Ah, the belle of Tech Field Day… That may or may not be an exaggeration, but either way the Tech Field Day community LOVES PernixData. They show up and talk about the innovative and awesome technology they’re building. Also, Satyam is a hoot! At previous Tech Field Day Events, PernixData revealed FVP for the first time, and then announced FVP 2.0 at a later TFD. They’re not letting off the gas, because today at VFD5, Satyam announced PernixData Architect! This tool will analyze and understand an environment to provide insight and advice at a ‘meta’ level.
An example that Satyam gave during the presentation could be paraphrased like this: “When you ask Siri whether you need a raincoat, Siri associates the raincoat with rain and shows you the weather. In the infrastructure, traditional monitoring/planning/design tools will show you ‘If you pull a network cable, the link will be down.’ when what would be helpful is ‘If you pull a network cable, the link to the SAN will be down, causing datastore A, B, and C to be unavailable.” The ability of the tool to understand the impact of events and/or design decisions on the environment is monumental.
Satyam shared with the audience 3 design principles that guided the development of PernixData architect. The product that came to be is a result of these three considerations:
- Get a lot of data (your own data). The data that someone else collects may not be useful to you, and it’s possible that no one else is collecting the type of data you need.
- Control the user experience. Ensure that the UI is streamlined, and the dashboard shows extremely distilled, helpful information.
- Make recommendations based on the application. A VM performing poorly doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an infrastructure performance problem. Perhaps the application isn’t doing what it should be, or was spec’ed to do?
The tool will show a characteristic IO “fingerprint” of a VM, including precise information about the size and frequency of IOs. This is as compared to most tools that would show an average of IO operations. For planning purposes, these two numbers are wildly different, the former obviously being much more helpful. It also shows the “working set” for each VM in the data center. Meaning the “hot” data for that VM is highlighted, which can help calculate the need for cache, higher tiers of storage, etc. At this point the tool focuses on storage only. That’s not an issue, as the product has to ship some time. Network, compute, etc will come later.
As exciting as all of this is, that was only one of the announcements!
All of this data that is collected by Architect could be infinitely useful in analyzing and comparing one’s infrastructure to other similar infrastructures. This information could help understand the evolving industry, and could also help correct course when doing design. As an example, PernixData Cloud could answer the question: in environments with as many ESXi hosts and VMs as mine, where the workload is similar to mine, what storage platform (EMC, NetApp, Pure) are they using? Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean that you should, but it certainly means that you should find out why they made that choice.
A challenge with this product is that it’s only as good as the data that’s been collected. The adoption will determine how useful the tool proves to be. The data is stored in AWS, and that could be a concern to some highly regulated customers, or customers from certain countries.
This technology is promising, and looks AWESOME.
The “carrot” to help solve the aforementioned data collection problem is FVP Freedom. Freedom is a “free” edition of FVP with some certain limitations. Presumably, this offering will entice many organizations to take advantage of the FVP techology with the caveat that they agree to share information with PernixData Cloud. The details of FVP Freedom are as follows:
- 1 cluster only
- Read acceleration only
- Community support only
- Coming Fall of 2015
Using any version of FVP moving forward, you will automatically be opted “in” to sending your data to the PernixData Cloud database. Of course, you can opt out, but the amount of folks who will choose not to or forget to will allow PernixData to collect the information they need. I’m totally OK with this – they’re offering a fantastic product for free in the exchange for your information (Google, anyone?).
As usual after a PernixData presentation at Tech Field Day, my mind is blown. This will be hard to follow up this week 🙂 Cheers to all the delegates – I hope you’re having a great time in Boston. And thanks to all the presenters for making the event possible 🙂