In April 2011 Wikibon ran a survey looking at the area of storage and VMware. The results showed that EMC and NetApp had a clear lead in the number of respondents that selected them as the best VMware storage and as the primary VMware storage vendor.
Wikibon has further analyzed the results of the survey, including a detailed analysis of the degree of integration. The findings of this analysis were similar to the first report, that EMC and NetApp were the leading storage vendors in integration of storage and VMware. The final positioning is shown in figure 1. The data behind Figure 1 is shown in Tables 3 & 4 below, and the detailed methodology of how this was derived is shown in the "Quality of Implementation and Importance to Marketplace" section below. The first report of this data posted June 14 2011; the data currently in this report is an update from June 27 based on additional information and some small adjustments to methodology.
Wikibon believes that practitioners can use the methodology in this report to help position the importance of integration features for their own VMware storage decisions and to help decide which vendors to include in RFPs. This analysis only looks at storage integration with VMware; other factors such as price, reliability, quality of reseller, quality of support, and other storage functionality are not taken into account at all and would have to be separately assessed.
Vendors and Storage Assessed
Wikibon looked at the major storage offerings from the six (6) largest storage vendors. The Vendors and arrays analysed were:
- Dell (EqualLogic and Compellent arrays)
- EMC (VMAX and VNX arrays)
- HDS (VSP and AMS arrays)
- HP (LeftHand and 3PAR arrays)
- IBM (XIV and DS8000 arrays)
- NetApp (FS6xxx array)
The details of the survey run are given in the Wikibon report entitled Wikibon User Survey: EMC and NetApp Dominate VMware Storage. The details of the additional questions analyzed are given in the footnotes1. The limitations of the survey are detailed in the earlier Wikibon report.
Rating Importance of Integration Features
In the survey we asked the respondents the business value and ease of implementation of the key storage integration features as listed in the footnotes. Wikibon then mapped the 14 questions asked onto the list of 32 features listed in Table 1. Wikibon solicited the opinions of five Wikibon experienced storage/VMware practitioners to provide a similar rating of the features. The analysts were asked to look at the importance of these features in three different storage environments:
- Tier 2 Storage Environment (Wikibon determined this was the most prevalent storage used in VMware installations and used it as the default base assumption in the analysis).
- Tier 1 Storage Environments (Wikibon included only the Tier 1 storage vendors EMC VMAX, HDS VSP and IBM 8700 in this analysis).
- Tier 1 Prime (Tier 1P), Tier 1 storage vendors only for environments where the very highest levels of availability, replication, performance and security are required.
The Tier 1 and Tier 1P VMware environments are not common at all at the moment, but Wikibon was interested in projecting the importance of the integration features into the future, as production VMware systems are implemented more aggressively in Tier 1 workloads.
The weighting given to the respondents and the analysts was 50% to each group. Tier 2 was used as the base group, and the changes reflected by the analysts was reflected in the Tier 1 and Tier 1P scores. Table 1 shows the results ordered by Tier 2 rating, on a scale of 5 (very important) to 1 (not important).
The results in Table 1 show in general that practical integration of storage protection features (e.g., snapshots and backup) dominated the top of the list. This is a reflection that storage under VMware is more complex (Wikibon assess the VMware storage "tax" to be 25-30% performance overhead).
Vendor Implementation of Storage VMware Integration Functions
Table 2 shows which of the 32 features were implemented by the 11 vendor arrays analyzed. The list is in the same order as Table 1 (importance to the marketplace for Tier 2 storage). The left-to-right ordering is determined by the number of features installed.
The results show a good correlation between the rating of importance and the implementation of the features by vendors. Figure 2 shows the number of features implemented in each of the 11 arrays analyzed.
Figure 2 shows that EMC and NetApp have implemented the most features, and IBM 8700 the least. However, the analysis does not take into account the quality of the implementation and the importance of the features to the marketplace, which are analysed in the next section.
Quality of Implementation and Importance to Marketplace
Table 3 shows the same list of storage integration functions in the previous tables, with a score for each implementation based on the assessment of the Wikibon analysts after extensive research and discussion with vendors. The score is assessed as follows:
- Full or nearly full implementation of VMware Storage Integration Feature – 1.5. Function with a binary implemented/not implemented are given a score of 1.5 (earlier methodology was different).
- Partial implementation of VMware Storage Integration Feature – 1.0
- No Implementation - 0
The results of Table 3 show that the EMC VMAX and VNX were the leading implementations, NetApp next, and the HP 3PAR, Dell EqualLogic and Hitachi AMS arrays close behind.
Table 4 is the results of Table 3 multiplied by the Tier-2 rating of importance to the marketplace, give in the right hand column of Tables 3 and 4.
The results of Table 4 are show in summary in Figure 1 in the introduction. They show that EMC has clearly implemented the most features with the highest level of implementation and importance to the marketplace. NetApp implemented fewer features, but implemented them fully, and chose the features of highest importance to the marketplace, and were next in the final score. The HP 3PAR, Dell EqualLogic and Hitachi AMS also have solid VMware storage integration.
The storage integration into VMware is important because of the overall storage overhead that VMware introduces. Integration that make it easier to view storage from VMware and allow VMware administration to manage storage are of significant help in reducing overall administration overheads. Wikibon concludes that EMC and NetApp have implemented the strongest set of VMware storage integration features, based on the Wikibon weightings of the importance of those features to the marketplace and the quality of implementation. The integrations discussed in this report are all based on VMware vSphere 4.1. We expect significant changes and more structured APIs (and less storage vendor specific code) in a future releases on VMware.
Wikibon recommends that IT organizations that are assessing storage for VMware sites take the list of functions and weight them according to their importance to their own priorities, and choose their own weighting for the quality of implementation. Using the Wikibon methodology as a framework, it should a relatively simple task to assess this portion of array assessment.
One of the other findings of the research was that more than 50% of advanced storage integration features are adopted by less that half of the community. Some of the features may require a significant amount of work to implement and may not be a good fit for an organization. Wikibon would also point out that although this is an important element of storage array functionality for VMware sites, many other criteria matter in the selection of storage arrays, and VMware integration should be assessed alongside the other criteria.
Action Item: IT organizations should evaluate the VMware storage integration functionality as part of the overall assessment of arrays that will be used in VMware environments. Organizations are encouraged to take the Wikibon framework, and adapt it to their own priorities.
Full summary of the vSphere 4.x storage integration research and survey: VMware Storage Integration Journey Checkpoint
Related Blog Article: VMware Storage Leaderboard: Who Has the Best Integration?
Customer Survey Results: Wikibon User Survey: EMC and NetApp Dominate VMware Storage
1 Additional Questions in Survey Analyzed in this Report
Business value of integration of storage management (identify, provision, manage, monitor) with VMware vCenter
Business value of mass-replication of VMs at data store level
Business value of cloning of individual VMs (also used for VMware View deployments)
Business value of discovery, mapping and reporting of VMware environment from storage management tools
Business value of backup reporting from VMware vCenter
Business value of management of VM-based applications from storage management tools
Business value of backup integration with VMware vCenter
Business value of VMware-aware replication snapshot or restore
Business value of Site Recovery Manager (SRM) – use of Storage Replication Adapters (SRA)
Business value of SRM with automated failback
Business value of vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) for performance enhancements – includes Full Copy, Block Zero and Hardware Assisted Locking Business value of Storage API for Multi-pathing (advanced solution beyond native MPIO)
Business value of security integrations with VMware?
Business value of per-VM Data Compression (choice of compression or deduplication per VM from VMware vCenter)
Ease of deployment of integration of storage management (identify, provision, manage, monitor) with VMware vCenter
Ease of deployment of mass-replication of VMs at datastore level
Ease of deployment of cloning of individual VMs (also used for VMware View deployments)
Ease of deployment of discovery, mapping and reporting of VMware environment from storage management tools
Ease of deployment of backup reporting from VMware vCenter
Ease of deployment of management of VM-based applications from storage management tools
Ease of deployment of backup integration with VMware vCenter
Ease of deployment of VMware-aware replication snapshot or restore
Ease of deployment of Site Recovery Manager (SRM) – use of Storage Replication Adapters (SRA)
Ease of deployment of SRM with automated failback
Ease of deployment of vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) for performance enhancements – includes Full Copy, Block Zero and Hardware Assisted Locking
Ease of deployment of Storage API for Multi-pathing (advanced solution beyond native MPIO)
Ease of deployment of security integrations with VMware?
Ease of deployment of per-VM Data Compression (choice of compression or de-duplication per VM from VMware vCenter)