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VPLEX – Missing enabler component for the Follow-the-Sun Datacenter?

If you are reading this post you are also probably aware that EMC publically introduced a new product on the market during EMC World 2010 – the VPLEX. If not, start here. As mentioned by Chad Sacak here VPLEX leverage what the New geo-dispersed write cache coherency technology.

What does that do? In my own simple words – it allows synchronous real-time data replication over the WAN between and from two or more(*) remote sites, in conjunction with the intelligence to leverage VMware vMotion technology and allow long-distance live migration. (*) Multi-site not supported at this stage.

I am not writing how the technology works as this has been well done by Chad Sacak – and I confident that soon we will see more and more bloggers talking about VPLEX as soon they put their hands on the product.

I wonder if it will be compatible with the EMC Celera VSA!?

So, I started to think on Chad’s words and the possibilities that this technology could offer.

And this is where it gets mind-blowing… while the initial release is focused on synchronous distance use cases, we have direct line of sight to async-class and even “many site” use cases.

Perhaps multi-site disaster recovery applications would be the most significant trigger for the adoption of VPLEX; however there are a number of different scenarios and situations where the technology could be successfully applied. As an example, VPLEX and the geo-dispersed write cache coherency technology might well be the missing enabler component to allow follow-the-moon and follow-the-sun datacenter operations.

The concept is not new but until today the technology was just not up there to allow seamless live migration of live workloads from a datacenter to an adjacent datacenter and so on continuously moving workloads across the globe. Ok, that is utopic but open your mind and think of the possibilities. I foresee the use cases:

Priority CPU Cycle – Automation with live migration of workloads with higher priority to datacenters in the region where they are being consumed from, and migration of low priority and batch workloads to datacenters in regions with low consumption – such as Tokyo when it’s day in New York. The approach allows organizations to use their datacenter capabilities to their full extent while improving application responsiveness.

Datacenters Hosted by Power or Carbon Cost – Sometime ago I read an article describing how a datacenter in Finland could be cheaper as a result of its low cooling costs and low carbon emissions. Organizations could apply for tax deductions on a ‘low carbon emission tax rebate plan’.

Cloud Brokers– At a not distant time in the future, when public Clouds become mainstream technology and all the providers share a common virtualization framework (yeah! This will happen one day – remember Blue Ray vs. HDDVD) a Cloud Broker service could be entitled to automate the live migrations across datacenters based on price and availability.

I can also think of point solutions for VDI environment or tailored to follow the master (user).

It’s exciting to think that this technology will put us in a position to design business continuity plans between regions.

No, it’s not going to be easy to achieve that and also is not going to be in the next 12 months. There are a number of barriers to overcome. To start with the write cache coherency technology and VPLEX technology itself, that does not permit multi-site configurations and does not support asynchronous replication to allow high latency WAN links.

Another gigantic barrier would be the network layer.

There are a number of different evolving technologies and many different suggested approaches, extended Ethernet LAN with Cisco OTV, add an appliance (NetScaler/Vyatta), tag traffic and send it to the ToR (VEPA, VNTag), process in the NIC (SR-IOV which is being pushed by the IHVs), pull networking into the vSwitch etc.

As this storage technology mature so will network and all the other datacenter technologies. It’s awesome to see that we left those tape recoveries and backup tests left behind – if you did not, what are you waiting for? Hey, just kidding – please do not get rid of your backup tapes.

I’m keen to know what your thoughts are on the possibilities.

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