Gluster brings clustered NAS storage to VMware

Interview: Gluster CTO AB Periasamy discusses how virtualization and cloud infrastructures impact storage

Virtualization has changed the way we look at the data center and the component pieces that comprise it. With a massive consolidation effort taking place, servers with large processing power and memory have become more of the standard in a virtualized data center. Multiple processors in a single server will no longer cut it; now we require multicore, multisocket processors to properly push these virtualization and cloud infrastructures. Memory size has also tried to keep up pace, growing from an average 2GB to 4GB of RAM per server to between 64GB and 128GB.

But as the momentum to virtualize the data center continues, storage demands are also increasing. Virtualization and cloud computing are increasing the demand for storage capacity as the amount of data continues to explode and grow exponentially. And the cost of providing and managing SAN storage isn't getting any cheaper.

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To address the growing concerns around storage, this week, Gluster introduced VMStor, a NAS solution for virtual machine storage. The company said it is looking to NAS technology in order to offer a cheaper alternative to SAN when trying to scale out a cloud or virtualized data center. Gluster VMStor is said to address that challenge by scaling to multiple petabytes and storing an unlimited number of VM images. It also offers capabilities around VM-level snapshots and single mouse-click backups.

So how is virtualization and cloud computing impacting storage? And what should organizations be asking right now as they confront virtual machine storage issues? And how does NAS compete with SAN in this virtualization and private/public cloud environment? To get answers to these and other questions, this week, I spoke with AB Periasamy, CTO of Gluster.

InfoWorld: How is the introduction of virtualization and virtual machines impacting storage and the IT environment?

Gluster: Innovation for server virtualization has outpaced corresponding technology on the storage side, thus storage administrators are playing catch-up. Traditional silo-ed storage architectures lack the scalability and flexibility required for a modernized, virtualized data center. Adding virtual machines to an environment requires additional storage capacity to alleviate the performance degradation that arises with a virtual server environment.

The two biggest challenges are management and performance. An environment with a thousand virtual machines attached to a SAN needs to have a thousand LUNs provisioned and managed. In a typical environment, an administrator would provision storage and I/O every time a VM is created, requiring complex management. This level of management complexity puts a huge strain on the infrastructure. With many virtual machines trying to access the same data, bottlenecks arise that can significantly impact application performance. Dealing with these issues keeps storage administrators up at night.

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