VMware Back Away From The Edge

March 25, 2014 in Branch Office, Comparison, Storage, SvSAN, Virtualization

The release of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) has generated a lot of buzz with much discussion on how it can be used to replace traditional storage arrays, create converged storage infrastructures within data center environments and how large it can scale up to. However, no one is questioning the suitability of VSAN outside the data center.

The arrival of VSAN also marks the end of VMware vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA), which had been positioned as their Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) storage solution. VMware has withdrawn the availability of VSA as of April 1, 2014, providing existing VSA customers with only a few weeks notice. With the hasty retirement of their ROBO solution, VSA and with VSAN focusing on the large data center deployments, what storage options are available for edge enterprises running VMware? Customers that have tens or thousands of edge sites require a storage solution that can deliver high availability with a minimal IT footprint at a low cost. Does VSAN really fit the bill? Let’s take a look at the requirements and costs of VSAN.

VSAN Server Requirements
Typically, customers with edge locations strive to keep the server and storage infrastructure to a minimum, preferring to only deploy 2 servers and a small amount of shared storage to maintain high availability. VSAN has a minimum requirement of three servers, adding an extra 50% to the cost of the solution.

VSAN Storage Requirements
Each server in a VSAN cluster must have at least one solid-state disk (SSD) and one hard disk. While the performance offered by SSDs may be required for some applications, the majority of enterprise edge applications simply do not require them. This “hard” requirement increases the cost of the infrastructure at each edge location, even though the performance may not be required.

VSAN Memory Requirements
VSAN has the following memory requirements; a minimum of 6GB for a single disk group, up to 32GB for the maximum of 5 disk groups.

VSAN Networking Requirements
VSAN requires, at a minimum, a private 1Gb/s network to connect the servers, ideally two or more to provide resilient connectivity between servers. However, as per the vSphere 5.5 documentation, best practice would be to use a 10Gb/s network. While it is not mandatory 10Gb/s networking is rarely required or even available at enterprise edge locations. This would again increase the infrastructure costs.

VSAN Hypervisor Requirements
Reading through the VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 1 release notes it is clear that VSAN is implemented as a VMware vSphere kernel module only available in VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 1 or later and must be managed by vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1.

As VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 1 and VSAN was only made generally available on March 11th 2014, it maybe considered too new for some enterprise organizations to adopt and deploy. Many may opt to wait until a future release is available and deploy once the initial bugs have been ironed out. In addition to this VMware have made it clear that there is no easy upgrade path from the beta version to the generally available version. In fact the only option is to perform a reinstallation.

Being implemented as a kernel module, VSAN creates hypervisor lock-in, restricting customer choice and eliminating the practice of multi-hypervisor strategies.

VSAN Costs
In addition to the increased server, SSD and memory costs, VSAN needs to be licensed separately, which is over and above the base vSphere licensing. Current list prices for VSAN are $2,495 per CPU socket. Therefore for 3 hosts with 2 CPUs each, VSAN licensing would add $14,970 to the infrastructure costs.

SvSAN – A Dedicated Solution for the Edge
The introduction of VMware VSAN has validated the need for a software approach to delivering shared storage. VSAN, is however clearly aimed at data center implementations where the higher costs and server requirements can be justified when replacing traditional storage arrays. This focus and VMware’s decision to end the availability of VSA would indicate that VMware are backing away from the edge.

In short VSAN is not an appropriate solution for the enterprise edge; it needs a minimum of 3 servers, each requiring an SSD, more memory and additional VSAN licensing all of which makes it prohibitively expensive, especially as the number of remote sites increases.

A better solution would be to deploy StorMagic SvSAN, which has been specifically designed and optimized for enterprise edge environments that require highly available, shared storage.

SvSAN has several deployment options, starting from the all-important two-server configuration required by the edge, with the ability to scale-out to unlimited nodes. This combined with lightweight server resource requirements, the capability of using internal server storage including SSDs and running on either VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V, along with flexible capacity based licensing makes SvSAN the perfect solution for enterprise edge environments.

For more information on SvSAN call US +1 800 517 5282, UK +44 (0)117 9527390  or email info@stormagic.com.

To download a free trial visit www.stormagic.com.

SvSAN 5.1 Launched, Now Generally Available

January 6, 2014 in News, SvSAN

At VMworld 2013, we launched Version 5.1 of our flagship product SvSAN.  Initial feedback on the new features has been fantastic.  The new version is generally available to the market and available for evaluation on the StorMagic website.

IT organizations have increasingly been looking for alternative virtualization solutions for multi-site environments, mostly because of their need to lower costs.  SvSAN 5.1 extends hypervisor support and compatibility to include Microsoft’s Hyper-V, enabling organizations to manage distributed vSphere and Hyper-V environments.  This also adds tremendous flexibility and makes the transition to a vSphere, Hyper-V or mixed environment easier and more efficient.

In addition to support for Microsoft Hyper-V, new elements in SvSAN 5.1 include:

  • VSA restore This feature simplifies and automates the process of recovering a virtual storage appliance (VSA), rebuilding mirrored targets and replacing failed vSphere servers. This maximizes the highly available, shared storage SvSAN delivers – and the value users receive from it.
  • Support for the VMware Atomic Test Set (ATS) fundamental operation. ATS can lock specific disk sectors instead of an entire disk, helping to avoid disk contention issues in clusters during metadata updates.
  • Virtual machine and Linux support for the SvSAN neutral storage host (NSH). The NSH now can be installed as a service to an existing Linux server/virtual machine, giving users extra deployment flexibility.
For more information on the SvSAN contact us on +44 (0)117 952 7390 or info@stormagic.com.


Centralized or Decentralized IT? Which is Better?

August 13, 2013 in Branch Office, Comparison, Multi-Site, Storage, SvSAN, Whitepaper

One of the most prevalent debates among enterprise IT professionals today is about whether a centralized or decentralized IT infrastructure delivers more value to an organization.  Organizations with multiple sites or extensive remote networks have particular difficulty in being decisive, as the wrong choice can have such profound effects on the resiliency, manageability and cost to their distributed business operations.

While there are pros and cons to each approach, there are three primary factors to consider when making your own decision about what method is best for your organization

1.     Manageability

IT infrastructures need to be efficient, responsive and flexible to deal with ever-changing business demands. Which approach is simpler to manage and will minimize the operations burden on existing IT staff and resources?

2.     Cost and Efficiency

What does the initial infrastructure hardware and software cost?  What are the measures to ensure desired levels of availability and performance?  Will various components be interoperable or lock an organization in with a certain vendor?  How efficiently does the infrastructure scale up to service business growth or additional needs?  Which approach minimizes these considerations and reduces operational expenditure on floor space, power and cooling?

3.     Time to Deploy

Which approach minimizes the amount of time it takes to deploy and maintain the solution(s) in the infrastructure?

Both approaches have pros and cons, is it possible to deploy an optimized, integrated infrastructure that maximizes the benefits of both at the same time?  If this were possible, what would the ideal storage solution look like?

StorMagic has published a new white paper with much more detail on centralized and decentralized IT environments.  It contains the latest data and best practices for how to answer all of these questions, and advises professionals about how best to deploy an IT infrastructure to maximize benefits and minimize costs for an entire organization.

See StorMagic at the Cisco Live Partner Pavilion

June 18, 2013 in Events, Storage, SvSAN

Cisco Live in Orlando is just around the corner starting next week on the 23rd till the 27th and StorMagic is at the center of it all. We are exhibiting and presenting at the Enterprise Networks Partner Pavilion (Booth #921) which is on route to the Cisco Campus.

Come by our stand or attend one of our sessions to learn how StorMagics SvSAN is solving the key challenges of enterprise organizations managing a distributed IT infrastructure where there is high risk of revenue loss or liability.

Session Times

-          Tuesday 25th at 16:45 – 17:00

-          Wednesday 26th at 16:30 – 16:45

-          Thursday 27th at 12:30 – 12:45

We will also be hosting live hands-on demos of SvSAN at our booth so come rounds and see it for yourself.

All booth visitors will be entered into our draw to win a new iPad mini. The winner will be announced at the end of the event but don’t worry if you’re not there, we’ll send it to you if your name is drawn.

Distributed IT, Centralized / De-Centralized? – Get the best of both

June 11, 2013 in Branch Office, Multi-Site, Retail, SvSAN

As highlighted in the recent report from the INI Group, Analysis of IT at the Retail Store, it is clear that enterprise IT are primarily taking 1 of 2 paths in the development of their distributed IT infrastructure.

To provide improved management of their distributed infrastructure, many organizations are centralizing their data and applications at the datacenter and/or public cloud. Although this is very cost effective and provides central IT with more control, it leaves the business vulnerable to extended downtime across the board. If a site loses connection to the datacenter and/or cloud it will have no/limited access to applications required to do business. Even worse, if the datacenter/cloud goes down, your entire network goes down with it.

There are also many looking at decentralization to give distributed sites more independence from central IT by hosting business critical data and applications on-site. Although this method ensures uptime, it is very costly to implement, support and maintain as typically traditional physical storage solutions, such as Storage Area Networks (SANs), are utilized at each location.

StorMagic’s SvSAN provides the best of both worlds by enabling organizations to achieve affordable high availability at their distributed sites while maintaining management from central IT. See how a large big box retailer did just that and saved over $10m on hardware cost alone across their 2200 sites.

The Retail Store Infrastructure: Less is More

April 29, 2013 in Branch Office, Multi-Site, Retail, Storage, SvSAN

The mindset towards onsite IT has changed drastically. Over the years there has been a gradual move away from the traditional hefty store IT infrastructure with more investment into implementing streamlined environments which are de-centralized in application control but centralized in management.

For retail IT, ensuring uptime of critical applications across their stores is their number 1 priority as application downtime directly impacts the bottom line. But unfortunately very often more time is spent putting out metaphorical fires than fireproofing.

This is why enterprise IT are turning to Virtual Storage Appliances (VSA) as an alternative to or to replace their remote site Storage Area Networks. SAN solutions provide the shared storage required to ensure availability of data and applications but can create more fires than they prevent, because:

  • You virtualized your store environments for simplicity and improved management. SAN solutions re-complicate these environments and require specialist storage expertise to manage.
  • SAN solutions are a high CAPEX & OPEX investment which over time requires additional upgrades and eventual retirement.
  • Although a SAN solution is implemented to provide availability of data/applications, it is a single point of failure in the environment. 2 SAN solutions would be required to remedy this and could almost double your CAPEX.

In a recent Retail Technology Study, RIS news detail how retailers are evolving to keep up with the winds of change. As part of the study, RIS explains that as the retail technology stack evolves, so does the architecture approach to software.

StorMagic’s VSA solution, SvSAN, achieves affordable application uptime, shared storage, high availability and reliability while eliminating the need for physical storage networks at your retail stores.

StorMagic’s SvSAN is ideal for remote sites because of the following:

-          Simple to use and manage.

-          Significantly reduced capital costs

-          Automated, fast and easy deployment over dozens, hundreds and thousands of remote sites

-          vSphere integration providing single pane of glass management across all remote sites

-          Low ongoing operational costs

-          Small footprint

-          Hardware independence

-          Excellent application performance

-          True 2 server High Availability (HA) without local quorum server requirement


Retail Customer Brief

StorMagic SvSAN, VMware vSphere Storage Appliance Feature Comparison

April 9, 2013 in Comparison, Storage, SvSAN

StorMagic’s virtual storage appliance (VSA) solution, SvSAN, enables organizations to achieve affordable remote site redundancy with less capital and IT investment. A recent big box retailer saved over $10 million in hardware alone with SvSAN and further savings with rapid deployment functionality across their 2200+ stores.

In this side by side comparison between StorMagic’s SvSAN and VMware’s vSphere Storage Appliance, we show that SvSAN is delivering functionality that holds value to organizations managing multiple distributed sites.

comparison date: February 2013

Try SvSAN for 60 Days:  Download Now



Fresh oil for the StorMagic machine

April 3, 2013 in Multi-Site, News, Storage, SvSAN

Recently StorMagic appointed Sonny Bennett to direct product management at a critical point in the company’s rapid growth. Sonny bring over 14 year of experience as a storage architects and takes a senior role in defining product requirements for enterprise organizations with multiple distributed sites.

“It is critical that our products address the specific challenges of branch-office environments, including availability, performance, serviceability and centralized management,” explains Hans O’Sullivan, CEO of StorMagic.

StorMagic is experiencing continued success because of a significant demand for enterprise-class virtual storage for virtual server environments. In recent news, a big-box retailer saved over $10m on hardware alone by implementing StorMagic’s SvSAN across their 2200+ stores instead of other competitive virtual storage appliance (VSA) solutions.

Enable Retail Distributed Store Uptime with Virtualization and Virtual Storage Appliances

March 20, 2013 in Branch Office, Multi-Site, Retail, Storage, SvSAN, Whitepaper

Virtualization  helps drive down the cost of IT by consolidating servers, reducing maintenance costs and lowering management overhead. Just as importantly, advanced features make it possible to achieve high availability for critical store applications. With high availability, applications that support revenue generation and applications that support efficiency, cost containment and risk management are always available. It’s no surprise, then that InformationWeek.com, using data from a recent IDC study, highlighted virtualization as the top priority for CIO’s.

Employees, partners, and customers may access an organization’s applications from virtually anywhere: from the office, from home, or on the road. And they expect the applications to be available, regardless of where the applications run, whether from a centralized corporate data center, from a cloud service, from a remote site or from some combination of the three.

CIO’s and IT administrators responsible for retail IT operations face unique challenges at the store level that have, until recently been barriers to delivering high availability. These barriers are:

  • High hardware and software acquisition costs
  • High maintenance costs
  • The lack of onsite skilled IT staff

Shared storage is a key enabling technology for high availability and an absolute requirement for advanced availability features. Shared storage has also however, been a prime contributor to high acquisition costs, high maintenance costs, and the need for onsite, highly-skilled IT staff.

Download this informative whitepaper to learn how virtual storage appliances are enabling retail organizations to deliver uptime in their distributed store environments.

Download the Whitepaper

Enable Store Availability So You Can Focus on Your Infrastructure Development

March 7, 2013 in Multi-Site, Retail, SvSAN

StorMagic understands the challenges of running business-critical applications at remote sites, especially for large regional or national retail organizations with many locations and no IT resources at the store level.

So how do you achieve affordable application uptime, shared storage, high availability and reliability while eliminating the need for physical storage networks at your retail stores? For infrastructure management teams, implementing network storage in-store ensures availability of business applications, but the expense is too high.

StorMagic’s SvSAN is ideal for remote sites because of the following:

  • Simple to use and manage.
  • Significantly reduced capital costs
  • Automated, fast and easy deployment over dozens, hundreds and thousands of remote sites
  • vSphere integration providing single pane of glass management across all remote sites
  • Low ongoing operational costs
  • Small footprint
  • Hardware independence
  • Excellent application performance
  • True 2 server High Availability (HA) without local quorum server requirement

Read how a big box retailer with over 2200 locations is deploying SvSAN to dozens of sites weekly with an estimated $10m in cost savings. Learn More

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