Thursday, 30 April 2015 16:10

SimpliVity promises simpler, cheaper virtualisation

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SimpliVity's hardware accelerator based approach eliminates the need for special-purpose appliances, the company claims.

SimpliVity's goal is to "simplify data centre IT infrastructure" and reduce the TCO for midsize and larger organisations, the company's vice president for Asia Pacific and Japan Scott Morris told iTWire, adding that organisations with as few as 10 virtual machines can benefit.

This is achieved by removing the need for the various appliances that are often installed in data centres to support traditional or converged systems - WAN optimisation, deduplication and archiving, backup, second and third tier storage, flash arrays and so on.

Not only do they take up space, they also represent a significant administrative load, and firms such as Gartner and IDC have found they occupy as much as 80% of operations time, Morris said.

Even the arrival of what he calls "true convergence" - generic blocks, each with plenty of memory and storage, assembled with software that presents them as one big resource pool - might have saved data centre real estate and reduced the number of points of management, it didn't remove the need for specialist appliances.

SimpliVity's founder - chairman and CEO Doron Kempel - realised this proliferation was a problem, and that the real challenge was to deliver the amount of I/O required across the whole system, Morris said.

The answer was to combine commoditised x86-based building blocks (each with its own processor, memory, storage and networking; available from SimpliVity [pictured] or Cisco) with SimpliVity's OmniStack PCIe accelerator card and management software that works with vCenter.

The accelerator takes care of the deduplication, compression and optimisation of data, "once and forever across the entire global federation of SimpliVity technology," he said, without using server resources.

This means there is no need for storage deduplication (that was taken care of before the data was stored), WAN optimisation (again, compression and deduplication has already been done), backup deduplication, and so on.

So rather than being a large file, each VM is just a map pointing to deduplicated blocks. This means VMs can be backed up, cloned or recovered extremely quickly, even between sites.

Morris pointed to the experience of customer Dairy Farmers of America, which went from 1PB of backups to 3PB in just six months, yet the physical storage used grew by just 2TB.

Dairy Farmers of America also reports that a 1.5TB VM can be backed up or restored in less than a minute rather than the eight to 10 hours previously required.

Furthermore, an entire system - even one that is spread across multiple sites - can be completely managed by a single administrator within vCenter.

SimpliVity's VM-centricity means the administrator is not concerned with LUNs, volumes and so on, and the attributes and policies associated with a virtual machine follow it wherever it runs.

This leads to "massive operational savings" allowing staff to be redeployed to more valuable work.

SimpliVity's approach also reduces the data centre footprint - a rack of equipment can be replaced with gear that takes just 4U or 6U - with corresponding power and cooling savings.

"It is an enterprise-class building block" and "a true revolution," claimed Morris, offering as much as a threefold reduction in total cost of ownership compared with traditional architectures.

The ease of expansion - buy the next block and "it's up in three hours" - makes SimpliVity a true pay-as-you-grow approach, he said, as customers do not need to size systems to accommodate future growth. And by buying extra nodes as required, customers stand to get the benefit of the ongoing improvement in hardware price/performance ratios.

While SimpliVity is applicable to almost any vertical, early adopters in Australia have largely been in the manufacturing, financial services, education, and services sectors. In the Asia Pacific region, government, telcos and cloud services companies can be added to that list, Morris said.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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