vMSC Support now extended to 10 msec RTT

Amidst all the fun of EMC World, there is some really important news for the VPLEX Metro and VMware community that I wanted to ensure was not lost.

What was supported until now

Prior to this change, the official vSphere Metro Storage Cluster (vMSC) support stance was that VMware HA and vMotion was supported until 5 msec RTT (Round Trip Time). There was an additional wrinkle. vMotion was supported up to 10 msec RTT with your vSphere Enterprise Plus licensing. And VPLEX Metro supported it. However, VMware HA was not supported up to 10 msec RTT.

What has changed

The big change that happened is that now as a part of vMSC both VMware HA and VMware vMotion have now been extended to be supported with VPLEX Metro up to 10 msec RTT. This qualification has been completed with both PowerPath/VE as well as with NMP (Native Multi-pathing) for the non-uniform access mode (i.e. non-cross connected configuration). This support is available starting with vSphere 5.5 and GeoSynchrony 5.2.

vMSC 10 msec RTT support

The VMware Knowledge Base article is updated here.

Many thanks to the VMware Ecosystem Engineering team as well as key technical leaders on both the VMware and EMC sides for helping drive this. This has been a long time coming.

Spread the word!!

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RecoverPoint and VPLEX @ EMC World 2014

It is THAT time of the year. All roads lead to EMC World. In fact, as I write this, I am on my way to completing the second leg of my journey to EMC World. I have spent the last few days in Edmonton, Alberta with the VPLEX team. Some of the ideas we have been discussing have been simply mind-blowing. I cannot wait to get to build on those post EMC World. But let us get to the work at hand first. (Incidentally, Edmonton had snow today (May 4th)!!!!!!!! Yeah – thats their definition of spring I am told. Winter is when it is too cold to snow)

This will be our first year EMC World as a part of the new DPAD organization. Tons of excitement on that front. As we worked through the planning for EMC World, one of the big positives was the level of intersection that VPLEX and Recoverpoint have with other parts of EMC and the level of collaboration between all these teams to enable spreading that message. To all these teams, a BIG THANK YOU! This will result in VPLEX and RecoverPoint products having a really good presence on the show floor.

As always the sessions will be chock full of technical and strategy insights. A key part of the messages will be around the launches that we did for RecoverPoint and VPLEX in early April. However, beyond the new capabilities, there will also be sessions for the practitioners as well as customer insights. In fact, one of the key themes for us this year is customers who are presenting at the various sessions with us.

So without further ado, here is the list of VPLEX and RecoverPoint sessions at EMC World this year.

  • VPLEX: Introducing the VPLEX Virtual Edition: Presented by Cody Garvin who led the product management effort for VPLEX Virtual Edition. Cody will cover the basics of VPLEX/VE, why we built it the way we have, the use-cases we are targeting it for and deployment topologies that it will work with.
  • VPLEX: VPLEX Virtual Edition Architecture and use cases for 2014: Presented by super-CSE Don Kirouac (@dk_defined). Don will cover the gory depths of the VPLEX Virtual Edition to help you understand the architecture as well as what use-cases will work and how they will work out of the gate.
  • VPLEX: New VPLEX Provisioning Options with ViPR and Unisphere: Steve Breault and Peter Lund both product managers on the VPLEX team will present the fabulous integration work that has been done between the ViPR and the VPLEX team. They cover in-depth the pieces discussed in my prior blog post (here). In addition, there are new capabilities being added to ViPR to support VPLEX and RecoverPoint. Additionally, they will also discuss the work we have done with VPLEX Integrated Array Services (VIAS) discussed here.
  • VPLEX: Advanced Configuration and Design – Performance, Design, Failure Modes and More: The very cool Jen Aspesi (@routr_grl) presents this session. This was a big draw last year. Jen is amping it up with new learnings from the year, recommendations for new configurations. I have a feeling that this session will be oversubscribed once again.
  • VPLEX: Continuous Availability For All Business-Critical Applications: Robert Wagner presents this session. Here his focus is on the application layer and how they can be configured / structured to support continuous availability. If you think applications and VPLEX, this session is for you.
  • VPLEX: The Future of Availability powered by New VPLEX Use-cases: I have the privilege of presenting this session. This is an overview session which will talk about all the things that we have announced in 2014. It is a breadth first session which covers all the areas first and then each of the sessions above go into greater depth.
  • Introducing MetroPoint: Combining The Best Of VPLEX Metro And RecoverPoint Capabilities: This is an _awesome_ session presented by Saar Cohen, Chief Architect of RecoverPoint and Idan Kentor, one of our RecoverPoint focused CSE team members. I have seen Saar and Idan present this session in practice sessions. The content is top-notch and they cover the nitty-gritty of MetroPoint exceptionally well. You get the technical depth as well as the practical knowledge to realize your three site HA/DR dreams!
  • RecoverPoint Overview: Top Reasons Why Users Love It: Yossi Saad leads the Business Development team for VPLEX and RecoverPoint. He will cover the very well-known aspects as well as the not so well-known aspects of why RecoverPoint is the compelling solution that it is.
  • RecoverPoint: Accelerated Recovery for Virtual Environments: Yair Cohen presents this session that goes into depths of how RecoverPoint can protect and recover from virtualized environments. This shows all the work that we are doing to integrate with VMware and how those environments can be tuned / modified to make the experience seamless.
  • RecoverPoint: Planning and Deployment Best practices: Zahid Fadli is another of the RecoverPoint focused CSEs on our team. He will go into depths of how RecoverPoint can be configured, sized, architected for different environments. He will also cover best practices for the product in different environments. If you are a disaster recover practitioner, this is a session for you
  • RecoverPoint: Data protection for cost sensitive environments: Boaz Michaely presents this session to help customers and potential customers understand how they can derive even more value from RecoverPoint – this will talk about all the choices we have to drive down cost – data compression, WAN optimization, virtual RecoverPoint appliance.
  • VNX with VPLEX: Making Continous Operations seamless: I am presenting this VNX focused session which will cover all the goodness of VNX with VPLEX. In addition, it also covers the new items that we have introduced for integrations between VPLEX and VNX.

In addition, there are other partner sessions that also touch upon VPLEX and RecoverPoint. Here is the list:

  • EMC ViPR: Explore the New ViPR Control Services.
  • From Backup to Availability: Explore the Data Protection Continuum.
  • PowerPath Advanced Multipathing: What’s New in 2014.
  • VCE Vblock Data Protection and Mobility: Converge to Save Your Job.
  • Buckle Up! A 15-demo & Technical Tour of What’s New & What’s NEXT in Data Protection and Availability.
  • How Can ControlCenter & ProSphere Customers Make the Move to Storage Resource Management Suite.
  • Increasing Intelligence & Efficiency With Data Protection Advisor: Demonstrating Real Proof of Data Protection
  • AppSync 2.0: What’s New in 2014
  • VMAX Performance: Performance Aspects of Remote Replication

To all our internal partners: a BIG THANK YOU for making these possible and helping make RecoverPoint and VPLEX strategic to your ecosystem.

Other activities related to VPLEX and RecoverPoint:

  • Guy Churchward and Stephen Manley’s will cover the DPAD Portfolio in their super session on Tue at 3:00PM
  • Area 53: This is a super secret session about future capabilities being developed in the bunkers at EMC. Rumors are that there will be a healthy dose of some of the products you know and love. This is on Tue at 4:30 PM
  • Birds-of-a-feather – Data Protection and Availability Executive Panel – Redefining Data Protection for a Software-Defined World: Ask the DPAD Executive team
  • Hands On Labs – We have eight hands-on-labs that are focused on VPLEX and RecoverPoint. Do take your time to go through these. This should give you a very tactile operational feel for how the products work. Do not hesitate to give us feedback on what things you would like to see improved. Here is the list of HoLs:

  • HOL 07 – VPLEX: Introduction to VPLEX and VPLEX Integrated Array Services (VIAS)
  • HOL 08 – MetroPoint: Enhanced 3-site protection with VPLEX Metro and RecoverPoint
  • HOL 09 – VPLEX Virtual Edition: Continuous Availability Delivered To Your Geographically Dispersed ESXi Environments
  • HOL 10 – RecoverPoint: Discover Operational Recovery and Disaster Recovery In A Multi-Site Environment
  • HOL 17 – SRM Suite for VPLEX
  • HOL 20 – The Data Protection Continuum: Getting More with EMC Data Protection & Availability
  • HOL 22 – ViPR 2.0 – Introduction to all new 2.0 features, including VPLEX Snaps, Local Mirroring
  • HOL 24 – Infrastructure-As-A-Service Made Easy With VSPEX
  • And there are show floor displays, booth presentations and theatre presentations in the DPAD theatre as well as in partner theatres. Last but not the least, if you are one of the 100+ customers with NDA conversations set up, we are looking forward to meeting you as well.

    We are sending engineers, corporate systems engineers, architects and product managers to EMC World to help you get the best in terms of technical knowledge to help you understand the product, its directions and what capabilities we have added to it over the last year. I cannot wait for the show to kick off!

    Federation – A new business model for disruptive innovation

    [Even if it has been stated elsewhere, for this particular post, it is even more important to state that these are my views. My interest in this topic is to help organize my thoughts on the implications of the Federation structure created at EMC. Equally importantly, I am an EMC employee and an EMC shareholder, so I have my biases. Consider yourself warned!].

    What is the Federation?

    For the past six months or so, EMC has organized itself as a Federation. For the official announcement and details behind it, please look here. In case you see it on slides, here is the logo that is being used for the federation.

    EMC Federation Logo

    In a nutshell, the concept of the Federation is the coexistence of independent companies with a shared vision and at the end of the day, to a large extent a common P&L.

    Why organize in this way?

    Usually, when looking at business organizations, there are two common ways of organizing. Obviously, no one mechanism of organizing is superior to the other. The correct answer for any given organization depends on a bunch of factors – the desired end goal, market dynamics, level of overlap between the businesses and finally, which bets does the organization want to place. In other words, there is no right answer.
    The two common ways of organizing are

    1. Monolith
    2. Conglomerate

    Monolith

    While the word monolith creates all sorts of mental images, this is by far the most common way of organizing. The organization is built around a singular vision. Different businesses within that organization are organized as business units. Typically, such organizations are able to benefit from shared services – HR, IT, Sales etc. The goal of this mode of organization is clarity of purpose, driving more alignment and efficiency in terms of common capabilities that can be optimized. This doesn’t stop these companies from being diverse – just that the degrees of separation between the individual businesses is relatively small and usually, focused on the same or very adjacent markets. The selling motion is usually similar – the end customer tends to be similar. In other words, the channels are more or less consistent. Naturally, as with most things in life, there are shades of gray – the degree of freedom afforded each business unit is a variable, what shared services operate is a variable etc.
    So, whats the downside of such an organization? The greatest strength of such organizations is also their weakness. These organizations tend to be pretty set in terms of their mode of business, what channels and markets they can go after. So, in some ways, for such companies, it is difficult to change their core fabric. Not impossible but definitely herculean. Purely from a business perspective, optimization for a particular market implies that you are completely subject to the vagaries of that market. So, any macro or micro economic trends that impact that particular market leave such a company vulnerable.

    Conglomerate

    To counter some of the issues seen in the monolith, the conglomerate emerged as a way to get diverse selling motions, diverse companies under the same organizational umbrella. The businesses are not required to be related to each other. The conglomerate functions as independent businesses pooling their P&Ls together. Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric and the Tata Group are some of the prominent examples of this structure. This organizational structure gives up on the efficiency of a common set of services in order to be able to diversify what they sell to their customers. Each business may have its own discrete vision, strategy and market. The common binding item across the conglomerate is the set of shared values across the teams. To illustrate this point, transactions across businesses within the conglomerate are identical to transactions with companies that are not within the conglomerate. The businesses are free to optimize to meet their objectives.

    Why Federation?

    With this perspective, let’s now look at the Federation.

    In some ways, EMC has been on this journey since the VMware acquisition in 2003 (yeah – it was that long ago!). Right from the get go, the interactions between EMC and VMware have been independent. I will not say that this was easy at first. My first interaction with VMware was as a developer dealing with a customer escalation where the customer expected that we would behave as one company. There were a few moments of awkward phone silence as we explained to the customer that we were independent entities. As we all grew comfortable operating in this model, folks on both sides understood why this “together but independent” state was important. At EMC, we realized that we had to win VMware’s business on our merits and that VMware had to interface with EMC’s competition in the same way that they interact with EMC. As that message was understood across both companies, EMC mobilized to have the best possible integration with VMware not because of our inherent affinity but because we recognized the business value that VMware brought.

    With VMware as a separate entity, this allowed two additional benefits:

    • VMware was able to maintain and develop its go-to-market independent of EMC. This gave it access to different markets and different levers to enable.
    • VMware was free to innovate independent of the impact to EMC. They were not beholden to EMC’s inherent interests and were able to take a different stance than a business internal to EMC might have been able to.

    Clayton Christensen has talked about the innovator’s dilemma where disruptive new technology suffers from the hegemony of the current dominant technology. It is far more deeply entrenched than just technology. For a big successful company like EMC, the entire company has been tuned to make the current technology successful. GTMs, incentives, selling motions, profitability structures, purchase cycles, relationships – the list is endless – are all geared to the current technology. Now imagine changing all that after recognizing a market shift while maintaining your current revenues and while people are changing what they do. Despite best intentions, this transformation is a perilous journey that few dare undertake and even fewer complete successfully. To say nothing about going to individuals who care passionately about the products they work on and tell them that the next big thing is going to surpass their pride and joy.

    With this backdrop, fast forward to today. The world of IT has been changing dramatically. You can see that there is a shift in how data is generated, how it is consumed and utilized. Data is the new frontier. The implications of this have not been fully realized. However, it is clear that the magnitude of this shift is enormous. So, the same conditions that led to VMware being kept as an independent entity are now in effect for attacking this new market. That independent entity is Pivotal.

    So, you have three independent companies (shades of a conglomerate) all working in adjacent markets (shades of a monolith) working with a shared vision (shades of a monolith) with the independence to optimize what they need for their business (shades of a conglomerate). That’s the Federation – not a monolith, not a conglomerate but an amalgamation of both.

    It is typical of what I have seen within EMC – we have a big challenge in front of us, we tackle it head on with a very creative solution. I have this mental image of whoever came up with this as waking up one morning with this solution in their heads and feeling like they have solved world hunger – this is brilliant stuff!

    Does this mean that everything is perfect? It never is and there are tradeoffs that are needed to make this successful. For one, this strategy does mean that the individual businesses will have to work that much harder to maintain alignment. The businesses have to be judicious about where it is okay to overlap in technology (since they are in adjacent markets) and what to do when that inevitable overlap arises.

    If this strategy does work, this may be an interesting way to address the innovator’s dilemma and guide future companies trying to innovate disruptively while continuing to execute on existing businesses. To me, the beauty of this approach is that it takes that challenge out if the realm of organizational discipline (which is frail) and canonizes it within the corporate structure. I, for one, am rooting for its success (and beyond just the ‘I am an EMC employee’ reason). We will see how the story unfolds. As Churchill aptly said, ‘However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.’

    Talkin’ about VPLEX and RecoverPoint Part 4

    The past three editions of these have been very popular. Our marketing and CSE team has created some new videos in support of the Q2 launches for VPLEX and RecoverPoint. So here are twelve videos for you to dig into.

    1. Why VPLEX for VMware Environments: Don Kirouac does an excellent job explaining how VPLEX integrates with VMware environments.
    2. Why VPLEX for Oracle RAC: Don Kirouac from the Corporate Systems Engineering team talks about the integration between Oracle RAC and VPLEX Metro to deliver continuous availability
    3. VPLEX with XtremIO: Charlie Kraus from the Product Marketing team explains how VPLEX delivers value to XtremIO environments
    4. ViPR with VPLEX and RecoverPoint: Devon Helms from the Product Marketing team explains how provisioning for VPLEX and RecoverPoint can be made simple with the ViPR Controller.
    5. Why VPLEX for SAP: Jim Whalen from the Solutions Marketing Team explains how VPLEX can help deliver SAP Application Availability.
    6. Why VPLEX for Microsoft Hyper-V Environments: Charlie Kraus talks about how VPLEX integrates with Microsoft Hyper-V environments to deliver mobility and availability
    7. VPLEX with Vblock: Charlie Kraus delves into how VPLEX integrates with and provides value to a Vblock environment.
    8. VSPEX Solutions for VPLEX and RecoverPoint: Karl Connolly from the VSPEX Marketing Team

    9. MetroPoint topology: Paul Danahy and I walk through the benefits and value propositions of the MetroPoint topology
    10. VPLEX Virtual Edition: Paul Danahy and I introduce the VPLEX Virtual Edition solution and why we think this is such a game changer
    11. Simplified Provisioning with VPLEX: Paul Danahy and I talk through how VPLEX Integrated Array Services simplifies provisioning with VPLEX
    12. EMC AppSync for RecoverPoint: Parag Pathak from the AppSync Marketing team and Devon Helms talk about the integration between AppSync and RecoverPoint to deliver application consistent protection

    2014 Launch Post 3: Management@Scale: VPLEX Integrated Array Services (VIAS)

    On April 4th, 2014, as part of the Data Protection and Availability Division (DPAD) launch, there were three VPLEX and RecoverPoint items that were launched or GAd:

    • VPLEX Virtual Edition – Availability late Q2
    • MetroPoint Topology – Joint capability of VPLEX and RecoverPoint – Availability Late Q2
    • VPLEX Integrated Array Services – Available now

    This is the third in a series of posts to walk through what was launched / delivered.

    The IT World we live in

    Customers are experiencing a massive growth in data center scale. This has been the result of a lot of consolidation across data centers, the growth of big data and fast data applications and specialized infrastructure to manage the different application workloads.

    In addition, as VPLEX environments have mushroomed, they are subject to the same stresses and strains of the overall IT environment. So, it is a good news / bad news story. The good news is that customers are putting more and more of their IT infrastructure behind VPLEX. The bad news is that what used to be a few steps at smaller scale and therefore barely noticeable, at scale becomes a much bigger problem. Customers have come to us with a simple request – make provisioning simple!

    And we listened

    We are addressing this problem in multiple ways with the simplest being the Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) plug in as a mechanism for VMware environments (see here) and the most elaborate being the incredible capabilities of the ViPR controller (see here).

    And we are now providing customers with the means to do end-to-end provisioning natively through Unisphere for VPLEX. Basically, from within the VPLEX UI, you can now provision all the way to the backend storage without having to go to the backend UIs. This implies that when you provision storage, you no longer have to navigate between two or three GUIs to provision storage to VPLEX. This capability we are referring to as VPLEX Integrated Array Services (VIAS). The first installment of this GAd in March as a part of GeoSynchrony 5.3 and was launched on April 4th. For the initial release, we support the VMAX and VNX.

    So how does it work?

    The basic process works by exposing the backend Management interfaces to VPLEX. VPLEX uses SMI-S to talk to the backend arrays. As a result, while we support VMAX and VNX for the initial release, we expect to add more arrays to the VIAS support matrix.

    The backend array needs to be configured to some notion of pools (collection of storage) – for the VNX, these are called storage pools, for VMAX, these are called storage groups. These pools are exposed to VPLEX as manageable entities via the management for described earlier.

    From there on, the provisioning is managed entirely within VPLEX. You have to select what pool of storage you need to use, what level of protection you want (local mirror, distributed mirror), what consistency group to use and what storage view you want to expose to the host. VPLEX then coordinates the creation of the LUN on the underlying storage, exposing that to VPLEX (on the VPLEX backend), claiming this storage, creating a virtual volume on this new storage, adding into the appropriate consistency group and finally, if so desired putting it into a storage view to expose it to a host on the VPLEX front end. In counting the steps pre-VIAS and post-VIAS, we have been able to reduce the steps by over 90%. The effect of this is nothing short of transformational. Large data center environments suddenly become easy to manage and work with.

    Here are some screenshots of how VIAS looks:

    image
    VIAS: Selecting consistency group
    image
    VIAS: Selecting protection options
    image
    VIAS: Selecting storage pool
    image
    VIAS: Selecting storage view
    image
    VIAS: Review and finish

    Here is a demo put together by Jen Aspesi to show how VIAS works (Her post on VIAS is here).

    Once again here is a brief video that Mr. Danahy and I put together to walk through the benefits of VPLEX Integrated Array Services (VIAS).

    To us, VIAS represents a quantum leap forward in terms of simplifying the life of the VPLEX administrator and enabling them to address the data center sprawl. Do let us know what you think!

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