What is VCE Vblock?

What is VCE Vblock?

VCE stands for V= VMware, C=Cisco, E=EMC

Vblock: We can say it is a DataCenter in a compact box. We need to power on and provide network connectivity and it runs.

 

First thing you need to know Evolution of the DataCenter. How our DataCenter looks and developed time to time.

 

Traditional DataCenter:

They used dedicated hardware and outdated practices and multiple venders like (Server: HP, Dell) (Storage: EMC, HP, 3Par) (Network: Cisco). More spending on purchasing on Hardware and maintains, also need to update firmware and outdated software on regular interval. For these all they have to spend more money and time consuming. For every Customer or application they have install dedicated server and purchase hardware from different vender. Here troubleshooting is very difficult because need to contact different vender.

Converged Infrastructure:

It means they are the systems which are pre-engineered, pre-assembled, pre-configured and tested to deliver as a single product and easy to manage.

 

Benefits of Vblock:

Note: if you have issue then need to contact only single vender. Here CISCO, EMC and VMware merge and made one team which is called VCE to resolve any challenge regarding Vblock.

We have many advantages of Vblock

  1. One box having all the required hardware like network, storage, compute and VMware.
  2. On this box you can run multiple OS on sharing basis (resource).
  3. Easy to manage its single vender.

 

Why you have to choose Vblock

  1. First and main reason is that it is Single product.
  2. It reduced the complexity and risk like it cut wiring from different devices.
  3. This product is pre-engineered as per you requirement.

 

With the help of VCE we can achieve

  1. Lowest TCO
  2. It reduce risk
  3. Highest availability
  4. Highest performance

 

According to VCE

  1. We can deploy system 4x faster
  2. Down time reduced approx. 96% which is less from traditional DataCenter.
  3. We can reduce IT admin effort by 79%

Vblock Family

  1. System 100 Family
  2. System 200 Family
  3. System 300 Family
  4. System 700 Family
  5. Specialized Systems

Terms you must know

1. Compute:

It is running on operating systems like Linux, Ubuntu and Windows etc. Runs business applications like SAP, email, enterprise software etc. it compute on Cisco unified computing systems (UCS) it includes blade or rack mount servers, flex fabric and interconnects.

Note: Standalone server can directly install in Vblock they do not require connectivity like fabric extenders or interconnect

Vblock system Components

2. Network:

In Vblock technology provides network connectivity so that Vblock devices can connect each component which is inside the Vblock box and outside core network.

 

In Vblock networking divide into two parts:

1) LAN it is local area network (LAN): LAN is used to move data from Server, laptop etc.
2) SAN (Storage Area Network) :  SAN is handle communication between storage device and any device to access this.

 

Vblock system used combination of Cisco Ethernet switches in LAN system and Fiber channel for SAN switches and unified switches to support both the LAN and SAN on single switches. Vblock also use Cisco virtual switch and it provide LAN switching on virtual network.

 

3. Storage:

Storage is important part for any organization it provide a central location to store data in Vblock system.

It contains core components: a) Storage Processors b) Storage Drives c) Disk Array Enclosures.

Vblock used EMC storage technology but as per different model. Each Product has its own capability like storage capability and number of I/O (input and output)

 

4. Virtualization:

Vblock use the VMware platform for virtualization.

For Management:

In Vblock all the core technologies are managed by using tools.

In management they used VCE technology (Vision software) it continuously monitors all the infra, proper configuration and also provides a standard management.

In Vblock each device and component has their own management console, but vision software provides single console to manage.

In Vblock UIM (unified infrastructure manager) Provisioning center is available in all Vblock boxes. It helps in provisioning Storage, Zoning and Service profile for Cisco UCS.

 

Note: Vblock is fully integrated for cloud it provides Storage, network, virtualization and compute.  Vblock is built with 3 components: 1. EMC 2. VMware 3.Cisco 4.Intel

A Vblock system (Model 720) can contain up to 384 Blade Servers.

 

In Vblock Compute Components

 

It used Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) technology. With this component you can run applications and connect to the other parts of Vblock system. Compute Components include compute servers, chassis server and fabric interconnects.

Server in Vblock

 

1. You can customize these servers in term number of CPUs and CPU speed and Memory (RAM).

2. Servers DO not have Storage Drives (No HDD), Servers or OS used storage which resides in Vblock. Used Booting from SAN technology.

3. Blade servers used half height and full height.

Network

If we are talking about Network then its playing very important role in Vblock. It connects all the devices which are present inside in Vblock. It works like LAN for them. It work like SAN  and it is dedicated to carry only storage related traffic only.

1. Cisco LAN switch

In Vblock Cisco Nexus or Cisco Catalyst LAN switches used for inside and outside connectivity. They enhance reliability.

1. Here Ethernet connectivity provides between compute and storage.
2. Also used for connecting between Vblock and customer site network.

** As you know that every switch comes with a standard number of Physical Ports but you can extend them by adding expansion module as per requirement.

Note: Ports are licensed and if you are inserting module then you have to purchase extra license to activate them.

2. Cisco SAN Switch

In Vblock Cisco SAN switches are used they provide Fiber Channel Links between compute (Host) and storage array. It is dedicated for Storage only not shared with Data Traffic. This increases communication more efficiently between Server and SAN. SAN switches used Fiber channel protocol.

In Vblock SAN switches support SAN booting for the Servers.

A) Compute servers have no storage drives/physical drives.

B) OS (Operating System) User Data and Application data are stored directly in the Vblock storage.

Note: Each Vblock system contains 2 SAN switches.

3. Cisco Unified Switch

In Vblock Cisco combines the LAN and SAN switch instead of two switches. It is cost effective method

 

4. Cisco Virtual Switch

Cisco also used Nexus 1000V this is Software base switch it is not like hardware other switches. It is designed for Virtualized environment. Like a VM it is installed on virtual infra but behave like physical server.  It ensures and simplifies the deployment of VM’s in infra and assures proper connectivity.

Note: it Prevent control communication between VM, Virtual network Switch and Physical Switches in terms of I/O.

 

 

Storage

Every organization used storage to save their data to a safe place. Your data is safe even after when you switch off your server, laptop.

Different types of Storage drive:

A) Hard disk which comes under Magnetic media

b) Thumb drives and USB stick – comes under Solid state

C) CD and DVD’s – comes under Optical media.

They are used in Vblock but except Optical Media drives.

Note: In some Vblock SSD (Solid State Drives) is used for storage.

** In Vblock compute has no integrated storage. They used Disk arrays Enclosures which are configured to contain many disk or solid state drives. This will provide large amount of storage and performance. In Vblock it can contain many disk or SSD which are held in disk array enclosures.

 

How Storage connected and Method

 

1. Direct Attached Storage (DAS):

Here we are talking about one ESXi or Host which is connected Directly with Storage through HBA or other sort. So here this storage is only accessible to single host and other can’t use this.

Note: this option is not used in Vblock. You can use this if you have standalone server.

2. Network Attached Storage (NAS):

Here devices are connected via IP network, many host can connect storage at the same time. But this network is used for host traffic as well. It is a concept of shared storage which we can share via LAN to save cost. With the help of this we can use Network file server and Network file storage.

1. NFS (Network File System) – used in Linux environment.

2) CIFS (Common Internet File System) – used for Windows Microsoft.

3) FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – it is also type of file transfer and used in most organization.

  • High band network can only scale to high performance; Gigabit Ethernet is good for NAS.

 

3. Storage Area Network (SAN):

If we are talking about SAN then it is a dedicated network for storage only. Storage can be access via a Fiber channel network. It can provide connectivity between host and different-different kind of storage.

Which Storage Technology used in Vblock: File level or Block Level

 In Vblock Block Level storage technology used. It supports booting over SAN for OS.

1. Block level storage can access via SAN Fiber Channel network and it use SCSI protocol.
2. It can also available over Ethernet IP protocol using iSCSI protocol.

Note: One Vblock system will boot from block level storage using iscsi protocol with No SAN or with SAN.

4. File level Storage:

It presented to the host as a file system over an IP network. It is easy to setup and share access across many hosts. You can assign permission to any host to access this file level storage directly.

Note: Block level is a requirement of All Vblock system but you need to purchase Unified Storage that fulfil your requirement.

Storage Processors:

 

  1. Storage Processors is physically situated between host and storage Drives. This will provide connectivity through Network layer through which hosts can access files and can store data.
  2. With the help of storage processors you can manage the flow of data and files IN and OUT.
  3. It is having Three components A) Front End Ports B) Cache C) Back End ports
  4. In Front End ports it provides connectivity between networks.
  5. In Back End Ports it provides connectivity between Storage Drives so that it can connect individual disk array.
  6. In Cache it is a memory which can store data on temporary basis which is coming from Front end and Back end. Note: 1) Cache improves write speed in a dramatic way and makes this process faster. 2) It can also help in data retrieving performance with the help of Technic pre-fetching (if this data will never use it will be automatically delete). Cache can predicted what data will be required next with the help of overall fetch report.

5. File Servers:

In Vblock file servers are used for granting file level storage. They are used only in file level storage and in Vblock systems with Unified storage is available. Vblock file servers are running their own Operating system so that they can provide hierarchical structure of directories and files and also responsible to manage access to data which is present on drives.

EMC Storage Products

1. EMC Symmetrix VMAX

2. EMC VNX

3. EMC VNXe

1. EMC Symmetrix VMAX:

It supports high end and build for the Virtualized DataCenter to full fill the need and provide consistence and predictable performance.

Benefits:

1. It can provide PB (Petabyte) storage, it use 2400 Physical disks for the same (depends upon requirement and module).

2. It contains 2 to 8 Storage processors.

3. To connect this storage it used Fiber channel connectivity which used Cisco UCS via SAN switch.

4. It used Tiering technology like Tier1 (SSD) Tier2 (FC) Tier3 ( SATA)

2. EMC VNX:

It provides flexible and scalable hardware design for customer with advance software capabilities to meet today DataCenter needs.

Benefits:

1. In VNX Block level storage is by default

2. Unified is optional like block level or file level.

3. As per your requirement you can choose 2 to 8 file servers. That contains many storage drives.

4. Tiering Storage available you can choose as per your requirement.

 

Note: Each Vblock system includes

1. FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering)

2. FAST Cache (Fully Automated Storage Tiering Cache)

 

Operating Systems VS Hypervisors

Operating System:

It loaded on physical server and application loaded to the OS, when that application need to complete a task by using hardware components like need to store data in storage, print, showing output etc. at that time OS provides commands to the hardware that complete the task.

Hypervisor: 

it is software which is installed or loaded on bare metal before OS and application part. It is only to manage virtual machine and also controls the resources which are assigned to Virtual machines. Hypervisor shows each VM’s like they are running on physical machine with sharing the resources of single physical hosts.

 

Storage Virtualization

Like hardware virtualization we can also do storage system virtualization which can provide us significant functionality and help is in minimizing system costs.

This is a process of masking the underlying complexity of physical storage resources and presenting the virtualized storage resources to a virtual machine.

SandeepKaushik and ShaswatiMukherjee