The Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes Differentiator
Thu, 14 Oct 2021 20:45:18 -0000|
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It’s been over a decade since hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) disrupted technology. An ideal architecture for HCI would be a simple, modular architecture, in which all datacenter components (compute, storage, and networking) are consumed in a virtualized way to simplify allocating and managing resources. With this architecture, all physical components reside in the same box. When we combine these boxes, we can scale our datacenter power in all resource domains to accommodate almost any type of workload. This is due to extremely fast processors, large and efficient storage devices, and advanced network connections.
If we abstract the hardware layer in this architecture and imagine a solution that fills all the roles previously described, (virtualization of the three infrastructure domains, compute, network and storage) VMware can easily come to mind. VMware has a strong portfolio of software defined compute (vSphere), storage (vSAN), and networking (NSX family) to create a best of breed hyper-converged infrastructure product.
It will come as no surprise that VMware leads the HCI market due to its vSAN based systems, as reported by IDC1:
In this VMware led market, Dell PowerEdge servers stand out as a logical choice in terms of providing the modular box (server), for this hyperconvergence paradigm. Dell Technologies, as a global server market leader (Worldwide Server Market, IDC), has a long tradition of Ready Systems that allow a simpler customer deployment experience.
Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes (vSAN Ready Nodes) are a great example of an HCI implementation, providing a robust and mature datacenter platform — pre-configured, tested, and certified to run VMware vSAN.
This HCI market is especially relevant as its current growth rate far surpasses that of the server market. According to Gartner2 while the server market is growing at 5.6%, the HCI market is increasing by 23 percent (IDC3). That represents a growth rate more than four times that of the server market:
Server market growth:
HCI market growth:
In this prosperous landscape, Dell Technologies holds an outstanding leading place, with a wide portfolio of HCI offerings, led by Dell EMC VxRail in tandem with vSAN Ready Nodes. More than 20 years of collaboration endorses the relationship between Dell Technologies and VMware, specifically in the server space, where we have worked to simplify our joint customers’ technology experience.4
Dell EMC Ready Nodes simplify and accelerate infrastructure modernization providing IT a strategic advantage with their flexibility, simplified operations, and breadth of choice.
This leadership is founded on four pillars:
- Form factors: Dell Technologies offers an unmatched portfolio of vSAN Ready Nodes options, ranging from 1 to 2U rackmount servers, tower models, and MX series blade options. There are more than 250 different configurations available for Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes. As part of this rich offering, Dell provides unique solutions that scale up to four processors per node.
- Identity Module: This module declares the system a vSAN Ready Node, distinguishing it from a standard off-the-shelf server. All vSAN Ready Node capabilities derive from this Identity Module, facilitating the Day 0 operations provided by vLCM in unison with OMIVV.
- OMIVV (OME): The Dell EMC Open Manage Integration for VMware vCenter (OMIVV) is designed to streamline the management processes in your data center environment by allowing you to use VMware vCenter Server to manage your full server infrastructure, both physical and virtual.
- vSphere Lifecycle Management (vLCM): Consistency across ESXi hosts is essential for creating reliable and high performing platforms, but it is difficult to obtain, especially at scale. vLCM solves the complexity by enforcing consistency across ESXi hosts in a cluster using a declarative model. vLCM not only accomplishes this by using an ESXi base image but extends it with the desired state for firmware and driver versions as well.
Watch for my next blog where I’ll provide more info about the rich variety of vSAN Ready Nodes form factors available from Dell Technologies and how that represents a significant business advantage. For the latest technical content on vSAN Ready Nodes, check out our Info Hub site!
Inigo Olcoz, Technical Marketing Engineer at Dell Technologies
- IDC’s Q32020 Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker, December 15th, 2020
- Worldwide End-User Spending on IT by Technology Segment and Subsegment, 2019-2025 (Millions of U.S Dollars).
- IDC Converged Systems Tracker Forecast, Q4020, March 2021
- IDC Quarterly Converged Systems tracker, 2021-Q1.
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Form Factor Fun with Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes
Mon, 20 Dec 2021 13:00:54 -0000|
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Form Factor Fun with Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes
When thinking of a VMware vSAN-based integrated solution, it is clear that the virtualization layer is a key technology piece. That virtualization layer abstracts the classical hardware domains, compute, storage, and network, to present users with a consolidated view of their data center hardware resources through the vSphere abstractions.
Even still, the underlying hardware plays a main role. It is responsible for the specific characteristics of its processors, memory, IO devices, and storage, and also for the available form factors in which that set of hardware resources can be installed and deployed.
Having a rack mount, tower, modular, and ruggedized servers to deploy a vSAN Ready Node environment offers robust choices to adapt infrastructure to customer business needs.
VMware with vSAN can host almost any existing workload today. This ability gets a boost when the underlying platform is also capable of showing different forms, sizes, and infrastructure offerings, such as those in the Dell EMC PowerEdge portfolio.
Some of the most common data center choices are the types of servers that can be installed within a rack: rackmount and blade servers. These server types achieve optimal space and power utilization when compute density is a desired goal—a key design criteria for many facilities.
The range of rack mount and composable infrastructure available in the Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node family is extensive, at 14 different server types. This wide range of options allows customer to find the perfect resource fit for their specific workload demands. It’s likely that the compute, storage, and network mix they are looking for can be found in the exact requested proportions among the 14 server platforms.
This range of options also enables an important price flexibility, as customers can choose the most affordable options to suit their needs.
Even platform homogeneity represents an operational savings opportunity. Many companies have gone through infrastructure standardization campaigns to explore the benefits of sizing, designing, operating, servicing, and lifecycle managing the most homogeneous server platform possible. The broader the server offering is, the greater the chance that the bare metal deployments need alignment with the VMware-based infrastructure.
The rack mount format offers servers ranging from 1 to 2U, and from one to four sockets. Rack servers can include up to 112 Intel Xeon Scalable processors, 6 TB of RAM, and 24 direct-attach NVMe drives, and in the PowerEdge R840 in just 2Us.
The full rack mount and composable portfolio looks like this:
With 5G and edge becoming mainstream, they have enabled new business opportunities from next-generation applications and services. There is an increasing need for businesses to have IT resources as close as possible to the data creation place.
But the edge is a place with some inherent constraints in space, power, and cooling, coupled with limited bandwidth and limited IT staff. There are two great choices for this challenging space among the Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node portfolio:
- Dell EMC XR2 vSAN Ready Node: Built for rugged environments, this option is able to operate in temperatures up to 45⁰C and avoid thermal damage up to 55⁰C with high shock, vibration, dust, humidity, and electromagnetic interference (EMI). With a minimal footprint of 1U and short depth, this option is ideal for space-constrained installations.
- Dell EMC T340 and T350 vSAN Ready Nodes: With the T350 vSAN Ready Node coming soon, these reliable platforms in a tower form factor represent a great choice for edge locations because they allow customers to build a scalable IT platform by starting small, with an affordable investment. To address the demands and typical constraints of edge locations, including space constraints, communications constraints, and minimal staff at edge locations, the T340 and T350 provide a cyber-resilient architecture that includes reduced server size, thermal efficiency technologies, and advanced security features.
Finally, the PowerEdge MX kinetic infrastructure is a rack-based modular chassis uniquely designed to support new processor technologies, storage types, and fabric advances. These capabilities provide the foundation for software-defined environments.
PowerEdge MX7000 hosts elastic compute and storage resources connected by a Smart I/O fabric in a flexible 7U modular enclosure, able to hold two and four sockets in its compute sleds.
The Dell EMC MX750c vSAN Ready Node is one of the latest additions to the MX ecosystem, supporting up to two 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processors (Ice Lake), 32x DIMMs, and PCIe Gen4, which enables faster NVMe drives and NICs.
The MX750c adds a flexible building block to the Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node family that helps to reduce deployment risks with certified configurations and to improve storage efficiencies that can help when building the vSAN clusters.
Dell EMC MX750c vSAN Ready Nodes offer the platform flexibility that allows customers to add resources as business peaks demand.
In conclusion, having a wide range of available form factors is a crucial aspect for any infrastructure offering, allowing customers to choose the best platform for each business case.
Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes delivers some of the best of breed rack mount, blade, and tower server options to deploy a vSAN cluster. For more information, see the vSAN Ready Nodes InfoHub site.
Author: Iñigo Olcoz, Senior Principal Engineering Technologist at Dell Technologies
AMD Benefits for Dell vSAN Ready Nodes
Fri, 11 Feb 2022 16:40:29 -0000|
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In a previous blog I explained how the availability of a rich offering of platforms to support vSAN Ready Nodes provides additional value to customers.
Apart from the various form factors including tower, rack, modular, and ruggedized models, or the existence of 1 and 2U offers and compute options ranging from one to four sockets, Dell vSAN Ready Nodes also provides a choice of processor: Intel and AMD.
In this blog, I explore some of the key advantages of the AMD based processor, focusing on:
- Technical specifications
Dell has four AMD based servers certified as vSAN Ready Nodes: the Dell EMC PowerEdge R6515, R6525, R7515, and R7525.
These four models incorporate the latest generations of AMD EPYC Rome (Series 7002, AMD EPYC 2nd Gen) and Milan (Series 7003, AMD EPYC 3rd Gen) processors in VMware vSAN Ready Nodes All-Flash and Hybrid configurations, as described in the following figure:
The AMD portfolio consists of two one-socket servers (Dell PowerEdge R6515 and R7515) and two two-socket servers (Dell PowerEdge R6525 and R7525).
The Dell PowerEdge Rxxx5 servers include the new AMD EPYC 7003 (Milan) Series Processors, that have up to 64 cores per processor, based on “Zen 3” architecture. They also introduce new per-core cache memory levels (32 MB L3 cache) while continuing to offer the class-leading PCIe® 4 connectivity that defined the EPYC 7002 (Rome) Series CPUs memory bandwidth.
These servers present a vast I/O bandwidth profile with 128 PCIe™ 4.0 Lanes in a Single Socket, up to 160 PCIe 4.0 Lanes in a Dual Socket and 64 GB/s bi-dir bandwidth per link, 512 GB/s per socket.
Single socket configurations are beneficial in terms of cost and energy footprint because they can compete in performance with dual socket configurations, with significant cost and power savings (280W per AMD EPYC 7763 vs 350W in 2x Intel Xeon Platinum 9242, and 64 cores in the AMD EPYC 7763 vs 48 cores in the Intel Xeon Platinum 9242).
Both AMD Rome and Milan processors feature configurable Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA), settings that can go from one NUMA node per socket (NPS1) to four NUMA nodes per socket (NPS4). NPS1 configurations create a larger memory domain, with potentially higher latency and throughput, while NPS4 configurations produce smaller memory domains that help to reduce the ESXi scheduler memory latency.
Optimal NPS configurations depend on the user’s vSphere workload. In general, workloads with large block sequential reads benefit from NPS1 configurations, which achieve almost double the throughput of NPS2 and NPS4 at half the latency. Small block random read type workloads show exceptional performance from NPS2 and NPS4 configurations.
NPS settings have much less impact in heavy write workloads. This probably occurs because all writes are consumed by the cache drive before destaging to the capacity drive.
AMD EPYC processors have demonstrated an excellent performance profile over the years. They have yielded impressive results not only in the VMware space, but in almost any workload test.
For example, the AMD site shares some general numbers with VMware, VDI, database, high performance computing, or pure integer calculation workloads. For more details, see AMD EPYC™ Tech Docs and White Papers.
VMark is a leading performance benchmark in the VMware space. Dell vSAN Ready Nodes (particularly those based in AMD) demonstrated impressive results for the most recent VMark 3.x tests.
Dell vSAN Ready Nodes make up three out of four of the best global scores, measured by the number of VMmark tiles that ready nodes can run.
The remaining ready node of these four used three times more hosts and sockets than the Dell AMD based nodes. The price implications are demonstrated in the following figure.
With 64 tiles and a score of 63.01, the Dell R6525 vSAN Ready Node shines as a solid performance leader in terms of VMware workloads.
AMD based ready nodes also lead the charts for single-socket systems, as shown in the following image:
The top scoring systems were the Dell R7515 and Dell C6525 vSAN Ready Nodes, with 16 tiles and scores of 15.18 and 13.74, respectively.
AMD EPYC processors create a new standard for secure memory encryption (SME) by making it possible to encrypt the contents of the main memory just by changing a setting in the system BIOS. In encrypted memory systems, cold-boot attacks have a low chance of divulging memory contents because all the data is encrypted. High performance encryption engines integrated into the memory channels help improve performance
Second generation EPYC processors have even more increased security, with performance-optimized countermeasures against known attacks.
Specific to virtualized environments, the second generation of AMD EPYC processors have introduced Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV). This technology encrypts each virtual machine with a unique key that in known only to the processor, with up to 509 contexts. This improves protection and data confidentiality in virtualized environments. This includes protection for instances of a malicious virtual machine that finds a way into your virtual machines’ memory or a compromised hypervisor that looks inside a guest virtual machine.
This means AMD EPYC processors are less vulnerable to attacks such as Meltdown, Spectre v3a, LazyFPU, and MDS.
With Secure Boot, AMD creates a hardware root of trust, enabling only trusted code to be loaded and run through BIOS load, helping prevent the injection of malicious code prior to the loading of the operating system. This feature is managed by a dedicated security processor (AMD Secure Processor) that lives alongside the CPU cores.
AMD based Dell vSAN Ready Nodes provide tangible benefits for vSAN deployments, have significant performance and security advantages, and are cost-friendly.
You can read more about Dell vSAN Ready Nodes at the Dell Technologies Info Hub Solutions for vSAN Ready Nodes.
Author: Inigo Olcoz