Category Archives: VMworld Europe 2018

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vSAN Scalable File Services

One of the new developments that caught my eye at VMworld this year was the introduction of file services to the VMware vSAN software-defined storage platform. vSAN already offers VMDK storage to vSphere and the ability to host iSCSI volumes, but this feature will allow NFS and SMB file-shares to be hosted directly on the cluster without the need for a separate Windows Server or NFS provider.

What

Yanbing Lee and Duncan Epping discuss vSAN at VMworld Europe 2018

Yanbing Lee and Duncan Epping discuss vSAN at VMworld Europe 2018

vSAN Scalable File Services is a layer that sits on top of vSAN to provide SMB, NFS (and others in future) file shares. It’s comprised of a vSAN Distributed File System (vDFS) which provides the underlying scalable filesystem by aggregating vSAN objects, a Storage Services Platform which provides resilient file server end points, and a control plane for deployment and management.

File shares are created using the vCenter GUI or via API calls from an automation platform, and the demos at VMworld included all the functionality you’d expect with permissions, quotas and so on.

An interesting point is that all the file shares are integrated into the existing vSAN Storage Policy Based Management, and on a per-share basis. Therefore FTT, encryption,  thin provisioning, and so on can all be defined at a pretty granular level. So if only one of your file-shares has an encryption requirement that’s just a case of setting the policy in a drop down list, or likewise if a particular file-share must be configured to be site-failure resilient across a stretched cluster.

Why

Why would you want to do this? Well, a couple of use cases immediately sprang to mind. Firstly, the small office/ remote office/ branch office scenario. A company wants to host both virtual machines and file services in a compact environment- currently the choice would be to have a NAS plus compute hosts, or possibly go hyper-converged but run a VM within this serving the file data from a VMDK. vSAN file services simplifies this by providing that NFS/SMB provision from within the hypervisor- and this also means that all the benefits of resilience, deduplication, compression, and encryption can be provided to the file services.

The second case was for a SAN replacement- a traditional SAN is basically an expandable cluster of x86 servers loaded with disks running some file+disk management software. vSAN is the same thing, but can also run VM workloads. It would be an interesting price/feature comparison exercise to compare the two methodologies.

When

This offering is currently in Public Beta – details at the bottom of this article. NFS 4.1 with AD Authentication is expected at release, with SMB, OpenLDAP, vSAN Data Protection and other functionality to follow. Obviously this is all subject to change as VMware are still at the Beta stage, and a release date has not yet been confirmed.

Further Information

  • HCI3041BE – VMworld Europe 2018 session: Introducing Scalable File Storage on vSAN with Native File Services (Video and Slides)
  • HCI3728KE – VMworld Europe 2018 session:  Innovating Beyond HCI: How VMware is Driving the Next Data Center Revolution (Video)
  • www.vmware.com/go/vsan-beta – Sign up for the Beta. Phase 2 includes the ability to test vSAN File Services in your own lab environment.

VMworld Europe 2018

Vendor Brief: Rubrik-2018 Edition

Following on from a similar briefing at VMworld 2017 I sat down at this year’s event with a couple of the Rubrik execs to see what’s happened in the last 12 (and a bit) months, and what the future holds for the company.

IMG_20181106_155148405_editLast year Rubrik stood proudly on their flagship product- the “Brik” backup appliance and software, but since then their product range has expanded, primarily with their new lines “Polaris” and “Radar”. I see this as a pivot point in their development- they’ve established a solid foundation (both financially and reputationally) and are now expanding the portfolio and also their headcount, growing from ~350 staff to over 1500 in the past year.

However, as Rubrik VP Jerry Rijnbeek was keen to show, this isn’t a random or extravagant direction, but a journey that Rubrik has been on since it’s inception. Polaris is a data management platform, and Radar builds on that to provide anti-malware capabilities- but they’re both tied firmly into the backup application.

The ingenious bit here is that by sitting in the backup tier, the software “sees” all the data in the organisation, be it originating from legacy servers, a virtualised datacentre, or a cloud application. Even if the backup data is not stored on the Brik but pushed out to alternative storage (perhaps a NAS in the datacentre or commodity cloud storage) the Rubrik software already has enough metadata to be able to provide value.

In the case of Radar, the software establishes what normal behaviour looks like for an environment, it can then spot unusual activity- for example folders rapidly getting encrypted could point to encryption malware running riot on a file server, or a quantity of VMs being deleted could indicate a compromised admin account.  This is when Rubriks traditional powers kick in, allowing for live mounting of snapshots and therefore instant restore from a point before the infection took hold.

I got the impression this was only the first step as well- there were obviously plenty of ideas in the company of what other services they could offer having placed themselves at this particular point in the data chain which everything goes past. I’d definitely recommend keeping a watch here as the potential for useful analytics and automation is massive.

Back on the stand in the Solutions Exchange, in a sequel to last years giveaway of the vSphere Host Deep Dive, Rubrik had a thousand copies of the new Clustering Deep Dive book to give away, with the authors on hand to sign each copy.

Thanks to Jerry, Karl, and Vil for taking the time out of their show schedule to sit down with me and to Frank, Niels, and Duncan for their hard work signing books at the giveaway.

Please read my standard Declaration/Disclaimer and before rushing out to buy anything bear in mind that this article is based on a sales discussion at a trade show rather than a POC or production installation. I wasn’t paid to write this article or offered any payment, although in a spirit of full disclosure I did independently pick up a signed copy of the vSphere 6.7 Clustering DeepDive book being given away on the Rubrik stand and enjoyed an evening out at the annual Rubrik VMworld EU party.

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VMworld 2018: Dev 4 The Ops Team

A recording of my VMworld 2018 talk, thanks to the vBrownbag team.

I believe every IT Ops person, SysAdmin, and vSphere administrator should do some coding, and this session will explain how to get started. This session will cover the core concepts required along with some PowerShell/ PowerCLI examples. The session is aimed at vSphere admins with little coding experience and they should come away understanding that coding isn’t something to be fearful of.

The additional resources mentioned at the end of the video can be found here: Devs4Ops Resources

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VMworld Europe 2018 Sunday

VMworld Europe 2018 officially started today (4th November) with registration opening this afternoon. The IT world has descended again upon Barcelona and you can’t go far in the airport or on the streets or metro without overhearing talk of virtualisation and VMware.

pyrreneesAfter flying in over the snow-capped Pyrenees (yay for November!) the Sunday offers a chance to get settled in, collect your conference badge, and find your bearings before the doors fully open tomorrow,

Delegates visiting the Fira Gran Via conference centre this afternoon got a glimpse of what is in store this week. The Hands on Labs area is adjacent to the main entrance in Hall 6.0 again, with the VMware Store opposite. Further down the hall are the VMTN, vCommunity, and {code} areas, and the VMware Education lounge. These areas are currently off limits to us regular delegates, but doors open bright and early tomorrow.

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After registering there’s the option to collect your VMworld 2018 bag or –in a new scheme this year- donate the equivalent money to a charity. And don’t worry if you can’t register today- the desks are open all week.

Top tips for registration:

  • Remember your passport (or other “Government issued ID”- you’ll need it to collect your badge.
  • Install the VMworld App (and login to it) before you get to the venue- this makes badge pickup really quick.
  • Swing by the information desk and ask for your complimentary 10-trip Metro ticket.

vRockstarSponsorsThe vCommunity is out in full force as usual and I’ve already caught up with several familiar faces. Tonight I’ll be attending the annual vRockstar gathering where I’ll be looking to meet up with even more friends from previous years and make some new ones too.