HPE Cloud Volumes and Multi-Cloud

I recently attended a briefing from HPE on Cloud Volumes. Cloud Volumes is a technology that already existed within the Nimble portfolio before the HPE acquisition. 2 years on from becoming part of HPE what exactly is Cloud Volumes? What is it  useful for and how does it fit within HPE storage and cloud strategy?

You bring the compute, I’ll bring the storage

barbecue

I love a barbecue party with a group of friends, especially when everyone brings a bit of their own food. You never know what you’re going to get and hopefully you end up with a better mix of food than if you provide it all yourself. I always bring the crisps because it’s easy.

HPE Cloud Volumes  offers  to bring block storage to the cloud party, with the compute being provided by one of the major cloud providers; Google, AWS or Azure. We will deal with the full process in detail later, but in short you create a Cloud Volumes account through a web portal, create the VM with the cloud provider, then select HPE Cloud Volumes as the disk target.

HPE provides the storage by either co-locating or locating very near to the cloud hyperscalers data centres in order to minimise latency. The HPE data centres contain HPE Nimble storage arrays which provides the underlying storage presented through to Cloud Volumes. HPE use their own InfoSight system to ensure availability, capacity and scale are met through its predictive analytics system.

There is a choice between all flash or hybrid disks, both of which are able to offer the same level of IOPS. But the IOPS guarantee differs between them, 95% percent for hybrid and 99% for flash. Cloud Volumes is available globally but the guarantee will only exist in regions where HPE data centres exist.

Why?

The first question many people have is why don’t I just use the storage natively available from the cloud provider? Cloud Volumes was initially born out of the desire to provide block storage to more traditional applications. Many cloud native apps were designed to take advantage of cloud storage such as using object based S3 or Glacier for archive. Those born in the cloud type apps would receive little benefit from Cloud Volumes. Although container based applications can take advantage of the persistent storage offered by Cloud Volumes. Currently Docker, Kubernetes and Mesosphere are supported.

Traditional applications such as Oracle and SQL grew up in an on-premises environment traditionally based on block storage. Cloud Volumes was initially designed to provide the availability performance and features these applications require.  It’s fair to say Cloud Volumes has evolved since the initial vision to be a more complete offering for an enterprise’s cloud strategy. Let’s look at some of the ways HPE envisage this:

Data mobility

Cloud lock-in is a concern of many companies. Cloud providers do not natively provide the tools to easily move data to another provider. Plus there is the challenge of data gravity, it is a physical challenge to move large volumes of data this can make operating a multi-cloud strategy a challenge.

With Cloud Volumes, since your compute and storage are provided separately, the compute provider can easily be changed.  It is just a case of spinning up a new VM and pointing it back at the Cloud Volume. This data mobility allows the right data to be in the right place at the right time and allows these changes to be made on the fly.  This ability to provision storage to multiple destinations on the fly could facilitate cloud bursting, allowing for peaks in demand.

Cloud migration

All Nimble systems natively support replication to Cloud Volumes. This allows for a very simple method for cloud migration and the ability to bring back on prem if necessary.

Cost

One of the barriers to data movement with the current cloud providers is cost, where there are egress charges to pay for pulling data back from a cloud provider. HPE has no cost associated with any movement of data, be that to the cloud, back from the cloud or indeed to completely exit the service.

Data services

Cloud Volumes is able to provide instant snapshots and clones. It uses snapshot technology which only records changed blocks, so you are able to store a large number of clones and snapshots whilst only paying for the changed data.

Secure 256-bit AES encryption is also available.

DR and test/dev

Cloud Volumes could easily be integrated within DR or test/dev solution.  Snapshots taken on site can be replicated to the cloud for further testing or DR availability.

Visibility

InfoSight is able to track and monitor not only your local Nimble arrays but also Cloud Volumes. Allowing a simple single place to predict and manage storage

Cloud Volumes Walkthrough

Setting up a Cloud Volume is a  two-step process, firstly create the Cloud Volume then secondly attach it to a VM.  Let’s take a look at the process:

Creating a Cloud Volume 

  • Open the Cloud volumes website
  • Choose to create a new cloud volume then you need to run through a few settings:

create cloud volume 1

    • Cloud provider –  choose cloud provider, region and cloud network
    • Volume settings – name the volume, choose the required size, performance in terms of IOPS and hybrid or flash
    • Protection – Select to enable a snapshot schedule or encryption

create cloud volume 2

Attach to a VM

  • In the Cloud volumes website choose to attach to a VM.  This will then bring up a script you can copy
  • In the cloud VM run the script and this will complete all the operations to attach the Cloud Volume to the VM for you

cloud volumes connection script

Once the volume is attached you would treat like any other kind of new disk and would proceed to bring it online and format it etc

Take a look at this complete walk through video

Final Thoughts

Today Cloud Volumes provides an interesting data services and data mobility play which could offer organisations with a hybrid cloud or multi cloud policy greater flexibility.  Using native cloud storage requires organisations to go “all in” committing data with a given cloud provider due to the pull of data gravity. Cloud Volumes removes that major decision point of where data is stored since it can be easily re-targeted, be that due to a change in cloud provider or simply an operational need i.e. cloud bursting or testing.

HPE continue to evolve from a product company to a solutions provider. In isolation Cloud Volumes is an interesting product, greater integration with the rest of the portfolio and predictive analytics which makes data placement recommendations could allow for a complete storage management strategy. Let’s see how this evolves.

Sponsored post – opinions are my own

Veeamon virtual

VeeamON Virtual

VeeamON virtual is due to hit screens near you shortly.  VeeamON is an online webinar held annually by Veeam covering data management tips and tricks, industry trends plus the latest product updates. The online webinar format makes it handy to fit around your work day, but like a transitional conference there will be a number of learning tracks available: Business, Technical or Cloud.

Veeamon virtual

My picks for the sessions to watch will include:

Veeam predictions 2020 – Backup used to be boring, not now with an ever changing landscape of multi-cloud and massive data growth, I will be tuning into this one to see what Veeam thinks is around the corner.

Designing for Veeam at scale – Organisations are facing increasing volumes of data, so how do you scale Veeam infrastructure when your environment runs into thousands of VMs.  This session provides best practices to ensure your infrastructure scales

Winning the war on ransomware – Backup is part of your defense– Ransomware continues to be a real threat to businesses, check in to this session to see if your strategy is sufficient to protect your organisation against Ransomware

There will also be chat rooms where you can ask any questions you may have.  I will be helping out in the chat rooms so pop in and say hi.

Registration is free

HPE iLO 5 New Features

HPE iLO 5 Update

This guest post is brought to you by Armin Kerl, if you fancy trying you hand at blogging check out our guest posting opportunities.

iLO5 is now over a year old and quietly HPE have implemented some nice enhancements. Let me describe some of the new features.

With iLO Firmware 1.40 the “iLO Advanced Premium Security” licensed features moved to the “iLO Advanced” license. So, the iLO ASPE License have gone.

To get all the following new features, the update of iLO Firmware alone is not enough. You need some more updates. Here is an overview, that works for me:

Firmware versions

Security Dashboard

The Security Dashboard collects some security settings and displays an overview of the security status. Most systems will now display a red warning.

Server security status
You can set the first three to ignore and it goes to yellow.


To get the green status the only way is to change the required to minimum.

Virtual NIC

Now, take a look at Security > Access Settings > iLO
You will find a new entry: “Virtual NIC”

ILO virtual NIC
What happens if you enable it? Example on Windows (support for Windows 2016, 2019, SLES 12, 15, RHEL 7.6). The OS will detect a new NIC and this NIC will get a fixed IP address: 16.1.15.1 (this an HPE reserved IP)

rtual NIC ILO device manager
This IP is internal only to the Server and does not go outside.
Now you are able to connect to the iLO with this fixed IP address.

Why would you need to do this?
– If you need access to the iLO and have no iLO network connection
– If you need access to the iLO and don’t want to Install the iLO OS driver

When not to use this feature. I have had some trouble when setting up a Windows Cluster and the cluster detected this NIC.

Update Service Settings

Scroll Down to Security > Access Settings > Update Service

Update service settings

This prevents a firmware downgrade to an compromised version.
Attention: permanently means for ever, there is no way to go back.

Intelligent System Tuning

The Performance Monitoring show some historical performance data.

Threshold Alerts
On the bottom page you can set Threshold Alerts. The Workload Performance Advisor compares the historical performance and recommends BIOS settings to enhance the performance.

secure erase ILO

Secure Erase

At the end the best. This has been a customer request for some time to secure erase the complete system. This would be useful If for example you want to resell you old server or have reached the end of your lease and need to wipe the whole system.

Start Intelligent Provisioning


If needed, skip the “First Time Wizard” > Perform Maintenance

HPE ILO Secure erase
Here it is, the “One-button secure erase.”

It not only deletes the volume, it:
– Resets the server to factory defaults
– Wipes the NAND (all ILO settings, logs)
– Erases all secondary storage
– Is compliant to NIST 800-88r1
O.K., this are the main new Features, thanks’ for reading.

Armin