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PernixData: The next big thing?

PernixData is a company founded by Satyam Vaghani (ex-VMware principal engineer who was responsible for VMFS, VAAI, etc…) and Poojan Kumar (former VMware Data products lead and ex-Oracle ExaData founder).

Their basis is leveraging currently popular host based flash technology and doing to it what VMware did for physical compute. Why you may ask? IT has reached a point where many heavy/Tier-1 apps are now virtualized, the bottleneck for most (if not all) environments is storage. The solution that we are all used to is to buy a bigger and better storage engine, or add more spindles to increase your IOPS. PernixData Flash Virtualization Platform will provide the IOPS you need. Performance will increase as the hosts in the cluster scale up. See screenshot for results provided by PernixData:

5-7-2013 10-03-45 PM

PernixData’s technology virtualizes all flash storage resources across all hosts in an vSphere cluster (this includes SSD, PCI-E flash cards, or a combination of both if needed. Note that the devices need to be on VMware’s hardware compatibility list). Once it’s installed, PernixData will use the local flash as cache, all the active data will be stored and accessed in flash, the backend storage will serve as a place to keep data at rest. Now what makes this PernixData shine is its ability to treat the cache on each host as one resource pool. It basically duplicates the cache on the other hosts in the cluster (in an intelligent fasion), thus providing high availability for the cached data in the case of a server or flash device failure, and allowing to keep the VM’s cache after executing a vMotion.

PernixData allows for write-through mode, but the ability to have the cache highly available also allows for write-back mode. If a physical failure does occur, there is no data corruption, and the data is able to safely be de-staged to the back-end storage. The write-back will allow for your “heavy” applications to have incredible write IOPS as well as read IOPS that they require. The write-back can be enabled per VM only if needed.

Product Diagram

The other exciting part is that PernixData FVP integrates seamlessly into vSphere. It’s installed via the update manager as a package. Once it’s installed you need just to setup one small Windows 2008 VM for the management. It then taps into vCenter and allows you to install a plugin on the client side that adds an extra tab so you can have proper visibility of your config, flash pools and performance metrics. The software inserts itself in the data-path to the SAN and intercepts the read/write commands.

This seamless integration is why it works with:

  • any storage vendor, as long as it’s FC/iSCSI/FCoE protocol and on vSphere’s HCL (eventually NFS as well).
  • any PCIe and SSD flash device on vSphere’s HCL.
  • any server vendor on vSphere’s HCL.
  • minimum version of vSphere 5.0 and higher.
  • Allows vMotion, Storage vMotion, HA, DRS, SDRS, etc…

I encourage you to watch the video’s below on the complete presentation (from high level to deep dive) on PernixData FVP. Although their platform is not GA as of yet, they are accepting beta testers. Send them an email: beta@pernixdata.com and visit their site at www.pernixdata.com

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