Dismissing new tech is no way to justify yourself.

Something I saw on my LinkedIn feed in regards to DellEMC scrapping the DSSD array:

True, dynamic RAM or DRAM will always beat everything else.  However the problem with DRAM is that it’s not persistent storage.  Once power is cut off from DRAM, you lose everything.  That’s why you don’t see many storage arrays use DRAM exclusively.

The industry is trying to change that with whats called storage class memory.  Storage class memory gives you the speed that’s very close to DRAM with the persistence of NAND flash.  Intel’s Optane flash is one such example.

I find it interesting that there are representatives of vendors that are willing to dismiss a technology because they don’t currently support it.  To me, that’s dangerous thinking.   NVMe removes the bottlenecks caused by SAS and SATA interfaces, allowing for much better throughput that is expected from all flash storage.   Besides, I don’t think any all-flash vendor was concerned with a niche product like DSSD.  Even the article cited from The Register mentioned that those who needed storage for high-performance computing felt mainstream all-flash arrays fulfilled their needs.

You see this among IT vendors all the time.  It’s either the marketing speak or basically just drinking the corporate Kool-Aid.  You should never completely dismiss a new technology, otherwise, you’ll find yourself left in the past.

Pure goes mainstream with NVMe, adds AI ready platform

Pure announced that it will be replacing it’s entire M series line of all-flash storage arrays with the X series NVMe arrays.  Prior to the announcement, the M series FlashArray used SATA based flash modules while the only NVMe based array, the X70 used the company’s new NVMe drive modules.

Now, the M series arrays will no longer be sold and taking their place  will be the X10, X20, and X50 arrays.  A new X70 will also be sold and a new flagship, the X90 has been intoduced.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Currently Pure does not support end-to-end NVMe as there isn’t support yet for NVMe-OF interfaces.  However, there are plans to support it on these new arrays.  Additionally, the lower tier arrays, the X10 and X20 support SATA flash but are DirectFlash ready, which is Pure’s name for NVMe flash.  This way customers can still take advantage of an all-flash array without having to do a forklift upgrade if they need to upgrade to NVMe storage.

Current customers can take advantage of the new arrays through their evergreen storage program.

With Pure, NetApp, DellEMC, and HPE all announcing arrays that have or will support NVMe on flash storage, only Pure is supporting NVMe on all arrays rather than just on the high end.  Pure looks to make the technology more mainstream rather than an exclusive feature.

That wasn’t the only thing announced.  Pure is working with nVIDIA by using their FlashBlade scale-out NAS with nVIDIA DGX-1 servers for artificial intelligence development.  Announced was the introduction of the AIRI Mini.  AIRI stands for “AI Ready Infrastructure”.  The AIRI mini is a system with 7 blades capable of 364 TB of data effective, 700k NFS IOPS, and has 16 GPUs that can perform 2 PFLOPS.

NetApp introduces ONTAP 9.4 and new All Flash kit

Earlier this week while I was at .NEXT, NetApp had a few announcements with some new hardware as well as a new release of ONTAP. This included the introduction of two new All-Flash FAS arrays with the flagship A800 and new entry level A220 models.  Additionally, ONTAP 9.4 was announced with some very exciting features for current and new customers.

The big deal of this announcement is the end to end support of NVMe connected storage. No, not just the flash cache that was supported in previous FAS hybrid models but NVMe connected storage starting with the AFF A800. Additionally ONTAP 9.4 will support NVMe over Fabric or NVMeOF.  Support for NVMe over Fiber Channel is already supported on Brocade and Cisco switches as well as support on HBAs.  So that blazing fast speed you have on your desktop and laptop NVMe based SSD can be made available in a storage network.

That’s not the only thing included in ONTAP 9.4, there are a few more features worth considering:

Snapshot limit has been increased!  This is no joke, folks.  The 255 snapshot barrier has now been almost quadrupled with a 1023 snapshot limit.  If you plan on keeping snapshots long term, especially with something like SnapVault, this is a feature you want to check out.

The ability to install new versions of ONTAP from System Manager.  Yes, I think this is huge as there isn’t any need to setup an HTTP server to get an update you would download from NetApp support.  Instead, you can just go into System Manager GUI and install the image file from there.

FabricPool has been improved. ONTAP now has the ability to tier to Azure blob storage and data that’s not considered backup and snapshot can be tiered to cold storage in the cloud.

Support for 30 TB SSDs.  No, you read that right.  Thirty terabyte solid state drives.  What makes data management in ONTAP unique compared to the competition is that they can do this where others may have to add more RAM for metadata management.  If money is no object in your next storage refresh, everyone can get flash and not take much datacenter real estate.

Rapid disk zeroing.  Well, this only benefits if you’re re-initializing with ONTAP 9.4 but as someone who was a delivery engineer for a NetApp partner, this is a much needed feature.

There are plenty more features added as well and I suggest heading to the NetApp blog to check them out.

Nutanix .NEXT 2018 Recap

If you asked me five years ago what I thought about hyperconverged systems, particularly Nutanix, I probably would have dismissed it.  Most of the players then were niche, startup companies all vying for the attention of anyone willing to give them a chance.

After a couple years, I realized how wrong I was as larger companies were taking notice.  For instance, VMware introducing vSAN.  Later on, Dell partners with Nutanix to sell their software on Dell servers.

This year I had the opportunity to attend Nutanix .NEXT, their annual conference which was held right down the interstate from me in New Orleans.

Well, there’s my 15 minutes of fame, my tweet featured on a keynote speech.

First, I have been very impressed on how quickly Nutanix has grown to be a major player in datacenter infrastructure in addition to their software offerings that continue to disrupt how we do information technology.  It’s not just about replacing traditional infrastructure with scalable nodes in a software-defined stack.  It’s about getting you to shift the way you do IT from the traditional client/server model to a web scale cloud infrastructure that obfuscates the notion of on-premises and public cloud. Basically, what’s underneath a presentation layer is practically invisible.

A few of the announcements during the conference I thought were worth noting:

Nutanix Beam – Beam is a Software-as-a-service, the first of its kind for the company, which allows organizations to manage multiple clouds, including on-premises cloud on Nutanix infrastructure.  Additionally you can do cost analysis, regulatory compliance, and security compliance from a single console.  The big feature that really impressed me wasn’t just showing my periodical spending with public cloud but how much I could save if I’m just wasting resources and where I can cut such waste.  Even better, with Nutanix’ Xi cloud services you can take advantage of AHV or vSphere deployed in Google Cloud Platform.

Right sizing on the fly, the right way.

Nutanix Flow – Nutanix’ answer to VMware’s NSX, only easier to manage and implement.  While it may not have the feature parity of NSX, it does include the capability to do microsegmentation that allow organizations to further secure applications.  Everything is easily managed from Prism Central.

Object Storage Services – Nutanix AOS has been webscale for quite a long time, not surprising that object storage is now supported.  If you have a need for S3 compatible storage, have Nutanix nodes in your datacenter, and don’t want to manage yet another storage system your prayers have been answered. OSS also includes support for encryption, role based administration, quotas, and WORM.

Further improvements to AHV – Acropolis Hypervisor is the plucky new kid on the block that has been looking more and more like an enterprise heavyweight to finally break the duopoly of ESXi and Hyper-V.  In the 5.5 release announced earlier this week you should see vGPU support, RBAC, and AHV turbo mode. The latter is an optimized data path between the VM and storage.  More Nutanix customers are starting to adopt the KVM based hypervisor as they find it supports many of the same features they need from the other two, without the associated cost.

Other than that there were plenty of excellent sessions and courses with plenty of information. Additionally, other partners of Nutanix were on hand to show how their products integrate into Nutanix’ offerings.   I certainly enjoyed the conference and hope to have the opportunity to attend next year.  If anything, Nutanix has shown they will not let up despite their lead in the hyperconverged infrastructure market.

I made a backup of myself. The size is phenomenal, got to love the storage efficiency here or perhaps I’m just full of hot air, who knows?