Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Derek Weeks, Automic Blog, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Java IoT, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Post

The Dirty Truth About Efficiency in Hyperconvergence By @ACConboy | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The discussion on efficiency can be extended through every single part of a vendor's architectural and business choices

The business dictionary defines efficiency as the comparison of what is actually produced or performed with what can be achieved with the same consumption of resources (money, time, labor, design, etc.). Example being: The designers needed to revise the product specifications as the complexity of its parts reduced the efficiency of the product.

In technology today we constantly hear efficiency being used as a marketing term by folks who haven't ever actually looked under the hood of the technology in question to the design of how architectures actually work. Efficiency is constantly being used as a buzzword without real evaluation of its meaning in the context of how the product in question really does what it was intended to do, compared to the alternatives in the market. There are way too many vendors saying "trust us, ours is the most efficient..."

Sadly, a quote from Paul Graham all too often comes to mind when dealing with vendors and their architectural choices in new and rapidly growing market segments such as Hyperconvergence:

"In a rapidly growing market, you don't worry too much about efficiency. It's more important to grow fast. If there's some mundane problem getting in your way, and there's a simple solution that's somewhat expensive, just take it and get on with more important things."

Understand that when the technology at hand is a Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), the importance of this term "Efficiency" cannot be overstated. Bear in mind that what a hyperconverged vendor (or cloud vendor, or converged vendor) is actually doing is taking responsibility for all of the architectural decisions and choices that their customers would have made for themselves in the past. All of the decisions around which parts to use in the solution, how many parts there should be, how best to utilize them, what capabilities the end product should have, and what the end user should be able to do (and what - in their opinion - they don't need to be able to do) with the solution.

Likewise, these choices made in the different approaches you see in the HCI market today can have profound effects on the efficiency (and resulting cost) of the end product. All too often, shortcuts are taken that radically decrease efficiency in the name of expediency (see the Paul Graham quote above). Like cloud and flash before it, the HCI space is seen as a ‘land grab' by several vendors, and getting to market trumps how they get there. Those fundamental decisions do not have priority (with some vendors) over getting their sales and marketing machines moving.

The IO Path
One great example of technology moving forward is SSD and flash technologies. Used properly, they can radically improve performance and reduce power consumption. However, several HCI vendors are using SSD and flash as an essential buffer to hide very slow IO paths used between Virtual Machines, VSAs (just another VM),  and their underlying disks - creating what amounts to a Rube Goldberg machine for an IO path - (one that consumes 4 to 10 disk IOs or more for every IO the VM needs done) rather than using flash and SSD as proper tiers with a QOS-like mechanism in place to automatically put the right workloads in the right place at the right time with the flexibility to move those workloads fluidly between tiers. Any architecture that REQUIRES the use of flash to function at an acceptable speed has clearly not been architected efficiently. If turning off the flash layer results in IO speeds best described as Glacial, then the vendor is hardly being efficient in their use of flash or solid state. Flash is not meant to be the curtain that hides the efficiency issues of the solution.

Disk Controller Approaches
In other cases, rather than handing disk subsystems with SAN flexibility built in at a block level directly to production VMs, you see vendors choosing to simply virtualize a SAN controller and pull the legacy SAN + storage protocols up into the servers as a separate VM, causing several I/O path loops to happen with IOs having to pass multiple times through VMs in the system and adjacent systems, maintaining and magnifying the overhead of storage protocols (and their foibles). Likewise, this approach of using Storage Controller VMs (sometimes called VSAs or Virtual Storage Appliances) often consumes significant resources in terms of CPU and RAM that could easily otherwise power additional Virtual Machines in the architecture. This has been done by many vendors due to the forced lock-in and lack of flexibility caused by legacy virtualization approaches.

Essentially, the VSA is a shortcut solution to the ‘legacy of lock-in' problem. In one case I can think of, a VSA running on each server (or node) in a vendor's architecture BEGINS its RAM consumption at 16GB and 4 vCores per node, then grows that based on how much additional feature implementation, IO loading and maintenance it is having to do (see above on IO path). With a different vendor, the VSA reserves over 43GB per node on their entry point offering, and over 100GB of RAM per node on their most common platform - a 3 node cluster reserving 300 GB RAM just for IO path overhead.  An average SMB customer could run their entire operation in just the CPU and RAM resources these VSAs consume. While this approach may offer benefits to the large enterprise that may not miss the consumed resource due to features offered in the VSA outweighing the loss, which is very much not the case with the average SMB customer.  Again, not a paragon of the efficiency required in today's SMB and mid-market IT environments.

This discussion on efficiency can be extended through every single part of a vendor's architectural and business choices - from hardware, hypervisor, management, disk, to the way they run their business. All of these choices result in dramatic impacts on the resultant capabilities, performance, cost and usability of the final product. As technology consumers in the modern SMB datacenter, we need to look beyond the marketeering to truly vet the choices being made for us.

The really disheartening part is when the vendors in question choose to either hide their choices, bury them on overly technical manuals, or claim that a given ‘new' technical approach is a panacea for every use case without mentioning that the ‘new' technical approach is really just a marketing renamed (read buzzword) approach that is just a slightly modified version of what has been around for decades and is already widely known to only be appropriate only for very specific uses. Even worse, they simply come out of the gate with the arrogance of "Trust us, our choices are best."

At the end of the day, it is always best to think of efficiency first, in all the areas it touches within your environment and the proposed architecture. Think of it for what it really is, how it impacts use and ask your vendor the specifics. You may well be surprised by the answers you get to the real questions....

More Stories By Alan Conboy

A 20 year industry veteran, Alan Conboy is a technology evangelist who specializes in designing, prototyping, selling, and implementing disruptive storage and virtualization technologies targeted at the SMB and mid-market. First mover in the X86/X64 Hyperconvergence space. One of the first 30 people ever certified by SNIA.

@ThingsExpo Stories
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence a...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera offers a radically new approach to data management, where innovative software makes data infrastructure invisible, elastic and able to perform at the highest level. It eliminates hardware lock-in and gives IT organizations the choice to source x86 server nodes, with business model option...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
Recently, IoT seems emerging as a solution vehicle for data analytics on real-world scenarios from setting a room temperature setting to predicting a component failure of an aircraft. Compared with developing an application or deploying a cloud service, is an IoT solution unique? If so, how? How does a typical IoT solution architecture consist? And what are the essential components and how are they relevant to each other? How does the security play out? What are the best practices in formulating...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...