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VxFlex OS (ScaleIO)

November 2015 Previous month Next month

Let’s take a moment to look at this:  Storage, for many organizations, is at the heart of their business. Applications depend upon the data stored, and every moment of every day, someone or something needs to access it. Therefore, shouldn’t your storage strategy dictate what type of networking you use (Fibre Channel, Ethernet, etc.) and shouldn’t the flexibility come from the network to support it?

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Wait!  Not so fast! What about the rest of the infrastructure that also relies so heavily on the network to communicate and transfer information from one point to another? Does this mean your network infrastructure should determine if you stay with SAN arrays or move to SDS?

 

When it comes to architecting your storage environment, your strategy should be simple and align into your business needs. Concerns about costs savings, reducing complexity and delivering high levels of performance are some of the key factors that drive these decisions, so flexibility is a must for today’s IT organizations. While SAN arrays deliver powerful storage solutions, their rigid architecture often dictates what the surrounding network must be. As a result, software defined storage is coming to the forefront with promises of being able to use commodity hardware while still delivering, scale, performance and flexibility

 

Do you know what the future holds?

Brian Lett from EMC said it best in a recent blog, “Without high levels of network availability and performance, things fall apart quickly.” As a result, IT organizations spend many long days, weeks and months building their network strategy and selecting the best vendors they believe can support all aspects of their business.

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When building your SDS strategy and selecting your vendor, you must also ask, “Will this technology meet our storage needs and integrate with the network already in place? What about down the line? Will our needs and strategy change? Will the choices we are making today, hold up to possible changes in the future?”

 

Unless you have a crystal ball to tell you what the future holds for your IT organization and across all aspects of your business, you better make sure your SDS strategy includes a solution that has the flexibility to accommodate, not only different commodity hardware, media types and operating systems, but also different types of networks.

 

EMC ScaleIO Node – Flexible by Design

EMC recently announced the launch of ScaleIO Node. Unlike previous, software-only offerings, ScaleIO Node takes all the superior capabilities of ScaleIO software, bundles them on EMC commodity servers and delivers them to customers as a packaged offering. This enables customers to quickly deploy a fully architected software-defined, scale-out, server SAN in a pre-validated, tested and configured solution. ScaleIO was designed from the very beginning to be agnostic and flexible. ScaleIO software supports multiple hypervisors (KVM, Hyper-V, ESX, etc.), Operating systems (Microsoft, Linux, etc.) and Media (SSD, PCIe Flash, etc.). What about the network? Is the newly launched ScaleIO Node equally as flexible as the ScaleIO software?

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ScaleIO Node indeed holds true to the SDS premise of no vendor lock-in and hence is wholly agnostic to the networking technology, architecture or network vendors.  It is true that ScaleIO Node currently only supports 10G Ethernet links for data and 1G for the management network, but that decision is solely based on the market and what our customers are telling us today.  As other networking technologies gain critical mass with our customers, there isn’t anything preventing us from quickly adopting that for ScaleIO.

 

In addition, though we only support Ethernet and 10/1G links today, that still leaves customers with enormous flexibility of how they want to architect and deploy their network architecture.  First and foremost, ScaleIO Node does not have any sort of vendor lock-out in our network ports; hence customers are free to choose the cabling solution that works with their vendor of choice.  Second, we are not dependent on any propriety switch vendor technology, e.g., we work equally well with L2/L3 routing technology from vendor y vs. vendor z.  Finally, ScaleIO Node is not based on a particular networking architecture topology from a particular vendor, so if customers prefer a spine/leaf architecture for their datacenter we support it, if they prefer using more traditional aggregated architecture we support that too.

 

 

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In short, with either ScaleIO software or ScaleIO Node as an SDS solution, as long as the nodes can ping each other and have good latency and bandwidth, it does not matter which switch topology or vendor customers use. But, it goes without saying, your performance will indeed be directly correlated to your network performance – so care should always be taken to understand the application profile and the pros and cons of a particular networking architecture for that application when designing your storage strategy.

 

Christina Perfetto

ScaleIO Product Marketing