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Virtual Instruments adds storage monitoring to 32 Gb FC

Virtual Instruments tools that help organizations monitor storage gain deeper integration in the new family of Load DynamiX 32 Gb FC and 40 GbE Workload Generation Appliances.

Storage monitoring and testing specialist Virtual Instruments today launched a new series of testing appliances for high-speed storage networks, along with an upgrade to its Load DynamiX Test Development Environment software.

The new offerings extend the product integration following the March 2016 merger of Virtual Instruments and Load DynamiX. The merged vendors are assimilating their product lines to collect a customer's live production data and replicate it on hardware to simulate how it performs on different storage systems.

The combined companies introduced Load DynamiX Enterprise in April, adding better NFS version 3 workload modeling and improved preconditioning for all-flash arrays connected to Fibre Channel (FC) and ISCSI.

The workload-generation appliances launched today support 32 Gb FC and 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) networks.

The 40 GbE appliance is rated to deliver 9,500 MBps and 5.3 million IOPS per port. Throughput on the 32 Gb FC version is rated at 6,400 MBps, with 547,000 IOPS per port.

Tim Van Ash, Virtual Instruments' senior vice president of products, said the high-speed fabrics enable higher levels of realism for testing.

"We base our IOPS numbers on 32 KB block sizes. We normalize that number across the range and choose the midpoint. We tend to be fairly conservative in how we pitch the performance," Van Ash said.

New appliances integrate high-speed storage fabrics

Virtual Instruments is the monitoring and tooling side of the house. It provides high-fidelity probes that look for anomalies in NAS and SAN networked storage. Storage monitoring of virtual machine performance is handled by the vendor's VirtualWisdom platform.

Load DynamiX appliances for FC, Ethernet and unified storage are designed to simulate block, file and object workloads in a laboratory setting, typically aimed at storage vendors and enterprise-class data centers.

Test Development Environment (TDE) is the Load DynamiX client for designing tests and post-execution validation. The client is standard on all the vendor's workload-generation appliances. Storage and network vendors use the appliances to run stress tests on new gear.

TDE 5.6 is written as a multicore architecture designed to boost load capacity on the new four- and eight-port load-generation appliances. The 32 Gb FC and 40 GbE appliances each support multiple interfaces on a single box.

That allows double the load generation per box for transmission at full line rate. Prior models of the hardware maxed out at two ports. A 40 GbE interface, for example, will use a core for each 10 GbE element, plus a supervisor that coordinates across the core channel.

We can now attach multiple cores to a single port. It will scale depending on how much traffic you're trying to mark down.
Tim Van Ashsenior vice president of products, Virtual Instruments

"We can now attach multiple cores to a single port. It will scale depending on how much traffic you're trying to mark down. We have full control of those cores and full control of those ports," Van Ash said.

Few enterprises will require that level of network saturation, but the new Virtual Instruments products eventually will help companies enable more precise storage monitoring while planning a refresh cycle, said George Crump, president of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland LLC.

"Initially, this product is going to be bought primarily by storage and network vendors. Where it gets interesting for end users is when it comes time for a storage refresh," Crump said. "They'll be able to play their environment on a Load DynamiX box and provide near-perfect simulation on one system."

The FC probe is available only as hardware. Customers can get a virtual appliance that supports Ethernet, iSCSI, file and object protocols.

Version 5.6 expands NFS monitoring, object support up next

In April, Virtual Instruments inaugurated support for NFS 3 file storage monitoring, including temporal NFS 3 workload modeling to manage performance second by second. Included in the latest version of TDE are expansions for protocols across file and object, including client emulation for NFS Network Lock Manager and Network Status Manager.

A RESTful API enables customers to run Load DynamiX on an existing automated test harness. Van Ash said SMB support will be added later in 2017, with object protocols on the roadmap for 2018.

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