Dell EMC VxBlock 1000: Some history and What’s New
Wed, 01 Apr 2020 18:40:24 -0000|
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First for the “some history” part! Converged Infrastructure (CI) is not a new concept – it’s been with us for more than 10 years. Hey, one could even consider that we were the “inventors” of CI back in the days when we publicly announced it on November 03, 2009 (Press Release).
Figure 1. EMC Joe Tucci (center) unveils the Virtual Computing Environment coalition with VMware's Paul Maritz (left) and Cisco's John Chambers (right).
Nowadays the CI concept is well understood, but in 2009 it was kind of ground breaking since this approach had never been taken before.
“All datacenter requirements in just one system? How could that be possible?”
Those were the days of separated, disconnected, and siloed domains (compute, storage, networks) and CI was a new disruptive technology solution that would require a complete transformation in how IT would architect and consume datacenter infrastructure.
To have a clearer understanding of how Dell Technologies comprehends CI – then and now, we could define our CI end-to-end engineered turnkey system as:
VxBlock 1000, Industry-leading Converged Infrastructure, simplifies all aspects of IT by seamlessly integrating all the compute, network, storage and data protection and cloud management technologies you need into one engineered system. It is an all-in-one, “data center in a box.” You can offload the complexities and risks associated with managing enterprise-grade data center infrastructure so that your IT teams can confidently focus on higher-value activities. (from Top Reasons Why Organizations Choose VxBlock 1000 Converged Infrastructure).
For those new to VxBlock 1000, here are some of the most important values VxBlock has provided:
- High availability & data protection
- No single point of failure
- High availability in all components, fault tolerance as an option
- Broad data protection suite
- High scalability & consistent performance
- 100+ PB storage
- 1000+ blade & rack servers
- Scale-up & scale-out, symmetrically or asymmetrically
- NVMe end-to-end
- Rich data services & highest efficiency
- In-line, all-the-time services
- Compression, de-dupe, replication, encryption, copy data management & machine learning
- Cloud operating model & converged management
- Tight VMware vRealize Integration
- Consistent tool set across hybrid cloud
And what has happened during this 10+ year period?
Many things. Many milestones. Many systems sold. Many successful customer stories and projects that have led VxBlock to a very effective and consistent $1 billion annual run rate business just four years into its existence. Check the diagram below to reflect on some of the key milestones VxBlock and Dell Technologies CI as a whole have delivered during this decade.
Figure 2. VxBlock 1000 one-decade journey
Today, with more than 4500 systems installed in over 100 countries, VxBlock 1000 keeps on leading the way, innovating the CI arena in four key areas that address the second part of this blog post, namely “What’s New”:
- Flexible technology choices
- Converged management and automation
- Life cycle management
- Future proof design and support
Flexible technology choices
VxBlock System 1000 gives you a choice of industry-leading technologies to meet the needs of all your different workloads, ranging from mission-critical, general purpose (virtualized or not), Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, End User Computing/Virtual Desktops… you name it!
Mix and match powerful Dell EMC storage and data protection options, Cisco UCS blade and rack servers, Cisco LAN and SAN networking, and VMware virtualization and cloud management. For more details on infrastructure see VxBlock 1000 data sheet and specs.
Since VxBlock 1000 is not just a reference architecture or a bill of materials, it eliminates the traditional risks associated with “Do It Yourself” approaches. It’s a fully integrated system that is engineered, manufactured, managed, supported, and sustained as one product, delivering a turnkey experience. Dell Technologies validates interoperability of components and provides a predictable system maintenance process that improves availability and productivity.
Converged management and automation
VxBlock 1000 leverages its deep VMware integration to simplify automation of everything from daily infrastructure provisioning tasks to delivery of IaaS and SaaS. At the foundation is VxBlock Central software that provides a single unified interface and access point for converged infrastructure operations.
Figure 3. VxBlock Central, a single pane of glass for management, automation, and LCM
VxBlock Central software dramatically simplifies daily administration by providing enhanced system-level awareness, automation and analytics, including launch points to:
- VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) with workflows for automating daily operational tasks
- vRealize Operations (vROps) for deep VxBlock analytics and simplified capacity management
As customers place workloads on top of VxBlock 1000, VxBlock Central helps to provide and maintain these services by managing the infrastructure underneath. See here for more great info about VxBlock Central Workflow Automation and the 40+ workflows available in the Workflow Automation Library.
Life cycle management
Dell EMC CloudIQ for VxBlock features next-generation lifecycle management (LCM) that enables IT teams to more flexibly plan ahead and control converged hardware lifecycle, further reducing risk with proactive SaaS-based insights. You gain granular control over hardware inventory, milestones, support interoperability, and upgrade scenarios.
Future proof design and support
VxBlock 1000 is built with a perpetual design, meaning it will ensure that your system stays ready to support the introduction of next-generation technologies within any of the fundamental domains of the system, whether storage, compute, or network. You can address increased performance and scalability requirements while maximizing the return on your system investment.
Dell Technologies delivers fully integrated 24/7 support with a single call. There’s never any finger-pointing between vendors. You can always rely on our fully cross-trained team for a fast resolution to any problem. Our portfolio of services (including deployment services, migration services, and residency services) accelerates speed of deployment and integration into your IT environment. It also minimizes downtime by ensuring your software and hardware remains up to date throughout the product lifecycle.
One decade ago, Dell Technologies defined the foundations for CI and created a platform that has evolved to what today is VxBlock 1000. This system (compute, network, storage and management layer) is created (engineered and manufactured), maintained (single management and support), and sustained (in ongoing certified code upgrades) by Dell EMC during its entire journey. Customers simply take the keys of the car and drive.
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Introducing VxRail 7.0.000 with vSphere 7.0 support
Tue, 28 Apr 2020 13:23:14 -0000|
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The VxRail team may all be sheltering at our own homes nowadays, but that doesn’t mean we’re just binging on Netflix and Disney Plus content. We have been hard at work to deliver on our continuing commitment to provide our customers a supporting VxRail software bundle within 30 days of any vSphere release. And this time it’s for the highly touted vSphere 7.0! You can find more information about vSphere and vSAN 7.0 in the vSphere and vSAN product areas in VMware Virtual Blocks blogs.
Here’s what you need to know about VxRail 7.0.000:
- VxRail 7.x train – You may have noticed we’ve jumped from a 4.7 release train to a 7.0 release train. What did you miss?? Well... there is no secret 5.x or 6.x release trains. We have made the decision to align with the vSAN versions, starting with VxRail 7.x. This will make it easier for you to map VxRail versions to vSAN versions.
- Accelerate innovation – The primary focus of this VxRail release is our synchronous release commitment to the vSphere 7.0 release. This release provides our users the opportunity to run vSphere 7.0 on their clusters. The most likely use cases would be for users who are planning to transition production infrastructure to vSphere 7.0 but first want to evaluate it in a test environment, or for users who are keen on running the latest VMware software.
- Operational freedom – You may have heard that vSphere 7.0 introduces an enhanced version of vSphere Update Manager that they call vSphere LCM, or vLCM for short. While vLCM definitely improves upon the automation and orchestration of updating an HCI stack, VxRail’s LCM still has the advantage over vLCM (check out my blog to learn more). For example, VMware is currently not recommending that vSAN Ready Nodes users upgrade to vSphere 7.0 because of drivers forward compatibility issues (you can read more about in this KB article). That doesn’t stop VxRail from allowing you to upgrade your clusters to vSphere 7.0. The extensive research, testing, and validation work that goes into delivering Continuously Validated States for VxRail mitigates that issue.
- Networking flexibility – Aside from synchronous release, the most notable new feature/capability is that VxRail consolidates the switch configuration for VxRail system traffic and NSX-T traffic. You can now run your VM traffic managed by NSX-T Manager on the same two ports used for VxRail system traffic (such as VxRail Management, vSAN, and vMotion) on the Network Daughter Card (NDC). Instead of requiring a 4-port NDC, users can use a 2-port NDC.
Consolidated switch configuration for VxRail system traffic managed by VxRail Manager/vCenter and VM traffic by NSX-T Manager
All said, VxRail 7.0.000 is a critical release that further exemplifies our alignment with VMware’s strategy and why VxRail is the platform of choice for vSAN technology and VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center solutions.
Our commitment to synchronous release for any vSphere release is important for users who want to benefit from the latest VMware innovations or for users who prioritizes a secure platform over everything else. A case in point is the vCenter express patch that rolled out a couple weeks ago to address a critical security vulnerability (you can find out more here). Within eight days of the express patch release, the VxRail team was able to run through all its testing and validation against all supported configurations to deliver a supported software bundle. Our $60M testing lab investment and 100+ team members dedicated to testing and quality assurance make that possible.
If you’re interested in upgrading your clusters to VxRail 7.0.000, please be sure to read the Release Notes.
Daniel Chiu, VxRail Technical Marketing
VDI Data Protection - Part 3: An Operational Backup Approach for Horizon 7
Fri, 03 Apr 2020 14:54:31 -0000|
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In Part 1 of this blog series we discussed how disaster recovery and operational backup are two significant aspects of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) data protection. In this blog, we will discuss the operational backup aspects of VMware Horizon data protection. For details on disaster recovery, see Part 2.
Loss of VDI environment availability or data has the potential to degrade a user’s ability to perform daily operational tasks. So, it is important for organizations to have an optimal plan to back up and recover VDI data. A robust data protection plan should meet the availability, Recovery Time Objective (RTO), and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) targets defined in Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
For a VMware Horizon virtual desktop environment, three key component layers require protection:
- The desktop layer, that is, the user’s desktop (which is often made available to multiple users using an appropriate provisioning technology)
- The management layer (which performs the provisioning, brokering, policy management, and related management functions)
- The user data layer (stored in user profile shares, home folders, and so on)
The backup and recovery requirements of each component layer depend on the type of the desktop pools and provisioning method used in the Horizon 7 environment. For example, a persistent (stateful) desktop pool can be created with full clones or full virtual machines, which requires a full backup of the virtual machines. A persistent pool can also be created with Horizon instant clones or linked clones with App Volumes (App Stacks and User Writable Volumes) to store the user-installed apps and user-related data. In this scenario, the master image of the desktop and the persistent data related to App Volumes need protection.
For a non-persistent (stateless) desktop pool, only the master image of the desktop needs to be protected. In the case of non-persistent desktops, you should consider protecting the user data that is stored in user profile shares and home folders, based on the user environment.
Figure 1: Horizon 7 Operational Backup Approach
Dell EMC offers comprehensive backup and recovery solutions that include products like Integrated Data Protection Appliances (IDPA), Avamar, Data Domain, and Data Protection Suite. For the data protection of a Horizon 7 environment, you can choose from this broad range of Dell EMC data protection products to match your user environment and existing data protection regime. For further information, visit the Dell EMC Data Protection web page.
The Dell EMC Ready Solutions for VDI team has published an operations guide that outlines how Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) and Data Domain Virtual Edition (DD VE) can be used to facilitate backup and recovery of a Horizon 7, non-persistent desktop pool provisioned by instant clone technology. AVE and DD VE are the software-defined versions of the industry-leading Dell EMC data protection products Avamar and Data Domain. Avamar facilitates fast and efficient backup and recovery for a Horizon environment. Variable-length data deduplication, a key feature of Avamar data protection software, reduces network traffic significantly and provides better storage efficiency. Data Domain provides backup as well as archival capabilities. Data Domain’s tight integration with Avamar delivers added performance and scalability advantages for large Horizon 7 environments. Let’s see some of the key points discussed in the operation guide for backup and recovery of Horizon 7 desktop, management, and user layers.
The Horizon 7 configuration details are in the management layer stored in a View LDAP repository as part of the connection server configurations details. To schedule backups of this database, select the connection server instance from the Horizon console to generate a configuration backup file in a file share. You can then use Avamar VE to back up and restore this configuration backup file. If you are using linked clones, you also need to back up the Composer database.
As discussed earlier in this blog, the backup requirements of the desktop layer depend on the desktop pools and provisioning method. In the case of Horizon instant clones, only the master image (golden image) of the respective desktop pools need to be backed up. We recommend taking a clone of the original master image (containing snapshots) and use that copied cloned image for the backup cycles.
The user data layer contains user-profile shares and other user-related files that are backed up by Avamar software. This layer needs to be protected using a standard data protection approach that is appropriate for user data in any environment.
For a more detailed description of the process to protect each of the layers described above, refer to the operations guide published by the Dell EMC Ready Solutions for VDI team.
The backup and recovery approach for Horizon virtual desktop environments is different from the approach followed for physical desktops and other virtual machines. For developing a successful operational backup strategy for Horizon, the key thing to be aware of is that all three component layers (desktop, management, user data) must be considered. The successful recovery of each of these interdependent components is essential to restore and deliver a fully functional user desktop. To make sure that your backup and recovery plan is effective from a user and business perspective, we recommend that you perform a backup and recovery test for all three layers simultaneously.
In the next part, we will conclude the blog series with some discussion on multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies for Horizon 7. So, stay tuned for more!
Thanks for Reading,
Anand Johnson - On Twitter @anandjohns