I spent most of Monday evaluating products for the Best of Show awards for VMworld 2013. Not only is this a great opportunity to take a deep dive in to some products, but I also got to spend about 2 hours in a room discussing a wide range of products with a 10 member panel of judges made up of authors and bloggers. I always learn a lot from their collective insight on and experience with the products being judged.
There were a few surprises this year. Personally, I was surprised by how impressed I was with Dell AppAssure; specifically its ability to protect workloads on a range of mediums, including physical hardware, vSphere, Xen and HyperV, and then restore to any other medium on the list. It will also perform 288 daily snapshots for granular restores, as well as perform regular integrity checks on data. It will even mount Exchange, SharePoint and SQL backups to perform application specific integrity checks. This product first reminded me of Platespin Protect, but with the added features of inline dedupe, advanced replication and even WAN optimization built in. I rate this as worth taking a look at. I actually used to use PlateSpin protect to keep a virtual copy of physical servers that could not be virtualized (for either load, licensing or purely political reasons), to have a 100% virtual DR. This is everything I like PlateSpin for and then some.
I also spent a good bit of time (and will spend some more) looking at solid state storage options. I have deployed an early ship of XtremIO, so that is the measuring stick I’m using as I look at other solutions. Pure Storage appears to have much of what I like about XtremIO (like dynamic RAID/parity functions, scalable, all SSD, great dedupe, and VAAI support with XCopy), but it lacks the scale-out functionality of the XBrick model. Overall it’s a great solution, but I would still prefer XtremIO if all things were equal on timing and pricing.
While Nutanix continues to impress, they now have some real competition. Simplivity is gaining a lot of attention with an impressive product and dedupe functionality. They ship as a hardware platform, like Nutanix; though both are really hardware agnostic and can run on any X86 hardware. However, Simplivity is more open to running on third party hardware and have already done that for some ISPs. They also have a custom PCI card they leverage to improve performance, thought they can work without it. In fact, they run from the EC2 cloud as a purely virtual replication point for customers, and they simply devote additional resources to the VMs to overcome the missing PCI card. Simplivity is a hardware platform with replication and backup built in. The built in backups occur by replicating backups to remote locations and enabling remote backups to be installed locally (since the storage is synced). Dedupe ratios are very high, and they even leverage their sync to simply remove a VM from inventory in one DC, add it to inventory in another and boot it up. What that amounts to is coast-to-coast migration in about 1 minute. That’s fast and worth taking a look at.
Other notable products that I have not personally dug into yet, were NeverFail and Eaton's new power equipment that will initiate VM shutdowns on power failures. More to come as VMworld continues…stay tuned to the blog.