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Lab Validation

Report
SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by
OmniStack Technology
Novel Data Architecture in Globally Scalable, All-in-one, Assimilated IT Infrastructure
Platform from Converged Data Center in a Box to Multi PB Global Data Center or Cloud

By Brian Garrett, Vice President ESG Lab, Mark Bowker, Senior ESG Analyst,
Mike Leone, ESG Lab Analyst, and Aviv Kaufmann, ESG Lab Analyst

August 2013

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3
Challenges................................................................................................................................................................. 3

SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology .......................................................................... 4


ESG Lab Validation ........................................................................................................................................ 7
Simplicity .................................................................................................................................................................. 7
Efficiency................................................................................................................................................................. 10
Reliability ................................................................................................................................................................ 13
Performance Scalability .......................................................................................................................................... 16

ESG Lab Validation Highlights ..................................................................................................................... 20


Issues to Consider ....................................................................................................................................... 20
The Bigger Truth ......................................................................................................................................... 21
Appendix ..................................................................................................................................................... 22

ESG Lab Reports


The goal of ESG Lab reports is to educate IT professionals about data center technology products for
companies of all types and sizes. ESG Lab reports are not meant to replace the evaluation process that should
be conducted before making purchasing decisions, but rather to provide insight into these emerging
technologies. Our objective is to go over some of the more valuable feature/functions of products, show how
they can be used to solve real customer problems and identify any areas needing improvement. ESG Lab's
expert third-party perspective is based on our own hands-on testing as well as on interviews with customers
who use these products in production environments. This ESG Lab report was sponsored by SimpliVity.

All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The Enterprise
Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from
time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in
part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of The Enterprise
Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should
you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at 508.482.0188.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

Introduction
This ESG Lab Validation documents the results of hands-on evaluation and testing of SimpliVitys OmniCube
solutions with OmniStack technology. This report focuses on the simplicity, efficiency, reliability, and performance
scalability of various OmniCube configurations, including a multi-data center configuration that stretched globally
and utilized a public cloud.

Challenges
A snapshot of todays modern IT environment is one of complexity, cost, and inflexibility that inhibit IT staff from
effectively supporting the business. Many challenges exist including:
Islands of Functionality IT consists of too many islands of functionality and resources, leading to low
utilization and high labor costs. In the early 90s, primary storage went through a horizontal consolidation
wave that consolidated the islands of primary storage devices that were locked inside the server resources
into a shared device. VMware has done the same for servers. The challenge is bringing a wave of vertical
consolidation to the data center; basically consolidating the servers, storage, and multiple, special purpose
appliances and software applications into a single, virtualized, and highly utilized, shared resource pool. In
summary, the challenge is to assimilate: primary storage, servers, backup dedupe appliances, WAN
optimization appliances, SSD acceleration arrays, public cloud gateway, backup applications, replication
applications, etc. such that they all run as a unified stack atop a single shared resource pool.
Manageability Todays traditional IT infrastructure has too many points of management. Each appliance
has a stand-alone management interface and requires expensive specialized training.
Mobility In todays traditional IT infrastructure, data is not mobile. VMware has made the VM mobile, but
the data associated with the VM is still limited in its mobility. Data needs to be more lightweight in order
to be as mobile as a VM.
Responsiveness The time to data (restore, replicate, clone, etc.) both locally and remotely is too long. This
introduces economical limitations in terms of required data management and protection best practices.
Scalability IT scales in very coarse increments. It is not practical to predict infrastructure requirements,
especially multiple years out. Data center managers need a solution that can scale out with growing
demand while not increasing complexity.
Cost Highly functional and highly performing data storage is dependent on expensive SAN hardware, both
from a CAPEX (acquisition) and an OPEX (management) stand point.
ESG Research confirms these challenges in a recent ESG survey that asked organizations what their most important
IT priorities are over the next 12 months. As shown in Figure 1, responses include improved data backup and
recovery, increased use of server virtualization, managing data growth, and data center consolidation. 1
Figure 1. The Most Important IT Priorities for Organizations in 2013

Which of the following would you consider to be your organization's most important IT
priorities over the next 12 months? (Percent of respondents, N=540, ten responses accepted)
Information security initiatives
Improve data backup and recovery
Increased use of server virtualization
Manage data growth
Data center consolidation
Major application deployments or upgrades
Desktop virtualization
Use cloud infrastructure services

29%
27%
26%
25%
24%
22%
22%
22%
0%

5%

10%

15%

20%

25%

30%

35%

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2013


1

Source: ESG Research Report, 2013 IT Spending Intentions Survey, January 2013.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology


SimpliVity has created an all-in-one, IT infrastructure platform that leverages intelligent software running on a
cluster of industry-standard servers to radically simplify IT, while balancing performance, availability, functionality,
and scalability at a compelling price point. SimpliVitys technology, OmniStack, powers SimpliVitys OmniCube. The
OmniCube is a 2U complete IT building block that encompasses most of the functionality needed in order to build
and run an IT infrastructure in any-sized organization with data centers and branch offices around the world. The
OmniCube includes server, storage, virtualization, and numerous other functions that avoid the need to buy/deploy
disparate products. As OmniCubes are added to an IT infrastructure, they become a multi-node cluster oras
SimpliVity calls themFederation. Figure 2 shows how the SimpliVity OmniCube simplifies the deployment of a
traditional IT infrastructure and data protection architecture.
Figure 2. SimpliVity OmniCube with OmniStack Technology

Key capabilities of an OmniCube include:

Data virtualization to provide global deduplication, compression, and optimization on all I/O at
ingest across all nodes in a Federation, not only reducing the capacity requirements, but also
improving the speed of data operations, and ultimately eliminating the need for WAN optimization
appliances.
Global management through a VMware vCenter plug-in greatly reduces management and
administrative complexity.
VM centricity to ensure that all operations happen at a VM level.
Policy-based data protection in the form of local and remote backups with the ability to restore
anywhere in a Federation through advanced DR functionality that is abstracted away from the
underlying infrastructure.
Scale-out and scale-in architecture where nodes can be added to and removed from a Federation on
demand while remaining centrally managed from the same management interface in order to help
simplify IT planning.
Full VMware integration with technologies such as vMotion and Storage vMotion makes it easy to move
workloads within the data center.
High availability with no single point of failure offers enterprise-class reliability.
Auto tiering of data across SSD and HDD storage tiers ensures that data lives on the optimal resource.
Hypervisor agnosticism to extend the technology to other hypervisors beyond VMware.
2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

Figure 3. SimpliVity OmniCube with OmniStack Technology

As shown in Figure 3, the solution encompasses three main technologies:


Virtual Resource Assimilator: A single software stack that assimilates the functionality of up to 12
traditional IT products into one (Hyper Convergence), creating an efficient single shared x86 resource pool
(software-defined data center). SimpliVity leverages commodity server platforms and 10GbE networks to
deliver highly performing and highly functioning enterprise IT. The products that SimpliVity displaces
include primary storage, servers, backup and protection products, deduplication appliances, WAN
optimization appliances, SSD arrays, SSD cache arrays, public cloud gateways, and replication appliances.
Data Virtualization Engine: A new data architecture, whereby all data is deduped, compressed, and
optimized at inception, inline, with no impact to performance. This is done through the OmniStack
Accelerator, which is a SimpliVity specially designed PCIe card. Data is handled at a fine grain of 4KB-8KB
once and forever and across all phases of the data lifecycle (primary, backup, WAN, archive, and on the
cloud), tiers within a system (DRAM, flash/SSD, and HDD), data centers, geographies, and the public cloud.
Global Federated Architecture: An intelligent network of collaborative systems that provides massive scaleout capabilities as well as VM-centric management through a single unified interface for the entire global
infrastructure. This feature enables a single administrator to manage all data centers and branch offices
located anywhere globally, while giving visibility and control to take action on a per-VM basis.
SimpliVity OmniCube can meet the scalability needs of any-sized organization and therefore can be deployed in a
wide variety of use cases. A single OmniCube can be deployed as a complete IT solution for SMB and remote offices.
This solution can grow into a small group of OmniCubes, or a Federation to provide a small- to medium-sized
business a data center in a box solution. The Federation can easily meet the requirements of a large enterprise by
adding even more OmniCubes within the data center and eventually deploying OmniCubes into more
geographically dispersed areas to meet DR requirements and to maintain a true global IT presence. OmniCubes can
also be used to meet the strict performance requirements of todays mission-critical IT applications, from
traditional test and development, to high-performance databases and VDI environments. Finally, SimpliVity can
provide an IaaS platform to quickly and easily deploy both public and private clouds.
2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

Figure 4 expands on the simplification of an OmniCube deployment by showing the difference between a globally
deployed infrastructure with a SimpliVity OmniCube solution and a traditional IT infrastructure and data protection
architecture.
Figure 4. SimpliVity OmniCube with OmniStack Technology

SimpliVity technology can be deployed in three forms depending on what best suits the needs of the customer:

OmniCube, a scale-out IT building block appliance (2U rack mounted) running OmniStack technology. Three
models are currently offered:
CN-2000 Compact system geared to run remote office or smaller workloads offering eight CPU
cores and 5-10TB of usable storage capacity.
CN-3000 General purpose modular system designed to run all data center applications offering 12
or 24 CPU cores and 20-40TB of usable storage capacity.
CN-5000 High-performance system optimized to run high-performance applications offering 24
CPU cores and 15-30TB of usable storage capacity.
OmniCube Cloud, a software instance of OmniCube deployed on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud
environment that is integrated into the global Federation for offsite backup and long-term, cost-effective
archive storage.
OmniStack Licensing, a solution for exceptionally large IT environments (hundreds and thousands of
systems) where SimpliVity offers OmniStack technology powering the customers choice of x86 server
platforms.
2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

ESG Lab Validation


ESG Lab performed hands-on evaluation and testing of the SimpliVity OmniCube at SimpliVitys headquarters in
Westborough, Massachusetts. Testing was designed to demonstrate the simplicity, efficiency, reliability, and
performance scalability of the OmniCube with OmniStack technology. ESG Lab was also shown the capabilities of
SimpliVitys technology to globally scale. This was done through a demonstration that highlighted five simulated
OmniCube data centers, including one that leveraged a public cloud.

Simplicity
ESG Lab configured four OmniCubes in a single Federation for testing. A 10GbE network was used for all Federation
data transfers, while a 1GbE network was used for managing the Federation. Sixteen load generation VMs were
configured and spread evenly across the four OmniCubes. Each VM was configured with Windows Server 2008 R2,
two vCPU, 4GB of RAM, and 1.5TB of hard disk space. The ESG Lab test bed is shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. ESG Lab Test Bed

ESG Lab Testing


ESG Lab began testing by preparing a client computer for the first time. The standard VMware components were
installed including the vSphere plug-in and OVF Tool, as well as SimpliVitys vSphere plug-in. Finally, the SimpliVity
Arbiter was installed on the computer hosting vCenter Server. The Arbiter is an agent that enables key functionality
for the OmniCube Federation. Both the SimpliVity plug-in and the Arbiter are included on a thumb drive that ships
with the system. With the necessary components installed, the vSphere client was used to manage vCenter and a
SimpliVity tab was added to the management window.
Next, ESG Lab used the standard vCenter interface to configure the networks that would be used on each
OmniCube in the Federation. Both the procedure and interface were very familiar to ESG Lab and required no
additional training or expertise. Once completed, the first OmniCube was selected in the inventory and a wizard
was used to install the SimpliVity Virtual Controller, as shown in Figure 6. The wizard walked ESG Lab through the
setup of the administrative roles and credentials for the OmniCube, and helped with configuring the management,
storage, and Federation networks. The configuration procedure for each OmniCube took just under 20 minutes.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

Figure 6. OmniCube Installation

Next, ESG Lab grew the Federation by adding three additional OmniCubes to the environment. As each additional
OmniCube was added to the Federation, the total available capacity grew accordingly. Once all four OmniCubes
were added to the Federation, ESG Lab used vCenter to easily manage the entire Federation from a single
management interface. As ESG Lab created VMs, they were automatically distributed across all of the available
OmniCubes in the Federation. The entire installation was completed though SimpliVitys vSphere plugin without
switching context to CLI or other management user interfaces.
In addition to the four OmniCube Federation used primarily for testing, ESG Lab toured a SimpliVity solution that
will be officially unveiled at VMworld 2013 consisting of four data centers and an Amazon cloud (see Figure 7).
Figure 7. Global Federation of SimpliVity Technologies as Demonstrated at VMworld 2013

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

ESG Lab quickly found that managing the simulated, globally spread environment was easy, intuitive, and
responsive for anyone with VMware experience. ESG Lab was able to perform any function in the OmniCube using
traditional vCenter operations, but the real power of the system was made clear when the specific SimpliVity
functionality was tested. A SimpliVity management tab was available for both high- and low-level elements in the
infrastructure. ESG Lab was also given the option to perform SimpliVity-optimized management tasks such as
backups, clones, and migrations. These tasks could all be done at the VM level simply by right-clicking on the
desired VM and selecting one of the five clearly marked SimpliVity tasks. A view of the test bed through vCenter is
shown in Figure 8.
Figure 8. Global Unified Management

Why This Matters


Traditional virtualized infrastructures made up of multi-vendor components are complex to plan, install, configure,
manage, and maintain. ESG research indicates that server virtualization is the top IT priority over the next 12 to 18
months, and a growing number of organizations are moving from do it yourself to fully integrated solutions with
a goal of simplifying management, reducing time to deployment, and lowering the total cost of ownership.
ESG Lab validated that a SimpliVity OmniCube was easy to deploy and manage. The installation process was simple
with the help of a configuration wizard that automated the usually complex tasks associated with setting up a
complete virtual infrastructure. This included the setup of servers, storage, networking, and a fully clustered HA
VMware environment in less than 20 minutes. ESG Lab quickly grew a Federation from one to four OmniCubes and
was easily able to manage the infrastructure through a single interface. The ease of management became even
more apparent to ESG Lab when witnessing the impressive simplicity of managing a simulated, globally dispersed
multi-data center environment that included an Amazon public cloud.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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Efficiency
One of the key technologies powering SimpliVitys OmniCube is the Data Virtualization Engine (DVE). This is a
purpose built PCIe card developed by SimpliVity that enables all data associated with VMs in the OmniCube
Federation to remain in a capacity-optimized state. All data copied into or created in the OmniCube Federation is
deduplicated and compressed in real time at a 4KB-8KB level of granularity. Deduplication was originally designed
for backup and optimized to save capacity and deliver throughput. SimpliVity DVE is a new generation of
deduplication that was designed for primary storage and is optimized for latency and IOPS. All data stored in the
Federation and transferred between cubes is kept optimized at all times through the lifecycle of the datathere is
never a need for the data to be returned to a non-optimized capacity state, unless it is moved away from the
Federation back on to a traditional infrastructure. The value of DVE is to make HDD IOPS, WAN bandwidth, and SSD
capacity more efficient. While these are more valuable than making the HDD capacity more efficient, there are
significant savings in the amount of data that must be stored and moved and maximizes the efficiency of VM
operations such as clones, backups, migrations, DR, and archiving to the cloud.
ESG Lab Testing
ESG Lab demonstrated the functionality and efficiency of an OmniCube by first creating a single clone and then
measuring the capacity savings as additional clones were created within the Federation. The first clone was created
by right-clicking on an existing VM and selecting SimpliVity Clone Virtual Machine. This brought up a dialog box
that confirmed the source VM, allowed the assignment of a name to the resulting virtual machine, and clicked a
check box that enabled the clone to be application consistent. After confirming the operation by clicking on Clone,
ESG Lab noted that the entire clone operation was completed in less than nine seconds. It should be noted that the
majority of the time taken to complete the clone operation was dictated by the time it takes to register the new
virtual machine in vCenter, rather than the time it takes the OmniCube to complete the operation. ESG Lab then
tested the functionality of running the cloned machine by starting up the VM. The VM powered on quickly with no
noticeable performance issues, was automatically assigned a new SID and IP address, and was ready to be used in
the environment. The clone creation process is shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9. SimpliVity Rapid Clone Creation

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Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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Next, ESG Lab measured the space efficiency of the OmniCube. A new instance of a VM was created and the logical
space consumed was noted to be 30GB. A complete directory structure of unique data was then copied to the VM
from a physical server. The unique data set contained real files located on SimpliVitys corporate file shares and
totaled 870GB of physical data. Once the data was copied to the C:\ drive of the virtual machine, the amount of
consumed logical space was noted at 900GB and consumed physical space was noted to be only 466.2GB. This
represented a 52% savings in capacity.
Further space efficiency was realized when ESG Lab created five rapid clones of a VM that consumed 1.34TB. Prior
to testing, there was 2.8TB of consumed logical capacity from VM data, 16.6TB of consumed logical capacity from
backup data, and 4.5TB of consumed physical capacity on the Federation. The 2.8TB of VM data included the
1.34TB from the source VM. After creating five clones of the source VM in under a minute, the logical capacity of
the VM data grew by an expected 6.7TB (1.34TB per VM) from 2.8TB to 9.5TB, but the consumed physical capacity
did not grow at all, utilizing only the original 4.5TB of disk storage. The results validated that the data stored on the
OmniCube stayed in an optimized state and that the space efficiency of the system continued to grow as additional
clones were taken (see Figure 10).
Figure 10. Capacity Efficiency with SimpliVitys Rapid Clone Technology

Finally, ESG Lab compared the speed at which a clone could be completed with SimpliVitys rapid clone technology
with the traditional ESX clone method. This helped ESG Lab to better understand how SimpliVitys optimization
technology translated to real-world administrative efficiency. Using a standard Windows Server 2008 R2 VM, ESG
Lab created a clone using the traditional ESX clone methodology. Once the clone creation process was started and
the progress was noted in the task panel of the vCenter administration screen, ESG Lab quickly made five clones of
the same Windows Server 2008 R2 VM. Each SimpliVity clone was completed in less than ten seconds, and all five
were ready to be powered on while the traditional clone was still only 8% complete as it was necessary to copy the
entire set of data associated with the VM. The Recent Tasks list from this phase of testing is shown in Figure 11. It is
important to point out that this was a relatively small VM in terms of capacity, and a VM with more data associated
with it would have taken even longer to clone in the traditional manner, yielding even greater advantages for the
efficiency of SimpliVitys rapid clone technology. Also, it was observed that the time to take a SimpliVity clone was
unchanged regardless of the size of the VM. A 1TB VM also cloned in less than 10 seconds. SimpliVity supports
VMware vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) to offload the VMware clone operation to be done using
SimpliVity rapid cloning technology.
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Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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Figure 11. SimpliVity Rapid Clone Efficiency vs. Traditional VM Clone

It should be noted that similar efficiencies can be witnessed through all the SimpliVity functions, including taking
and scheduling backups, restoring data, migrating data between local and geographical locations, and performing
disaster recovery operations.

Why This Matters


Data growth continues to challenge IT organizations. ESG research proves this point; respondents to ESGs annual
IT spending surveys for the past three years have listed managing data growth as one of the top five IT priorities.
The costs of storing and managing duplicate file data can stress capital and operational budgets unnecessarily.
Deduplication appliances are available, but they add another point of management to the IT administrators task
list, another line item to the purchase order, and additional CAPEX and OPEX costs.
ESG Lab Validated that both capacity and operational efficiency is built into data operations performed by
SimpliVitys OmniCube. Data copied onto the OmniCube was stored efficiently, and remained in that state even
when cloned several times and moved between OmniCubes. ESG Lab witnessed how the OmniCube helped to
facilitate administrative productivity by completing five SimpliVity clones in less than ten seconds, while a
traditional clone had only completed 8% of its clone operation. Contrary to the common belief that de-duplication
and compression can slow down storage performance, SimpliVitys DVE technology improved the efficiency by
reducing the total number of IOPs to the storage, thereby making all operations faster.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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Reliability
SimpliVitys OmniCube is designed with enterprise reliability in mind. Deploying an OmniCube on highly available
servers provides n+1 fault tolerance for key hardware components along with RAID protected data storage.
OmniCube leverages all of the HA features built into VMware, including multipathing and VMware HA to provide
access to VMs even in the event of an OmniCube or guest OS failure. Space efficiency and optimized backup
capabilities allow for additional backup and recovery functionality that extends across data centers and into the
cloud.
ESG Lab Testing
ESG Lab tested the basic functionality of backing up and restoring a VM, as well as the reliability of a SimpliVity
OmniCube by creating a backup policy. ESG Lab also simulated a major disaster of losing an entire OmniCube with a
goal of showing the quick recovery capabilities.
First, ESG Lab created a one-time backup of a VM to validate the basic functionality of SimpliVitys software. The
backup was created in two simple steps. ESG Lab right-clicked on the VM and from the pop-up menu selected
SimpliVity Backup Virtual Machine. After entering a custom name for the backup and selecting a destination
data center, the backup started. The entire 1.5TB VM was backed up in under two seconds.
After the backup completed, ESG Lab was ready to test the restore functionality of an OmniCube. ESG Lab
simulated a failure by accidentally deleting the VM from the vCenter inventory. By right-clicking on the data
center and selecting SimpliVity View Backups in Datacenter, ESG Lab was brought to an interface where all of
the backups of the entire Federation could be seen with various sorting options. The previously backed up VM was
available and by right-clicking on the backup and selecting Restore Virtual Machine the restore dialog box
popped up. This box gave the option to replace the existing machine or create a new virtual machine. ESG Lab
created a new virtual machine. After selecting the data center and datastore to which the virtual machine would be
restored, a final confirmation appeared. After confirming the restore, the VM was available in less than nine
seconds. The steps for backing up and restoring a virtual machine are shown in Figure 12.
Figure 12. Backup and Restore of a Virtual Machine

Though ESG Lab completed the backup and restore functionality and reliability testing in a local data center, this
exact same functionality can be expected across data centers in different geographical locations. This includes
everything from quickly sending backups to one data center, as well as restoring that same VM to a completely
different data center in seconds. This speed and functionality also extends to data centers that leverage the
services of an Amazon cloud.
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Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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After the basic functionality was tested, ESG Lab created a backup policy that could be applied to an entire virtual
environment. The OmniCube came preconfigured with several predefined backup policies with different levels of
protection. By right-clicking on the Federation and selecting Create Backup Policy, ESG Lab was presented with a
dialog box to enter a new backup policy called ESG_backup_policy01. Next, rules were added to the new policy by
clicking on New Rule in the dialog box. ESG Lab configured various options for backup frequency, retention period,
and data center destination. The advanced options allowed for defining backup windows with start and stop times,
and specific days of the week or month to complete a backup. The new policy was configured to take a backup
every hour with a 30 day retention period. ESG Lab then clicked Create New Rule followed by Create New Policy
and verified that the new backup policy showed up in the Backup Policy list. The process is shown in Figure 13.
Figure 13. Creating a Backup Policy

Then ESG Lab created a custom, automated backup schedule to manage backups of virtual machines. The newly
created backup policy was applied to a VM by right-clicking on the VM, selecting Set Backup Policy, choosing
ESG_backup_policy01 from the drop down list, and then clicking on the Set Backup Policy button to activate the
policy. ESG Lab verified that the policy was displayed as the active policy on the VM, and that a backup was taken of
the VM every 60 minutes.
Finally, ESG Lab tested the resiliency of a four OmniCube Federation by simulating a major failure of losing an
OmniCube. Sixteen VMs were evenly distributed across the OmniCube Federation and powered on. Once ESG Lab
validated the location of each running virtual machine, one of the OmniCubes was abruptly powered off. The four
VMs contained in the faulted OmniCube were quickly transferred throughout the rest of the Federation in less than
a minute. The VMs were quickly powered on and continued to function without any problems. Warnings were
presented at a number of VMs to indicate that they failed over. The remaining OmniCubes in the Federation still
served as ample protection to all 16 VMs. ESG Lab powered on the faulted OmniCube and the VMs were quickly
redistributed across the entire Federation to best use all the available resources. A logical view of the automatic
failover capabilities are presented logically in Figure 14, along with screenshots from vCenter before and after the
failure.

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Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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Figure 14. OmniCube Power Failure Resiliency

Why This Matters


Data protection of virtualized infrastructure is critical to IT operations. The ability of IT end-users to access
information anytime from anywhere is not simply desired, it is expected. Downtime not only hurts business
productivity, it triggers costly payments when hard SLAs are in place for mission critical applications. Because of
this, its no surprise ESG research indicates that one of the top priorities for IT in 2013 is improving data backup and
recovery.2
ESG Lab validated that OmniCube backups were quick, efficient, and easy to create and restore from - even across
datacenters. Backups and restores took just two mouse clicks and were completed in seconds. ESG Lab
demonstrated that the creation of VM centric, automated backup policies were simple to configure and manage,
while remaining flexible enough to effectively implement local and global data protection strategies. ESG Lab also
witnessed the resiliency of an OmniCube Federation by being able to access the entire virtualized environment
after an entire OmniCube was lost.

Source: ESG Research Report, 2013 IT Spending Intentions Survey, January 2013.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

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Performance Scalability
The SimpliVity OmniCube is designed to scale. As more OmniCubes are added to a Federation, the more powerful
and highly performing the Federation becomes because with each additional OmniCube also comes a virtual
controller with more CPU, memory, and SSD and HDD capacity.
ESG Lab Testing
ESG Lab tested the mixed-workload performance scalability of SimpliVitys technology on a single OmniCube and a
four OmniCube Federation. Each OmniCube contained four Windows Server 2008 R2 VMs that represented an IT
business application common to organizations of any size. The application workloads were simulated using two
industry-standard workload generation tools: Microsoft Jetstress 2010 and Iometer. The four simulated applications
include:

E-mail: Jetstress was used to generate e-mail traffic. Jetstress simulates the activity of typical Microsoft
Exchange users as they send and read e-mails, make appointments, and manage to-do lists.
OLTP: Iometer was used to simulate an OLTP database application workload consisting of 67% read I/Os
and 33% write I/Os. The application workload also had 100% random 4KB database I/Os and 32KB 100%
sequential log I /Os.
File Server: Iometer was used to generate file server traffic. The I/O definition was composed of random
reads and writes of various block sizes.
Web Server: Iometer was used to generate a traffic pattern that might be seen by a typical Web server such
as Apache. The I/O definition was composed of random reads of various block sizes.

I/Os per second, or IOPS, is a measure of the number of operations that a storage system can perform in parallel.
When a system is able to move a lot of IOPS, it will tend to be able to service more applications and users in parallel.
ESG Lab measured the total number of IOPS, and therefore the total number of supported users achieved for each
application workload on a single OmniCube, as well as the average response times for each simulated application.
The results are shown in Figure 15 and Table 1.
Figure 15. Mixed Application Workload Performance Scalability

Mixed Application Workload Performance Scalability


Total Number of Supported Users

(Four application workloads on a single OmniCube)


6,000
5,000
4,000
3,000
2,000
1,000
0
Jetstress

OLTP

File Server

Web Server

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

17

Table 1. Mixed Application Workload Performance Scalability

Average Application Response Time (ms)


Simulated Application

Number of Supported Users

Measured

Recommended
Threshold

E-mail

2,500

11.1

20

Database (OLTP)

1,116

4.51

10

File Server

1,118

4.39

10

Web Server

907

2.91

10

What the Numbers Mean

ESG Lab simulated the traffic of an organization running an Exchange server, a busy OLTP database, and a
file server and web server supporting hundreds of users, running simultaneously on a single OmniCube.

A single OmniCube met the performance requirements of the four simulated business-critical applications
and easily supported just over 5,600 simultaneous users with a 2,500 user exchange database, 1,100
concurrent OLTP users, 1,100 concurrent fileserver users, and 900 concurrent web server users.

A single OmniCube running four simultaneous application workloads yielded manageably low average
response times for each application.

The response times ranged between a low of 2.91 ms for the web server and a high of 11.1 ms for the
Exchange database when all applications were running together.

As shown in Figure 16, all application workloads were well under their respective latency guidelines, which
imply there was room for either more performance or more applications to run simultaneously without
severely impacting response times.

Figure 16. Mixed Application Average Workload Response Times

Mixed Application Workload Average Response Times


(Four application workloads on a single OmniCube)
25.00

Average Response TIme (ms)

22.50
20.00
17.50
15.00
12.50
10.00
7.50
5.00
2.50
0.00
Jetstress

OLTP

File Server

Threshold

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Web Server

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

18

After ESG Lab learned the performance capabilities of a single OmniCube with four VMs, the Federation was
increased to four total OmniCubes with four VMs per OmniCube. Each VM in an OmniCube ran one of the four
simulated application workloads. This totaled 16 VMs, with four VMs running each application workload. The
applications were evenly spread across the Federation ensuring deployment balance across all the available
resources. The aggregate number of supported users per OmniCube are shown in Figure 17 and broken down in
Table 2.
Figure 17. Mixed Application Workload Performance Scalability

Mixed Application Workload Performance Scalability


(Four application workloads on up to four OmniCubes within a single Federation)

Total Number of Supported Users

25,000
20,000
15,000
10,000
5,000
0
OmniCube 1

OmniCube 2

OmniCube 3

OmniCube 4

Table 2. Mixed Application Workload Performance Scalability

Total Number of Supported Users


OmniCube

E-mail

Database (OLTP)

File Server

Web Server

Total

1
2
3
4
Total

2,500
2,500
2,500
2,500
10,000

1,116
1,053
1,133
1,123
4,425

1,118
1,113
1,141
1,183
4,554

907
947
957
853
3,663

5,641
5,612
5,731
5,659
22,642

What the Numbers Mean

ESG Lab scaled the total number of OmniCubes from one to four while measuring the simulated traffic of
four business-critical applications, running simultaneously on each OmniCube.

Linear performance was achieved with each OmniCube yielding just fewer than 6,000 users, with peak
performance results in a four OmniCube Federation of 22,642 supported users.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

ESG Lab audited the results of a SimpliVity


benchmark to quantify the enterprise-class
performance scalability achievable by a
large-scale OmniCube deployment inside a
single vSphere data center. The hardware
used for testing was deployed in a SimpliVity
test facility (as shown in Figure 18) and
consisted of 40 CN-3000 OmniCube systems
within a single Federation. A Windows
Server 2008 R2 SP1 VM was deployed inside
each OmniCube system and using the
Vdbench workload generator, SimpliVity
measured the total number of sustainable
IOPS across the entire Federation. ESG Lab
observed each OmniCube system achieving
over 25,000 IOPS; thats over 1,000,000 IOPS
from the Federation, with a peak result of
1,211,532 IOPS. By expanding on ESG Labs
test bed of four OmniCubes, SimpliVity
proved that an OmniCube solution can
continue to scale up to 40 OmniCubes.

19

Figure 18. Test Bed with 40 OmniCubes in a Single Federation

Why This Matters


Predictable performance scalability is a critical concern when complex applications with a mix of workloads share a
system's resources, especially in a virtualized environment. A burst of processing or I/O activity in one area (e.g., a
database consistency check) can lead to poor response times, lost productivity, and, in the worst case, lost
revenue. Virtualized tier-1 applications can potentially present the most diverse mix of application types and I/O
access patterns a single server may encounter. ESG research shows the potential value of deploying tier-1
applications in a virtualized environment, with 39% of respondents indicating that they have already deployed tier1 applications on virtual machines, and an additional 49% reporting plans or interest in doing the same.
ESG Lab has confirmed that a SimpliVity OmniCube delivered predictable, scalable performance for a virtualized
environment consisting of four common business application workloads. On a single OmniCube, ESG Lab easily
supported 5,641 combined e-mail, database, file server, and web server users, while witnessing manageably low
response times. As ESG Lab added up to four OmniCubes to the Federation, linear performance scalability was
achieved with a total supported user count of over 22,000. Continued performance scalability was witnessed by
ESG Lab in a SimpliVity-deployed, 40 OmniCube Federation. Each OmniCube achieved sustainable performance of
over 25,000 IOPS, with peak performance across the entire Federation of 1,211,532 IOPS.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

20

ESG Lab Validation Highlights


ESG Lab validated that the SimpliVity OmniCube was easy to install and deploy. Adding additional
OmniCubes to a Federation was also quite easy through easy-to-follow wizards and interfaces.
ESG Lab demonstrated that a SimpliVity OmniCube solution was easy to manage with no additional training
necessary for administrators with working knowledge of the vCenter interface. ESG Lab showed that many
data centers in geographically dispersed locations can be managed as one global Federation using the same
simple interface, including seamless integration with Amazon cloud services.
ESG Lab validated that SimpliVitys novel data architecture (powered by DVE), including deduplication,
compression, and optimization of all data, across all data lifecycle phases, storage media, and geographies,
including the Amazon EC2 Cloud enhanced system performance, reduced IOPS, storage capacity (and
therefore associated power and space requirements), cost of bandwidth across sites, and overall time to
data.
ESG Lab validated that data operations performed at a VM level on the OmniCube were performed more
efficiently and quickly than in a traditional virtualized environment, saving valuable time and resources.
ESG Lab validated that the OmniCube is reliable and resilient by confirming that it survived critical hardware
failures while offering unique data protection capabilities that extend to data centers across the globe.
ESG Lab demonstrated linear performance scalability of a mix of common business applications in a
virtualized environment. The Federation with four OmniCubes was easily able to support over 20,000 users
while response times remained manageably low.
ESG Lab witnessed impressive performance scalability results for a large-scale deployment with 40
OmniCubes in a single Federation that achieved 1,211,532 IOPS.

Issues to Consider
SimpliVity currently offers an OmniCube solution built on Dell server hardware, but this is not a SimpliVity
restriction. The technology can be used on any server that offers a good level of high availability. In case of
very large customers who aim to deploy hundreds and thousands of systems, SimpliVity is offering the
option of licensing its OmniStack technology. In such cases, the end-user can choose any x86 platforms.
SimpliVity is in the process of qualifying an array of form factors, realizing the flexibility of the technology in
terms of scaling up/down performance, capacity, and different ratios of VMs to CPU, DRAM, to SSD, and to
HDD.
The SimpliVity solution is hypervisor agnostic and SimpliVity is working on qualifying additional hypervisors
beyond VMware.
The performance test results presented in this report are based on benchmarks and configurations
deployed in a controlled environment. Due to the many variables in each production data center
environment, capacity planning and testing in your own environment is recommended.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

21

The Bigger Truth


Data centers have become too complex and too expensive. In order to take advantage of the increased
technological demands over the years, companies have added layers of complexity by investing in specialized
technologies that perform a single function and then grouping them into an existing infrastructure. Servers, storage,
networking, archive, backup, replication, WAN optimization, and deduplication/compression appliances are often
sourced from single function vendors and dropped into the existing infrastructure through a web of cables and
switches. Each technology requires additional service contracts, licensing costs, rack space, power, and cooling
not to mention a set of dedicated resources capable of administering and maintaining the components.
Functionality and scalability are limited by interoperability issues and often times the simple requirements of one
set of administrators create headaches for the others.
It is clear that consolidation of technologies into a single unit minimizes both capital and operational expenditures,
but what should also be emphasized is that by storing and maintaining your data in a more efficient manner
(granular, deduped, compressed and optimized) through its entire lifecycle, the IT infrastructure can be as efficient
as possible. Organizations will require less hardware, less bandwidth for data transfers, and save valuable
administrative time resulting in greater productivity and faster responses to business needs. SimpliVitys Data
Virtualization Engine (DVE) achieves this by building efficiency into every operation that lives on the
OmniCube/OmniStack forever, taking and scheduling backups, restoring data, making clones, migrating data
between local and geographical locations, and performing disaster recovery operations.
ESG Lab validated that a data center built on OmniStack technology is an efficient, reliable, and highly scalable
solution that can perform nearly every function required by a modern data center in a highly optimized manner,
starting with a complete data center running on two OmniCube units, all the way up to globally distributed data
centers running numerous OmniCube units. ESG Lab validated the ability of the OmniCube to greatly increase the
speed of common data protection operations, while reducing the administrative complexity associated with those
same data protection operations. Performance scalability was easily achieved for a virtual environment running a
mix of common IT business applications, while providing fast, predictable response times. The impressive
performance scalability results continued on a SimpliVity-deployed, 40 OmniCube Federation that achieved over 1.2
million IOPS. Combined with the ability to offer the same level of administrative simplicity, data efficiency, and
complete functionality across data centers around the globe, and low-cost cloud capabilities, the SimpliVity
OmniCube is noteworthy.
IT is certainly a balancing act. The technology available in todays data centers provides IT end-users service levels
and administrative functionality that may have been thought impossible years ago. Data centers run more
efficiently, cost effectively, and globally, while better analysis and reporting tools highlight the benefits they bring
to the business. Though this improved data center effectiveness can sometimes be costly, the underlying
complexity and administrative inefficiencies are traditionally the tolls paid in exchange for providing such a high
level of service and functionality.
Through infrastructure consolidation, increased effectiveness of both physical and human resources, and decreased
complexity, SimpliVity can help organizations take on the challenges of maximizing efficiency while reducing costs.
Infrastructure virtualization provided the first step in the right direction. ESG Lab feels the SimpliVity OmniCube
powered by OmniStack technology can help organizations take the next leap.

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lab Validation: SimpliVity OmniCube Powered by OmniStack Technology

Appendix
Table 3. ESG Lab Test Bed

OmniCube
OmniCube CN-3000
2 x Intel Xeon CPU E5-2640 with 2.5Ghz (6 Cores per CPU)
VMware vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus
vMotion: Enabled
VMware HA: Enabled & Configured
Fault Tolerance Version: 2.0.1-3.0.0-3.0.1
4 x 200GB SSD Drives
8 x 3TB NL-SAS Drives

Virtual Machines
Operating System
vCPU
vRAM
Applications

16 x Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64Bit


2 vCPUs per VM
4GB of RAM per VM
E-mail 2TB for database, 500GB for log files
Database 1.5TB volume
File server 1.5TB volume
Web server 1.5TB volume

Datastores
Main Datastore
SVT Production 1
SVT Production 2

Local datastore for OmniCube 273.35GB


Main shared OmniCube pool 100TB
Secondary shared OmniCube pool 30TB

2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

22

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