5 Most Interesting Things at VMworld 2011

Two solid days at VMworld 2011 and I got to do and see a lot.  Here is a breakdown of the top 5 things I saw at VMworld.

#1 The SiliconAngle / Wikibon Cube

You couldn’t miss it.  You walk into the show floor and there they were, larger than life.  The SiliconAngle / Wikibon Cube broadcasting live from VMworld2011.  Guests that were on the cube included, Tom Georgens (NTAP), Pat Gelsinger (EMC), David Scott (HP), Rick Jackson (VMware) as well as many more.  The Cube also had 12 Industry Spotlights.  The most interesting spotlight had to do with Storage Optimization, especially for VMware.

Oh the times they are a changing.  Now that you can deliver HD TV live over the internet, the Cube has broadcast from a number industry shows and user conferences.  The great part about this, it is like the ability to watch a sporting event being covered by ESPN but for tech.  The Cube brings all of the highlights of these events right into your computer screen.  Now if you can’t make an event, no problem, you can catch all the most important messages from the Cube.  The Cube is now the new mechanism for delivering content to users in the way they want to receive the content, TV.  For more, check out www.siliconangle.tv

#2 Storage Optimization – Industry Spotlight

In the Storage Optimization industry spotlight, the first 15 minutes Dave Vellante and his co-host John Furrier tee up the concept.  They discussed storage optimization, where it has come and were it is going, especially in VMware environments.  We are hearing more and more about storage efficiency technologies.  During the next 15 minutes Dave and I discussed the 5 essential storage efficiency technologies including:

  • Tiering
  • Thin Provisioning
  • Virtualization
  • Compression
  • Deduplication

We also discussed the fact that the IBM Real-time Compression technology is not only the most efficient and effective compression technology in the industry; we also learned that IBM really acquired not just a real-time “compression” technology but a platform that can do a number of things in real time.  In fact, the 5 IBM storage efficiency technologies all operate in real time which is the most effective for customers.

We have been hearing a great deal about storage optimization in a VMware environment due to the fact that virtualizing servers was successful for the server side of the house but it didn’t do all it set out to do, it didn’t fix the overall IT budget.

Virtualizing servers only pushed the financial problem to the storage side of the house.  Users have told us that when they virtualize their servers, storage grows as much as 4x.  By leveraging the right storage optimization technologies together, users can get their budgets back under control and also deliver the promise that server virtualization set out to do.

 

#3 More Free Time for “Real-life”

While on the Cube as a panelist with my good friend Marc Farley (HPsisyphus, formally @3ParFarley) Dave asked us what was the most interesting thing we saw on the show floor while walking around.  I didn’t hesitate in my response.  There were two in my mind.  First, it couldn’t be any more obvious at how fast data is growing.  Over 50% of the 19,000 people there had cameras taking pictures and taking video.  That data is going to be stored somewhere.  Additionally, they had these cameras for a reason.  Either we have more bloggers and tweeters than we know about, more marketing people are going to these events or more people are using social media to inform and educate others.  The way in which users want to receive data is always changing and evolving, and at least at VMworld 2011 we were delivering content in a number of ways especially photos and video.  All that data will end up in the “cloud” somewhere.

The second thing I noticed was the amount of free time VMware has given back to the IT user.  I heard, on more than one occasion, end users talking about family, vacations and travel instead of the usual banter about how challenging their jobs are and the issues they have with their vendors which is the normal think I hear at these shows.  This was not an anomaly.  I am chalking it up to the fact that VMware makes people’s lives easier.

#4 Proximal Data

These “most interesting things” are not in any particular order.  I say this because I believe that Proximal Data is THE most interesting thing I saw at the show.  Now Proximal Data just came out of “stealth” in early August.  They didn’t have a booth at VMworld but they did have a “whisper suite”.  So, I have to confess, since I used to be an analyst, sometimes people will ask me to come take a look at their technology and their message to see if it is in line with what is going on in the industry so I got to hear the pitch.

Proximal Data’s message is right on.  It hits a very important and growing topic with VMware these days, the I/O bottle neck on virtual servers, and they solve this problem in a very unique and intelligent way.

First, the problem.  One of the issues facing VMware today is the number of virtual machines that can be hosted by one physical machine.  The more users can get on one system, the more efficient they can be.  The problem is, today systems are running into I/O workload bottlenecks that are causing a limitation in the number of virtual machines one system can run.

One way to solve this problem is add more memory to the host but that could be very very expensive.  You can add more HBA’s or NIC cards but that can be expensive and also difficult to manage.  You can add more flash cache to your storage to improve the I/O bottleneck but doing that only solves ½ the problem, you still need to solve the challenge on the host side, again with memory or host adaptors.

The solution: Proximal Data.  With some advanced I/O management software capabilities combined with PCI flash cards on the host, for a very reasonable price per host.  The software combined with the card is 100% transparent to both the virtual servers and to the storage, which to me is one of the most important features of the implementation.  Transparency is the key to any new technology.  IT has a ton of challenges and has done a great deal of work to get their environment to where it is today.  To implement a technology that causes all of that work to be undone is very painful.  Remember, the hardest thing to change in IT is process, not technology.  It’s important to preserve the process.  That is what Proximal Data does.  Proximal Data can increase the I/O capability of a VMware server with just a 5 minute installation of the PCI card and their software.  This technology can double and even triple the number of virtual machines on any physical server and that is a tremendous ROI.  A new win for efficiency.

There are a number of folks entering this market these days; however Proximal does it transparently with no agents making it the most user friendly implementation.  While these guys won’t have product until 2012, when it hits the market, I am sure it will be very successful.

#5 Convergence to the Cloud

Are we seeing the coming of the “God Box”?  A number of vendors are talking more and more as well as investing in public / private cloud.  There are more systems popping up that have servers, networks, high availability and storage all in one floor tile.  These systems are designed to integrate, scale, manage VM’s simply, increase productivity and ease the management of all possible application deployments in any business.  Additionally these boxes help you to connect to the cloud to ease the cost burden.  Is the pendulum swinging back to the “open systems” main frame?  Only time will tell.

Bonus

One more for fun.  The first meeting I had at VMworld was with a potential OEM prospect of the IBM Real-time Compression IP.  I have always said that this technology could revolutionize the data storage business much like VxVM did for Veritas many years ago.  Creating a standard way to do compression across a number of system can help users with implementation as well as ease the storage cost burden.  I hope this moves forward and I hope more folks step up who want to OEM the technology.

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About the Author

Steve Kenniston - The Storage Alchemist.