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Highlights from the Spring SNW 2009 Virtualization Summit; “Our Electric Bill is Our Biggest Data Center Line Item”

You can’t talk about storage these days without including virtualization somewhere in the conversation. The Spring 2009 SNW was no different as one of its Summits was devoted to virtualization. The Tuesday, April 7, Virtualization Summit proved very interesting even though it was dominated by vendors. Some of the better data points that came out of this Summit were from TheInfoPro and Boston Medical Center. Also, interesting tidbits on SSD are emerging as SSD appears to solve performance challenges for VMware-access-to-storage in high I/O environments as well as performance intensive development environments.

Here were the main points I took away from the Virtualization Summit:


  • Reported top storage-related challenges, as reported by end-users:
    • 23% achieving peak performance, or high-enough performance, from storage devices
    • 19% meeting backup windows, completing backup jobs
    • 16% obtaining efficient management
  • Top challenges with virtualization (in priority order):
    • Getting the right gear
    • Dealing with the complexity of software layers
    • Getting the right management tools in place
    • Dealing with all of the vendors

Ken Male, CEO TheInfoPro:

TheInfoPro surveys 200+ Fortune 500 decision-makers every six months and publishes its results in a “Wave” report. Ken shared a ton of data all from the most recent Wave report. Highlights from the most recent report included:

  • 2008-09 spending overall down with 18% of organizations reporting increases and 41% reporting decreases
  • Vendors at the top of the list for spending: Microsoft and VMware, in that order; HP and Dell were at the bottom of the list
  • 10GbE technologies are attracting spending, often in combination with VMware; the two technology areas appear to be pushing each other
  • Top ‘hot’ technology for servers in 09, based on survey results of active pilots and allocated budgets:
  • TOP is virtualization service level monitoring
  • Second is virtualization movement and deployment (servers)
  • Third is virtualization planning and configuration utilities (servers)
  • Marketshare of server virtualization technology among surveyed organizations:
  1. VMware at 80%
  2. Microsoft at 6%
  3. Sun at 4%
  4. Citrix at 2%
  5. IBM at 1%
  6. Red Hat and HP each at less than 1%
  • Top goals of adopting virtualization:
  • Top goal currently is consolidation but this is moving down
  • Goals moving up are DR and dynamic provisioning
  • Top challenges in adopting virtualization:
  1. Manageability
  2. Performance under load
  3. VDI
  • Marketshare:
  • Citrix leads today, followed by VMware;
  • VMware, however, has more pilots under way with VDI which indicates that they are likely to overtake Citrix this year
  • However, most organizations report postponing VDI-related projects due to macro-economic pressures
    • Adoption of VDI will be below 50% by the end of 2010 so a slow-growth area
  • 10GbE technology is the top driver for server technology turn-over/adoption, and driving VMware to some extent
  • Storage attached to VMware systems:
  • FC SAN is 75%
  • 10GbE technologies are expected to change this somewhat;
  • NAS is the next largest and has moved up from previous years with ~25%
  • Top reasons driving adoption of Storage Virtualization:
  1. Provisioning
  2. Centralized management of storage
  • Organizations have aggressive adoption plans for Storage Virtualization technologies with  38% report expecting to adopt it to a level of 81% or more by 2011

  • Storage technologies adoption in 2008:
  • Top is deduplication
  • Second is VTL
  • SSD is 23rd but is in its early days
  • Top new technology drivers in 2009:
  • Dedupe/Backup reduction
  • Dedupe online
  • SSD pilots
  • FCoE
  • Top drivers with most impact on data network infrastructure hw/sw:
  1. Server virtualization
  2. SaaS
  3. A future driver is VDI/desktop

Boston Medical Center:

Dir of IT, Brad Blake described its experiences in adopting VMware systems with surrounding technologies. VMware adoption was linked to Data Domain. However, Data Domain dedupe does not apply to healthcare DICOM images (PACS in this hospital). Otherwise, they use EMC  and are enthusiastic about the performance of NetWorker to protect PACS/DICOM image data with a tiered EMC storage environment that includes Clarrion and Celerra. They manages 400 TBs of data, with 40-50% YoY growth — most of which is DICOM (to which Data Domain does not apply)

Goals for VMware at Boston Medical Center:

  • Better data protection – get the backup jobs done faster
    • It reduced its backups from 23hrs to 13hrs using Data Domain in its first phase of VMware adoption
  • Reduce storage costs
  • Reduce CAPEX costs
  • Reduce datacenter footprint, electricity, and cooling
    • It runs its primary datacenter in a stand-alone offsite facility, and was startled to realize that its electric bill was by far its biggest single line-item in its budget
  • VMware adoption enabled it to consolidate 160 servers to 10 VMware systems
    • This number seemed to be consistent with the responses provided by other healthcare end-users in the audience
  • Excited to dump tape in favor of Data Domain replication
  • Excited by compression ratio of 350TB of data compressed to 3.5TB with Data Domain
    • NOTE: this does not apply to PACS/DICOM which is its primary growth concern

City of Orlando, Conrad Cross, CIO:

  • 58 VMware systems; 150 physical
  • Continuing to adopt VMware technology to replace EMC SANS
  • Using Legato to backup Dell and VMware
  • Theme of this year: budget cuts!!
  • Expects to continue to adopt VMware as a way to cut the budget

Ian Selway, HP StorageWorks

Main message: Organizations need to rethink adoption of virtualization to align better with business

  • Step 1: Grow from tech-centric to IT-oriented to biz-aligned Virtual Server adoption
    • Virtual storage and virtual network adoption is also necessary to build the virtual infrastructure necessary to support business agility
    • Virtualization enables new biz models, like internal/external cloud
  • Challenges:
    • Most organizations are hard-wired
    • Disjointed management and governance
    • Fragmented client infrastructure

Rick Gillett from F5:

  • ROI data presented of F5’s own experience with VMware adoption for their 50-person development team.
  • File virtualization described in detail: showed the need for (at least) 2-tier storage, with 10% active and 90% stale data
  • SSD critical as ‘Tier-0’ for enabling sufficient performance in VMware dev environment, for access to storage
  • In F5’s environment, response times were at a crawl for 50 developers until SSD was adopted

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