EMCworld 2013 day 1

Lines for coffee at the Cafe were pretty long this morning and I missed my opportunity to have breakfast to do some work. But eventually made my way to the press room and got some food and coffee.

Spent the morning in Analyst sessions mostly under NDA but it seems safe to say that EMC sees plenty of opportunity ahead.

The first session Q&A with BRS executives and customers was enlightening but the main message from the customers was that data protection is hard, legacy systems often can’t adjust quick enough and sometimes a completely new architecture is warranted. The executives were upbeat about current BRS business and where they were headed in the future.

20130506-142735.jpgRest of the morning was with Jeremy Burton EVP Product, Operations and Marketing and John Roese, the new SVP and CTO of EMC (6 months on the job). Jeremy talked about an IDC insight that there’s a new world emerging so-called 3rd platform applications based on mobile and consumer grade technology  with literally billions of users, millions of apps built on mobile-cloud-bigdata-social infrastructure which complements the 2nd platform built on lan/wan, client server frameworks.

For an example of this environment Jeremy mentioned that AT&T provisions 12PB of storage a month.

What’s needed for this new platform is a new type of storage built for the 3rd platform but taking advantage of current enterprise storage characteristics.  This is ViPR (more on that later)

John comes by way of Huawei, Nortel and myriad others and offers a broad insight to the way forward for EMC. It looks like a bright future ahead if they can do half of what John has outlined.

John talked about the intersections between the carrier market (or services), enterprise IT and consumer market.  There is convergence between these regions and at each of these intersections new technology is going to answer many of the problems which exist. For instance in the carrier space:

  • The amount of information they gather is frightening they know everything about you. Pivotal will be the key here because its good at 1) ability to correlate information across different information sources. Most carriers have a whole bunch of disparate information stores; and 2) It’s not just focused on Big Data as a non-realtime problem but also provides realtime analytics as well.
  • Capital costs are going down but $/bits are going way down.  VMware & Software defined data center is the right way to drive down costs.  Today servers are ~50% virtualized but networking is not virtualized at all.
  • Customers are dissatisfied with service providers (carriers).  Again Pivotal is key here. One carrier customer was focused on customer churn and tried to figure out how to minimize this. They used  Gemfire’ high speed infrastructure that could watchc all transactions on cell tower infrastructure pick out dropped calls, send it to Greenplum and correlate this with the customer attributes (good or bad), and within 100msec supply an interaction with the customer in to apologize and offer some services to make it better.
  • Internet is the new wild west –use at your own risk,  spoofing websites, respond to email could be anyone, chaos to security. RSA can become the trusted internet provider by looking at the internet holistically, combining information from many customers, aggregating and sharing these interactions to deterimine the trust of every transaction. Trust is becoming a new big data problem.
  • Hybrid and public cloud is their biggest opportunity but they don’t know how to attack it. VMware and SDDC will evolve to provide orchestrated movement from private to public and closed to open.

The thinking seems pretty straightforward given what they are trying to accomplish and the framework he applied to EMC’s strategy going forward made a lot of sense.

20130506-172955.jpgBrian Gallagher did a keynote on enterprise storage new functions and features which covered VMAX, VPLEX, RecoverPoint, and XtremIO/SF/SW. Mentioned RecoverPoint virtual appliance and sort of a statement of direction on being able to move application functionality directly on VMAX. He kind of demoed this with VPLEX running on VMAX.

He also talked about FAST speed of reaction versus the competition, mentioned that FAST provides information about the storage tiering to up to 4 different VMAX arrays. Showed a comparison of VMAX 10K against another prime competitor that looked downright embarrassing.  And talked about VMAX cloud edition.

20130506-173022.jpgAfter that 1 on 1 meetings all under strict NDA. But then the big Keynote with Jeremy again and David Goulden President and COO on ViPR. They have implemented software defined storage (SDS).  Last week I did a post on SDS trying to layout some of the problems and promises of SDS (please see The promise of SDS post).

But what I missed was the data path transformation that ViPR can do to provide object and HDFS access to traditional and commodity storage systems.  ViPR starts out primarily in the control layer providing automated provisioning, self management, across heterogeneous storage pools. With ViPR one can define virtual storage arrays and then configure virtual storage pools across those arrays regardless of the physical infrastructure underneath them.

More on ViPR in a separate post but suffice it to say EMC has been working on this for awhile now. But how it’s positioned with VPLEX and the other storage virtualization capabilities in VMAX and other products is another matter. But it seems they are carving out a space for ViPR between and above the current storage solutions.

End of day one is in the Expo and then cocktail parties… stay tuned for day 2.

 

VMware disaster recovery

Thunderstorms over Alexandria, VA by mehul.antani (cc) (from Flickr)
Thunderstorms over Alexandria, VA by mehul.antani (cc) (from Flickr)

I did an article awhile ago for TechTarget on Virtual (machine) Disaster Recovery and discussed what was then the latest version of VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) v1.0 and some of it’s capabilities.

Well its been a couple of years since that came out and I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss some updates to that product and other facilities that bear on virtual machine disaster recovery of today.

SRM to the rescue

Recall that VMware’s SRM is essentially a run book automation tool for system failover.  Using SRM, an administrator defines the physical and logical mapping between a primary site configuration of (protected site in SRM parlance) virtual machines, networking, and data stores and a secondary site (recovery site to SRM) configuration.

Once this mapping is complete, the administrator then creates recovery scripts (recovery plans to SRM) which take the recovery site in a step-by-step fashion from an “inactive” to an “active” state.  With the recovery scripts in hand, data replication can then be activated and monitoring (using storage replication adaptors, SRAs to SRM) can begin.  Once all that was ready and operating, SRM can provide one button failover to the recovery site.

SRM v4.1 supports the following:

  • NFS data stores can now be protected as well as iSCSI and FC LUN data stores.  Recall that a VMFS  (essentially a virtual machine device or drive letter) or a VM data store can be hosted on LUNs or as NFS files.  NFS data stores have recently become more popular with the proliferation of virtual machines under vSphere 4.1.
  • Raw device mode (RDM) LUNs can now be protected. Recall that RDM is another way to access devices directly for performance sensitive VMs eliminating the need to use a data store and  hyper-visor IO overhead.
  • Shared recovery sites are now supported. As such, one recovery site can now support multiple protected sites.  In this way a single secondary site can support failover from multiple primary sites.
  • Role based access security is now supported for recovery scripts and other SRM administration activities. In this way fine grained security roles can be defined that allow protection over unauthorized use of SRM capabilities.
  • Recovery site alerting is now supported. SRM now fully monitors recovery site activity and can report on and alert operations staff when problems occur which may impact failover to the recovery site.
  • SRM test and actual failover can now be initiated and monitored directly from vCenter serve. This provides the vCenter administrator significant control over SRM activities.
  • SRM automated testing can now use storage snapshots.  One advantage of SRM is the ability to automate DR testing which can be done onsite using local equipment. Snapshots eliminates the need for storage replication in local DR tests.

There were many other minor enhancements to SRM since v1.0 but these seem the major ones to me.

The only things lacking seem to be some form of automated failback and three way failover.  I’ll talk about 3-way failover later.

But without automated failback, the site administrator must reconfigure the two sites and reverse the designation of protected and recovery sites, re-mirror the data in the opposite direction and recreate recovery scripts to automate bringing the primary site back up.

However, failback is likely not to be as time sensitive as failover and could very well be a scheduled activity, taking place over a much longer time period. This can, of course all be handled automatically by SRM or be done in a more manual fashion.

Other DR capabilities

At last year’s EMCWorld VPLEX was announced which provided for a federation of data centers or as I called it at the time Data-at-a-Distance (DaaD).  DaaD together with VMware’s Vmotion could provide a level of  disaster avoidance (see my post on VPLEX surfaces at EMCWorld) previously unattainable.

No doubt cluster services from Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS), Symantec Veritas Cluster Services (VCS)  and others have also been updated.  In some (mainframe) cluster services, N-way or cascaded failover is starting to be supported.  For example, a 3 way DR scenario has a primary site synchronously replicated to a secondary site which is asynchronously replicated to a third site.  If the region where the primary and secondary site is impacted by a disaster, the tertiary site can be brought online. Such capabilities are not yet available for virtual machine DR but it’s only a matter of time.

—–

Disaster recovery technologies are not standing still and VMware SRM is no exception. I am sure a couple of years from now SRM will be even more capable and other storage vendors will provide DaaD capabilities to rival VPLEX.   What the cluster services folks will be doing by that time I can’t even imagine.

Comments?