Containing The Future With Dell EMC VxRail
Thu, 04 Nov 2021 15:14:26 -0000|
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Containing The Future With Dell EMC VxRail: Modern HCI Infrastructure for Running Container Orchestration Platforms
The world of containers is here, and it is driving business forward. Developers and infrastructure operators are designing, deploying, and integrating next-generation cloud native applications using a combination of containers and virtual machines (VMs), and taking advantage of the benefits that each delivers.
This evolution empowers customers to use their existing virtualization knowledge and extend it to containerized applications. Rather than develop siloed infrastructures that cater to individual workload types during this transition, many organizations are looking for a unified infrastructure platform that supports running both VMs and containers. This is where VxRail comes in.
The VxRail infrastructure is designed to run both VMs and containers. Regardless of the container orchestration platform, VxRail provides a scalable and life cycle-managed environment for consistently running containers across single or multicluster solutions. The simplicity of running container orchestration platforms on VxRail frees up organizations to focus on the business value and benefits that the solution delivers.
In recent years, a steady stream of performing validations and creating reference architectures for running containers on VxRail highlights the following:
- More customers are running container frameworks alongside—or even within—their virtualization frameworks, making for a smoother shift into the adoption of containers.
- Organizations are seeing VxRail as an ideal foundational infrastructure platform for quickly adopting containers and supporting their container orchestration runtime ecosystems of choice.
VxRail Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) capabilities
VxRail Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)-integrated systems help accelerate data center modernization, deploy hybrid clouds, and implement developer-ready application platforms based on Kubernetes (K8s). These tasks are possible as VxRail supports running the most demanding workloads and applications, whether VM-based or containerized while simplifying operations for IT infrastructure teams.
VxRail is the only fully integrated, preconfigured, and tested HCI system optimized for VMware. It delivers a seamless, automated operational experience with 100 percent native integration between VxRail Manager and vCenter. Intelligent life cycle management automates non-disruptive upgrades, updates, and node addition or retirement while keeping the VxRail infrastructure in a continuously validated state to ensure that workloads are always available.
These features make VxRail ideal for running container orchestration platforms, specifically those platforms that require vSphere for operation. As a result, VxRail provides customers with the flexibility to choose container orchestration platforms that are right for them. It enables them to run the container orchestration platform on a common HCI infrastructure platform that may be used with other traditional workloads.
Validating VxRail across container platform options
Dell Technologies helps customers accelerate their multicloud adoption and ensure that they have choices to select the best container orchestration platform. This flexibility has been confirmed through the development of a series of validation or reference architectures across several of the most widely adopted container orchestration platform distributions.
With VxRail, these containerized solutions deliver the same benefits on-premises or in the cloud. The following figure highlights some of these distribution options where validation work has been performed.
Let’s look at specific examples of running VxRail with some of today’s most commonly adopted orchestration platforms.
VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu on VxRail
VMware Tanzu enables businesses to build, run, and manage modern applications on any cloud and continuously deliver value to their customers. With VMware Tanzu, organizations can simplify multicloud operations and free up developers to move faster with easy access to the right resources. It also enables development and operations teams to work together to deliver transformative business results.
These capabilities start with the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) runtime. With TKG, VMware uses the leading open-source technologies in the Kubernetes ecosystem to build a full Kubernetes runtime platform capable of running mission-critical customer applications.
TKG has the following open-source technologies, which VMware supports, built into its runtime platform for easy enterprise adoption:
- Cluster API for cluster life cycle management
- Harbor for container registry
- Contour for ingress
- Fluentbit for logging
- Grafana and Prometheus for monitoring
- Antrea and Calico for container networking
- Velero for backup and recovery
- Sonobuoy for conformance testing
With VMware Tanzu, businesses also have the flexibility for implementing the TKG runtime. They can do any of the following:
- Run TKG on any infrastructure, including vSphere, VMware Cloud on AWS, or native public clouds like AWS
- Run TKG in vSphere by using the TKG Service, which is bundled as a part of vSphere 7 with Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) with Tanzu
- Run TKG as a service with Tanzu Mission Control (TMC)
Having touched on these TKG runtime implementation options, let’s look at the method used in our validated reference architecture: validating VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu on VxRail using the TKG Service. Why did we choose this method out of the three available methods? Because it delivers the type of easy deployment and operation that customers are looking for! VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail delivers a simple and direct path to the hybrid cloud and Kubernetes at cloud-scale with one complete, automated platform.
The Reference Architecture document provides general design and deployment guidelines for running modern applications such as Confluent Kafka and Elasticsearch on VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu on VxRail. Find the Running Modern Applications with VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu on Dell EMC VxRail document here.
Amazon EKS Anywhere on VxRail
Amazon EKS Anywhere is a deployment option that enables customers to create and operate Kubernetes clusters on-premises using VMware vSphere, while allowing for connectivity and portability to AWS public cloud environments. It also provides operational consistency and tooling with AWS EKS.
Dell Technologies and Amazon recently validated Dell EMC VxRail running Amazon EKS Anywhere, in addition to the use of Dell EMC VxRail dynamic node clusters and Dell EMC PowerStore to provide the back-end storage for Amazon EKS Anywhere. (Dynamic nodes are not limited to this solution as they are features of VxRail and not specific to Amazon EKS Anywhere.)
VxRail is a strong platform choice for EKS Anywhere, which requires vSphere for production environments. EKS Anywhere running on VxRail delivers a seamless, automated operational experience for VxRail infrastructure across cloud-native and traditional workloads.
VxRail intelligent life cycle management automates non-disruptive upgrades and updates to keep its infrastructure in a continuously validated state, ensuring running workloads and optimized clusters. This automation greatly reduces risk so that customers can stay current with the multiple releases of Kubernetes and the EKS platform, which are updated using EKS Anywhere. VxRail and EKS Anywhere make it easy to standardize both IT and developer operations on-premises and in the Amazon public cloud.
EKS Anywhere is built on open-source software, using VMware vSphere to create and operate Kubernetes on-premises with automated deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. EKS Anywhere provides an installable software package for creating and operating on-premises Kubernetes clusters based on Amazon EKS Distro—the same Kubernetes distribution used by Amazon EKS for clusters on AWS.
By simplifying the creation and operation of on-premises Kubernetes clusters and automating cluster management, EKS Anywhere can reduce support costs and avoid the maintenance of redundant open-source and third-party tools. Using the EKS console also means viewing all Kubernetes clusters (including EKS Anywhere clusters) running through the EKS Connector (public preview).
Red Hat OpenShift with VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail
Red Hat OpenShift ships with Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS for the Kubernetes control plane nodes. It supports both Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux for worker nodes.
OpenShift supports the Open Container Initiative (OCI), an open governance structure for container formats and runtimes, including hundreds of fixes for defects, security, and performance issues for
upstream Kubernetes in each release. It is tested with dozens of technologies as a tightly integrated platform supported over a nine-year life cycle. OpenShift includes software-defined networking, validates additional common networking solutions, and validates numerous storage and third-party plug-ins for its releases.
VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail delivers flexible, consistent, secure infrastructure and operations across private and public clouds. It is well suited to meet the demands of modern applications running on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform in a virtualized environment and makes it easy to manage the life cycle of the hybrid cloud environment. A unified management plane is also available for all applications, including OpenShift.
VMware Cloud Foundation uses leading virtualization technologies, including vSphere, NSX-T, and vSAN. VxRail Manager and VMware Cloud Foundation Manager provide the life cycle management, and vSAN provides reliable, high-performance, and flexible storage to OpenShift. NSX-T provides the secure, high-performance virtual networking infrastructure to OpenShift, and vSphere DRS and vSphere HA deliver efficient resource usage and high availability. All of these technologies combined to create a consolidated solution of running OpenShift Container Platform with VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail.
The Running Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on VMware Cloud Foundation Reference Architecture document, which demonstrates the architecture of running OpenShift Container Platform with VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail, can be found here. This document shows the configuration details, hardware resources, and software resources used in the solution validation, along with various configuration options and best practices.
Dell Technologies and VMware continue to see containers as a high-value technology foundation for the future of enterprise solutions. While this blog post is heavily focused on containerization, keep in mind the significant and lasting role that virtualization continues to have in modern data centers. The importance of virtualization is especially true as not every workload is suited for containerization, meaning that containers complement virtualization while setting the foundation for building on the flexibility of containerized systems and platforms on VxRail.
- VxRail Info Hub, which includes multiple white papers about applications running with Tanzu on VCF with VxRail
- Running Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service Anywhere on Dell EMC VxRail – Solutions Brief
- Running Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on VMware Cloud Foundation – Reference Architecture document
Vic Dery, Senior Principal Technical Marketing Engineer
Related Blog Posts
Microsoft SQL Server Big Data Clusters on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid on Dell EMC VxRail
Thu, 19 Aug 2021 15:25:12 -0000|
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A recently created reference architecture, running Microsoft SQL Server Big Data Clusters (BDC) on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) on Dell EMC VxRail, demonstrates a fast and simple way to get started with big data workloads running on Kubernetes. It also shows how the containerized workloads ran using VxRail.
SQL BDC on TKG on VxRail enables simplified servicing for cloud native workloads, and is designed to scale with business needs. Administrators can implement the policies for namespaces and manage access and quota allocation for application-focused management. All of this helps build a developer ready infrastructure with enterprise-grade Kubernetes with advanced governance, reliability, and security.
This reference architecture also validated SQL BDC with Spark SQL TPC-DS benchmark optimized parameters. The test results showed that Tanzu Kubernetes Grid on VxRail provides linear scalability (for complex TPC-DS-like decision support workloads that use different query types) with predictable query response time and high throughput.
In the business value section for using SQL BDC and TKG on VxRail, based on the five measurements below. It's covered in more detail within the reference architecture.
- Simplified installation of Kubernetes
- Automated multi-cluster operations
- Integrated platform services
- Open source alignment
- Production Ready
Cross-functional teams from Dell EMC VxRail, VMware, and Microsoft have reviewed the reference architecture for content and supportability. This can provide comfort for those wanting to run on Tanzu. Some notes from Microsoft Release notes from Cumulative Update 12 (CU12) of BDC):
SQL Server Big Data Clusters is supported as a workload. Microsoft provides support for the software components on the containers installed and configured by SQL Server Big Data Clusters only. Kubernetes itself, and other containers that may influence SQL Server Big Data Clusters behavior, are not supported by the (Microsoft) support team. For Kubernetes support please contact your certified Kubernetes distribution provider.
Note: This reference architecture provides general design and deployment guidelines of running Microsoft SQL Server Big Data Clusters on VMware Tanzu™ Kubernetes Grid™ on Dell EMC VxRail. The reference architecture also applies to any compatible hardware platforms running VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid on vSAN™.
To wrap up, VxRail provides SQL BDC on Tanzu as a scalable and secure platform to deliver key business outcomes. This reference architecture highlights one of the first known support solutions built on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid to manage Kubernetes. The paper covers the spectrum on the build, testing, and expected performance on VxRail.
- Running Microsoft SQL Server Big Data Clusters on VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid
- SQL Server Big Data Clusters platform release notes - SQL Server Big Data Clusters | Microsoft Docs It's reformulated release notes, now simpler and focused on tested configurations and documenting known issues.
- SQL Server Big Data Clusters CU12 release notes - SQL Server Big Data Clusters | Microsoft Docs For every release starting with CU12, we will provide a dedicated article containing many details about what's new, fixes, and most importantly, an extensive list of what's under the hood.
- SQL Server Big Data Clusters cumulative updates history - SQL Server Big Data Clusters | Microsoft Docs In this article, we will keep track of all previous update details.
Author: Vic Dery – Linkedin
I feel the need – the need for speed (and endurance): Intel Optane edition
Tue, 12 Oct 2021 21:38:31 -0000|
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It has only been three short months since we launched VxRail on 15th Generation PowerEdge, but we're already expanding the selection of configuration offerings. So far we've added 18 additional processors to power your workloads, including some high frequency and low core count options. This is delightful news for those with applications that are licensed per core, an additional NVIDIA GPU - the A30, a slew of additional drives, and doubled the RAM capacity to 8TB. I've probably missed something, as it can be hard to keep up with the all the innovations taking place within this race car that is VxRail!
In my last blog, I hinted at one of those drive additions, faster cache drives. Today I'm excited to announce that you can now order, and turbo charge your VxRail with the 400GB or 800GB Intel P5800X – Intel’s second generation Optane NVMe drive. Before we delve into some of the performance numbers, let’s discuss what it is about the Optane drives that makes them so special. More specifically, what is it about them that enables them to deliver so much more performance, in addition to significantly higher endurance rates.
To grossly over-simplify it, and my apologies in advance to the Intel engineers who poured their lives into this, when writing to NAND flash an erase cycle needs to be performed before a write can be made. These erase cycles are time-consuming operations and the main reason why random write IO capabilities on NAND flash is often a fraction of the read capability. Additionally, a garbage collection is running continuously in the background to ensure that there is space available to incoming writes. Optane, on the other hand, does bit-level write in place operations, therefore it doesn’t require an erase cycle, garbage collection, or performance penalty writes. Hence, random write IO capability almost matches the random read IO capability. So just how much better is endurance with this new Optane drive? Endurance can be measured in Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD), which measures how many times the drive's entire size could be overwritten each day of its warranty life. For the 1.6TB NVMe P5600 this is 3 DWPD, or 55 MB per second, every second for five years – just shy of 9PB of writes, not bad. However, the 800GB Optane P5800X will endure 146PB over its five-year warranty life, or almost 1 GB per second (926 MB/s) every second for its five year 100 DWPD warranty life. Not quite indestructible, but that is a lot of writes, so much so you don’t need extra capacity for wear leveling and a smaller capacity drive will suffice.
You might wonder why you should care about endurance, as Dell EMC will replace the drive under warranty anyway – there are three reasons. When a cache drive fails, its diskgroup is taken offline, so not only have you lost performance and capacity, your environment is taking on the additional burden of a rebuild operation to re-protect your data. Secondly, more and more systems are being deployed outside of the core data center. Replacing a drive in your data center is straightforward, and you might even have spares onsite, but what about outside of your core datacenter? What is your plan for replacing a drive at a remote office, or a thousand miles away? What if that remote location is not an office but an oilrig one hundred miles offshore, or a cruise ship halfway around the world where the cost of getting a replacement drive there is not trivial? In these remote locations, onsite spares are commonplace, but the exceptions are what lead me to the third reason, Murphy's Law. IT and IT staffing might be an afterthought at these remote locations. Getting a failed drive swapped out at a remote location which lacks true IT staffing may not get the priority it deserves, and then there is that ever present risk of user error... “Oh, you meant the other drive?!? Sorry...”
Cache in its many forms plays an important role in the datacenter. Cache enables switches and storage to deliver higher levels of performance. On VxRail, our cache drives fall into two categories, SAS and NVMe, with NVMe delivering up to 35% higher IOPS and 14% lower latency. Among our NVMe cache drive we have two from Intel, the 1.6TB P5600 and the Optane P5800X, in 400GB and 800GB capacities. The links for each will bring you to the drive specification including performance details. But how does the performance at a drive level impact performance at the solution level? Because, at the end of the day that is what your application consumes at the solution level, after cache mirroring, network hops, and the vSAN stack. Intel is a great partner to work with, when we checked with them about publishing solution level performance data comparing the two drives side-by-side, they were all for it.
In my over-simplified explanation above, I described how the write cycle for Optane drives is significantly different as an erase operation and does not need to be done first. So how does that play out in a full solution stack? Figure 1 compares a four node VxRail P670F cluster, running a 100% sequential write 64KB workload. Not a test that reflects any real-world workload, but one that really stresses the vSAN cache layer, highlights the consistent write performance that 3D XPoint technology delivers, and shows how Optane is able to de-stage cache when it fills up without compromising performance.
Figure 1: Optane cache drives deliver consistent and predictable write performance
When we look at performance, there are two numbers to keep in mind: IOPS and latency. The target is to have high IOPS with low and predictable latency, at a real-world IO size and read:write ratio. To that end, let’s look at how VxRail performance differs with the P5600 and P5800X under OLTP32K (70R30W) and RDBMS (60R40W) benchmark workload, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Optane cache drives deliver higher performance and lower latency across a variety of workload types.
It doesn't take an expert to see that with the P5800X this four node VxRail P670F cluster's peak performance is significantly higher than when it is equipped with the P5600 as a cache drive. For RDBMS workloads up to 44% higher IOPS with a 37% reduction in latency. But peak performance isn't everything. Many workloads, particularly databases, place a higher importance on latency requirements. What if our workload, database or otherwise, requires 1ms response times? Maybe this is the Service Level Agreement (SLA) that the infrastructure team has with the application team. In such a situation, based on the data shown, and for a OLTP 70:30 workload with a 32K block size, the VxRail cluster would deliver over twice the performance at the same latency SLA, going from 147,746 to 314,300 IOPS.
In the datacenter, as in life, we are often faced with "Good, fast, or cheap. Choose two." When you compare the price tag of the P5600 and P5800X side by side, the Optane drive has a significant premium for its good and fast. However, keep in mind that you are not buying an individual drive, you are buying a full stack solution of several pieces of hardware and software, where the cost of the premium pales in comparison to the increased endurance and performance. Whether you are looking to turbo charge your VxRail like a racecar, or make it as robust as a tank, Intel Optane SSD drives will get you both.
David Glynn, Technical Marketing Engineer, VxRail at Dell Technologies
LinkedIn: David Glynn