Everyone who knows me knows this day was coming. I love flying and commercial aviation (you could call it an obsession), and something Boeing did recently made me think about what VMware is doing to the storage vendors. So forgive my diversion…
In the good old days of aircraft, changing an engine out on a plane (you know the engine that failed and delayed you) took days, and if you decided that you wanted to switch from GE engines to Rolls Royce, good luck to you. Well, Boeing just shipped their first 787, and it has a remarkable new feature – an engine Application Performance Interface (API) – they don’t call it that, but that’s what basically what it is. It’s a common interface so you can switch an engine out in 24 hours!
So what does that have to do with VMware and storage you ask? Well it’s no secret that given the new storage APIs in vSphere® 5, over the next 12 months it is going to get easier to transition between storage vendors from a virtualization perspective. What I’m talking about here is the new VMware Aware Storage (VASA) API combined with storage profiles. What these two features do is really abstract out storage as a commodity. That’s great for most users because it may allow you to add new storage in based solely on price, but there are hidden costs.
While the hypervisor may be able to abstract storage, if you’re the one who has to monitor and manage the storage arrays themselves, it may not be so easy. Most of the arrays come with their own tools so getting a consolidated view across arrays becomes difficult. Capacity planning at the physical level also becomes tricky because you’ve got no single view across your physical devices. So you have a choice:
Door #1: Stick with one vendor and embrace them (and potentially their prices if they’re not the cheapest this year).
Door #2: Solve the physical array monitoring and planning challenge and take advantage of the potential cost savings from working with multiple vendors.
If you choose Door #2, there are products that can help. They typically don’t come from storage vendors though (I can’t imagine why), but they do come from companies like SolarWinds. Storage Manager, Powered by Profiler, is all about monitoring multi-vendor environments, doing capacity planning, performance optimization, and, really, all the everyday tasks you need to get done. Plus, it pulls data from your virtualization infrastructure so you have the best of both worlds.
So there you have it – I’m sure you never thought that airplanes and VMware had anything to do with each other, but indeed they do.
Sanjay Castelino is SolarWinds' VP of Product Marketing. He is a long time technologist and a geek at heart. His path to SolarWinds has taken me through hardware design, software engineering, and finally product marketing.