Atlantis USX with VMware VSAN?

March 13, 2014 2 By Eric Shanks

atlantis_logo2012

Last week I attended the Virtualization Field Day 3 put on by the amazing staff at GestaltIT.  One of the sessions was hosted by the folks at Atlantis Computing and they were giving us an overview of their Atlantis USX product.

 

All travel expenses and incidentals were paid for by Gestalt IT to attend Virtual Field Day 3. This was the only compensation given.

 

Atlantis USX Overview

Before we get to the crux of the issue, a quick refresher on what Atlantis USX does.  The USX product will utilize existing SAN, NAS and DAS and combine it with a server ram to do caching.  The value proposition is that Atlantis USX can carve out RAM to be used as either a whole datastore (SUPER FAST) or combine it with existing storage and have it act as a cache.  Keeping the cache so close to the processor without having to go across a bus or HBA, which can add additional latency, can be an important addition to a performance strapped storage solution.

Atlantis USX also offers some additional feature such as In-Line Deduplication, Real-Time Compression, Replication (you better be using this if your whole datastore is in RAM), Thin Provisioning, and fast cloning.

The USX product really is interesting, I think possibly more useful with VDI where the persistent disk is less important.  Atlantis actually has a similar product for VDI called Diskless VDI.  With your disks all in RAM, you can get great performance without worrying about the persistant storage.  Also, it was mentioned that you can decrease the amount of provisioned RAM on the virtual machine, because if it needs to page, it still pages to memory which would be roughly the same thing.

 

VMware VSAN

With all of the buzz on VMware VSAN in the past few months, I’m not sure I need to review it, but essentially VSAN takes a local SSD and local spinning disks and creates shared storage out of them.  You need to have a minimum of three ESXi hosts running VSAN for it to work, but this is likely a real help to small businesses can want shared storage but don’t want to spend money on a monolithic storage array like a Netapp.  The SSD is used as a cache to accelerate the storage performance while still using cheaper, but slower, spinning disks.   I won’t go into more detail on this, but if you’d like to learn more please check out Duncan Eppings site where he has TONS of info on VSAN.

 

Combine the two????

One of the questions at VFD3 was how Atlantis USX was positioned to compete with VSAN.  The answer we received from the Atlantis Computing crew was that they don’t compete with VSAN, they work with it.   [Crickets Chirping, Engineers scratching heads.]

It’s not too difficult to understand how Atlantis USX COULD work with VMware VSAN, the real question is WHY would you use them together?  Both products take DAS and accelerate it.  You could use Atlantis to cache IO in memory, and then cache it again in VSAN before finally writing to spinning disk, but would anyone really PAY for both products?

Not only did I hear this at VFD3, but it’s also in a techtarget article.

This is a legit question that I don’t know the answer to.  If anyone knows why this should be done, or has a use case on why it would be necessary to run both, I’d like to hear it.  The mention of running them together is also in a techtarget.com article suggesting that these two products are complementary.

techtarget-Atlantis

 

Please feel free to post comments below, I’d love to hear some other opinions about running these together.