VMware and vCloud Storage: Ten Things You Need to Know About

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Last month’s VMworld conference in San Francisco featured the latest in the company’s vision for the cloud. It released VMware vCloud 5.1 and a host of virtual desktop features with the potential to transport much of the desktop infrastructure into the cloud.

Aiming High

According to IDC, virtualized workloads have risen from 25% to 60% in the last 4 years. And VMware is gunning for far more.

“We want to get to 90% on x86,” said Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of VMware. “Our goal is to abstract the entire data center, automate it and deliver it as a set of services.”

Desktop Storage

Steve Herrod, CTO of VMware, made it clear that the company wants to move end user storage away from the device using the company’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

“VDI takes the desktop and puts it into the data center,” said Herrod.

This vision is forwarded by VMware’s recent acquisition of Wanova Mirage technology, which in combination with VMware View simplifies the process of bringing a desktop image into the data center. According to Herrod, this allows the desktop to be abstracted and decomposed so you can change out the device easily while keeping these images synched once deployed.

vSphere 5.1

vSphere, the most widely deployed platform for virtualization, is part of the vCloud Suite. The latest version of vSphere has been upgraded to provide better performance and VM density, said Gelsinger – up to 64 virtual CPUs to support VMs. That means more VMs per unit of storage, which is good news for a storage administrator.

Virtual Storage

Enhancements to VMware vSphere vMotion have made it possible to perform a live migration of VMs without the presence of shared storage. If a server fails from within a group, the VMs are instantly vMotion-ed to other two physical servers until the faulty server is repaired or replaced.

“New vSphere enhancements enable live migration of VMs without the need for shared storage,” said Ed Hsu, Product Manager for Virtual Storage at VMware. “vMotion moves the data file while it is running.”

Faster Provisioning

Along with vSphere, the vCloud Suite consists of several elements. vCloud Director 5.1, for instance, is said to make it possible to provision storage and other aspects of the virtual data center in minutes. It achieves this by applying server virtualization capabilities such as abstraction, pooling and automation to storage and availability. vCloud Director does the provisioning of up to 30,000 VMs across multiple vSphere clusters.

Automated DR

Another facet of vCloud is vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 5.1 which has been designed to automate disaster recovery (DR) for all applications. This includes backup and recovery as well as integration with vSphere Replication and other replication technologies.

“SRM includes planning, testing and execution of DR,” said Hsu.

Avamar Backup

What is known as vSphere Data Protection is actually EMC Avamar software for backup and recovery, which can now be managed from a vSphere Web Client. This adds deduplication into vSphere, which is a big plus due to the repetitive nature of many VMs. In addition, it includes changed block tracking, single-step restores and uses the vSphere Storage APIs for agentless backup.

“This is a more robust approach that simplifies backup and disaster recovery,” said Hsu.

vSphere Replication

According to Hsu, VMware provides host-based replication in the form of vSphere Replication. As the logic is on the servers, you can have, for example, shared storage at the main site get away with direct attached storage at a secondary site, if desired.

Cloud Ops

A new initiative called Cloud Ops Intellectual Property (IP) and advisory, transformation and education services is meant to help IT transition to a new operating model for cloud computing.

It’s all about helping organizations build, run and optimize public and private cloud environments. “We have seen some customers reduce labor operating costs as much as 25 percent,” said Carl Eschenbach, VMware Chief Operating Officer.

The company has formed a Cloud Ops Forum, which includes Canopy, Capgemini, CGI, CSC, Dell, Deloitte, EMC, HP, Infosys and T-Systems in order to achieve rapid knowledge transfer on best practices for cloud implementation. This will include all storage aspects.

Storage Appliance

VMware has made a play for the SMB market in the form of vSphere Essentials Plus. This package of virtualization services includes the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) as a way of pooling storage. Incorporating many features mentioned above, it provides the ability to move virtual servers around from one place to another as a means of performing maintenance or DR.

“With the new storage appliance, VMs get popped over to other servers if there is a failure,” said Russ Stockdale, vice president and general manager, SMB Solutions, VMware. This SMB package from VMware also comes with vSphere Data Protection and vSphere Replication.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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