#VFD3 Day One – Atlantis Computing’s 1 Million IOPS

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Sponsor #2 : Atlantis Computing*

Agnostic Computing.com doesn’t sugarcoat things and neither do my fellow delegates. We all agreed that the sharp guys at Atlantis Computing had a plan for us; all sponsors of #VFD3 have an agenda, but Atlantis really wanted to hold us to their’s. They didn’t dodge our probing and shouted questions, but at times they did ask us to wait a sec for the answer on the next slide.

And if you know Tech Field Day, then you know #VFD3 delegates aren’t virtuous….we don’t even understand what the word “patience” means, and we make sport out of violating the seven deadly sins. So when the Atlantis folks asked us again and again to wait, in effect to add some latency to our brains in the HQ of a company designed to defeat latency once and for all, I felt like the meeting was about to go horribly off the rails.

But they didn’t dodge our questions and I think, overall, the session with Atlantis Computing’s data guys was quite enlightening even if it did get a tad combative at times. On reflection and after talking to my fellow delegates, I think we measured Atlantis with our collective virtual brains and found them….splendid.

So what’s Atlantis pitching?

Oh just a little VM for VMware, Hyper-V and Xen that sits between your stupid Hypervisor (Quote of the Day : “What hypervisors end up doing is doling out IO resources in a socialist and egalitarian way,” further proof of my own thesis of the utility of applying economics in thinking about your datacenter) and your storage.

Wait, what? Why would I want a VM between my other VMs and my storage?

Because, Atlantis, argues, the traditional Compute<–>Switch<–>Storage model sucks. Fiber Channel, iSCSI, Infiniband….what is this, 2007? We can’t wait 1 millisecond for our storage anymore, we need microsecond latency.

Atlantis says they have a better way: let their virtual machine pool all the storage resources on your physical hosts together: SSD, HDD…all the GBs are invited. And then, and here’s the mindfuck, Atlantis’ VM is going to take some of your hosts’ RAM and it’s going to all you to park your premium VMs in a datastore (or CSV) inside that pool of RAM, across your HA VMware stack or Hyper-V cluster, Nutanix-style but without the hardware capex.

Then this ballsy Atlantis VM is going to apply some compression on the inbound IO stream, ask you politely for only one vCPU (and one in reserve) and when it’s all said and done, you can hit the deploy button on your Windows 7 VDI images, and bam : scalable, ultra-fast VDI, so fast that you’ll never hear complaints from the nagging Excel jockey in accounting.

1millioniopsKind of far-fetched if you ask the #VFD3 crew: there’s technology and there is science fiction. But Atlantis was prepared. They brought out a bright engineer who sat down at the table and spun up an IOMETER demo, clicked the speedo button, and looked up at us as we watched the popular benchmark utility hit 1 million IOPS.

Yes. One.Million.IOPS

I think the engineer even put his pinky in his mouth, just before he dropped the mic.

It was a true #StorageGlory moment.

Ha! Just kidding. I don’t think we even smiled.

“What’s in that IOMETER file, a bunch of zeros?” I trolled.

“What if one of my hosts just falls over while the datastore is in the RAM?” asked another.

“Yeah, when do the writes get committed to the spinners,” chimed another delegate.

Then the Other Scott Lowe, savvy IT guy who can speak to the concerns of the corner office spoke: “You want to talk about CIOs? I’ve been a CIO. Here’s the thing you’re not considering.”

You don’t get invited to a Tech Field Day event unless you’re skeptical, willing to speak up, and have your bullshit filter set on Maximum, but I have to say, the Atlantis guys not only directly answered our questions about the demo but pushed back at times. It was some great stuff.

I’ll let my colleague @Discoposse deepdive this awesome tech for you and sum Atlantis up this way: they say they were doing software defined storage before it was a thing, and that, stepping back, they’re convinced this model of in-memory computing for VDI and soon server workloads, is the way forward.

And, more than that, ILIO USX is built on the same stuff they’ve already deployed en masse to huge 50,000 + VDI desktops for giant banks, the US military and a whole bunch of other enterprises. This thing they’ve built scales and at only $200-300 per desktop, with no hardware purchases required.

If you asked me before #VFD3 whether I’d put virtual machines inside of a host’s RAM outside of a ZFS adaptive replacement cache context, I’d have said that’s crazy.

I still think it’s crazy, but crazy like a fox.

Ping them if: There’s even a hint of VDI in your future or you suffer through login storms in RDS/XenApp but can’t deploy more hardware to address it

Set Outlook reminder for when: Seems pretty mature. This works in Hyper-V and even Xen, the one Hypervisor I can actually pick on with confidence

Send to /dev/null if: You enjoy hearing the cries of your VDI users as they suffer with 25 IOP virtual machine instances

Other Links/Reviews/Thoughts from #VFD3 Delegates:

Eric Wright

Marco Broeken

* GestaltIT, the creator and organizer of Tech Field Day events like this one, paid for airfare, lodging, and some pretty terrific meals and fine spirits for #VFD3 Delegates like me. No other compensation was given and no demands were made upon me other than to listen to Sponsors like this one. 

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