We introduced the first of our Agile Infrastructure architectures at the OpenStack Design Summit in Atlanta this year, and the response has been nothing short of amazing. But OpenStack is just one of the Cloud Management Platforms our customers are using. And so we are pleased to roll out a brand new Agile Infrastructure (AI), combining the newest of the VMware technologies with networking and compute hardware from Cisco.

 

The growth of converged infrastructure as a focal point for vendors and customers is a clear sign that both the “buying logic” and the requirements for hardware as part of an integrated platform are moving up the stack toward the applications and workloads being supported. There’s no longer value in spending time and money at that layer of the solution, and customers are increasingly demanding more simplicity and integration from their hardware vendors.

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SolidFire’s new Agile Infrastructure for Virtualized Infrastructure combines the newest of the VMware technologies with networking and compute hardware from Cisco.

 

As long-time proponents of the value Cisco UCS brings with its stateless, programmatic architecture, it was a natural fit alongside the scale-out, predictable, API-driven value SolidFire brings.

 

What we ended up with was something pretty special: a reference architecture blueprint that shows how to scale, support multiple enterprise-class applications using SolidFire Quality of Service (QoS), and tightly integrate with the VMware technologies that make up an SDDC vision.

 

Most reference architectures are pointed clearly at the infrastructure teams, showing them how to remove some risk from the process of standing up a new infrastructure. There’s so much “non-recurring engineering time” spent reinventing the wheel every time a new stack of hardware is stood up, and enterprise customers are always looking for ways to drive that cost down. For all the noise and bluster around hyper-converged offerings being a way to reduce that engineering burden, the solution is always at the expense of supporting multiple workloads at scale. The specific design goal of this version of AI is to be able to use ONE storage platform to support multiple tier one applications and be able to scale FOREVER without compromise.

 

In addition to a great design and team to back it up, we also spent a lot of time validating individual workloads and examples of supporting multiple workloads at the same time. The highlight of this testing is a demo we debuted in the SolidFire booth at VMworld, showing a MongoDB workload in addition to two Oracle OLTP databases running about 250,000 transactions per minute. After showing that all three applications were running as expected, we then cold-booted 200 Windows 8 VDI desktops in a VMware Horizon View environment on the same array.

 

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SolidFire’s Agile Infrastructure successfully runs multiple applications, including a mongoDB workload and two Oracle databases.

 

Other storage providers typically recommend that customers dedicate separate storage resources for VDI for exactly this scenario. A boot storm, or a massive recompose, or a patch being applied creates an IO profile that is not only significant in size, but very hard to plan for and very different in read/write ratio than a steady-state workload, and it will usually overwhelm the storage array, causing performance issues for everything the array is supporting.

 

This is the perfect proving ground for QoS and what it can do in an Enterprise environment. The boot storm didn’t touch the performance of the databases at all, and in fact, we were able to dynamically increase the amount of IOPS allocated to the VDI boot volumes on the fly, decreasing the time it took for all 200 desktops to boot. It was a lot of fun to set up, and even more awesome to see the results prove what we know the array is capable of.

 

What applications are you managing at your company? How many storage arrays do you need to support them all? Would it make your operations team happier to have one platform that could scale, provide predictable performance and integrate directly into your existing orchestration tools? If so, maybe Agile Infrastructure is the answer you’ve been looking for.

 

The partner and customer ecosystem around Agile Infrastructure continues to grow, and we want you to be part of it. If you would like to download the reference design, see more details about the application use cases we tested or learn more about how SolidFire is bringing predictability and scale to enterprise storage, visit our SolidFire AI Solutions Page.

 

We will also bring the fun to Barcelona for VMworld Europe in a few weeks; visit our booth for briefings and demonstrations!

Jeramiah Dooley

Jeramiah is a Cloud Architect at SolidFire with a passion for positioning technology in general, and virtualization in particular, as a way to solve customer problems and generate revenue. He is a subject matter expert on service provider business practices, trusted multi-tenancy, VMware vCloud Technologies, and Cisco Unified Communications. When he isn't buried in something geeky, he's home with his wife and two kids trying to see how much trouble they can get into.