Flash Delivery in the Software-Defined Data Center

OCZ VXL Software Addresses the SDDC Vision of the Future with Software-Defined Flash Delivery

Allon Cohen, PhD
Scott Harlin

Published August 2013

Introduction

Over the last decade, the enterprise data center has been transformed into a more dynamic and efficient platform to meet the changing needs of business applications due primarily to the advent of server virtualization. This technology has enabled multiple virtual server loads to run concurrently on a single physical host increasing server CPU and memory resource utilization while simplifying the deployment, high availability (HA) and maintenance of the server loads as well. This virtualized approach of partitioning server resources has radically changed data center economics for the better delivering lower server capital expenditures (CAPEX), operating expenses (OPEX) and total cost of ownership (TCO). Market research firms estimate that over 50% of all data center applications today run on virtual machines (VMs) as virtualization is now an indispensable software component of the corporate IT infrastructure.

While server virtualization delivers impressive data center productivity gains for enterprise servers, the rapid expansion of virtual deployments has impacted storage and network facilities causing performance bottlenecks and sharp increases in IT administration and infrastructure investments. Many legacy physical storage systems are designed for static allocations and are difficult to manage from an IT perspective in a dynamic data center. For today’s software defined data center (SDDC) to achieve its full potential, dynamic networking and storage capabilities beyond server virtualization that improve IT asset utilization and operational efficiencies are required.

In the legacy server virtualization model, a business-critical application typically required weeks to deploy, not because of VM provisioning, but rather that the other resources needed by the application, such as storage, networking and security, are physical resources (not virtual ones) that typically require a great deal of IT time to provision. With this imbalance of virtual compute and physical storage and networking resources, the full potential of server virtualization cannot be realized.

Hence, the software-defined data center vision takes what virtualization software has achieved for servers and delivers virtualized capabilities to the entire set of resources required by the application so they can be automatically and quickly deployed with little to no human involvement. Achieving this vision requires an automated infrastructure so that applications can be operational in minutes, shortening time-to-value, while dramatically reducing IT costs and the time expended to application provisioning and deployment.

To realize the SDDC vision, storage hardware and software architectures must be adapted so that storage can be provisioned and responsive to the dynamically changing requirements of the software-defined data center. As a result, enterprise flash is positioned as a key enabler for these new storage architectures and with the right combination of hardware and software, enables efficient, cost-effective and high-performance storage services delivery.

The purpose of this white paper is to introduce the key requirements for the SDDC vision and to present how OCZ delivers and manages flash in this platform as a dynamic, connected and simple-to-manage component providing all of the benefits of flash without compromise. OCZ’s proven VXL Cache and Virtualization Software in conjunction with its flash-based Z-Drive R4 PCI Express (PCIe) SSD delivers a complete virtual performance system that accelerates VM applications enabling flash resources to be dynamically deployed exactly to the needs of VMs.

VXL and Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSD

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The SDDC Model
  3. Hard Disk Limitations
  4. Dynamic Software-Defined Flash Delivery
  5. Connected Software-Defined Flash Delivery
  6. Simple Software-Defined Flash Delivery
  7. Conclusion