VMware: Top of todays requirements list

By | July 23, 2010

Shortly after the recent VMware vSphere 4.1 and VAAI announcements, I had an epiphany. It dawned on me that tight integration with VMware, as well as being seen to be part of the VMware inner circle is now absolutely critical for storage vendors.

NOTE: If you're not sure, VAAI is an important part of the VMware vStorage API enabling offloads to the storage hardware for certain functions. VAAI stands for vStorage API for Array Integration.)

Well and truly gone are the days where the most important announcements relating to product refreshes were hardware related such as new CPUs, increased internal bandwidths and (arguably) artificially inflated feeds and speeds etc.  In today's world, integration with services higher up the stack are where the bragging rights are, and VMware is probably King at the moment.

If your storage array doesn't tightly integrate with VMware, or your vendor doesn't appear to be part of the VMware inner circle, you may be justified in wondering how strategic your product is.

To storage customers, I recommend that when gathering and compiling your requirements that you use when choosing storage vendors and platforms, that you have requirements such as tight VMware integration right at the top of your list.

The same goes for storage vendors.  Those vendors who announced VAAI integration/support will no dcoubt have been sipping champagne and basking in the knowledge that their customers were feeling secure in their investments.  On the other hand, those vendors were conspicuously quiet, were left very much on the outside and stressing over whether or not their customers were re-evaluating their preferred storage vendor(s).

Of course there are other non-VMware features and APIs that are important too, it just seems VMware is where most of the buzz and growth is at the moment.

Finally, hardware upgrades and the likes are still important, just less so than integration with features such as those provided by VAAI.  Hardware improvements should be demonstrated to enable better support of features further up the stack (such as VAAI)

Thoughts welcome.

Nigel

4 thoughts on “VMware: Top of todays requirements list

  1. John Troyer

    One good thing is that VAAI integration is, for most vendors, a firmware upgrade. Let's not trivialize the effort required to implement the new software, but it does mean that integration can be delivered in a mortal timeframe and can often work with the current generation of gear.

  2. Fatima Stoneknuckle

    Good points Nigel.  Indeed, storage vendors should, and have always needed to, keep their eye on the portions of the IT stack above them, especially those with momentum.  To round out the perspective, however, would be the point that there are significant numbers of IT customers who are leary of VMware hegemony and pricing, and of becoming too dependent upon them.  As such, they are cautious about adopting any or too many of VMware's SW functionality outside of the hypervisor level where VMware has taken on management functions.   And, they may very well seek to diversify at the hypervisor level as well, by adopting Xen, Hyper-V, or KVM in some environments.   This only suggests that storage vendors cannot afford to neglect these other virtualization platforms either. 

  3. Nigel Poulton Post author

    John,

    Thanks for your comments and I totally agree. I suppose my comments should have been more along the lines of “when announcing new products and rev’s of existing products……”. Key is that when making announcements focus should be less on improved feeds and speeds improvements and more on integration with products and services higher up the stack.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Fatima,

    I think we’re on the same page. Integration higher layers in the stack is the key, Im just suggesting that VMware seems to have the momentum at the moment.

    I also agree that the vendors ignore the other hypervisors at their own peril. Personally I can only see the other hypervisors start to catch-up with VMware (Hyper-V especiallly).

    Nigel

  4. Maria

    No. I think it just means pnoerrmafce for your randomly accessed blocks will continue to kick arse, but your sequential I/O to same VMFS volume would continue to be slowed down because of the interruption of random I/O at the VMware level. A Compellent storage architect would be more qualified to answer, but the slowdown that Scott is talking about is at VMware level and independent of the type of storage.

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