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What I Learned Today at VMWorld 2013- Monday August 27, 2013

Posted by audiomatron in Uncategorized.

I suppose I should start calling this series “What I learned Yesterday” since I don’t get around to it until the next morning. I fully intended to get it done last night, but I decided to take a nap before I went running, and ended up sleeping all night instead. I digress. Now I’m well rested and ready to go.

There were only two sessions that interested me – VMWare Virtual SAN and Mythbusting Goes Virtual. I also attended the general session/keynote. Without further ado, on to the good stuff!

 VMWare Virtual SAN

I’m always interested in simpler and more cost effective ways of doing storage, so suffice to say, VMWare Virtual SAN (vSAN) piqued my interest. At first I thought this might be an upgraded version of the vSphere Storage Appliance that came out two years ago, but it most definitely is not. vSAN will be integrated in the hypervisor rather than running as a VM. It will take any available spinning disks and aggregate them into a shared storage pool that is accessible by all hosts in the cluster.

The redundancy is not done by any sort of RAID parity among the disks on the various hosts, but rather, it will be done at the VM level. When provisioning a VM, you will be able to specify how many copies of the VM will be needed. This, the way I see it, could provide better failover than traditional shared storage, but at the price of storage space since every copy of a VM will take up the amount of space that the VM occupies.

Some cool things about vSAN: It is easy to set up – a mere tick box to enable it. The disks can be asymmetrical (different amounts of disks on each host), and SSDs can be employed to provide read and write caching.

The vSAN will require VMKernel port groups dedicated to vSAN traffic. I’ve heard no word as to which editions of vSphere will include vSAN. I sincerely hope that it will at least be in essentials plus as this would be an excellent alternative to traditional storage for SMBs.

Mythbusting Goes Virtual

I attended this session at VMWorld 2011, and found it to be one of the best sessions at the show. This year’s was not disappointing either. Basically the presenters run through a let of commonly held beliefs surrounding virtualization and provide evidence as to whether they are true or false.

Some of the topics covered were:

Do snapshots cause significant performance overhead? (they do). Can VAAI enabled arrays run unlimited VMs? (they can’t). Does distributed vSwitch perform better than a regular vSwitch? (VMWare says it shouldn’t but their results showed a little bit of improvement). Which is faster, iSCSI of NFS? (Neither really).

I can’t recall some of the other topics covered, but one nugget of truth for me that made the whole session worthwhile was, during one of the topics, it was mentioned that more, smaller LUNs in storage perform better than fewer larger ones. This is due to the fact that with iSCSI, there is typically only one path at a time to a LUN. More LUNs = more iSCSI paths. This is good to know because on my next storage refresh (whenever that ends up being), I was going to take advantage of VMFS 5’s ability to format LUNs bigger than 2 TB.

General Session

Someone at lunch yesterday asked, “How was the keynote?” In my usual burned out smart-aleck fashion, I said, “it was a keynote”. There were lots of flashing lights. The VMware folks  announced their plan to virtualize every aspect of the datacenter – compute, networking, storage, and management. They also talked about a new public vCloud service that they will be launching.

I tweeted that my head exploded when they mentioned NXS, their forthcoming virtual networking product. I don’t quite get it. Someone at lunch explained it to me, throwing around what sounded like a bunch of marketing speak. I sort of get it, but I need more info. I actually ditched one of my sessions Thursday so I can attend  session of NSX. Until then, I shall remain blissfully ignorant on the matter.


I vowed at the beginning of this not to get any swag. So far, I’ve done well, but yesterday I was cruising the show floor trying to find a T-Shirt to wear, since I am growing weary of my button up shirts. I don’t want any T-Shirts, and its quite entertaining to watch the utterly flabbergasted expressions on the vendors faces when I tell them I don’t want one. I will, however, take one from a vendor I like and actually use. Unfortunately the ones whose shirts I’d wear aren’t giving away shirts. I was going somewhere with this… oh yeah!

Whilst cruising, I ended up at SuperMicro’s booth. They were showing a setup using vSAN augmented with Nexenta’s VSA of View to aid in performance. If I recall correctly, the attendant at the boot said they were running 1,000 desktops on this group of just a handful of hosts. Impressive!


That’s all I have from Monday. I have a jam-packed schedule today from which, hopefully, I will glean some new and useful knowledge. Any other SMB IT guys out there at VMWorld this year? If so, What have you found useful/interesting?




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