Hello from Prague! It was an exciting day at Catalyst Europe for Data Center Strategies.
Chris Wolf and I kicked off the day in the "Virtualization: Beyond Consolidation" topic with a dual-keynote. My half of the presentation discussed the need for a more agile IT infrastructure -- a Dynamic Data Center (DDC). The DDC is the theme, not only for Catalyst, but also for DCS as a whole. All of the other presentations built on this theme. Chris gave his "state of the virtualization union" describing how far virtualization has come (in terms of adoption for consolidation, hardware support, new features), but also how much virtualization needs to improve (in terms of licesning, management, performance, availability).
Steve Herrod, CTO of VMware, gave an excellent presentation on the next generation virtual desktops. He talked about the need for workloads to follow the user no matter what type of mobile device he/she is using. To me, this is especially interesting because it brings the power of a dynamic data center to the end user and greatly impacts the way we work.
Ian Pratt, from Citrix, talked about solving some of the performance and security issues associated with virtualization. He talked about paravirtualized or "enlightened" drivers and how NPTs can lead to significant performance improvements. He made several good points about security and compliance created with migration, as well as, keeping the hypervisor as thin as possible to reduce the attack surface.
Alexander Schanz from DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (German air traffic control organization) discussed the issues with migration to server virtualization and the resulting management challenges....a real treat to hear from a real customer virtualization migration scenario. Burton Group end-user scenarios are a trademark of Catalyst and this one didn't disappoint.
Chris then moderated a panel discussion with Steve Herrod (VMware), Ian Pratt (Citrix), Etay Bogner (Neocleus), Daniel McCall (Virtual Computer). The panel discussion topics ranged from standards-based management, to standard virtual disk format, to licensing. These panel discussions are always so interesting because the participants are much more candid, and Chris asked the burning questions that we are all really thinking. Chris did a great job of moderating the panel and the topic as a whole.
In the afternoon, DCS continued the Dynamic Data Center theme in the topic "Storage for the Virtual Data Center". This topic was aimed at discussing the issues and requirements for storage connectivity to virtualized environments. Nik Simpson ran this topic and was the opening keynote. Nik gave an overview of the storage requirements for server virtualization, including iSCSI support, NPIV, Single Root IO virtualization, and file virtualization.
Richard Jones, DCS Service Director, gave an excellent presentation on storage efficiency. He discussed the methodologies aimed at gaining better storage efficiency, including data compression, data deduplication, thin provisioning, tiering. Storage efficiency technologies are coming on strong in the data center, customers realize that data growth is a given, so rather than trying to keep data growth down, the best thing is to manage data growth better. The question for virtual server environments is whether or not these technologies belong in the hypervisor or on the array. I think this presentation demonstrates that the array vendors are better at managing data.
The next presentation was iSCSI vs. FCoE. I presented the pros and cons of each protocol and where the storage and networking vendors are headed. This space is also heating up for virtualized envrionments. iSCSI support in virtual environments is growing, while FCoE support is just getting underway.
Ian Pratt's second presentation discussed what are the storage parts missing from virtualized environments. Ian discussed issues with support for SMI-S, iSCSI HBAs, SAN support. I really liked the fact that Citrix believes the hypervisor should be as thin as possible and storage features should focus on connectivity to the SAN to enable workload mobility.
Finally, Davide Villa from STEC, spoke about solid state disks. A most interesting presentation! SSDs have the potential to change the game in storage...everything from performance and reliability to disk and server form factors. Prices for SSDs are decreasing (as much as 40% year over year according to Davide), while reliability and capacities are increasing. SSDs will come to the forefront of storage in late 2009.
All in all, it was a feature-packed day.
[posted by Drue Reeves]