There is an emerging cadre of vendors in the storage space that are making the case that, as the number of virtual machines running on each physical server steadily increases, existing approaches to storage are not going to cut it from a performance perspective.
One of those vendors is Astute Networks, which just launched a ViSX G4 Flash VM storage appliance that uses Flash memory to boost I/O performance in virtual server environments up to a factor of 10.
According to Astute Networks CEO Steve Topper, the company accomplishes this by marrying Flash memory to data pump technology embedded on an ASIC processor the company developed that is designed to work over TCP/IP. To the application, the Astute Networks appliance appears to be an extremely fast iSCSI device. Part of the boost in I/O performance, adds Topper, is also attributable to the company’s ability to support inline data deduplication at 10Gb Ethernet wire speeds. That not only improves performance, it significantly reduces the amount of data that needs to be processed and stored.
The end result, claims Topper, is a system that can support 140,000 sustained IOPs across 9.6 TB of Flash storage.
The real issue, however, may not be the battle between emerging and incumbent vendors in the storage space, but rather the internecine warfare between virtual machine and storage administrators in the data center. As more virtualization administrators get frustrated with existing storage limitations, many of them are starting to take it upon themselves to try and solve their I/O issues. In many instances, that means deploying storage systems managed by the virtualization administrator that run in parallel to legacy storage systems. Obviously, that creates a lot of issues from a data management perspective, so it’s only a matter of time before that conflict comes to a head.
But in the meantime, application performance continues to trump all other issues. But one day soon IT organizations are going to have to address some pretty fundamental storage management issues that only become more chronic with the provisioning of each and every new virtual machine.