Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Nate Vickery

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
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
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 across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...