Alright, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But 100k is a real, valuable number. RAM access latencies are measured in nanoseconds, while spinning disk access times are measured in milliseconds, making RAM roughly 100,000 times faster than spinning disk. Wouldn’t it follow, then, that for ultra-high storage performance we should be making use of RAM? This is exactly what Atlantis has been doing with ILIO. A few different ILIO solutions have existed for VDI for a while, and now they’ve finally made the leap to include server workloads with ILIO USX. Atlantis ILIO USX In-Memory storage technology enables organizations to abstract any SAN, NAS, DAS, flash or server RAM to create capacity and performance resource pools, which are then used to dynamically create the optimal type of storage characteristics for each application. RAM can be used either as a storage tier itself, or as an acceleration mechanism for other storage tiers.
How Does Atlantis ILIO Work?
Simply put, the solution uses virtual appliances to consume either memory or network storage. The virtual appliance caches, deduplicates, accelerates, all sorts of other happy words. The appliance turns around a presents an NFS datastore back to the hosts and VMs are provisioned on (or svMotion’ed to) this new datastore.
There are some distinct advantages to the way this product works, and I’d like to list them here.
- Because this is an all-software solution, there is nothing to ship, nothing to rack in the data center, and you don’t need to procure any additional cooling or power resources.
- Because of the design, the solution can be completely implemented in hours – if not minutes – depending on the size of your implementation.
- The implementation is usually completely non-disruptive. (I say usually only to account for one-off setups) Because of the way that the ILIO appliance presents an NFS datastore back to the hosts, all one must do to begin reaping the benefits is svMotion (a non-disruptive operation) the VMs over to the new datastore.
If you’re looking for some SERIOUS performance, ILIO USX offers the ability to use RAM as a storage tier itself rather than just an acceleration mechanism. This means a few things: your IO is extremely fast, your IO never leaves the host, your IO is as close as possible to the CPU. The problem with any caching solution is that as soon as you have a cache miss, you’re going down to the same old spinning disk that’s been too slow for years. Not to discount the great benefits of compression, deduplication, coalescing writes, and caching, but at the end of the day going across the network and/or down to spinning disk is non-optimal. ILIO USX In-Memory storage solves this problem entirely and is a great solution for your Tier 1, business critical applications.
Something that we have to start thinking about which was discussed during the #VFD3 presentation at Atlantis headquarters was this: no matter what we do to make it more efficient, we still haven’t exactly changed the way that storage works. We can add high-performance flash, we can do in-line dedup, but the overall architecture is still the same. If we want to really change the way we do storage, I think we need to consider two things:
- Using RAM as a storage tier a la USX or UltraDIMM
- Reaping the locality benefits of DAS as well as the control and scale of NAS/SAN with hyper-convergence
If you’d like to learn more about Atlantis ILIO solutions, here are some links to whitepapers and datasheets as well as all of the Tech Field Day presentations at Atlantis that I participated in at #VFD3.
Product page | http://www.atlantiscomputing.com/products/usx
FAQ | http://www.atlantiscomputing.com/downloads/Atlantis_ILIO_USX-Technical_FAQ.pdf
#VFD3 | http://techfieldday.com/appearance/atlantis-computing-presents-at-virtualization-field-day-3/
Other VFD3 posts:
Paul Meehan | http://paulpmeehan.com/2014/03/06/atlantis-computing-different-approach-vfd3/
Eric Wright | http://www.discoposse.com/index.php/2014/03/05/tech-field-day-vfd3-atlantis-computing-ilio-usx-bring-the-usxy-back/
Marco Broeken | http://www.vclouds.nl/atlantis-ilio-usx-in-memory-performance-for-servers/
Andrea Mauro | http://vinfrastructure.it/2014/02/atlantis-ilio-usx-unified-software-defined-storage/
DISCLOSURE: Travel and expenses for Tech Field Day – Virtualization Field Day 3 were provided by the Tech Field Day organization. No compensation was received for attending the event. All content provided in my posts is of my own opinion based on independent research and information gathered during the sessions.