Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Rubrik’s, Chris Wahl speaks about bacon and more

Q: So you went to the darkside, are there really cookies?

A: Not only are there cookies, but also plenty of bacon! I will say that having spent time on the customer and partner sides of the triangle has given me a true appreciation for the contrasts of working at a vendor (and a startup, no less).

*Amy ponders which bacon*
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Q: Besides the obvious, what enticed you to work for Rubrik as a technical evangelist?

A: Rubrik’s executive team spent time listening to my personal and career goals to best understand how we could make the business relationship thrive. My deeper research revealed a dazzling team of supremely talented folks coupled with a glowing strategic roadmap, thus creating an opportunity that demanded my attention. It also triggered my passion to try something new and challenging while still remaining tightly bound to the community at large. In short, it was a role that I couldn’t turn down.

Q: Why doesn’t Rubrik want to be known as hyperconverged?  It’s a buzzword we all know and love.

A: Ah, yes, that’s definitely a hot button of mine! Rubrik is certainly a converged data management platform due to coupling scale-out storage across on-site and cloud resources while also allowing users to directly mount workloads on our appliances. Hyperconverged platforms (otherwise referred to as Server SAN by Wikibon) pool both storage and compute resources for workloads to run directly on the nodes. It’s a subtle yet important difference.

Q: A big hurdle with backing up VMs if they are large, the snapshots can run long and can be stunned for too long. Rubrik says they have a solution for it, how do you solve this problem?

A: That’s a great question. Stunning is a common issue when using vSphere APIs for Data Protection (VADP) with standard VMware snapshots against chatty virtual machines, even if they are relatively small in size. There are two ways that we combat the stun duration for successful backups. First, the Rubrik engineering team wrote a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) Provider that works directly with the guest operating system to efficiently quiesce IO. It also grants much greater granularity than standard API usage. Second, all of the data sent to the Rubrik fabric is ingested by flash, thus reducing the amount of time we have to hold open a snapshot to grab modified data listed by Change Block Tracking (CBT). The muscle power in flash also allows a multitude of backup jobs to flow into the fabric simultaneously while also providing a vSphere datastore for Instant Mount workloads. This mix of reads and writes is the infamous “IO blender” concern. Contrast this approach to legacy backup storage systems that are built of capacity disk and can only eek out a few hundred or thousand IOPS across a cabinet or two while assuming long, sequential writes or the occasional restore.

Q: How do you think Rubrik will change the backup mindset that we as engineers have had for so many years.  Data protection that doesn’t do restorations? You know heads are exploding, right?

A: Haha, well, I think we’re making everyone’s life better in a multitude of ways. Another way of looking at change is to label it opportunity, grab on with both hands, and see where it leads. I’d like to imagine that in a few years, the idea of having instantaneous access to data across on-site and cloud resources using a Google-like search engine will be the new normal. A bit like when the iPhone came out and made the Blackberry and RAZR look obsolete overnight. Engineers that can realize the potential of a platform that gives them the ultimate control over data will be of incredible value to their organizations. It’s also much simpler to express data protection in terms of an SLA, and then let Rubrik handle the daily minutia of jobs and tasks, versus wasting time fine tuning a set of backup schedules.

Q: Bipul Sinha, really emphasizes that the file system and software is inspired by modern web architecture, is this the true magic behind Rubrik?

A: Other than the vendors, no one enjoys head swaps or having to buy storage controllers with enough headroom to last 3, 5, or 7 years down the road. Not only is that nearly impossible to do, but it encourages wasted CapEx on depreciating assets and prevents organizations from iteratively improving their data center. The ability to create a shared-nothing file system that also provides instant restore capabilities is the key to scale – both up and down. I’d also give a nod to the massive amount of Rubrik engineers that worked at Google, Facebook, VMware, and so forth – they’re not just talking the talk, they’ve already walked the walk.

Q: This leads me to the scale-out dedupe or using a dedupe domain to cover many nodes.  That is pretty slick.

A: I’d agree! Global data efficiencies are especially important as the data capacity required to run an organization increases, and many environments I worked with as a consultant have an “infinite retention” policy. The more data you put into a globally efficient the system, the better the resulting space saving ratios will become. Additionally, the data efficiencies scale-out into the cloud, further reducing the cost of off-premises storage while still being searchable in real-time and supporting single-file restores. It’s pretty groovy tech. 🙂

Q: What’s the biggest game changer that Rubrik brings to the world of backups?

A: My mind is tied between two features: real-time search and a rich set of RESTful APIs. After all, Amy, you hit the nail on the head earlier – it’s all about getting your data back! Predictive search across all data points with full-VM or single-file restore blows away having to keep catalogs on relational databases or tape vaults, especially when you’re the engineer that is dealing with bringing back lost or corrupt data. When added to a full suite of native APIs, it gives our customers and the entire ecosystem the ability to customize or tweak the platform to their unique tastes. In fact, our UI uses the same API that is made available to our customers – everyone is a first class citizen.

Q: Do you miss articulation, your minifigure does not have knees but,  on the plus side, a sweet leisure suit!

A: I’m just happy to know that he’s found a good home. And lack of knees means he can cut a rug on the dance floor like no one’s business, right?

wahlChris viewing Mt. Maunganul, New Zealand courtesy of Alastair Cooke

 Watch the technical deep dive from Virtualization Field Day 5.

Rubrik Technology Deep Dive from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Arvind Nithrakashyap takes a deep look at the technology behind Rubrik. Recorded at Virtualization Field Day 5 on June 25, 2015. For more information, please visit http://www.rubrik.com or http://TechFieldDay.com/event/vfd5

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SolarWinds thwackCamp 2015

This year, SolarWinds thwackCamp virtual conference is coming up next week on July 15-16.

This year’s keynote, “What Will You Solve Next,” will be delivered by SolarWinds CTO and CIO, Joel Dolisy; group vice president of product strategy, Nikki Jennings; and head geek, Patrick Hubbard. I had the pleasure of meeting Joel and Nikki at Virtualization Field Day 4, hosted at the SolarWinds headquarters in Austin, TX. I was impressed with their AppStack offering and all of the plug-ins that Orion has as a platform, coming the closest to the unicorn “single pane of glass.” You can read more on that here

This year, the sessions are breaking out into two tracks:

1) SolarWinds How-To, with sessions focused on topics like, “Finding the Needle in the AppStack: Troubleshooting Application Performance” and “SolarWinds Orion Scalability Best Practices and Futures.”

2) Industry Topics, with focuses such as, “Crossing the Great Divide: Conversations between IT, Networking and Security Ops” and “Seven Signs your Database Server is Lying to You.”

Some of my favorite SolarWinds geeks like Leon Adato and Kong Yang, will be presenting on the geekside of these topics.

For DevOps fans or naysayers, there will be an expert panel on, “DevOps: A Magical Unicorn that is Transforming Service Delivery.”

All the details can be found here on their website

It looks educational, fun and FREE! Topics like the “Crossing the Great Divide” are so applicable in today’s IT world. Personally, I believe companies need to work on getting all teams to cross train or at least play nice together for streamlining solutions to the customer. It is easier said than done.

Recordings will also be available after the live event but you’ll miss out on Q&A and give-a-ways.

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Come full circle with NexGen Storage

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NexGen is storage that’s not just intended for virtualization, they support Citrix, VMware and Hyper-V,  but general use storage as well.  The founders of Lefthand, John Spiers and Kelly Long came up with NexGen.  Eventually acquired by Fusion I/O and onto SanDisk, as of January 2015, they are now their own entity once more. (insert clapping!)

The main difference between NexGen and other storage vendors with acceleration is that the appliance uses PCIe Flash. Using the memory bus brings in lower latency and higher bandwidth than SSDs.  You can scale out simple by adding PCIe flash devices and interconnects are SAS/SATA between trays.  Flash is only for write cache and RAM is used for read cache.

 

There are five QoS policies for performance with 3 categories:  mission critical, business critical and non-critical.  Below shows the prioritized active cache for each setting:

 

qospriority

 

 You can map these policies directly to VMware’s storage policies per VVOL which brings simplicity with management.  In the demo, NexGen shows how you can create containers, map them to a policy and deploy VMs to the selected VVOL/policy.

 VVOL Demo

 As far as vSphere, the NexGen appliance is designed to converge infrastructure management to capitalize on the newer vSphere 6 capabilities. They are a VASA 2.0 provider, allow QoS on the I/O type now with NexGen ioControl 3.5.  That means they are the first and only NVMe ready with VM-level QoS.  These enhancements do depend on VVOLS but with it you can change the data-path rather than a SvMotion.

NexGen does provide a vCenter plugin and a web-based interface.
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Along with that there is a REST API you can call with PowerCLI or JSON .
With vCenter integration, you can get information like per VMDK storage metrics, IOPS, queue depth, through-put and block-size. SAN metrics are saved for a year on each VM and you can correlate the entire data path for performance statistics gathering.

 

 At Virtualization Field Day 5,they showed how you can change policies on the fly and it will immediately impact the VM. Bringing up the point that you don’t have to do a storage vMotion to faster storage but just change the policy on the VVOL, seems pretty slick.

NexGen Storage QoS Manager for VMware from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

 

Disclosure: I learned about NexGen Storage at Virtualization Field Day 5. All travel and incidental expenses for attending Virtualization Field Day 5 were paid for by Gestalt IT. This was the only compensation provided and it did not influence the content of this post.