|By Alan Conboy||
|March 13, 2016 11:00 AM EDT||
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....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will 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. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Mar. 25, 2017 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,910
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
Mar. 25, 2017 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 479
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
Mar. 25, 2017 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,274
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of 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, and the 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 ...
Mar. 25, 2017 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,686
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
Mar. 25, 2017 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,033
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Mar. 25, 2017 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,868
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Mar. 25, 2017 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,665
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems 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. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Mar. 25, 2017 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,159
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...
Mar. 25, 2017 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 5,052
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...
Mar. 25, 2017 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 917
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Mar. 25, 2017 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,526
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of 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. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
Mar. 25, 2017 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,543
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile 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. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
Mar. 25, 2017 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,078
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics 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. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
Mar. 25, 2017 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,918
SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of 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. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
Mar. 25, 2017 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,222
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of 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. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Mar. 25, 2017 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,041
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Mar. 25, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 14,020
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Mar. 25, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,078
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase 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. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Mar. 25, 2017 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,797
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Mar. 25, 2017 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,779