PernixData – Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP) – The easy way to accelerate your environment

I know PernixData since mid of 2013 and was very impressed after seeing the technology in action. At VMware Partner Exchange 2014 I had the opportunity to talk to some really cool guys from PernixData, Frank Denneman (@FrankDenneman) and Todd Mace (@mctodd). We discussed some opportunities on how to sell PernixData to customers and how customers will benefit from PernixData. I learned a lot from that session especially when Frank described some technical features I wasn’t aware of before.

For all my readers who are not familiar with PernixData and what the company is doing, here a short summary.

PernixData is fundamentally changing how storage is designed and operated in virtual data centers. The company’s flagship product, PernixData FVP, virtualizes server side flash to enable scale-out storage performance that is independent of capacity. No changes are required to VMs, servers or primary storage, ensuring maximum performance of all virtualized applications in a seamless, scalable and cost- effective manner.

Unique advantages of PernixData FVP include:

  • Scale-out performance independent of storage capacity: With PernixData FVP, increased storage performance across an entire data center is as simple as clusteringpernixdata more server side flash. Performance can be architected based on specific VMs or application requirements rather than being exclusively tied to data store requirements.
  • Seamless deployment: The PernixData FVP technology leverages the investment in infrastructure that companies already have in place. The software is deployed in less than 20 minutes, with no changes (or reboots) required to VMs, servers or primary storage.
  • Clustered platform compatible with all VMware operations: PernixData FVP uses patent-pending Flash Cluster technology to enable any host to remotely access the flash device(s) on any other host in the cluster. This technology enables PernixData FVP to seamlessly support all VMware operations and products, such as vMotion, DRS, HA, Snapshot, VDP, Site Recovery Manager, Horizon View and vCloud Director. Live migrations and distributed resource management functions continue to operate transparently with PernixData FVP, with no changes to workflows and no hits to application, network or storage performance.
  • Full read and write acceleration with fault tolerance: PernixData FVP is the only server side solution to support full read and write (write through / write back) acceleration for maximum performance across all virtual applications. Writes are replicated across clustered hosts to ensure complete fault tolerance.

Only block based storages (iSCSI, FC, FCoE) are supported and can be accelerated through PernixData.

Based in San Jose, California, PernixData was founded in 2012 by virtualization experts and backed by industry luminaries in the software space. They released their first version of PernixData FVP in August, 2013. For more information, please visit www.pernixdata.com and follow them on Twitter @PernixData.

Licensing and Pricing (FVP 1.0)

There are two editions available:

  • The Enterprise Edition of PernixData FVP is sold on a per host basis, with no limit on the number of
    hosts or VMs deployed. There is also no limit on the number of processors or flash devices
    supported per host. List price for the Enterprise Edition of FVP is $7,500 (USD) per host.
  • The SMB Edition of PernixData FVP includes licenses for up to 4 hosts, with a maximum of 2
    processors and 1 flash device per host. Up to 100 VMs can be supported across these hosts. List
    price for the SMB Edition is $9,999 (USD).

Please correct me if the pricing is outdated.

Remark for the SMB version: It is limited to 1 Flash device per host, but think about it. You can use all sorts of Flash devices (SSD, PCIe), so a Fusion-IO card with 1.6TB is also counting as 1 flash device!

Now I will give you a short Deployment HowTo on PernixData.

There are 3 components:

  • PernixData FVP Management Server – Component that runs alongside VMware vCenter and coordinates between ESXi hosts and the PernixData UI plugin.
  • PernixData FVP Host Extension – Component that is installed on every ESX host which should be part of the flash cluster
  • PernixData FVP UI Plugin – Component that is a plugin for the VMware vSphere Client. Users interact with the FVP via this UI.
Installation PernixData FVP Management Server

Software requirement

  • Windows 2008 (R2) or Windows 2012 Server Operation System (64bit)
  • SQL Server 2008 (R2) or SQL Server 2012

The PernixData FVP Management Server can be part of the Active Directory Domain, but it don’t have to. In my case it was not part of the Domain.

Click Next.

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Accept the License Agreement and click Next.

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Select the installation folder or leave the default one. Click Next.

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Either select Complete or Custom. Click Next.

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For every service which will connect to the vCenter I created a specific User to trace vSphere components/3rd party tools activity.

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Enter the SQL Server where the PernixData database will be installed and provide User credentials with the necessary permissions. Click Next.

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Specifiy how the Management Server is identified over the network and leave the default port settings. Click Next.

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If you already have Java 1.7 U25 or higher installed than skip this step.

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After the Installation completes you must restart the vSphere WebClient Service to get the PernixData WebClient working. In my case I have to restart the whole VCSA, but maybe this is a problem of the Beta of FVP 1.5.

Installation PernixData FVP Host Extension

The easiest way to install the Host extension is to enable SSH on the ESX host, connect through WinSCP to it and copy the PernixData-host-extension-vSphereVersion_PernixDataVersion.zip to the /tmp folder. Than connect via putty to the host and run the following command:

esxcli software vib install -d <ZIP file name with full path> –no-sig-check

Example

esxcli software vib install -d /tmp/PernixData-host-extension-vSphereVersion_PernixDataVersion.zip –no-sig-check

fvpinstallhostextension

Attention: ESXi host must be in maintenance mode.

TIP: if your location is the /tmp folder don’t use only PernixData-host-extension-vSphereVersion_PernixDataVersion.zip. This will not work and ends in an error message.

After completing this installation run the following command to backup the ESXI configuration to the boot device

/sbin/auto-backup.sh

Now you can start to create your flash cluster. How simple this is done and which performance I will get out of my home lab will be covered in a later blog post.

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