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Microsoft gets its hypervisor war face on, squares up to VMware

File tanks rumble out of Redmond, headed for NFS lawn

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Microsoft has enlisted X-IO and others as its proxies alongside Hyper-V and SMB in a war against VMware and NFS.

SMB v3, formerly known as CIFS, is Microsoft's preferred way of getting file-based networked storage data into servers running its Hyper-V hypervisor.

The opposing camp is seen as VMware and NFS. X-IO's UK solutions development director Gavin McLaughlin says: "Microsoft are pushing their Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V customers to move to using file based storage (using SMBv3) over block storage due to the increased simplicity. It’s pretty much MS’ pushback to the VMWare + NFS combo."

The main criteria for storage in this area are: throughput, which takes priority, and then IOPS. The Windows file storage product manager, Jose Barreto, has blogged abut a 5.8GB/sec delivery of files using Mellanox cabling and switches at Interop in Las Vegas in May.

That setup used Windows Server 2012 beta and SMB 3.0, and the 5.8GB/sec was through a single port with data being pumped in by four Fusion-io ioDrive2 PCIe flash drives rated at 1.5GB/sec each.

In June for TechEd, Mellanox announced 10.36GB/sec throughput using Windows Server 2012, SMB 3.0, and Hyper-V. The network link was its FDR 56Gbit/s InfiniBand. OCZ Talos-2R SSDS were used this time.

Violin Memory was at TechEd, showcasing what it called "the world’s first all-flash 'Cluster-in-a-Box' Solution with Windows Server 2012 running natively on the Violin 6000 platform." This should blow the socks off any hard disk drive array doing the same SMB 3.0 file transfer to a Windows Server 201 Hyper-V server.

An X-IO TechEd system, using a rack with ten of its ISE-2 enclosures, did more than 15GB/sec and 125,000 IOPS. There were HP servers, running Windows Server 2012, across a network of InfiniBand links, and QLogic fibre channel switches and HBAs. The sealed ISE-2 enclosures each contained 20 x 10K 2.5-inch SAS disk drives, totalling 104TB of capacity.

X-IO was over the moon. McLaughlin said this was "over 50 per cent higher than anything else possible on the market."

Steve Sicola, X-IO's chief technology officer, called it record-breaking price/performance:

"This is a game changer in the cost of high performance storage solutions, delivering in just one rack what our competitors can only achieve with many times the equipment and at much higher costs."

Sicola was boosted further, with X-IO winning two Best of TechEd awards; Best Hardware and Storage Product, and Attendees' Pick.

X-IO can use this fillip to help its channel sell its storage into Hyper-V shops and so develop its unfulfilled potential when compared to other storage technologies such as iSCSI SANs, and Compellent and 3PAR Fibre Channel SAN storage.

For Microsoft, having rocket-like storage pumping file-based data across SMB links to Hyper-V virtualised Windows Server 2012 is a big fillip too. It wants to reclaim the server-storage stack - and having great performance for Hyper-V virtualised Windows Server 2012 servers with SMB 3.0 and all-flash or speedy disk drive storage is nothing but good news.

Take that VMware; take that NFS; Redmond is on the file warpath. ®

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