Discussing all things virtualization and storage in the data center.

A comment or two on virtualisation

So the vendor evangelists have been preaching the "Thou shalts" and the "Thou shalt nots" of storage virtualisation again.  Seems like it was sparked by an interwiew that Jay Kidd gave to Searchstorage.  This may go on the Ruptured Monkey list of recommended reading, but not because its a particularly great article, rather because of a couple of bizarre comments from Jay.

Now I tend to read through blogs and storage articles while munching one some food.  The thing is, this is becoming an increasingly hazardous pass time.  Reason being, these vendor evangelists are casually dropping in comments that are causing me to choke on my food.  Below are just a couple that I have to comment on.

Jay says that the NetApp V-Series is a direct competitor to the Hitachi Tagmastore when it comes to storage virtualisation.  <cue coughing on food>  A bit like comparing a boy scout raft to the Concord jet when it comes to crossing the Atlantic!  I won't bore you with any more on that one.

Then Chuck Hollis made the following comment on a post on his blog ".... file virtualisation goes in pretty easily compared to storage virtualisation or even server virtualisation.  With the right solution and use case, there aren't issues with performance, or migration, or management, or compatibility."  Blatantly implying that storage virtualisation does NOT go in "pretty easily" and is fraught with "issues". 

Now of course Chuck is Mr EMC, but I cannot believe he is that ignorant of the simplicity of Hitachi virtualisation.  He may not like it, and he may think that fundamentally its approach is flawed.  But one thing he cannot do is say that it is difficult to implement and riddled with issues.  Im not wearing a Hitachi hat here, I'm just saying it how it is.  Ive implemented and worked with a fair bit of Hitachi virtualisation, and to be honest Id actually like it to be a little more difficult to implement - at least that way it would keep my daily rates up.  And as for the "issues" Chuck implies, Ive seen precious few.  One can only assume from Chucks comment that he is referring to EMC storage virtualisation solutions when he implies difficulty of installation and other associated issues ;-)

In fact, Chuck goes on to say the following about file virtualisation - "The stuff just seems to go in pretty well, and starts doing the job. Not a lot of drama".  To be honest, I couldn't have said it better about my experience with Hitachi storage virtualisation.  Again, I'm not wearing my Hitachi hat here, I make no comments about whether the controller is the right place or not for storage virtualisation, I'm simply commenting on how easily it is implemented and used day to day down here in the trenches.  Its either really simple, or Im just sooo good at it - and I think its the former of the two.

Jay also makes a comment along the lines that the device doing the virtualisation must have the combined horse power of all the boxes it is virualising.  Messrs Yoshida and Hollis appear to agree, but I don't.  (I think that Hu only agreed as it gave him another opportunity to sound off about the might of the USP). 

Of course if performance is the Holy Grail then yes I may agree.  However, Ive seen lots of environments that run large numbers of Windows hosts and the disks are barely warm (in fact Ive heard rumours that some were even rusty).  In these environments it's not absolutely necessary for the virtualisation device to be "all powerful".  Ive also seen environments where storage tiering is implemented through Hitachi virtualisation.  Lower tiers are hung off the back of a Tag and used for staging backups and ... well ... other stuff that you use your lower tiers for.  In these situations it is clearly not necessary for the Tagmastore to have the combined horse power of all the devices hung off the back of it.

Then finally a couple of non technical statements that I must comment on.

Chuck closed his post with the following comment - "And -- for me -- vision is everything".  Well Chuck, you just keep dreaming ;-)

But the final word must go to Jay.  When he was asked by Beth, from Searchstorage, "Who is NetApp?" he reassuringly responding with "That's what we're figuring out now".  

Oh Dear!


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