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VMware flushes away unbelievers with its new VSANitation unit

Say hello to SABU chief tech office's new gang

VMware has set up a chief tech officer's office in its Storage and Availability Business Unit. You might call a VSANitation office.

Charles Fan is the SVP and general manager running the SABU, and his CTO's office is headed up by principal engineer Christos Karamanolis.

Karamanolis's LinkedIn profile says he has "technical oversight of the BU’s strategy and product roadmap execution. Externally, I evangelise technology directions and VMware’s vision around storage and availability specifically."

Karamanolis was one of the architects of VSAN, VMware's virtual SAN which aggregates the direct-attached storage on ESXi servers and turns it into a single pool of storage, eliminating the need for external shared storage arrays.

Since then, VSAN has been the key part of EVO: Rail, VMware's hyperconverged server-plus-storage design, with products built by EVO: Rail partners such as EMC.

It competes with startup hyperconverged products from Nutanix, Simplivity and others.

Why set up a SABU CTO's office? Karamanolis has blogged about this, and makes several points:

  • The storage stack of ESXi, including VMFS, played a key role in the proliferation of virtualisation in data centers, where data is stored and managed by high-end disk arrays.
  • Scale-out software products that run on commodity hardware are displacing traditional “monolithic” storage arrays.
  • This trend is accelerated by three factors:
    • The emergence of new storage technologies, NAND-based Flash and soon-to-arrive non-volatile memory.
    • New use cases for big data analytics [where] their scale and performance requirements far exceed the capabilities of traditional storage products.
    • Application design is changing rapidly towards large-scale, micro-service based architectures. The storage and data management requirements of these applications cannot be met by the traditional storage arrays (whether block or file).
  • These three trends caused VSAN to be devised, followed by VASA and VVOLs.
  • At this point, VSAN is targeted as a product for the storage of virtual machines and their virtual SCSI disks.
  • New applications and use cases are looking for data protocols and management services that go beyond virtual SCSI devices and beyond traditional vSphere clusters.
  • Customers have been asking for comprehensive data protection solutions beyond today’s point solutions for backup and disaster recovery.
  • We are building next-gen data management solutions that work with any storage platform, not just VSAN.
  • They will cover not only on-premise deployments across multiple data centers, but they will also enable a real hybrid cloud experience for VMware customers and partners.

The CTO's office will "Define VMware’s vision and strategy and communicate it to customers and partners [and] oversee the technical investments and directions of the BU and ensure that we are executing on the strategy we outlined."

"For cloud-native applications (CNA) that are deployed using containers (i.e., Docker) on infrastructures that span 100s or even 1000s of hosts, VMware is working on storage solutions that will provide a file interface to storage, for OS images, configuration, and even persistent application state," said Stifel MD Aaron Rakers.

"VMware is investing in comprehensive data protection solutions beyond point solutions for backup and disaster recovery," he added.

While VMware’s current portfolio of Site Recovery Manager, vSphere Replication and VADP provide data protection, VMware is working on next-gen data management solutions that will work with any storage platform, not just VSAN, and will cover not only on-premise deployments across multiple data centers, but also enable a real hybrid Cloud experience for VMware customers and partners.

Karamanolis is joined by VMware employees Duncan Epping, known for his Yellow-bricks blog, and VMware principal architect Rawlinson Rivera of Punching Clouds fame.

Could VMware's storage products work with other hypervisors and public cloud storage such as Amazon, Azure and Google? It sure seems likely, don't you think? It could up the competitive bar for Nutanix, Simplivity and the other server SAN/hypercoverged system startups. ®

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