The Yottabyte Blog

Also posted on The Data Stack at Intel.com

What are the fundamental building blocks of a datacenter? Some might say servers, storage and switches; others would say the components that make up those devices. Yottabyte takes a different view. Technology for technology’s sake is pointless; it is what you do with the technology that really matters.

A switch with nothing to interconnect is of use to no one. A CPU is worthless without the rest of the server, and a server does nothing without applications to run on it. It’s the applications – or, more specifically the work those applications do – that gives purpose to the totality of today’s IT industry.

Businesses don’t buy CPUs. Nor do they buy servers. They do not set out to buy a specific model of any piece of technology and built up justifications and rationale around that purchase.

Businesses buy results. They start at the end of the problem chain – what they want to accomplish – and work their way back to the beginning: what resources do I need to accomplish my desired outcome?

Specific applications enable specific results. What is required to run those applications is relevant only insofar as the infrastructure under consideration is cost effective, adequately performant and fits within the business requirements for ease of use. Operating systems, hypervisors and every layer of hardware and software all the way down the stack can all be replaced or interchanged if there is a sufficient reason to do so.

Given then that the focus of business is on applications and the data that they create for the purpose of transforming these data into information about the business, then the fundamental building block of the datacenter is the whole datacenter infrastructure itself, built for the express purpose of running business application workloads.

Yottabyte provides the software that delivers results business need, but it is Intel’s hardware technologies that make this possible. Intel provides storage in the form of Solid State Drives (SSDs) that are the most reliable and performant in the business. Intel’s Broadwell Xeon v4 CPUs offer unprecedented speed and critical functionality through features such as Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX). Similarly, Intel networking provides the stability and reliability Yottabyte requires to provide solutions which simply wouldn’t function without a dependable network stack.

Intel’s injection of value doesn’t end with supplying hardware. Through its Storage Builders program Intel has provided valuable advice and support. Less time spent worrying about the vagaries of hardware issues means more time spent doing what we do best: worrying about the details that matter to the customer.

The atomic datacenter

Yottabyte specializes in packing all the capabilities of a datacenter into a small package, which we call YottaBlox. The adequately skeptical individual, of course, will ask questions about what constitutes “all the capabilities of a datacenter,” and rightly so. There are plenty of vendors making claims along these lines, and all of us have had to learn to live with disappointment regarding those claims.

Yottabyte doesn’t believe in offering up a hyperconverged box that marries storage with compute and calling it a day. Adding in some basic networking capabilities doesn’t tip the scales towards “datacenter in a can” either. To deliver on the promise, much, much more is required.

Today’s datacenters need to be turnkey cloud services. This means hardware, hypervisors and management software all provided as a unit and without the need to license the hypervisor before you can start working.

Lets not forget, the datacenter is a multi-tenant affair. This means self-service portals for end consumers of resources. The use of policies and Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to allow different classes of customer different capabilities. A datacenter needs to deliver different tiers of performance and guarantee Quality of Service (QoS) for critical workloads.

A datacenter should make deploying workloads easy, allowing customers to utilize templates and recipes to create a marketplace of operable environments and applications. Infrastructure needs to be usable from a user-friendly GUI as well as through a RESTful API. Snapshots, clones, backups and disaster recovery options need to be available at the workload level as well as at the level of the entire datacenter.

This is what Yottabyte views as the fundamental building block of the datacenter. The resource unit of the datacenter is the datacenter infrastructure itself. Everything about the datacenter is a feature, not the final product to be purchased or sold.

Datacenters as they should be

Yottabyte took all the above and wrapped it up as a single offering, and then we let you make as many datacenters as you want. A single YottaBlox is a fully redundant hardware appliance and multiple YottaBlox can be joined together into a single cluster.

A YottaBlox can house multiple Virtual Datacenters (VDCs). These VDCs can be moved between YottaBlox, or to yCenter-compatible clouds hosted by Yottabyte or third-party service providers.

Yottabyte allows customers to move individual workloads or entire VDCs. A VDC can be hundreds of VMs, or a single one. Those VMs which make up a single service can be wrapped together into a single VDC and moved, copied, backed up or otherwise manipulated easily as a whole.

This is how datacenters should be: exactly as large or as small as is needed. With the focus on the application instead of the infrastructure, and with all the rest taken care of, right out of the box through smart, configurable software. That’s Yottabyte’s vision of the future of the datacenter, and its what we deliver.

Greg M. Campbell, Author
@greg_m_campbell

Yottabyte is pleased to announce the general availability of our YottaBlox hyperconverged, storage and compute appliances, alongside version 4.0 of our yCenter software defined infrastructure platform. YottaBlox appliances, powered by yCenter, the very same software we have used to power our public cloud computing and storage services for years. Finally, administrators can have all the power they need to build robust private, public or hybrid clouds in a turnkey, building block appliance approach.

As with other providers, new features are trialed in our public cloud offering first and then released to our YottaBlox appliances. This ensures that features are refined and tested before administrators have to wrangle with them.

YottaBlox come with all the trimmings. Virtual datacenters are at the core of how yCenter works. This functionality isn’t an add-on and it doesn’t cost any extra money. Virtual machines can be grouped together into a virtual datacenter and control over each virtual datacenter restricted via role-based administration and policy.

YottaBlox may be purchased as a hyperconverged appliance. Unlike some, we don’t believe that hyperconvergence is a product in and of itself; hyperconvergence is merely a hardware configuration where the CPU and RAM resources used to run VMs reside on the same physical server as the physical disks they’re attached to. This fact has been confused by many vendors who wish to stay relevant to the increasingly busy administrators of today’s datacenters.

YottaBlox hyperconverged appliances incorporate storage, networking and compute into a single appliance. Virtual datacenters serve as containers for virtual machines which are themselves wrappers for operating systems and applications. Virtual machines and entire virtual datacenters can be snapshotted, cloned, migrated, backed up, and automatically deployed as part of templates or recipes.

YottaBlox can be joined together to form a single cluster, and ultimately a single site’s worth of physical datacenter. They can also be joined over geographic distances to allow migration of workloads between sites, disaster recovery planning and failover and even the migration of workloads between yCenter clusters owned by different organizations.

The barriers between your private cloud and someone else’s public cloud are being broken down. Interminable configuration on a per-virtual machine basis is no longer required to set up disaster recovery or enable hybrid cloud movement of workloads. Entire virtual datacenters can move quickly and easily. New workloads can be deployed locally, remotely or on a publicly hosted yCenter instance where you have an account.

Hyperconvergence isn’t a product. Virtual datacenters aren’t a product. Public clouds, private clouds, even hybrid cloud capabilities aren’t a product. None of these, on their own, are worthy of their own SKU, their own price tag or their own licencing. They are all merely features of a datacenter solution done right.

YottaBlox is the product, and ease of use without worry is the feature that can finally be delivered upon. Your workloads, where you need them, when you need them.

Join us @YottabyteLLC, @greg_m_campbell & @dduanetursi at Intel’s Cloud Day 2016 (@IntelITCenter | #IntelCloudDay | #NowPossible) to learn about YottaBlox. Bring YottaBlox with yCenter to your datacenter today so you can be ready for the challenges of tomorrow.

Every datacenter is different, even if only because the construction of the actual building(s) differ from site to site. While physical layouts, equipment and vendor selections change, the purpose of a datacenter always remains the same: to run digital workloads. Given the intense amount of marketing surrounding datacenter equipment this can sometimes be the difficult bit to remember: datacenters exist to run workloads, nothing more.

As layers of abstraction come into play and datacenters become entirely virtual, the purpose of a datacenter remains constant. A virtual machine is a wrapper for the environment in which the OS and application live that can be moved from physical host to physical host. A virtual datacenter is a wrapper for the environment in which virtual machines and virtual networks operate that can be moved from cluster to cluster (or datacenter to datacenter), and nothing more.

Despite the finality of the above statement, virtual machines changed IT practices around the world. They freed operations teams from a significant amount of drudgery related to moving applications between dissimilar hardware, made high availability and fault tolerance affordable enough to be within reach of businesses of all sizes and allowed software updates to be uncoupled from hardware updates, changing the financial dynamics of the entire IT industry.

We at Yottabyte believe the adoption of the virtual datacenter model marks a similarly significant change for IT operations. This is why the virtual datacenter is at the core of yCenter. The ability to wrap up every configuration, rule, permission, network and virtual machine in a datacenter and move the whole lot around as needed isn’t an add-on or a separate product. It’s a basic, table stakes feature of modern IT infrastructure.

Compartmentalize

Virtualization allowed operations staff to drive the utilization of individual servers much higher. No longer were administrators faced with the choice between devoting a piece of hardware to a single workload (highly inefficient), or trying to integrate multiple workloads into a single environment (a practice which usually ended in disaster).

With virtualization, individual workloads could have their own operating system with it’s own configuration. One workload per environment, and you could run multiple environments on a single piece of hardware. Efficiency increased without compromising the security, stability or ease of use of individual workloads.

What’s important to note is that the environment around individual workloads got smaller. Administrators stopped trying to put multiple workloads in a single environment. This meant that they stopped having to configure environments to support those multiple workloads, and each environment was thus only modified from the default settings as little as was required to get the job done.

Virtual datacenters offer a similar sense of compartmentalization. Once you can virtualize datacenters you can stop thinking of datacenters as collections of hundreds or thousands of workloads and start thinking of them as wrappers around interconnected workloads.

In the days before virtualization, an administrator might have put all the individual workloads for a given service on a single system. For a website this might include a database, a web server, a file server and some security applications. Today, a single website could consist of a dozen virtual machines, each irrelevant on their own, but combined form that same single service.

With virtual datacenters you can wrap each service’s virtual machines together so that it can be worked on by a given individual or department, cloned as a unit (for DR or QA or…), migrated as a unit and so forth. Alternately, you can bundle similar kinds of workloads into a single datacenter, splitting up administration based on workload type rather than service.

Administer securely

The choice is yours, but the choice is important. Even a modest physical datacenter today can run millions of individual workloads. The ability to chop up that physical datacenter into smaller groupings is necessary if we are to make any sense of it, or be able to administer it securely.

Even if, for example, you trust your datacenter administrator to have personal control over the millions of workloads running in a physical datacenter, can you trust a single login with that kind of power? If a piece of malware were to get hold of the superuser credentials to a datacenter of that scale, the results could be catastrophic.

Virtual datacenters are more than simply theoretical groupings to ease the burden on an administrator’s sanity. They are more than simple compartmentalisations to wrap workloads together. They are the new normal; a means to segment and segregate access and administration for security purposes as much as for utility and ease of use.

Yottabyte believes in the importance of the virtual datacenter to the future of IT administration. We’ve built it into yCenter and yCenter is at the core of everything we offer. From our public cloud services to all of our products, the virtual datacenter isn’t tomorrow’s technology, or some difficult to configure and expensive add-on. It is a fundamental feature of today’s datacenter.

Join us @YottabyteLLC, @greg_m_campbell & @dduanetursi at Intel’s Cloud Day 2016 (@IntelITCenter | #IntelCloudDay | #NowPossible) and learn how to bring yCenter to your datacenter. With Yottabyte, you can be ready today for the challenges of tomorrow.

What’s in a name? Would storage by any other name perform as sweetly? Are all buzzworded products equal? In tech, buzzwords are rendered meaningless very quickly, and empires are more often built on being first to market, rarely on being the best on the market.

Hyperconvergence is a fantastic example of a tech market whose primary defining buzzword has been stretched, tortured, mangled and abused to the point of meaninglessness. Originally, hyperconvergence meant lashing together all the hard drives and SSDs inside a virtualization cluster into centralized storage. This allowed critical functions such as VM vMotion/Live Migration to occur without needing an expensive SAN or enterprise NAS.

Eventually, things got a little bit fuzzier. Companies started to claim hyperconvergence if they had cluster-wide server side caching or storage gateways that presented to the hypervisor like they were a hyperconverged storage offering, but still utilized one (or more) centralized storage units to provide most of the storage.

As the definition of hyperconvergence was stretched to accommodate every marketing department that wanted in on the buzzword, it seems everyone (with a couple of notable exceptions) has brought to market a hyperconverged solution.

Nutanix was founded in 2009 and shortly thereafter launched it’s first hyperconverged node. As the lore goes, the term “hyperconvergence” was coined at the VMworld where Nutanix came out of stealth mode in 2011. (It should be noted that Pivot 3 and a few others were offering practical hyperconverged products for years before the term was coined.)

Unfortunately, in the nearly five years since hyperconvergence became “a thing,” it seems that very few of the vendors occupying this space have cared to look beyond “storage + compute = novelty” and deliver something that actually advances the state of the art or solves real world customer problems.

That’s about to change.

Feature versus product

The storage industry is fascinated by the concept of storage for storage’s sake, but storage of any kind is a feature, not a product. Businesses don’t care about the storage that powers their datacenters any more than they care about the brand name of the oil used in their fleet of cars. If it does the job adequately and for a price the organization is willing to pay, then it should be out of sight and out of mind.

By this logic, if storage vendors want to stay relevant and be anything other than a commodity, they should be focused on incorporating other features by default. When we buy virtualization clusters we should be seeing self-service portals, API-based infrastructure-as-code provisioning and management, role-based administration, templates and recipes, and more besides.

In short, today’s storage vendors should be leaning towards the infrastructure endgame machine model, rather than wasting everyone’s time trying to convince us all that hyperconvergence is a product instead of just a hardware configuration; and a fairly limited configuration at that. This model renders the hardware infrastructure invisible to the user, and manifests itself as a software defined infrastructure platform where storage + compute + network + management & all other goodies = infrastructure endgame machine.

Yottabyte is well positioned to deliver exactly this. We have been running our own cloud for years. Our software has evolved to meet the real world needs of our customers and by now is more than proven. YottaBlox, powered by the yCenter SDI Platform, offers everything needed for a “cloud in a can” solution.

Yottabyte is ready to take the industry beyond hyperconverged hardware. We’re ready to stop pretending that storage is a product and deliver the features required to meet business needs.

Join us @YottabyteLLC, @greg_m_campbell & @dduanetursi at Intel’s Cloud Day 2016 (@IntelITCenter | #IntelCloudDay | #NowPossible) and let’s take that next step together.

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