Table of Content

Overview

As storage management becomes more sophisticated, IT infrastructure and operations professionals are looking for end-to-end solutions that are more software-defined and easier to manage, with more intuitive interfaces. It is easy to see why: an end-to-end, software-defined storage solution can improve efficiency, speed time to market, and reduce the costs associated with storage.

An end-to-end storage solution leverages storage management software to integrate hardware arrays and virtualization platforms. The software serves as a centralized management console so end-users can do all monitoring, provisioning and analytics through a single interface. That eliminates the need for storage administrators to switch between traditional array-specific management interfaces and the interfaces provided by the virtualization platforms.

Despite the demand for end-to-end solutions, most storage hardware vendors are (understandably) focused on optimizing their storage array in terms of efficiency, performance and security – not on integrating with other products. So storage hardware vendors often look to a firm like Xoriant to develop the storage management software to integrate their hardware with leading virtualization platforms, or to maintain software that was developed in-house.

On the other side, leading virtualization infrastructure providers such as VMware, Microsoft and Citrix provide platforms and utilities with flexible architectures to accommodate vendor-specific storage hardware array features. Integration between the virtualization platforms and vendor-specific storage hardware arrays can be accomplished through storage management software (plugins).

For example:
  • The VMware components that allow for the development of plugins include Vcentre (for monitoring and provisioning), VASA (for VM management), VAAI (for data protection features), and VRO (for automation of workflows).
  • The Microsoft system center has several sub-components that allow the development of plugins such as SCVMM (for VM management), SCOM (for monitoring and provisioning), and SCO (for automation of workflows).
  • Citrix, one of the leading vendors in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), has Xendesktop to provide the integration points to integrate the storage arrays.

"I&O leaders are looking for software-defined storage products that offer the potential for better total cost of ownership, efficiency and scalability to address exponential-data-growth needs, and to benefit from innovations from hardware and software players independently. – Gartner"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Just as is the case with storage hardware vendors, virtualization platforms need storage management software to integrate with the third-party storage arrays."

 

 

 

Yet just as is the case with storage hardware vendors, virtualization platforms need storage management software to integrate with the third-party storage arrays. That enables efficient usage (single console, utilization of native hardware features, provisioning, etc.) for the end-user. Integration also helps the administrator monitor and configure workflows and easily implement policies for better utilization.

Integrating Storage Hardware and Virtualization Infrastructure

Xoriant’s storage management software solutions provide the deep integration for vendor-specific storage arrays and hypervisors such as ESXi (VMware), Hyper-V (Microsoft) and XenServer (Citrix). These software solutions serve as a centralized management console for the storage hardware vendor within the complex virtualized environment. The software can be part of the software-defined data center.

An architecture for such software is shown in Figure 1. This is a generic version of what Xoriant builds for clients for monitoring and provisioning, with deeper integration provided at different layers of the virtualization stack. It has generic functionalities provided in the presentation and interface layers; specific functionalities related to storage arrays are captured in the adapter layer.

The storage hardware vendor provides a set of APIs on top of their storage operating system to allow access to the storage arrays. These APIs provide access to the storage-related parameters and control the features provided to the external world. These APIs are available as a library developed using different technology. Most of the vendors provide REST APIs as an interface.

 

Figure 1 – Xoriant End-to-End Storage Solution Architecture

 

The storage management software is developed using HTML, power shell, WPF, Java, springs, C#, .net, REST, and HTTPs. The plugins meant for monitoring and provisioning purposes are available as a thin client running on the virtualization manager infrastructure. The storage vendor library is hosted as a webserver.

The benefits end-users get from a storage management solution by Xoriant include:

  • Storage visibility – Detailed parameters associated with Volume, Pool, Cluster, Node, Disk, etc.
  • Provisioning – Volume / VM / Datastore provisioning and image management
  • Analysis – Monitoring storage utilization and performance, filtering and identifying peak performance and disk utilization
  • Cloning, snapshots, mirroring and replication
  • Health monitoring – Monitoring health indicators, generating alerts, tree structure (hierarchy) for entire storage and associated health status
  • Troubleshooting and physical storage event correlation to reduce support costs
  • Automating the creation, monitoring and deployment of resources in the environment

Bottom Line

Having an end-to-end storage solution that integrates storage hardware arrays and virtualization infrastructure can result in increased efficiency, reduced time to market, and reduced overall cost. But many storage hardware vendors aren’t in the business of building or maintaining such software on their own. That’s where Xoriant can help. For example:

  • Xoriant developed a VSphere web client plugin for one of the leading storage vendors to monitor and provision storage resources and Datastore/VM/Host provisioning.
  • Xoriant developed a SCOM management pack for one of the leading hyper-converged vendors to monitor clusters, hardware components, containers, pools, nodes and disks. The solution includes a rich dashboard providing performance monitoring and alerts and an intuitive user experience.
  • Xoriant developed a Xendesktop plugin for one of the leading hyper-converged vendors to enable features such as image management, inventory discovery, VM provisioning and VDI management.
"Having an end-to-end storage solution that integrates storage hardware arrays and virtualization infrastructure can result in increased efficiency, reduced time to market and reduced overall cost."