Feeds

vSphere 5 takes on HP with virtual storage appliance

Now there is more than one VMware-certified offering

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

EMC's VMware unit is taking on HP with a Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA), building a small and medium business mini-SAN from servers' direct-attached storage.

The vSphere 5 launch included the in-house developed VSA, which combines storage directly attached to just three physical servers and combines it into a single (iSCSI) block-access storage pool accessible by apps running in virtual machines (VMs) in these servers. The pool is built up using VSA software running inside virtual machines (VMS) in the three servers, described as clustered by VMware but with no specific interconnect mentioned.

The storage in VSA is protected with synchronous mirroring across the nodes. There is a RAID 10 set-up in each node and RAID 1 across the nodes. If a single VSA node fails, the VSA process fails over to another node – and VMware says that VSA offers up to 99.9 per cent availability.

VSA is managed through vCenter Server and the installation process handles network set up and vSphere high-availability implementation. It also handles the installation and configuration of vCenter Server, vSphere as well as VMware VSA itself.

VMware VSA supports the Storage vMotion movement of apps between servers and to shared storage with no disruption of service access.

An additional limitation, apart from the 3-node cluster maximum, is that the VSA node count and individual server disk capacity cannot be changed once VSA is set up. A future VSA release should remove this restriction.

HP VSA

HP inherited its own VSA (Virtual SAN Appliance) when it bought LeftHand Networks in 2008. It has since extended the P4000 VSA so that it supports Microsoft's Hyper-V. HP's VSA can manage dozens of nodes and it has VAAI integration and a high-availability option, as well as thin provisioning. The data protection levels include Network RAID 5 and 6.

HP says its VSA is, presumably now "was", the only VMware-certified VSA, and it is Microsoft-qualified as an iSCSI SAN.

Other suppliers offering VSA-type functionality include Chelsio, DataCore, FalconStor, Fujitsu/NetApp and StoneFly with Fusion-io.

VMware is now competing with all of these.

VMware and storage arrays

VMware is increasingly taking on storage array controller functionality. The idea is to enable SMB-type customers, who don't have sophisticated storage arrays, to enjoy roughly equivalent functionality, such as array-to-array replication and, in VSA's case, a shared storage array in the first place, by using VMware and its host server's CPU cycles.

VMware will offload this functionality to shared storage arrays if they exist and, because VMware is owned by EMC, should not try to displace these storage arrays by emulating their expensive controller-based functionality with VMware software and cheap JBODs.

This wish to optimise VMware's storage offering with the whole EMC storage offering should limit the VMware VSA competitive affect on HP and other virtual storage appliance suppliers. They will have the Hyper-V VSA market to themselves and can, if they wish, use their VSA offerings to compete with low-end EMC arrays far more than VMware will be able to do so. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations
Fix coming for bug that makes Kerberos croak when you run two domain controllers
Cisco says network virtualisation won't pay off everywhere
Another sign of strain in the Borg/VMware relationship?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.