NVMe SSDs, storage servers, All Flash Arrays (AFA), and NVMe Over Fabrics are being increasingly talked about as the next best thing for storage. But what does that mean for your virtualized workloads?

In this blog I want to focus on all flash arrays and particularly our IntelliFlash system. The IntelliFlash family of solutions offers a class-leading range of extreme performance, rich data management capabilities and unified support for NAS and SAN protocols. Yet how can they help with your virtualized environments and what’s the benefits of NVMe and virtualization?

Let’s take a look at four key advantages:

  1. Accelerating VM performance for faster VMs, higher density and lower TCO
  2. Rich VMware® integration for easy deployment and end-to-end availability
  3. Workflow simplification with VM level management
  4. End-to-end protection with integrated VM backup

1. Faster VM Performance – Accelerate VMs, Achieve Higher Density and Lower Your TCO

VM environments of today are always hungry for storage resources as large scale VM deployments can be really taxing from a storage array perspective. NVMe arrays, with their extreme performance characteristics, can really accelerate your VM performance, allow you to provision more VMs on the same array and significantly decrease the time taken for VM snapshots.

Our IntelliFlash N Series are a class leading range of NVMe all flash arrays built for extreme performance. From the entry level 5100 to the top of the range 5800, they all provide significant benefits over traditional all flash arrays for virtualized Environments.

The ability to drive more than a Million IOPS from a single array means that you can deploy several high performance VMs on the same array without having to worry about resource contention or being bottlenecked by storage array performance. You don’t have to constantly monitor and redeploy VMs as they run out of performance headroom, and with  ~50% reduced latency as compared to traditional storages, you get consistently fast response times for your VMs.

Another important dimension of this high performance is that you can deploy more VMs on the same array. Since IOPS/TB is significantly higher than traditional systems, you don’t have to spread out your VMs into multiple storage arrays just to provide sufficient VM performance.

Our N-Series enables you to deploy denser VMs than what was possible with previous generation products. This in turn enables better TCO and Cost/Performance ratio. So, you get faster, more consistent performance, denser VMs per array AND lower your TCO. 

2. Rich VMware Integration – from Easy VM Deployments to End-to-End VM Availability

All that performance is not sufficient by itself without a rich ecosystem of integration with VMware. Our IntelliFlash N-series provides rich ecosystem integration with VMware and VM Backup and Protection partners to enable several key benefits.

The N-series are unified arrays and provide VAAI integration for both NAS and SAN protocols. This allows you to choose whether you want to deploy your VMs on NFS, iSCSI or FC, all on the same array. The integrated vCenter plugin enables VM driven administration and makes it easy, efficient and fast to provision new VMs, monitor them and manage day to day admin workflows.

Furthermore, the N-Series is integrated with VMware’s Storage Recovery Manager providing site level disaster protection for your VM as well as with Veeam, to provide a range of VM backup and data protection capabilities. For example, you can backup your VMs to a variety of secondary and cloud storage options including our IntelliFlash, UltraStar platforms and ActiveScale cloud object storage systems.

3. VM Level Management – Smart Administration Made Easy

There are 3 key VM management requirements that customers typically raise to us:

  1. The ability to independently manage VM and storage layers without having to drop down to the Storage Management UI for typical VM administration workflow
  2. They want to avoid costly configuration errors during VM provisioning
  3. The ability to delegate certain workflows/administration tasks to alleviate the load on the VM admin

Our vCenter plugin comprehensively addresses these challenges by providing a single pane of management. Let’s dig a little deeper: 

Watch: How to Integrate Virtualized Server Environments with NVMe All Flash Arrays

vCenter-driven provisioning of VM Datastores

This allows you to monitor VM level performance metrics from vCenter and provides an array of cloning and snapshot capabilities.

You can manage all your VM datastores and your Array Snapshots directly from vCenter. This includes add/delete/expansion of datastores and taking new array snapshots. So, your most commonly used VM administration flows are completely done from vCenter without having to drop down to the storage UI.

Most importantly, you get a detailed view of per level VM performance. This is a significant value add because you can monitor performance from a VM perspective rather than a LUN or Share perspective – giving a much more direct correlation of what your application performance is and allowing you to take action if required.

Here’s a snapshot of how you can monitor performance for your VMs from a single consolidated window.

Metrics are broken into IOPS, Latency and Throughput for Reads and Writes per VM

If you click on the Datastore tab, it lists all your VM datastores in a similar consolidated manner. The tab lets you add, delete or expand your datastores – simplifying your day to day VM administration actions.

Intelligently Configure VMs According to Best Practices

The vCenter Plugin is built to intelligently configure VMs according to Best Practices by default. This helps reduce configuration errors and simplifies the workflow to provision/snapshot/clone VMs.

Cloning a VM is a very common usecase that usually takes several cycles from the VM admin. You can automate HyperCloning workflows with the vCenter plugin and even setup how you want to power on your HyperClones: all at once, in a staggered fashion or manually.

The IntelliFlash vCenter plugin supports Linked vCenters. Large deployments that deploy multiple vCenters can monitor all their VMs and Datastores from a single screen. It’s really easy to setup Linked vCenters with the plugin – just register one of the linked vCenters and the plugin will automatically discover all the linked vCenters.

Create Different Roles with Their Own Set of Access Privileges

The vCenter plugin now provides the ability to create up to 3 different roles and configure their access privileges to enable simplified delegation of VM administration– RBAC for your VM administration tasks.

4. End to End VM availability

The last and perhaps most important benefit is on how you keep your VMs backed up and protected. IntelliFlash integrates with the best suite of VM backup & protection tools in the industry and significantly accelerates your VM snapshot times allowing you create a low RTPO deployment. All this while maintaining application consistency and integrating with VM availability from production to cloud.

IntelliFlash is a Veeam Ready Storage array, allowing you to create integrated VM backup and protection workflows across production, primary and secondary backup storages and leverage more of the array capabilities.

NVMe and Virtualization – Get Started Now!

This is the year of NVMe. NVMe is ushering a new era of performance and capabilities and and IntelliFlash can help you best leverage its benefits for virtualized environments today. If you’re at VMworld, make sure to come talk to us in booth #1933 or schedule a meeting today.

I also urge you to join us or stream these two webinars to see how to optimize your virtualized architecture:

How to Integrate Virtualized Server Environments with NVMe AFAs

  • Learn how to simplify your VMware administrative tasks
  • Learn how to take full advantage of All-Flash Arrays to create and deploy denser, faster VMs

How to Create a Data Strategy for Virtualization

  • Learn why organizations must start with a data strategy
  • How implementing a data strategy can help you spend less
  • How to identify what data is better housed in a virtual environment
  • Learn about real-world use cases and examples


Niranjan has over a decade of experience in building Enterprise Storage Systems spanning All Flash, Hybrid Cloud, Unified and OpenStack.