Sunday, March 17, 2013


When you are building converged infrastructure the primary considerations are Power, Performance and Consolidation.

When it comes to virtual infrastructure the balance between costs and performance is largely based on the number of VMs/host and the utilization of CPU, Memory and Disk and Network IO on that host.  Ideally you want to use less IT architecture to achieve higher consolidation ratios.

Fusion-IO enables higher consolidation ratios and boasts 4000 Clients and climbing.  Fusion-IO technology in deployed in 65% of the Fortune 100.  In architecture that is known to thrive on memory such as SAP HANAH in memory database platforms, Fusion-IO has become a de facto standard.

Arguably the largest Cloud infrastructure is Facebook which has deployed 40,000 Fusion IO cards.   

Fusion-IO cards and software solutions are based on flash technology.  To get a better understanding of the Fusion-IO approach have a look at the following video.

CPU speeds have increased, Disk drive capacity is enormous as well.  Disk speeds have not kept up however and every year it gets worse.  This is were Fusion-IO technology can assist. Fusion-IO technology can increase the cache performance or provide a higher tier of performance storage based on flash.

Many traditional hardware providers are now using Fusion-IO cards in their products; HP, IBM, DELL, CISCO and NetApp.  Ironically they are all competing using the same OEM’d products from Fusion-IO.

Traditionally Fusion-IO software and cards have been deployed to add performance to database implementations.  Fusion-IO technology brings faster queries, faster data load times, faster reporting, and better SAN utilization and reduced disk queues to database implementations.

Within a Cloud environment, Fusion-IO provides a multiplier effect for your virtual infrastructure.  Fusion-IO cards and ioTurbine software can double the density of your VM hosts when properly deployed.

Fusion-IO is a memory Tier; Although DRAM is  faster, it is more expensive than deploying Fusion-IO cards.  Also there is typically an upper limit to memory which is vastly exceeded using a Fusion-IO cards.

When you install a Fusion-IO card into a VMware ESXi host by default it appears as a local datastore.  When you install ioTurbine software it changes from a datastore to cache.  You can enable select VMs to take advantage of this caching tier.

When a write is requested to the storage tier it goes directly to the SAN to ensure complete persistence.  When the end storage device sends an acknowledgement the ioTurbine software keeps an Asynchronous copy on the Fusion-IO card.  The same process is done for reads.  As reads and writes are cached to the Fusion-IO card, future requests can be serviced from cache dramatically improving performance while reducing the load on the existing SAN.

In addition to dedicated Fusion-IO cards within a server you can combine several Fusion-IO flash cards together in a single storage appliance using the Fusion-IO ION product.  This is essentially a ‘top of rack configuration’ which collects cards so that they can used as a high performance storage array.

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering each approach although they can be used to compliment each other.  When installing Fusion-IO cards into your ESXi hosts it is best to install them in all hosts in a cluster although it is not required.  To leverage the cards as cache vs. storage you will need the ioTurbine software.  The performance benefits are also based on the local cache being warm so minimizing VM migrations is be beneficial. 

In the ‘top of the rack’ model, the Fusion-IO ION product contains multiple flash cards in a 1U server platform.  The ION platform can deliver over a million I/Os per second over Fibre Channel, InfinBand and iSCSI standard storage protocols.

Whether it is higher consolidation ratios or dealing with high I/Os, Fusion-IO products are worth evaluating.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Application Federation: iPaaS

As many of you know, I believe that a huge area of growth for Enterprise IT customers is through proper federation of their on premise private Cloud environments to public Cloud providers.  Properly done this allows IT departments to take full advantage of a pool or multiple pools of public Cloud resources without changing their internal standards or compliance requirements.  This is different than simply putting work loads in the Cloud as this is fairly straightforward and closer to outsourcing vs. federating.  With the advent of Software Defined Networking (SDN) traditional barriers are rapidly dissolving making this a reality in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models.

Another quickly evolving type of federation, is  application federation.  We are at an interesting point in which application development on the Cloud is happening at an incredible pace.  The constructs of Cloud based applications are different from traditional enterprise applications in many respects.  One very obvious one is the ability of Cloud based applications to plug into one another to take advantage of new streams of data and input.

The reality however is that enterprise data is still very tightly coupled to traditional enterprise applications deployed privately within corporations and businesses.  How then do you take advantage of Cloud applications when most of your enterprise data is still deployed in this manner?

This is exactly the problem that integrated Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions attempt to address.  Think of them as super connectors allowing you to plugin traditional enterprise applications to Cloud based applications or Software as a Service Providers (SaaS).  This is federation at the application level.

The term is still relatively new, however the need is very real.  It will be sometime before applications are migrated to pure SaaS models and need to work in a hybrid model.  In the Hybrid model, data is stored in the enterprise and other processes are federated to and from SaaS providers.

Dell recently acquired a major innovator in this space; Boomi.  Boomi boasts 1000+ customers and is considered a leader in this space by industry analysts. 

The Cloud Suite made by Boomi is AtomSphere which allows you to quickly distribute workflows using connectors that allow interaction across global geographies.  AtomSphere’s service engine is distributed across several datacenters around the world.  As it is a Cloud service there is no additional software to install or appliances to deploy.

From a user interface perspective, the dashboard of AtomSphere is divided logically into sections; Build, Deploy and Manage.  Build is were you will spend most of your time setting up process maps or workflows using connectors by leveraging the easy to use drag and drop, visio like display. 

Once built you can deploy your process map either on premise or in the Cloud using containers referred to as Atoms.  Versioning is supported within the platform, allowing you to quickly roll back in the event that you run into a problem.  To complete the functionality you can monitor through process reporting or setting up real-time listeners to determine if processes are successful and how long they run.

Boomi also provides an overall system health dashboard so you can quickly see the robustness of the Cloud service over time called  As Boomi is a true community of developers the number of supported applications has expanded dramatically and continues to expand to the benefit of everyone leveraging the AtomSphere platform.

Although federation continues to happen at the Infrastructure as a Service layer it is important to understand that you can federate at the application level as well.  When federating at the application level you will be keenly interested in the capabilities and services provide by iPaaS solutions like Boomi AtomSphere.