Tag Archives: hyper-converged

blazer

#VFD4 – Scale Computing – Hyperconvergence for a 4 year old

Yes, that’s what Jason Collier, CTO and co-founder of Scale Computing, said in his presentation at VFD4. A 4-year-old deployed a Windows server virtual machine.

It may sound like an infomercial but Jason is not your typical CTO either.  A cowboy with a Star Wars shirt underneath an infamous blazer he kept kicking his cluster with his boots during the demo at Virtualization Field Day 4.

The focus and vision of Scale Computing is to solve the complexity of modern infrastructure. Through out the on site demo, yes ON SITE (this makes a delegate giddy), simplicity, scalability and high availability were emphasized. A virtual solution right out of the box and intuitive without training the staff.

Honestly, Scale Computing, was the last session of a long technical week but their story was intriguing enough to keep myself and the rest of the delegates engaged. Created in 2007, Scale Computing debuted their product at VMworld of all places. Yes, VMware’s conference, direct competition. Needless to say, I don’t think they’ll be getting an invite back. But they really don’t need to, Scale Computing is focused on the small to medium-sized markets. They have over 1000 customers and one of their larger deployments is of 8 three node clusters. The product is meant for the company with a small IT department or maybe no IT department at all.roy

What separates Scale Computing from the others is they do not run off of a VSA (virtual storage appliance). There is no VM in the data path instead they use QEMU which provides a storage pathing component that directly connects to the KVM kernel. They have created their own distribution based on RHEL and , along with SCRIBE, have eliminated storage protocols.  Scale Computing has also built an orchestration stack to control all of the components.  For now, that means no exposed APIs or CLI commands for the IT admin.  This is to keep the integrity of the product and to fully support the complete stack.

What’s great about using QEMU is you can virtualize anything that runs on a x86 platform. Collier referenced a customer with OS/2 virtualized in their environment.  In a past life, this would have been useful to me!

The solution is plug and play hyperconvergence for the SMBs out there. Rack, stack and plug-in an IP on the console and your first node is up and running. IP your second host and point it to the cluster and now you have added a node to the cluster. The interface is simple as well, the top shows the CPU, RAM and Disk utilization  of your cluster .  Click on disk and it shows you each node and the amount of space used.3nodes

Creating a VM is simple. Hit the plus sign and you get this screen.  Virtual disks are provided by the SCRIBE daemon and performance drivers are Virtio.   This eliminates storage protocols and provides seamless integration into the QEMU/KVM based VM.

createVM

 

 

 

 

CPU, RAM and disk size options depend on the clusters capabilities.  See your cluster options here.  The hardware is Dell and pricing is again simple with premium tech support included for the first year.  Scale Computing is offering tech support as a product too.  24×7, 365 days you’ll get support from a technician in Indianapolis, Indiana. High end support is very important to this company and it shows with a higher customer loyalty rating than Apple (and Apple lovers are crazy!)

Now that you have created the VM, you can boot from an ISO that you have uploaded to the Control Center.
ISOs

Want to migrate a VM? No problem, click on the arrows and click on the host you want it to live migrate/vMotion (maybe they need their own vernacular).amysclone

Here I moved from the first host onto the second host in the cluster.

vmsonserver

Rolling upgrades, non-disruptive host adds, console within a web browser; it’s all just easy.  Clone in seconds thanks to the power of SCRIBE.

Now does something this simple, offer HA and replication? Yes!
This is where reusing your old hardware and current virtualization product could be used. In this type of market, cost is key and many may not be willing to give up their previous virtual environment of choice. Simply, select Remote Clusters and add your cluster. I hope you have noticed that we are going to replicate from the Empire to the Rebellion.
replication.rebellion

A secure SSH tunnel and key exchange takes place for replication.  All of the configuration and metadata is replicated so you can recover your entire VM by cloning from the snapshot.

replication

All VM snapshots are replicated every 5 minutes using asynchronous replication.  After the initial sync, just block differentials get pushed.  There isn’t any fancy dedupe options but if you base your images off of the same clone, only the metadata will be sent to the replication site. VSS support will be available in upcoming releases.

SCRIBE as the backend is essential to all of this.  With QEMU, virtual machines share a memory buffer with SCRIBE.  SCRIBE can schedule I/O using the memory buffer. Metadata gets cached locally in memory but the data is striped across the whole cluster.

The paxos protocol comes into play during a failure scenario as seen below.

failover

A is replicated to the DR site.  B is cloned off of A and has the metadata replicated and so forth for C.  D on the right,is created after the failure.  Once the primary site is online, the system realizes D is based off a snapshot of B so only “2” is replicated back since the original data is existing at the primary site. Note,  it is a manual process to failover and to failback.

The interface is simple but the underlying technology is not.  I could go on but you can learn more about SCRIBE from Storage Field Day 5

Most of us being VMware users almost felt guilty loving this solution.  It fills a gap where consumers may just be entering the virtual space or are ready for the next level but licensing comes into play.  Staff also may not be virtualization experts but with Scale Computing’s solution and support, they can provide a fully scalable virtual solution with DR capabilities to their company.

I would love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions.