Bitfusion at VMworld 2019 with TFDx

AI and ML the next big thing in IT, and at one time is was all hand crafted by programmers. This has created great demand for processing power, but is usually on a monolithic machine that is expensive, and not effectively used. If you wanted to build a way for a computer to recognize a certain object lets say the Internets favorite the cat; how would that be done? At one time that would required a lot of manual work to make this happen, and a lot of processing power. Now this is all done automatically with things such as GPU’s and FPGA’s through a process of inferring and training.

Bitfusion was recently acquired by VMware. I had never heard of this company before the acquisition, but once I learned about them I quickly realized why VMware did the acquisition. They have created a solution that over comes all these issues that I mentioned before, and have done for the AI/ML world what VMware did for the Storage world. Basically this is vSAN for AI/ML. Creating a large pool of resources from devices that are not in the same chassis, but on they are on the same network. It runs in the software layer and in the user-space which makes it very secure. This software breaks out workloads to run across multiple remote nodes to effectively use all available resources all with an overhead of less than 10%. I can see this a great cost effective way to bring more ML workloads into enterprises. It does this by intercepting API calls at the API layer as this is the “sweet spot” for Bitfusion to run. Then it can transfer the data over the network to a remote device such as GPU to be processed, and the application does not even need to be aware of this. This is all done with Bitfusion FlexDirect which the following slides do a good job of explaining what FlexDirect is.

It uses also CUDA to intercept the applications calls.. Then the process goes down the stack to a remote device over the network for processing. Bandwidth is not an issue with workloads such as these as latency is the main concern, and it this has been optimized to minimize latency. Check out the above slide, as it does a great job of explaining the entire process of how this all works. It inte

GPU’s can be really expensive so to make them be cost effective they need to be optimally used. That is what makes Bitfusion such an interesting product in that it can optimally use your hardware investment. I could see an organization using GPU during the day for things such as VDI, but during the night they would go idle. Jobs could be scheduled to run at night and fully use all the GPU’s.

This is just an overview of what Bitfusion is capable of. If you like to dive more into this please watch the following embedded videos, and check out TechFieldDay.com.

My time at VMworld 2018

fond memoriesWow how time flies. VMworld was just last week, and its hard to believe that its already over. It was a very busy week with all of the announcements from VMware. Visiting with all of the vendors and seeing what new products they are offering. So much happens in such a short amount of time.  I never like the process of traveling.  All the time spent commuting to the airport just to wait a few hours to board the plan.  With all the possible delays I always a fear that I will get trapped in the airport over night.  In the end it is all worth it because it was an exciting week.

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It was great being able to meet up with all my old friends from the vExpert community.  It was great to see Jeremy Mayfield again. I have not seen him since .NEXT in Washington DC.  He lives quite far away from me in the frozen white north of Alaska.  It was great to have someone to hang out with during the week, and grab some food at the casino buffet. It was great to finally meet Thom Greene in person. It is always interesting talking to him because we have had such a similar career path.

When I had some free time I spent most of it at the VMTN booth in the Village.  There were a lot of people from the community hanging around it all day.  It was a great place to meet new people, and catch up with old friends. During the day vBrownBag had presentations going on from various people in the community.  It is one of the many things that makes VMworld a unique experience.

At night after all the presentation were over; there was a Hackathon going on.  I had a great time at it, even though I was not able to contribute much. There were some really smart people there. It was amazing to see what the different groups were able to accomplish in just a few hours.

The two big highlights for me were the vExpert party at the Pinball Museum. It was great meeting all the fellow vExperts while enjoying great barbecue and playing some pinball. Then on Wednesday night instead of going to the big party I went to an Influencer dinner.  It is put on by the legend Howard Marks.  It was at this great Thai place and met a lot of great people.  I really had some impostor syndrome kicking in while I was there, because it was full of famous people from the industry.  The contributions that they have made to the community have really helped me in my career.

Tech Field Day Extra was at VMworld this year.  I was a delegate at it for two different sessions. Tuesday morning DELL EMC presented on its Data Protection.  I enjoyed the presentation since I started my career using those data protection products. Wednesday afternoon BlueMedora, Barefoot Networks and Netscout presented. They had a lot a great of information, and as always it was a great event to be a part of. I am very thankful of the Tech Field Day crew inviting me, and over the next few weeks I will be publishing some more post detailing the presentations from these great companies.  So keep an eye on this site over the coming weeks.

Countdown to VMworld

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It is finally that time.  That time has finally arrived. It is Sunday night and tomorrow I begin my travels to VMworld 2018, and before this event I wanted to make a quick post about some of the things that will be going on.  The last time I was able to attend was 2016 which was my first and only time. I went in not knowing many people, but through the vExpert program and the vCommunity I was able to meet a lot of great people.

This year there is going to be a lot of great things coming from the event, and The Level Up project is one that is really important to me.  It is a great way to get more active in the vCommunity.  Check out the twitter here.

I will also be attending Tech Field Day VMworld this year.  It will be going on Monday through Wednesday .  The sessions that I will be in attendance will be on Tuesday with Dell EMC, and then on Wednesday Blue Medora, Netscout and Barefoot Networks. Make sure to check it out here.  There will be a lot of content that you will not want to miss out on.

Remember that this week will be a great time to go to some sessions and learn a few new things, but the real value from this conference is the networking.  Make sure to take the time and meet new people and be an active part of the vCommunity.  So if you see me please say hi.  Maybe we can grab a beer and talk about everything going on.  And I hope that I will…

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Nasuni at SFD 16

 

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Nasuni was a new company to me, but they had a great presentation and I really liked what they presented.  They are providing a solution to a real problem that a lot of companies are running into.  The cloud is a great solution to so many problems that IT departments are encountering, but going to the cloud is not always easy as it looks. Nasuni provides a solution that simplifies the distributed NAS.

The first line from the Nasuni website says it best “Nasuni is primary and archive file storage capacity, backup, DR, global file access, and multi-site collaboration in one massively scalable hybrid cloud solution.”  It does this through providing a solution to to have a “unified NAS” on top of public clouds.  It is essentially and overlay that is controlled by using an on premise appliance either through a VM on your current infrastructure or a Nasuni physical appliance and keeps the data locally cached.  This allows that in the event of internet access being down users can continues to access storage, and when internet is restored the data will be synced up.

There are no limits on the amount of files or file sizes.  The files in a solution like this can be access by multiple users and be changing all the time.  To prevent issues files are locked when a user is accessing it.  Once the file is done being accessed the file will remain locked until it is synced up with the cloud.  Through the continuous versioning of files and in the event of malware or such other issues. Files can be rolled back to another version before the incident occurred.  All the data is deduped and compressed for effective storage utilization.  Files can also be encrypted to prevent any data theft.   Managing a solution like this with multiple devices across many sites could be very complex and time consuming, but with Nasuni everything is managed from a single pane limiting operation costs.

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Nasuni looks like a great product that really simplifies the migration to the cloud.  By supporting the big players such as AWS, Azure and GCP they give customers plenty of options on what cloud they wish to utilize.  With the caching device they ensure that data can be always accessible even if there are issues preventing access to the cloud and limiting the amount of data that has to be transferred.

You can see this presentation from Nasuni and all the other presentations from Storage Field Day 16 at http://techfieldday.com/event/sfd16/

 

NetApp OnCommand Insight

NetApp presented on its product OnComand Insight at Storage Field Day 16 this year.  What made the presentation unique from the rest of the presentations was that it was about an analytics and monitoring tool.  The only such presentation at the event.    OnCommand is an on premise appliance that can be setup as a VM in your environment.   Once it is fully deployed it will start reporting information about your environment.  Unlike other similar products it only reports on what it sees in your data center.  As opposed to comparing your environment to other environments.

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OnCommand Insight is always watching your environment, and If an issues arises it can be setup to automatically generate a ticket and alert the proper team of the issue.  It supports Restful API so whatever needs to be done can be scripted out, and Licensing is done by the raw capacity.

They also spoke of the product Cloud Insights.  It is not a direct replacement for OnCommand, but takes many of its features and adds on top of it.  Cloud Insights is designed for the modern Hybrid data center. It can monitor both what is on premises and what is running in the cloud.    As more and more companies go hybrid it is imperative to have a tool that can monitor both and give recommendations on where to run a workload.

One of my favorite features is that is agnostic of what it monitors.  Monitoring is done via plugins and there is a large repository where you can download more.  It reminds me a lot of EMC ViPR SRM as it could monitor more than just EMC products, but NetApp has really gone a step further and its capabilities.

Take a look at the presentation from NetApp and the rest of the Storage Field Day 16 presentations here.

X-IO Technologies Axellio At SFD13

This is part of a series of post from my time at Storage Field Day 13.  You can find all the related content about it here.

Background

X-IO has been around for a while.  It has recently been going through some troubling times along with the storage industry as a whole.  They had gone dark and I have not seen much about them since then.  Like the Phoenix rising they are now they are ready to show off their new product at Storage Field Day 13.

They were founded in 2002 as the Seagate Advanced Storage Group with the goal to build a scalable storage array with zero trade-offs.  The team included engineers from Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett-Packard and Storage Works.  This eventually led to in 2006 the X-IO Intelligent Storage Element (ISE). Then in 2007 they were purchased by Xiotech based out of Minneapolis.  In 2008 the ISE-1 product was introduced.  Then in 2012 they moved to Colorado Springs which is where they had the SFD presentation.  Some of the current products include iglu and ISE series.

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Axellio is not for your general Data Center workloads.  It is being built to solve specific problems.  Problems that I did not know even existed.   One of the use case examples was for the oil industry.  Currently a survey ship will travel across the ocean surveying the ocean floor.  This creates petabytes of data that gets stored on the ship.  Not all of the data is able to be processed locally.  This data will then be migrated to a data center somewhere else to be processed.  This is just one use case that Axellio can help solve.

The platform itself I would call a form a converged system.  Normally a converged system includes the storage, compute, and software.  Axellio includes the compute and storage, but not the software.  It would be up to the customer or partner to implement their own software stack to run on the hardware.  Maybe sometime in the future they will also include the software.

Hardware

The Axellio hardware is a 2U appliance which incorporates 2 servers or nodes.  Each node has 2 Intel Xeon e5-26xx CPU’s and 1 TB RAM or NVRAM.  This gives us in one appliance 4 CPU’s and 2TB RAM or NVRAM.  With the current CPU’s that gives us up to 88 cores and 176 threads.  Each appliance can hold up to 72 drives of Dual Port NVMe 2.5″ SSD drives which gives us up to 460TB of storage.  This is achieved using 6 trays with 12 drives each.  Offload modules can also be added.  Such as Intel Phi for CPU extension for parallel compute or Nvidia K2 GPU for VDI.  The appliances can all be attached to Ethernet switches ranging from 4x 10GB, 4x 40GB and up to 4x 100GB.

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Architecture (What Really Matters)

FabricExpress is a PCIe interconnect that allows the two nodes to connect directly two the 72 NVMe drives.  By using NVMe drives they are able to connect to the CPU directly over the PCIe lanes.  This creates super fast local storage for the nodes to connect to.  Normally in a converged system there would be an external switch that storage traffic would have to go across which always adds latency.

Axellio Performance

When it comes to performance Axellio does not disappoint.  12 millions IOPS  with 35 microsecond latency at 60 GB’s sustained bandwidth at 4KB writes.  That’s a lot of power in a little box.  Below is an image of some more test that was only utilizing 48 drives.

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Brandon’s Take

One of the most exciting parts of the even was that I was able to go in the back and see where they were building this product.  I could see all kinds of machinery that I had no idea how to use or what it was used for.  You can open up a product once its shipped to you, but its an entirely different thing to see its different stages of being built.  Really makes you appreciate what all goes into creating these products.

Axellio is being built to solve a problem that I did not know much about before the event.  The problems it can solve can be very lucrative for X-IO and for the business that use it.  They are one of the few companies that are doing something different when all the storage products are starting to look the same.

Fellow Delegate Posts

SFD13 PRIMER – X-IO AXELLIO EDGE COMPUTING PLATFORM  by Max Mortillaro

Axellio, next gen, IO intensive server for RT analytics by X-IO Technologies by Ray Lucchesi

Full Disclosure

X-IO provided us the ability to attend the session.  This included a shirt, USB drive and some Thai food.

 

 

 

Delegate For Storage Field Day 13

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I am very excited to say that I have been chosen as a delegate for Storage Field Day 13 in Denver, Colorado June 14-16. Storage Field Day is just one of the many events of the Tech Field Day program. Tech Field Day brings in various vendors and leaders in tech to present on various topics. The delegates then can interact and ask all kinds of questions. I have been following the Tech Field Day program for a few years now. Ever since my good friend Michael Wood introduced it to me.

I first became interested in becoming a delegate after my friend Thom Greene was invited to join Tech Field Day.  Up to this point I had never met anyone who had been a part of it.  After talked to him it seemed like something I really would like to be a part of.  I know it is going to be an amazing  and humbling experience.  I am going to be with some of the smartest people in the industry.  Just take a look at the event page, and look at everyone that is going to be there.
As of now there is six presenters:

I already know a little about all of these companies, but I am eager to learn more. I am looking forward to the deep dives and white board sessions detailing all of the technology that they offer.

I will be following twitter so if you have anything you want me to find out, tweet at me @brandongraves08 I will try to ask as many questions as I can.  You can also follow #SFD13 to ask questions and keep up with event.

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