Mellanox and ScaleIO Help Hoist Hyper-Converged VSPEX to New Heights

Storage, , ,

Early May is a time of celebrations. May 1 is the traditional start of summer, as well as International Workers Day. Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French in 1862.  In the United States, it’s time for Mother’s Day.

John Kim 050614 Fig1Figure 1: A traditional Maypole celebration in England


Most importantly for IT, it’s time for EMC World. EMC is Mother Storage to many enterprise customers gathered in Las Vegas this week.


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Figure 2: EMC CEO Joe Tucci says “Live Long and Prosper” to mothers (and storage users) across the galaxy.


The Move to HyperConverged

One of the hottest storage topics now is hyper-convergence. Traditional networked storage has compute servers sharing a separate layer of storage appliances over a network. Breaking with tradition, hyper-converged solutions combine the local storage within each server into a shared and distributed layer of storage called a Virtual SAN or Server SAN.  Deployment is fast because no separate storage needs to be provisioned and scaling are easy by adding more nodes. A separate storage network is no longer required (but a fast, low-latency network is needed to connect the nodes).


Hyper-converged vs. traditional networked storage

Figure 3: Hyper-converged vs. traditional networked storage


EMC Introduces VCE VxRack Appliances

To meet this need for hyper-convergence, EMC offered two options, ScaleIO and VMware VSAN.  Both are software-defined storage (SDS) and support hyper-converged infrastructure. Both benefit from fast, low-latency networks and work very well with Mellanox 10, 40, and 56GbE networking. Customers have been amazed with the capabilities of both solutions, but many want to buy pre-configured VSPEX and VSAN appliances instead of assembling the hardware and software themselves.


Most of the other hyper-converged software vendors (Nutanix, Simplivity, Maxta, etc.) either sell pre-configured appliances or have hardware partners building such appliances. So in 2015 EMC announced VSPEX Blue on Feb 3 and this week at EMC World (henceforth known in storage circles as Cuatro De Mayo) announced VxRack—a new scale-out, hyper-converged appliance solution built on ScaleIO technology. VXRack is sold by VCE, with first orders in July and first shipments expected in late Q3, 2015.


SEC DataCom Makes VSPEX ScaleIO Solution Available Now

EMC’s other converged infrastructure family besides VCE is VSPEX, built by EMC partners who follow proven EMC designs but have the flexibility to choose the best servers and networking options for each configuration. Seeing customer demand, EMC (and Mellanox) partner SEC DataCom in Denmark built a VSPEX solution using EMC ScaleIO, VMware ESXi, Supermicro servers, Micron flash, and Mellanox 40GbE networking. The well-known LoginVSI tool was used to test and prove good performance across typical workloads.


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Figure 4: VSPEX ScaleIO configuration built by SEC DataCom.


The configuration supported 120 virtual desktops using only three servers with a small amount of flash. Deploying all 120 desktops took only 27 minutes and booting all 120 desktops took less than 4 minutes. These are amazing performance numbers given the modest infrastructure, and use ScaleIO allows this VSPEX configuration to be scaled up to support more desktops easily, with zero downtime. The Mellanox 40GbE networking (ConnectX-3 Pro adapters and SwitchX-2 switches) allows dozens of ScaleIO nodes to be added or more flash storage placed in the nodes without stressing or upgrading the network.


This version of VSPEX with ScaleIO is available to EMC Partners now!

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Figure 5: Mellanox CloudX networking setup used in SEC DataCom’s VSPEX ScaleIO


Learn More at EMC World Today!

To learn more about the new ScaleIO VSPEX and how Mellanox high speed networking accelerates hyper-converged solutions, visit the Mellanox booth (#273) at EMC World today. Or see the ScaleIO kiosk in the EMC main booth.




About John F. Kim

John Kim is Director of Storage Marketing at Mellanox Technologies, where he helps storage customers and vendors benefit from high performance interconnects and RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access). After starting his high tech career in an IT helpdesk, John worked in enterprise software and networked storage, with many years of solution marketing, product management, and alliances at enterprise software companies, followed by 12 years working at NetApp and EMC. Follow him on Twitter: @Tier1Storage

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