analysts and industry leaders are highlighting SDS as one of today’s big trends.  Storage is the bedrock of the data center; if you can evolve this expensive, growing component of your data center, all the change layered on top will be easier.

6.  Scale changes everything

The scale of IT has exponentially increased – environments are built with hundreds and thousands of devices and systems, proof of concepts on 100 units no longer suffices.  The complexity associated with such environments is immense, and resources and knowledge must scale more efficiently.  Architectures, people and processes will all need to evolve, and simple, manageable tools are needed to do so effectively.  At Nexenta, our typical installation used to be on the order of tens of terabytes; now, our largest customer will grow to half an Exabyte in the next eighteen months.  We expect to see more customers and organizations moving that direction.

  7.  Agility + Simplicity = Happy

Much like taking part in a revolution, end users cheer for flexibility and choice – but with boundaries.  While Software Defined (SDx) solutions mean you can make more choices, the potential permutations can be overwhelming – analysis stops, paralysis ensues, innovation stalls.  It’s incumbent upon OpenSDx solution providers to develop simple, manageable solutions, so that agility is delivered with simplicity.  Choice is wonderful, but introduces complexity, and at the end of the day, IT managers need to be sure they can still run their own house. (#agilesimplehappy).  When we engaged customers in release planning for NexentaStor 4, the loudest chants were for simplicity and improved manageability, and delivery of those characteristics is critical to customer satisfaction.

8.  Macroeconomics affect storage economics

According to the IDC surveys shared by Donna Taylor (@Donna_IDC), macroeconomic trends have a trickle down effect on storage buying behaviors.  Storage is the fastest growing, and often largest, line item in an organization’s IT budget.  How do you stave off additional CAPEX and OPEX costs?   Keep your storage longer, keep it off warranty, do more with less.  Customers are also willing to pay a little extra for flexibility and choice, so that longer-term options exist that extend the life of their storage assets.   You can also just buy NexentaConnect to get simple, better performance and density for your VDI environment. (Yes, shameless plug!)

9.  CIOs need a better cost baseline

Organizations have two related problems when trying to address their return on investment.  First, many IT organizations spend over 70% of their budget to keep the lights on – this inhibits innovation, because resources focus on maintenance instead of value add.  Second, most IT organizations lack true IT cost transparency.  Budgets are based on past behaviors and high-level estimates vs. on fact-based usage of IT services.  The highest benefit of the Software Defined Enterprise is that it balances Business and Technology, empowering Technology to deliver, price and project IT services against a business strategy – and make recommendations on the right course of action.  How to solve for these challenges and achieve SDE benefits?  Deliver simple, flexible, manageable solutions that free up time, and enable a better IT operating model with intelligence from cost data.  CIOs looking to improve their infrastructure economics via SDDC / SDI will quickly need to examine their costs.

10.  Think twice about the cost of Cloud

Like the Hotel California, when it comes to your data and the cloud, “you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.”  (#ThomasCornely).  Many organizations choose public cloud services as an easy way to quickly add capacity, or ramp up new products; however cost needs to be examined carefully and holistically.  Remember that you’re not only paying for storage, but also for use and access.  It’s not a one-time cost, but a year over year, growing, expenditure.   Nexenta’s CIO-validated cost analysis, based on list prices, reveals that our solutions are 70% cheaper than legacy system solutions over a 3 year time horizon, and 15% less than cloud providers.  Do you know the true cost of your storage?

And a few bonus items for our friends in Europe!

11.  Civil rights mean data rights

With Edward Snowden on the television screen, frequent discussion of the US Patriot Act and concerns about European data being on American soil, it was clear that data security and privacy are top of mind for our EMEA friends.  European organizations must enable end user preferences on how their is data used, understand what constitutes consent, how long it lasts, and also permit the “right to be forgotten”.  While data security itself is generally handled in the application layer, storage solutions like Nexenta’s with self-healing properties like those of ZFS help reduce data corruption and ensure data integrity, thus making sure the right data is available to the right people at the right time.

12.  UK, France & Spain lead SDS pack

The localization of SDS solution adoption is evident in Europe not only by industry but also by geography; as I am finding, it’s incredibly important to understand not only the culture and expectations of the countries where we work, but also where they are in their SDS journey, and what’s needed to help them take the next step.  According to survey data presented by Donna Taylor, IDC’s EMEA storage analyst, there is a continuum of adoption in Europe, with the UK, France and Spain leading the pack in terms of interest and adoption around SDS solutions, and the Nordics at the other end, exhibiting some interest.

So, what’s the upshot?  OpenSDx is real.  It’s here.  Everyone’s talking about it.  In my interview with CloudTV (@CloudTV), I was asked what makes me passionate about Nexenta and Software Defined Storage.  My answer?  We are at the forefront of a fundamental shift in how business and technology operate today – one that’s going to make all industries more efficient, more innovative, more competitive, and better.  What better place to be than leading that revolution?

Join the conversation. Let us know what you think via @Nexenta and stay tuned for videos of Nexenta’s OpenSDx Summit EMEA sessions on our YouTube channel.


Jill Orhun
Marketing & Chief of Staff
Nexenta Systems

Posted in Software-defined data center, Software-defined storage, Uncategorized

A Bridge Over Troubled (v)Storage

Every great technology shift requires the means to move from the old way of doing things to a new and vastly improved approach. A bridge, if you will.

We found that analogy very fitting while reading some interesting and thought-provoking articles on the storage industry. These are A Major Shift in the Data Storage Market is on the Horizon by Kalen Kimm of TweakTown, and Understanding Storage Architectures by Chad Sakac at VirtualGeek.

Both articles are ambitious (nearly 6,000 words combined!). Of the many observations, however, these lines from Kalen Kimm led us to comment:

“The shared visibility between compute, application, and storage is a large step forward to a true software-defined data center. Instead of having to pre-configure LUNs and then presenting them to applications to be consumed, applications will be able to consume storage on an as-needed basis.”

At Nexenta, we are obviously big believers in the software defined data center (SDDC), and the importance of software defined storage (SDS). The SDDC makes too much sense not to take hold; the only variables are around timing and adoption speed. We see VMware’s release of their Virtual SAN SDS solution as an important catalyst to address these variables. A larger player such as VMware can have significant impact on the way that enterprises run their datacenter.

A clear example of the impact is with networking. When VMware first released the hypervisor, all network switching was contained within the host and you were wholly dependent upon the physical switching layer from traditional companies, then the distributed virtual switch (DVS) was released. This allowed network segments to traverse hosts and spread throughout the virtualization cluster. This took switching to a software layer but then they added the Cisco 1000v as an option. The 1000v allowed management to be consistent throughout the data center, physical or virtual but still software based.

In our opinion, VSAN is the necessary bridge between legacy storage and a fully efficient SDS model. VSAN allows customers to utilize their existing internal storage and spread across hosts, similar to the DVS. What is missing is the next layer that allows software defined storage to traverse the entire data center. This is where VSAN bridges internal storage, then Nexenta extends the bridge across the data center. The ability to not only utilize the internal storage but also third party arrays and commodity hardware all presented to both physical and virtual machines.

Nexenta takes this one step further with NexentaConnect, our solution that simplifies the process of deploying a VDI solution. It is a combined all-in-one VDI automation, storage auto-deployment and storage acceleration solution. NexentaConnect can either be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to VSAN. Think of NexentaConnect this way, if you have VSAN in place then deploying your virtual desktops using local storage is a process of creating the VSAN, then using it much like any other traditional storage array. Using NexentaConnect, you deploy the storage only after looking at the desktop needs. This gives you end to end SDS.

The technology industry is famous for forcing customers into either/or decisions. But while vendors want customers to choose one product over another, customers very often need and want both. VSAN strikes us as a great example of a savvy vendor realizing that customers want both the comfort of their existing legacy storage system, and the gateway to SDS. The combination of VSAN and NexentaStor gives the combination that users are looking for.

Posted in Software-defined storage, Virtualization

CCOW-Negotiating Rendezvous Groups

CCOWTM Replicast is a storage protocol that uses multicast communications to determine which storage servers will store content and then retrieve it for a consumer. It also allows content to be accepted/delivered/replicated using multicast communications. Content can be placed once and received concurrently on multiple storage servers. Replicast can also scale to very large clusters and can support multiple sites, and each site can be as large as the networking elements will allow.

In order to understand how Replicast works, you must first understand how it uses Multicast addressing. Specifically, how the role of the Negotiating Group and Rendezvous Group differs from Consistent Hashing algorithms which are the normal solution for distributed storage systems.

How Conventional Object Storage Systems use Consistent Hashing

The Object name, sometimes referred to as the payload of a chunk, is used to calculate a Hash ID. This ID is then mapped to an aggregate container for multiple objects/chunks (for OpenStack Swift these are called “Swift Partitions” and for CEPH they are called “Placement Groups”). Although the quality of the hashing algorithm can vary, the content of a chunk has to map to a set of storage servers that is based on an Object Name in order to achieve a consistent hash algorithm. If you start with the same set of storage servers, the same content will always map to the same storage servers.

Promoters of Consistent Hashing make the point that Consistent Hashing limits the amount of content that must be moved when a set of storage servers change. If there is a 1% change in the cluster membership then 1% of the content must be relocated. In the long run, you actually want 1% of the content to move to the new servers. Should 1% of the content be lost, you will want to create new replicas of the lost 1% on other servers anyway.

Where CCOW Replicast differs is that it can be far more flexible about when that replication occurs and more selective as to which data is replicated. Replicast has a different method of assigning locations. These more efficiently deal with evolving cluster membership to achieve far higher utilization of cluster resources when the membership isn’t changing.

Negotiating Group

CCOW Replicast uses a “Negotiating Group” to effectively support the chunks “location”. An object name still yields a Name Hash ID (using the Name of the Named Manifest) but that Hash ID maps to a Negotiating Group. When a Manifest references a Chunk, it is found by mapping its Chunk ID (which is the Content Hash ID of the Chunk) to a Negotiating Group.

The Negotiating Group will be larger than the set of servers that would have been assigned by Consistent Hashing. Typically ten to twenty members of the Negotiating Group is preferred. The key is that the client, or more typically the Putget Broker on the client’s behalf, uses multicast messaging to communicate with the entire Negotiating Group at the same time. Effectively the Putget Broker asks “Hey you guys in Group X, I need three of you to store this Chunk”. A Negotiation then occurs amongst the members of the Negotiating Group to determine which three (or more) of members will accept the Chunk, when and at what bandwidth.

“Negotiating” sounds complex but the required number of message exchanges is actually the same as any TCP/IP connection setup. So the Negotiating Group can determine where the Chunk will be stored and with the same number of network interactions as Swift requires for the first TCP/IP connection. For the default replication count of three, Swift requires three connections to be setup.

More importantly, a consistent hashing algorithm (such as Swift uses) will always pick the same storage servers. This is independent of the workload of these servers. Many consider this as the price of eliminating the need for a central metadata server.

With Consistent Hashing, the 3 servers with the lightest workload are selected out of 3 storage servers (assuming the replication count is 3). Of course that also means you are also selecting the 3 busiest servers. With CCOW Replicast you select the 3 servers with the least workload from all the available servers.

Implications of Dynamically Selection

With dynamic load-sensitive selection, CCOW Replicast enables you to a) run your cluster at higher performance levels than Consistent Hashing would allow, and b) still have lower latency.

A well balanced storage cluster will at peak usage want individual storage servers to be loaded only 50% of the time. If they are heavily loaded less than 50%  of the time then the cluster could accommodate heavier peak traffic and you have overspent on your cluster. If they are loaded more than 50% of the time then some requests will be much delayed and your users could start complaining. Should the chance of a randomly selected storage server being busy is 50%, what are the chances that all 3 randomly selected storage servers will not already be working on at least one request.

When it is time to retrieve a Chunk, the client/putget broker does not need to know what servers were selected. It merely sends a request to the Negotiating Group. The negotiating group picks one of its members with the desired chunk and the rendezvous is scheduled to transfer the data.

Rendezvous Group

While the Negotiating Group plans a transfer, it is executed by the Rendezvous Group. The Rendezvous Group implements Replicast’s most obvious feature: Send Once, Receive Many times. Transfers sent via the Rendezvous Group are efficient not only because they only need to be sent once, but also because all Rendezvous Transfers are using reserved bandwidth which they can start at full speed. There is no need for a TCP/IP ramp up.

An important aspect of Rendezvous Groups is that they are easily understood and verified with a known relationship to the membership in the Negotiating Group:

  • Put transactions – every member of a Rendezvous Group is a member of the Negotiating Group with a planned Rendezvous Transfer or a slave-drive under active control of a member
  • Get transactions – the principle member of the Rendezvous Group is the client or Putget Broker that initiated the get transaction. Additional storage servers could have also been part of a put transaction. These additional targets are piggy-backing creation of extra replicas on the delivery that the client required anyway.
Posted in Uncategorized

Cheers – It’s been a blast! – From Evan Powell

After six years I’m leaving Nexenta.

I could not be prouder of what we’ve built at Nexenta.  We took an idea that at the time was radical – let’s bring openness right to the foundation of IT, to the storage itself.  And we pulled it off.

Along the way I learned a lot including:

  • Team, team, team – the best team beats the brilliant individual every time
  • ZFS is great – and not perfect; thank you Sun for ZFS and Solaris (now Illumos).  It says a lot about the requirements of storage that even Solaris, arguably the 2nd most deployed OS for mission critical enterprise environments was not fully mature for storage. We’ve added a lot of fixes to Illumos over the last few years.
  • And much more that I’ll just call “experience.” Much of what you learn when you start and build companies ends up sounding like common sense; for example, what kind of executive is right for what stage of a company or how do you make money on open source?

So, what am I up to now?  A few answers:

  • Continuing to spend time as an EIR with xSeed.  Over the last several months I’ve beenblessed to meet many start-ups while an EIR at xSeed.  xSeed is an unusual seed fund.  They are deep in enterprise and have arguably the best ties of any early stage enterprise focused fund into Stanford and Berkeley.  They are old school in that they are definitely NOT spray and pray (which can be a great strategy actually).  Instead, they seek to go deep and to understand a domain and to find within that domain the very best entrepreneurs; they then surround that entrepreneur with coaches and advisors and much more than just capital.  In addition to meeting many companies I’ve been privy to many mind expanding discussions at xSeed about companies, and domains – about everything from the chess of strategy to the tough soft stuff of finding, retaining and sometimes transforming teams.  So I’ll be spending a bit more time with my colleagues at xSeed.
  • Finally, the rumors are true – I’m helping found another company.  We are in stealth mode.  I can tell you it is NOT in storage (although storage infects everything in IT).  And that it IS still very much on the side of openness and open source.  As you might imagine, I did a huge amount of diligence and founder dating before deciding to bet the next X years of my life on the opportunity.  So it is out of the frying pan and into the fire for me.

Here’s what I’d like you to do:

  • Stay in touch.  Maybe I’m getting to be sentimental in my middle age, but the people I’ve met as Nexenta has grown up are truly extraordinary.  You know who you are. You are the early channel partners who never shied away from offering “constructive feedback.”  You complain too much, but I love you.  And likewise you are the team members that parked your personal lives for weeks, months and years at a time as we fought the good fight.  Despite many missteps and the joy of starting a company during the worst financial collapse since the 1930s, you stayed true to a vision of more open storage and of what we now call software defined storage.  And maybe most importantly – you are the thousands of customers that bet your company’s data on Nexenta and sometimes bet your jobs and careers as well.  Follow me and, yes, complain to me at @epowell101.
  • Insist on excellence.  Like many entrepreneurs I think I start companies because half assed solutions to important problems make me sick (plus I probably have a complicated relationship with authority).  At a fundamental level – at the level of a life’s mission – I am dedicated to finding waste and calcification and cracking through it somehow.  How many of the world’s problems would be less serious if we all talked less and fixed stuff more?
  • Insist on openness and transparency.   Go open, it is the future, and it will make your company a smarter, more competitive business; don’t cop out and defer the decision onto the next guy in your job.  Eventually people will be fired for buying vendor X’s product; don’t be the last buyer to abandon ship when a legacy vendor goes aground.  Also, please be open within your organization as well.  Collectively we are all smarter than any one of us; by remaining open, we’ll get better technology, better team work, and happier lives.

I guess I did get sentimental.

Thanks for tolerating that sentimentality and for reading this blog and thanks everybody for helping a crazy vision come true.  Stay tuned here or via @epowell101 on twitter.

-Evan Powell

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Corporate, Software-defined storage

How Does Software Defined Data Storage Equate to Savings?

Ask any CIO what their greatest concern is, and they’ll invariably come up with some variation of concern over the budget. It’s a Catch-22 for many businesses when it comes to technology: There is always a faster, more reliable option, but it always comes at a cost. So how did the big guys get to the top? How have they learned to strike a balance between cost and effectiveness without compromising either entirely? When it comes to data, more and more have chosen to look at software defined data centers. Here’s why:

There’s no question that data is growing exponentially as we frequently use technology for every aspect of our lives – from shopping and paying bills to reconnecting with friends on social media. All of these things produce data – a lot of data in fact. Studies have estimated that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. All of this data needs to be stored, and it can be quite costly. Some organizations are spending as must as 40% of their IT budget on storage solutions.

Therefore, government agencies, credit card companies, health care facilities, social media sites, retailors and many other entities are constantly looking for ways to store this data efficiently and affordably. Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) address all of these concerns and more because they take the virtues of virtualization and apply them to data storage.  In fact, our customers have reported that they have saved as much as 75% in storage costs.

Here are just a few of the ways businesses can save using software defined data storage:

Scalability: Did you know that 90% of the data out there has been created in the last two years? Just think about what this could mean in terms of data storage ten years from now. As data grows, more and more hardware must be purchased to keep up with demand. Software defined data storage solutions are more easily scalable, with greater savings.

Operational Cost Savings: We talked about scalability, but what about the problems that traditional storage methods present in regard to operational costs? Energy costs to cool the storage system, labor costs to monitor and troubleshoot the system, and maintenance costs are just some things that are negated through a software defined storage system.

Open Source Opportunities: Hardware storage systems are closed systems. You are bound by specific vendors, which could limit your flexibility and opportunities to adapt when needed. Because software defined data storage solutions are often open-source, you can take advantage of the latest technologies and adapt your storage solution for the lowest cost.

For more information about the benefits of software defined data storage solutions, contact us today.

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VMware View Acceleration on Display

As VMworld Europe 2013 approaches, Nexenta continues to drive home the advancements in application-centric storage with Nexenta VSA for VMware Horizon View.  As the demo for the show is completed and desktop pools are created and tested, it is always exciting to see some independent test done and presented.  Just ahead of VMworld, VMware’s EUC team posted a blog detailing the results of their testing of Nexenta’s VSA for VMware Horizon View .  With a 72% increase in desktop density and a 38X reduction in physical SAN traffic, VMware found VSA for VMware Horizon View to be key to a successful VDI rollout.  These performance statistics are not just for show.  The reduction in traffic and increased density does not just help the balance sheet, but it can help stalled deployments move forward.

“With VSA for Horizon View, Nexenta has introduced an amazing product that unlocks outstanding user experience at a low TCO and makes it possible to recover stalled deployments without requiring a disruptive and painful rip and replace scenario.”  -John Dodge, VMware

If you would like to see this technology in action for deployments, or performance metrics, or the acceleration it provides, make sure to come by the Nexenta booth (Hall 8, S-300) at VMworld Europe.

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Nexenta Systems-Powered Storage Solution Achieves 1.6 Million IOPS

Nexenta has achieved 1.6 million IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) and high-availability with no single point of failure. Comparable solutions from proprietary vendors cost significantly more than the Nexenta and Area Data Systems solution and cannot guarantee high-availability. With the combination of Nexenta’s Software-defined Storage, NexentaStor™, and high-performance, all-flash hardware, there is now a clear enterprise-class alternative to meet the scalability demands of big data.

“Our customers can now reach well over one million IOPS and capitalize on big data opportunities without breaking the bank on proprietary storage technologies that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Bridget Warwick, Chief Marketing Officer, Nexenta Systems. “This is further proof that Nexenta’s Software-defined Storage is changing the economics of the enterprise storage market.”

Nexenta is demonstrating the 1.6 million IOPS storage configuration at Intel® Solutions Summit 2013 from March 19-21, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. Nexenta is a Silver Sponsor and will be at its booth in the storage zone to discuss the enormous opportunity for Intel channel partners to drive ideal storage solutions, powered by Nexenta, to their customers.Architecture recipes using Nexenta and Intel products are listed on Intel’s website at:

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A Few Impressions from Dell’s Banking Day in NYC

Three Somewhat Surprising Trends

Contributed by Evan Powell, Chief Strategy Officer, Nexenta Systems

Back in May,  I was thrilled to discuss Software Defined Storage at Dell’s banking day in their offices in One Penn in NYC. I was one of two guest speakers, the other was Gartner’s Joe Unsworth who did a great job outlining the transition to flash-based storage. After our fairly brief presentations and some Q&A there was an open round table discussion. The attendees were a who’s who of global financial IT leaders including CIOs and VPs of technology and storage of most “too big to fail” banks; we had a couple of already highly referencable customers in the audience as well which was great. A friend at Dell estimated that the collective IT capital purchases of the attendees were approximately $20-$30bn per year. I cannot thank Dell enough for the opportunity and for the partnership.

As an aside – I think all of us in IT owe Dell a debt for their willingness to shift towards enterprise and towards a vision of enterprise IT that, for me, is more compelling, more open, and much more dynamic than many legacy system vendors from which Dell is rapidly taking market share. Maybe I should blog sometime soon about why we are Dell fans – I’d welcome the input of folks that read this blog. For now, suffice it to say that I think Dell is doing a good job leveraging their strengths including supply chain management and global support to both enable and benefit from the ongoing re-platforming of IT. Yes – I am biased since Dell recently started paying their sales teams on NexentaStor – so take those comments with a grain of salt. On the other hand – we targeted Dell as a preferred tier one vendor because they are so well positioned so our money and focus is where our mouth is.

The nature of the Banking Day conversations is that they are closed door and vendor neutral. I did not try to sell Nexenta’s products or even the Dell hardware and services we leverage to deliver software defined storage. Instead I tried to kick off a real conversation.

Here are a few observations. First – some comments and themes I expected and then 2-3 really surprising comments.

As expected, these buyers are more interested in agility than they are in cost savings. And, with one or two exceptions, they assented freely to the notion that legacy storage is done, finished, a thing of the past; it feels like the transition to a software defined data center is just the straw breaking the legacy camel’s back.

Perhaps most surprising to me were a few items:

  1. Increased recognition of the inevitability of cloud-based approaches. I’ll call this acquiescence #1. Many financials have been fighting the easy on-ramp of AWS for years as they struggled to get their thousands of developers to keep their IP on premise and protected. There seems to be a sense that only by building a better, safer, more performant and massively easier to deploy and manage IT platform could they attract developers to stay within the enterprise. I sensed a lot less willingness to fight their own users than in the past and much more confidence in their ability to deliver a better solution that will retain users.
  2. Acquiescence #2 – BYOD is here to stay. Again, maybe I’m just out of touch however RIM and blackberry rose to prominence in part because of the mandates of buyers (and their colleagues in the government). And now the iPad and Android devices and similar are a fact of life that Software Defined Storage and the rest of the IT has got to accommodate.
  3. Nobody believes today’s all flash landscape will be with us in 18 months. Here I may be stealing Joe and Gartner’s thunder slightly. Suffice it to say that he presented a fairly provocative view of likely changes and everyone agreed that today’s apparent leaders are unlikely to win longer term. Hybrid players like Nexenta-based solutions and Nimble did receive more support.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out one final acquiescence which may be why the event was so well attended – I think there is more uncertainty over the fundamental structure of IT than I’ve seen since I first startedpartnering with and selling to these buyers 10-15 years ago. The storage teams feel like they are under threat – and they are. In a way it is similar to what I experienced when building Clarus Systems (now Riverbed) and the voice teams were realizing that voice and video convergence with the IP networks could mean “career convergence” as well. As the software defined data center progresses, you’ll see much more need for a true DevOps mindset and skill set. Service engineering is now the hot commodity and folks that know a particular silo really well are increasingly being flanked by those that build IT platforms that deliver on the agility promised by software defined data centers.

Hopefully these few nuggets are of interest. All in all, it is tremendously exciting to see some of the most credible and financially powerful IT buyers and partners (again – thank you Dell!) assent to the notion that software defined storage has got to happen for IT to remain relevant and to deliver on the promise of a more agile platform. I learned a lot from the conversations.

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Congratulations to EMC!

Congratulations to EMC and their software teams for announcing ViPR. Since we have been selling software defined storage for a number of years – and now have many more times customers than Vmware did when EMC bought them (and more than 10x than 3PAR when they went public for example) – I take exception to the lead in the press release proclaiming ViPR as “the world’s first Software Defined Storage platform…”

Nonetheless, ViPR appears to be a real step forward towards software defined storage. And EMC deserves a lot of credit for again showing a willingness to risk aspects of their core business in order to keep up with customer requirements.

If you are one of the folks to read this blog regularly, you know we have shared a simple definition of SDS. You can read more about it here. Our definition is based on countless discussions with our cloud and enterprise customers who have shared with us why they started down the journey to software defined storage in the first place.

Basically it is 1) Abstract away the underlying hardware. 2) Achieve flexibility through the ability to handle multiple data access methods and data types. 3) Be truly software defined – through an architecture and set of APIs that allows, for example, orchestration software to manage the storage and to determine to what extent it is meeting application requirements.

If you look at what we know about ViPR – I think it is software that is policy driven that delivers object storage and that also manages and possibly virtualizes block and file storage. I gathered this especially from the more detailed write up over onEFYTimes.

It’s difficult to glean much from a press storm and I know that things will be much clearer once we see more detail from EMC and customers but let’s look at early indications of how ViPR might shape up based on those criteria.

  1. Abstraction
      • ViPR: ViPR does not, it appears, add a consistent set of storage management capabilities over any hardware – it exposes and manages those that are already available on the hardware. If you are on an array with snapshots – congratulations, you’ve got (some sort of) snap shots. On the other hand if you are on a JBOD, no luck. Additionally, of course, ViPR does not open up the on disk format as it is generally not in the data path. This means vendor lock–in remains and arguably increases as ViPR hooks into your Vmware environment.
      • NexentaStor: Conversely NexentaStor runs on any hardware, including high performance SSDs to deliver caching, and of course JBODs and does deliver that consistent set of capabilities irrespective of the underlying hardware. But – NexentaStor really prefers JBODs to legacy storage arrays and it is extremely likely that ViPR will be better able to manage heterogenous storage arrays, especially those from EMC, than NexentaStor does; NexentaStor can virtualize them but is not aware of their underlying capabilities in a way that ViPR will be.
  2. Achieve flexibility. The basic difference is that NexentaStor is broader and more flexible that we think ViPR will be when it ships thanks, again, to controlling everything from the on disk format to the access methods. On the other hand, while Nexenta has sponsored open source object approaches we are not shipping today a object storage solution whereas ViPR will include object. Whether we will ship object by the time ViPR ships is yet to be seen.
      • A lot depends on to what extent ViPR can actually virtualize the underlying resources by combining them into pools that include SSDs; NexentaStor has this ability today which is why we have partners shipping JBODs with cache achieving 1 million IOPS and more. On the other hand, the promised capability of ViPR to turn object into file and vise–versa could be important.
      • I am hopeful that in this area ViPR will be a massive step forward vs. legacy arrays which are essentially black-holes for your data, each requiring a different set of expertise to manage and built to address a different silo of data.
      • What needs to be seen is how ViPR will handle putting the right data on the right underlying array. Whereas with NexentaStor the configurations themselves, such as the block sizes used to write the data disk, are themselves variable in the case of ViPR the software has make sure that, for example, video files needed for streaming are stored on underlying Isilon arrays whereas structured data like Oracle remains on VNX and presumably high random I/O workloads from larger cloud and Vmware deployments are served from XtremeIO.
  3. Being software defined this is arguably the most vague section of our fairly vague definition of software defined storage.Today, however, IF ViPR is routing data sets based on application requirements to the right underlying array – per the point above – than it may well have the architecture necessary to close the application management loop. By comparison, NexentaStor can absolutely eliminate the need for deep storage engineering with solutions like VSA for VDI. In this solution the customer must simply enter the number and type of desktops and NexentaStor – with integration code for VDI – does the rest AND, crucially, tests and manages the system to insure that the requirements are being met.
      • Nexenta, however, built the VSA for VDI business logic in part in hopes of seeing others in the industry run with the task. Arguably orchestration solutions like aspects of OpenStack and CloudStack and even VMTurbo should pick up the baton if they are truly going to be the brain inside the software defined data center. It may be that EMC with ViPR and of course Vmware will lead the industry in creating an open approach to characterizing application requirements and using them to simplify management.
      • Please note – plaintive request – what the storage layer really needs is something like the recently announced Project Daylight from IBM, Cisco, Juniper and of course the Linux Foundation. I think even Nicra / Vmware / EMC is joining that effort to open up the control layer. Read more about Project Daylight here
      • In the meantime, Nexenta’s upcoming Metis utility – which ties application logic to details like pool configurations – is growing in value and importance with integration into our and our partner’s Salesforce for example and ServiceNow and other management solutions in the future. However, again, Nexenta cannot be the business logic of a software defined data center on our own. The industry needs to come together here and maybe ViPR will be a catalyst to make that happen.
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A Few Observations From OpenStorage Summit About SDS

OSS EMEA 2013 was one of the more inspiring few days I’ve experienced recently at Nexenta.  It was not a marketing event.  It was war stories about the shift to OpenStorage and Software Defined Storage shared in sessions, over demos, and, yes, over beers.

A few things I learned included:

  • SDS is already real and leverages commodity hardware.  I had the opportunity to facilitate a cloud panel where I learned that the top hosting and cloud companies in Northern Europe are using NexentaStor as software defined storage – right now.  SDS is not done – we are furiously adding capabilities as is the broader community.  More below on that subject.  But – Schuberg Phils presented on how they manage NexentaStor via Chef and use it as the basis of their cloud infrastructure TODAY.  And how the use of commodity hardware means cost savings now and in the future and also – greater flexibility and supportability.  Schuberg Phils is rapidly moving towards an infrastructure comprised almost entirely of commodity hardware and software, including their use of CloudStack, KVM, Arista, Nicira, and open approaches to security and load balancing as well.
  • SDS is about to take the next step.  While approximately 190 customers and partners attended OSS and discussed in part their usage of NexentaStor as a version of software defined storage – the booths attracting the most attention were those showing forthcoming Nexenta capabilities that add infinite scalability of the management framework through further separating the control and the management frameworks as well as those that map application requirements to storage software and hardware configurations.
  • SDS isn’t just about deep and cheap.  While many larger enterprises use NexentaStor initially as second and third tier storage to save money – over time customers often use NexentaStor for the flexibility of the solution and for the ability of NexentaStor to perform when used as hybrid flash or or all flash storage.  Marik Lubinski, LeaseWeb’s Virtualization and Storage Engineer, reported that as one of the largest hosting companies in Europe, with operations extending to the United States, they have used just about every legacy storage solution available on the market today.  And he reported that, by far, NexentaStor is “the fastest storage by far, of any storage we run.”

SDS and its foundation, OpenStorage, are not just about marketing.  Despite many blogs and statements from legacy vendors arguing either that they already have SDS or that they soon will have SDS, the simple fact is that they have neither the open approach and software only business model needed OR – as last week reminded me – the people, the community and the sheer number of progressive users that OpenStorage based SDS has accumulated.  Together we are making a reality a fundamentally better approach to enterprise class storage.

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