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A Low-Cost Performant World for VMware Cloud

Storage-heavy VMware users face a choice if they want to move host their VMware environment in VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS. AWS offers high performance, dynamic scalability and redundancy to its VMware Cloud customers. But AWS does not offer native storage optimization for VMC. To take full advantage of AWS storage optimization, VMC customers would have to switch from VMware to AWS EC2 – which defeats the purpose of a hybrid VMware architecture.

The issue is that VMC on AWS assigns dedicated, single-tenant hosts to accounts. Each host is equivalent to an EC2 I3.metal (bare metal) instance containing 2 sockets with 18 cores per socket, 512 GiB RAM, and 15.2 TB raw SSD storage. Customers add additional hosts as needed.

So far, so good—except that VMC does not decouple storage from the host. Storage-heavy VMware customers cannot simply add external storage; they have to increase the number of hosts to increase their storage capacity. Compute costs rise with the additional hosts, up to 35% or higher for high capacity workloads -- even though the customer does not need the extra processing power.

A Better Way to Manage VMware Cloud

There is an alternative. VMware supports Elastic vSAN as NFSv3 external storage for VMC datastores, which decouples compute from storage. The datastores scale independently from compute, and customers can manage compute and storage separately for optimal operations and cost savings.

However, the solution is management-intensive. Thus far, VMware has qualified the grand total of three Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to offer this service to customers, including Rackspace. And of the three, Rackspace is the only MSP that completely integrates with NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for AWS to provide fully managed VMC services with premium cloud file management services.

The integrated Rackspace/NetApp platform hides complexity under the covers, so VMware owners retain their familiar on-premises interface. It is simply a different resource group. Meanwhile, VMC customers are saving about 35% of their VMC costs by decoupling storage from hosts. Cost savings reach even higher thanks to NetApp Cloud Volumes Service’s dynamic service level pricing, which is both based on consumption and the service level selected. (Service levels, by the way, can be changed on the fly, giving you more compute power when you need it, and less when you don’t). 

Reference Architecture: Rackspace, NetApp CVS, and VMware Cloud on AWS

NetApp® Cloud Volumes Service configures external datastores for VMC on AWS. With the combination of backups, snapshot copies, and right-sized throughput, VMware customers can easily host their storage heavy workloads in the cloud with strong data protection, durability, and availability.

The key components of the solution include:

  •       VMware Cloud on AWS
  •       Software-defined data center (SDDC)
  •       Amazon EC2 instances
  •       NetApp Cloud Volumes Service as external datastores for VMware Cloud
  •       Rackspace managed services for VMC on AWS include guaranteed SLAs

VMware applications are configured on an Amazon EC2 instance using AWS hosts and CVS volumes as dedicated storage for the datastores. NetApp Cloud Volumes Service achieves consistently high performance of over 460 MB/sec, which easily meets the demands of large VMware workloads. CVS supports both NFS and SMB, which allows customers to share a dataset between Linux and Windows instances.

Customers provision datastores using NetApp Cloud Volumes Service’s dynamic service tiers: Standard, Premium and Extreme. Standard is economical cloud storage, Premium delivers balanced cost, capacity, and performance, and Extreme is high performance. Users typically save around 70% on AWS costs because customers switch between tiers at will. The drivers of lower costs are simple: Agile cost/performance ratios to meet workload requirements, rather than monthly subscription terms that lock you in.

More Benefits from Rackspace and NetApp for VMC Customers

In addition to high performance and cost savings with dynamic service tiers, CVS customers also benefit from high availability and durability, faster time to market, and strong data security.

  • Higher resilience at lower cost. Incremental 4KB snapshots save money by recording only new writes. The snapshot process is unlimited and high performance, which protects even large workloads at low cost.
  • Speed up time to market. Customers can spin up cloud volumes in seconds with Instant Copy. Cloud Volumes Service for AWS allows VM Cloud customers to instantly copy volumes, which drastically improves the process of copying, backing up, and reverting. The process takes seconds, which ultimately leads to quicker time to market. 
  • Nine 9s durability and four 9s availability. Cloud Volumes Service protects data against both multiple drive failures and storage media errors that threaten data durability and data integrity. CVS ensures availability with redundant network paths, failover, and advanced data protection. NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for AWS sits centrally in each of AWS’s Availability Zones, so any Zone outages will not affect customer data.
  • Security and encryption. NetApp Cloud Volumes Service uses the XTS-AES 256-bit encryption algorithm for at-rest data encryption. Encryption does not compromise performance, and NetApp manages and rotates encryption keys for customers. This single-source security solution not only secures data, but also increases compliance with industry and government regulations without compromising user experience.

VMC + Rackspace + AWS

Read the full reference architecture

Product Marketing Manager, Cloud Data Services