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NexGen Storage beefs up monitoring in ioControl, aims to eliminate guessing

Sonia Lelii

NexGen Storage Inc. is beefing up storage monitoring and performance automation for its hybrid

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flash arrays designed to handle heavily virtualized workloads.

The Louisville, Colo., startup's new ioControl 2.1 management software has more granular storage performance and quality of service (QoS) metrics than the previous version. It shows how key metrics, such as block size and queue depth, affect system response times to applications. It also has a new vCenter plug-in to apply QoS controls to VMware Inc. data stores and an improved dashboard to display the way system resources affect application performance.

The software runs on the NexGen n5 Series storage systems launched a year ago. NexGen Storage's iSCSI systems use PCI Express solid-state and hard disk drives and what the vendor calls "performance QoS" to increase IOPS. The vendor's goal is to increase performance of storage connected to virtual machines.

IoControl monitors metrics that include per-volume I/O, read and write workloads, and latency. It also shows performance at the host level, such as the average block size per physical host and the average queue depth per application workload.

"Without this information, you are in a state of guessing," said Chris McCall, NexGen's vice president of marketing. "If you don't see the depth queue from the host, then you don't have all the information to understand performance. If the host is working fine, then the bottleneck is in the storage system. Storage administrators can understand where the bottlenecks are."

A new storage QoS for VMware's data stores feature allows administrators to provision, automate and guarantee storage performance through vCenter. Administrators can change priority and performance of data stores on the fly without downtime.

NexGen's QoS lets customers provision performance in the same way they would provision capacity. "One big thing about the dashboard is it gives you good visibility into performance and what part of the system is responsible for delivering that performance," said Jeff Boles, senior analyst with the Taneja Group. "At any point in time, the administrator can see what part of the system is being overtaxed."

The new ioControl does not provide a view from the virtual machine layer, but Boles said he expects NexGen to eventually add that. "I'd be surprised if they didn't go there," he said. "Right now, the QoS is at the host per data store, and you get a guarantee on performance to the data store on the physical hypervisor. That level of granularity is good enough for 99% of environments. They can control the I/O and use the data store to segregate workloads according to importance and make sure you get the right performance on a single storage system."

IoControl 2.1 will be generally available on Dec. 14.

Brian Michalski, technology director at ROCORI Public Schools in St. Cloud, Minn., purchased a NexGen n5-100 system to handle a new virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementation of 100 virtual desktops. He expects his VDI to expand to 1,000 desktops.

The granularity of ioControl 2.1 allows him to see detailed performance metrics instead of just an aggregate of the I/O throughput, Michalski said. "Another cool feature is the vCenter plug-in so I can manage the virtual environment," he said.


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