Overview

Gridstore is software-defined converged infrastructure for modern data centers looking to dramatically improve management and performance while decreasing cost. With end-to-end control of the I/O using its server-side patented Gridstore vController™ and storage building blocks, Gridstore creates an end-to-end converged infrastructure that delivers optimized application performance for Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012 environments while lowering TCO.

Gridstore storage solutions for the Hybrid Cloud run VMs 400% faster, with a 75% smaller footprint and at 50% lower cost.

The Hybrid Cloud

Today it’s called many things like Private Cloud, Webscale IT, or the Software Defined Data Center. We, like Microsoft, call it the Hybrid Cloud. A move away from application stacks built on infrastructure silos that are complex, inefficient, brittle, hard to manage and scale efficiently.

The Hybrid Cloud is built around a model more like Azure, Google or Amazon and all webscale companies that started very small and scaled using an elastic building block infrastructure and smart software that tie it all together and delivers precise resources to the VMs that need it.

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The Hybrid Cloud is built on three core principles:

  • Everything is controlled, automated and monitored through a single point – with Microsoft Hyper-V, this is System Center.
  • Elastic Converged Infrastructure Pools. X86 building blocks that seamlessly work together while allowing any of the resources (compute, network, storage) to be non-disruptively scaled in any sized increment.
  • Software-defined Resources Per VM. Controls and delivers precise amounts of resources to predictably run VMs or dial in more resource on-demand when required.

The Hybrid Cloud delivers lower capital costs using X86 building blocks, higher utilization of infrastructure to significantly lower TCO and a high degree of control and automation to predictably meet SLAs.

Traditional Storage Was Never Built for the Hybrid Cloud

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Top Three Virtualization Problems

  • Poor, Unpredictable Performance (57%)
  • No I/O Visibility or Control (38%)
  • Higher Costs (36%)

*Gridstore Virtualization Survey, June 2013

Traditional storage was never built for virtualization. When you introduce a Hypervisor, everything changes. Now you have 10, 20 or 30 servers all producing I/O that is blended into a highly random I/O pattern creating an architectural mismatch that is the cause of the leading problems enterprises face when they virtualize.

Almost 60% of enterprises suffer from poor and unpredictable application performance in virtual environments. What makes this particularly painful is the lack of visibility into the problem and no way to control the I/O to fix it. Until now, the only answer to addressing “performance at any cost” has been to throw a lot of expensive storage at it. Gridstore changes this.

Learn more how Gridstore addresses the I/O Blender

Features

Gridstore is purpose built for the Hybrid Cloud

Only Gridstore delivers all three critical capabilities.

Click one of the three areas to read more.

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Single Point of Management with Microsoft System Center

Control, automate and monitor everything.

Precision VM I/O Control

Prioritize and deliver precision amounts of I/O to VMs. Always deliver the right performance to the right VM at the right price.

Elastic Storage Pools

Simple building blocks, non-disruptive scaling from 12TB to 12PB in a single pool.


Storage Building Blocks


Simple, efficient, non-disruptive scaling.

Elastic Storage Pools

Efficient Scaling.

True, elastic scaling – without the costly overhead and performance drain of full replicas. Gridstore uses erasure encoding instead of full replicas so you do not have to turn 100TB of data into 300TB of overhead. Efficiently scale your storage and performance without adding to your TCO with full replicas.

Non-Disruptive Scaling.

Eliminate costly forklift upgrades and the upfront cost of over provisioning. 
Now you can Pay-as-you-Scale non-disruptively from 12TB to 12PB while efficiently growing performance and fault tolerance.

Per-VM I/O Control. 
Precision I/O for every VM

Performance at any cost is not a solution for anyone. VM-I/O Control allows you to deliver the right storage performance to the right VM at the right price.

End-to-end per VM-I/O Control leverages Gridstore’s patented vController technology to isolate I/O from each VM at the source to eliminate the performance impact of the I/O blender and deliver precision I/O control for every VM. Because VM-I/O control is end-to-end, you can go beyond just VM-Awareness and dial in specific I/O per VM or class of VMs to ensure you meet promised SLA’s while putting you in complete control of resource allocation and utilization.

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Additionally, with Gridstore end-to-end Quality of Service (TrueQoS), application performance can be prioritized on a per VM basis to deliver highest levels of service to the most business critical applications. Gridstore TrueQoS extends the capabilities of Windows Hyper-V QoS all the way through the storage stack. With Gridstore TrueQoS, noisy VMs of low priority will no longer impact the performance of business critical applications. Gridstore is unique in the implementation of end-to-end QoS from the vController (server) to the storage nodes which allows Gridstore to utilize more of the network bandwidth and the storage IOPS for important VMs.

Learn More About VM-I/O Control

Control. Automate. Monitor – Everything

With Microsoft System Center and VM Control

Gridstore is completely integrated into Microsoft System Center. Unlike most vendors, there is no other separate management control to really make it work. Everything you need, with per VM context control is in one place. Now you can drastically reduce your TCO by controlling, automating and monitoring the entire converged infrastructure in a consistent way, through a single pane of glass with fewer specialized resources.

Control – Gridstore is integrated directly into SC-VMM for context aware control. Gridstore adds per VM-I/O Control to allow you to simply dial in precise amounts of I/O per VM. Control everything in a single place with VM granularity.

Automate – For larger enterprises with highly automated provisioning and orchestration processes, Gridstore is driven by Powershell.

Monitor – Gridstore provides detailed WMI counters for storage with VM granularity into SC-Operations Manager. Real-time monitors ensure SLAs are being met and historical tracking allows for show-back and charge-back for these SLA’s.

Storage Nodes

Gridstore delivers its solution via either Performance or Capacity Storage Nodes, ranging from 4TB per node to 48TB.

High Performance IOPS with Performance Optimized Storage Nodes

Gridstore’s Performance Optimized Storage Nodes deliver extreme performance through the addition of a write-back cache built on a PCIe card with over 500GB of Flash and leveraging 2 x 10 GbE connections (or 4 x 1 GbE NICs) to accelerate I/O even further. These Hybrid storage nodes include both the PCIe Flash and SATA drive capacity for both high performance and the capacity you need. Click here for a detailed specifications.

Designed for high performance I/O requirements, Performance Optimized Storage Nodes can help you address intense traffic of popular applications like:

  • Exchange or SQL Server databases
  • Hyper-V (server virtualization)
  • VDI (desktop virtualization)


Capacity Optimized Storage Nodes

Gridstore’s Capacity Optimized Storage nodes allow mid-size and large enterprise businesses to easily deal with rapidly growing capacity needs. Designed for bulk storage or less demanding I/O applications, these nodes are ideal for:

  • VM backup, archive
  • SMB3 file shares, Sharepoint
  • Lightweight database, log files

A Gridstore solution includes three storage nodes at a minimum, and can scale to 250. You can start with as little as 4TB per node or as much as 48TB in a node, and scale up to 12PB, on a node-by-node basis.


Architecture

Problem: Virtualization Breaks Traditional Storage

For over 60% of enterprises surveyed,1 the number one issue they face is poor application performance in virtualized environments.

The problem at hand is an architectural mismatch between traditional storage and virtualization. In the world of physical servers, our standard practice of ganging up a set of disk drives (of the right type/speed) into a RAID set and thus create a LUN has served us very well for decades. This LUN was created recognizing the type of application it was to serve and it was associated with all the appropriate storage services (replication, compression, snapshot, etc.) that the application warranted, based on its importance to the enterprise. All well and good. But then we started servicing several applications from the same LUN and even then, unless we overdid it, or the applications were highly erratic, the LUN was able to serve multiple applications. If an application was important enough it got its own LUN and associated services, even if the utilization of either capacity or performance were sometimes less than ideal.2

But then we entered the era of server virtualization and all hell broke loose. One or a few LUNs serving a multitude of VMs, maybe even several hosts, each with 10s of VMs, or more, representing a variety of applications/workloads, just simply couldn’t cut it. The infamous I/O Blender affect is now well understood. The precisely tuned LUN of yesteryear was wrestling with totally random I/O, coming in a mishmash from a large number of VMs, overwhelming the storage controllers and bringing performance of all applications to their knees.

Serious problems produced by the architectural mismatch include:

  • Blended I/O causing performance loss for applications
  • Lack of visibility into the I/O path making it nearly impossible to resolve performance problems
  • All VMs being treated equally making it impossible to prioritize the I/O from one VM over another

Gridstore solves the problem by aligning the storage architecture with virtualization using a patented Server-Side Virtual Controller Technology.

The solution to the problem caused by this architectural mismatch is simple. Design storage using the same principles of virtualization to reestablish the 1:1 relationship between a virtual server and its underlying storage while managing the storage functionality on a per VM basis rather than a LUN, and preserving the capabilities that make virtualization so beneficial. Gridstore achieves this through a patented Server-Side Virtual Controller Technology (SVCT) which follows the same pattern of virtualization. Architectural differentiators of SVCT include:

Virtualized Storage Resource Pool (vPool) – A vPool is a pool of storage resources such as IOPS, bandwidth, and capacity that is expanded as storage nodes are added to the network similar to the way that server resources such as CPU and memory are pooled into a shared resource pool. With each storage node added, their resources are virtualized and added to the vPool.

Virtual Storage Controller (vController™) – Unlike traditional controllers that operate inside the array, a vController transparently presents a local SCSI device to the hypervisor and operates inside each hypervisor. There is no change to the hypervisor or guest VMs. By operating inside the hypervisor, the vController can isolate I/O from each of the VMs and channel this through a set virtual storage stacks that map back to each VM. This reestablishes the 1:1 relationship between a virtual machine and its underlying storage (a virtual storage stack) all the way from the VM through to storage resources in a vPool.

Gridstore vController enables storage I/O to be isolated, optimized and prioritized per VM. Distributed vControllers and pools of virtualized storage resources (vPools) allow for simple scaling that takes advantage of massively parallel processing to offer performance that scales linearly as resources are added to the pool. Using vPools and vControllers together provide three core storage capabilities:

Optimized Virtual Storage (vmOptimized™ Storage) – SVCT creates a virtual storage stack for each VM. A virtual storage stack isolates and dynamically optimizes the I/O for each VM. This optimization is real-time and dynamic without the complexity of manual storage tuning for every application. By isolating I/O for each VM before it leaves the host, a vController creates the optimal I/O flow for all VMs. vmOptimized storage also provides end-to-end visibility into each VMs storage stack. If there is an issue with a particular VM, you can detect it and fix it without spending hours taking guesses at what is causing the problems.

Quality of Service (TrueQoS™) – SVCT delivers the industry’s first end-to-end storage QoS that works on a per VM level. Unlike array based QoS that operates on LUNs and only prioritizes I/O after it has reached the controller, a vController prioritizes I/O per VM before it leaves the host. With LUN based QoS operating in the array, it is simply too late to be effective if there is a bottleneck building at the controller. And with the potential for hundreds of VMs to store VHDs in a single LUN, there is no way to differentiate and prioritize I/O between VMs. TrueQoS provides the granularity of I/O per VM and prioritizes I/O on both sides of the network – in the vController and on the storage resources. By operating at both ends of the network pipe, TrueQoS prioritizes I/O end-to-end for each VM regardless of which host it operates on. TrueQoS is only possible by first moving vControllers across the network to the source of the I/O. SVCT leverages an intelligent grid fabric to create virtual storage stacks for each VM. The resources available to each of the storage stacks can be dialed up or down with fine grained control. To simplify deployment of TrueQoS, it can be applied to groups of VMs through a policy. When VMs are created, they can be added to one of these groups to receive higher or lower priority. Alternatively, individual VMs can have either IOPS Limits (Max) or Reserves (Min) to enable fine-grained control per VM that is guaranteed to be delivered.

Parallel Performance Scaling (GridScale™) – SVCT offers another major innovation designed to accelerate I/O and simplify scaling storage – GridScale. Unlike clustered storage that replicates I/O between members in the cluster, GridScale uses Direct I/O from vControllers in the host direct to underlying storage resources in the grid. The size of most commercial clusters ranges from as small as 4 to 32 nodes for a large cluster. This is due to the fact that performance of clusters bottleneck as the number of nodes grow because replicated data on the backplane grows geometrically faster than the inbound data on the front-side network. This property limits the scaling of a cluster, wastes significant IOPS impacting performance and adds latency with the extra hops of replicating data between nodes.

GridScale uses Direct I/O to generate massively parallel performance scaling. SVCT eliminates the need for clustering because SVCT protects data before it leaves the server and writes parallel stripes of encoded data (slices of the original I/O) directly across a number of storage nodes. Data is protected to the same N+2 level (same as two full replicas) and is written in parallel to N storage nodes with zero inter-node traffic. Direct I/O gains performance through parallel network I/O while 100% of a storage nodes IOPS are utilized for primary I/O (there is no replica). The result is the more nodes you add to a grid, the more bandwidth available for I/O and the more IOPS available – without any being wasted on replicas.

By eliminating the scaling constraints of a cluster, GridScale allows you to seamlessly scale from 3 nodes to 250 storage nodes per pool – incrementally one node at a time. Each node adds its full capacity, IOPS and bandwidth to the pool, with zero wasted.

1. Top-Level Findings: Storage Acceleration and Performance Multi-Client Study, Taneja Group, March 2013

2. SearchStorage.techtarget.com, “Goodbye LUN technology, you served us well” by Arun Taneja