As virtualization has driven the data center toward a new, software-defined model, it has introduced new requirements for computing infrastructure. The challenges of IO latency and “IO blender” effects have driven adoption of solid-state storage solutions. FlashSoft software from SanDisk is a leading technology for enabling server-tier flash for storage IO acceleration. FlashSoft 4.0 for VMware vSphere 6 features a completely new means of integrating the software with VMware vSphere, delivering significant improvements in manageability, compatibility, ease of administration, and stability, while increasing virtualized application performance and offloading primary storage overhead.
FlashSoft software automatically identifies VMs’ most frequently accessed data and serves IO requests for that data from a solid-state device installed in the server, increasing virtualized application performance and VM density, and relieving storage overhead (“SAN relief”). The software can use any type of solid-state device – SATA, SAS, PCIe or NVMe – from any vendor. It supports all VMware-compatible datastore types including VMFS, NFS, Virtual Volumes and Virtual SAN; and it works with any VMware-compatible server and storage infrastructure.
For IT professionals moving to vSphere 6, FlashSoft 4.0 offers a smart, cost-effective way to upgrade the performance of currently deployed storage infrastructure and benefit from flash storage without the expense of all-flash arrays or storage upgrades. With server-based flash caching enabled by FlashSoft, IO performance is accelerated at the most effective and economical point – in the server.
FlashSoft 4.0 introduces a new architecture to take advantage of VMware’s new vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO) framework, allowing the FlashSoft caching software to be integrated as a virtual data service within vSphere. This integration with vSphere 6 gives FlashSoft the highest level of usability and performance, and makes FlashSoft eligible for VMware Ready certification for assured reliability and end user confidence.
Compatibility ≈ VMware Ready Technology: In vSphere 6, VMware has introduced a new framework for the integration of third party data services: the vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO). The VAIO framework provides “IO filters” that allow third party data services to intercept IO between VMs and their virtual disks. As VMware’s design partner for the caching IO filter, SanDisk has developed the new version of FlashSoft as a virtualized data service integrated through VAIO. An important benefit of this new architecture is that FlashSoft can be certified VMware Ready.
Ease of Administration: As an integrated data service, FlashSoft deployment is managed automatically by vCenter and vSphere. Configured through VMware’s Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM), FlashSoft is automatically deployed and configured by vSphere cluster-wide, saving administrators’ time and ensuring coherent deployment to all hosts in the cluster. As new hosts are added to the cluster, vSphere automatically deploys and configures FlashSoft for the new hosts.
Support for All VMware-Supported Datastores: FlashSoft 4.0 accelerates application performance for all VMware-supported datastores including VMFS, NFS, Virtual Volumes and Virtual SAN. The FlashSoft solution for storage acceleration is a truly software-defined, storage-agnostic virtual data service that is compatible with any VMware-supported storage infrastructure, including SAN, NAS, DAS and cloud. Organizations with heterogeneous storage infrastructures and evolving VMware storage strategies can realize the benefits host-based solid-state storage acceleration now and into the future.
Virtual Disk Acceleration: As a VAIO-integrated data service, FlashSoft 4.0 allows acceleration configuration at the level of the individual virtual disk, so the administrator has the flexibility to select the virtual hard disks whose data will be cached or not. For ease of administration, the attributes defining the caching policy for virtual disks are persistent across VMware vSphere® vMotion®, VMware vSphere® Storage vMotion® and other cluster events.
Compatibility with Replication Data Services: A number of replication software solutions are also being developed as VAIO-integrated data services. Because the VAIO caching filter is deployed below the replication filter, FlashSoft is automatically compatible with these replication data services, and caching places no restrictions on a host-level replication data service.
Storage Traffic Offload Reporting (STOR): With server caching, the majority of IO requests are fulfilled from the server-side flash rather than the backend storage system, alleviating much of the IO from the primary storage. The benefit of this “SAN relief” is that it extends the useful life of current storage investments. New in FlashSoft 4.0, STOR displays these IO transaction savings by recording and displaying the actual cache hits, as well as the overall storage traffic offload, at the VM, host and cluster level.
Improved Performance and Stability: The VAIO framework delivers data directly to and from the cache with extremely low latency, typically in less than one microsecond. Bypassing much of the latency of the storage stack, the IO filter enables FlashSoft to deliver the full performance of the flash device. Also, because the filter integrates the cache in the user world rather than the ESX kernel, it reduces the risk that any incident on one VM could affect other VMs, or the operation of the host itself.
vSphere Web Client GUI: Configuration, monitoring, and management of FlashSoft 4.0 is performed directly in the FlashSoft GUI displayed in the vSphere web client, eliminating the need for additional management interfaces, tools or dashboards. Intuitive navigation allows administrators to configure and observe the operation of the cache at the level of the cluster, host, virtual machine, and virtual disk.
Advanced Cache Architecture: The core FlashSoft technology features a highly efficient cache design, minimal overhead on server CPU and memory resources, and numerous optimizations for persistence, performance and longevity for the solid-state cache device.
Dynamically Allocated Cache: FlashSoft dynamically allocates cache space for all accelerated virtual disks relative to their IO requirements, so overall application performance is maximized and flash capacity is employed optimally without any user intervention.
Seamless Support for all VMware Cluster Solutions: FlashSoft supports all VMware cluster solutions including vMotion, Storage vMotion, DRS, HA, snapshots and linked clones. VMs can move to other hosts without incident, either manually or automatically as in HA or DRS.
Hardware Agnostic: FlashSoft works with any solid-state storage device including SATA or SAS SSDs and PCIe and NVMe flash accelerators, allowing IT managers the flexibility to deploy the solid-state solution that fits their cost, capacity and performance requirements.
Works with Existing Storage: FlashSoft can be non-disruptively introduced to existing storage infrastructure, allowing organizations to improve the performance and extend the useful life of their current storage without changing data management or data protection policies.
No Agents in VMs: Since it runs in the vSphere host without requiring any agents in the guest VMs, FlashSoft is completely transparent to the guest VMs’ operating systems and any applications running on them. With FlashSoft, any VMware-compatible guest OS can be run in the VM and accelerated.
FlashSoft 4.0 is a VAIO-integrated data service for vSphere 6 Update 1 that delivers a software-defined storage solution for realizing the performance benefits of flash technology for VMware vSphere. Support through VAIO and SPBM makes FlashSoft easy to install, configure and maintain, and the close integration with VMware vSphere 6 gives confidence that this technology represents the future direction for solid-state acceleration in the vSphere host.
FlashSoft 4.0 supports ESX 6.0 Update 1 (and later) and will be available in Q1 2016. FlashSoft 4.0 for vSphere 6 is supported by SanDisk and offered through SanDisk’s worldwide network of OEM and reseller partners.
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