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Life just got easier for the vSphere admin

by Hu Yoshida on Jul 12, 2011

VMware’s announcement of vSphere 5 is a major step toward closer integration between server and storage virtualization. This integration is enabled through their extension of open APIs for vStorage. Hitachi has been working closely with VMware to leverage new vSphere 5 benefits with our AMS and VSP virtualization storage systems. The combination of vSphere 5 and HDS storage systems will enable servers to operate more efficiently, reduce operational complexity, and delver new functionality to legacy storage systems through virtualization behind VSP. I have invited Michael Heffernan to explain the key features of this new release and explain the synergy that results from the combination of server and storage virtualization. -Hu

michaelheffernan_a115191_v2In my opinion, today’s announcement by VMware of its next generation Cloud OS, vSphere 5, is one of the most important announcements made this year.

VMware have really taken this OS to next level in more ways than one. Beyond releasing an ESXi version, by creating a solid hypervisor with even more APIs into the storage layer, the vSphere admin gets even more options for streamlining, standardizing and building automation processes.

Having closely followed VMware’s evolution over the years, I strongly believe it reached a milestone when it released vSphere 4. This was the start of what I call the “API Engine” for the ecosystem. Partners could start to develop and integrate into the vSphere Cloud OS under a standard framework, providing the ability for ESX to leverage the true power of the hardware on which it sat.

Hitachi has been working closely with VMware to support its vStorage APIs so that our joint customers can benefit. vSphere 4.1 provided the foundation of storage integration with the first phase implementation of VMware  vSphere Storage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI).

vSphere 5 takes the vStorage APIs to the next level, and are fully supported on external storage with VSP. I’ve shared my thoughts on what to expect with these key storage integrations when VMware announces GA sometime this summer in this short video.  You also can read on for more details.

VAAI: This next enhancement offers additional features focused on thin provisioning with the ability to reclaim blocks of a thin provisioned LUN on the array when a virtual disk is deleted or VMDK format changed, and provide alerts to the ESX host when thin provisioning pool is full. So, when used in conjunction with HDS hardware-accelerated thin provisioning, customers will benefit from even tighter VMware alignment in environments with thin provisioning.

VMware vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA): This is the most innovative addition to the vStorage APIs because it provides a new standard framework for storage vendors to provide array information into vCenter. This new API integration will provide vSphere 5 the ability to use new advanced functions for policy-based storage management and storage DRS for better overall VM performance and I/O load balancing.

One of the vSphere admin’s biggest challenges was load balancing VMs on both the ESX server and the underlying storage infrastructure as VMs grew, had I/O spurts, and moved from ESX host to ESX host and datastore to datastore with vMotion. Admins always managed storage manually from within vCenter with vendor specific plugins.  This became error prone, and if vendors implemented these in a different way, they had to be completely customized. vSphere 5 eliminates the need for customization from storage vendors’ vCenter plugins and provides a standard framework for all storage vendors making this a revolutionary way for storage integration.

So who benefits? The vSphere admin…

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5 (SRM): Disaster ecovery is now paramount for any large VMware infrastructure and organization. This next release brings a complete overhaul, providing advanced disaster recovery planning, testing and failover features coupled with new “re-protect” capabilities. This will allow the vSphere admin to take control of bringing a VMware infrastructure that had failover back into a primary state without the complexities of a manual process and DR plan that had to be orchestrated with many parts of the business.

This upgraded version of the SRM adapter will maximize the advantage of powerful replication capabilities within Hitachi TrueCopy and Hitachi Universal Replicator. Additionally, when coupled with Hitachi storage virtualization, these technologies can be extended to third party storage arrays with failover consistency across the data center and a single point of management.

The co-operation between VMware and the ecosystem of storage vendors with the likes of VAAI, SRM and now VASA,make this type of maturity a great step forward for the industry.  It provides a robust and truly integrated hypervisor directly into the storage array under the covers.

For more insight on the announcement, I also invite you to listen to the latest Infosmack podcast, in which I joined Marc Farley, Rick Vanover, Nigel Poulton, and VMware’s Duncan Epping and Frank Dennenman, to talk about vSphere 5.

Stay tuned, as I will review the benefits of vSphere 5 more as VMware comes closer to GA.

– Michael Heffernan, global product manager, Server Virtualization, Hitachi Data Systems

Michael Heffernan is the global product manager for Server Virtualization at Hitachi Data Systems. In this position, Michael ensures that the core technologies of Hitachi storage and servers are aligned with hypervisors in order to create integrated technology solutions that will benefit Hitachi customers. Previous to this role, Michael worked in Asia Pacific as director of Service Delivery at Hitachi Data Systems, where he leveraged the company’s delivery methodology and storage service tools to deliver a superior solutions service experience for customers.

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[...] July 12, we  blogged about the vSphere V5 announcement. In my last post, I talked about the ability of  storage virtualization to add new capabilities, [...]

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