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October 16, 2014

Getting Started with Atlantis USX - Part 1

Dane Young - Entisys Solutions


About two months ago I joined Atlantis Computing based out of Mountain View, California as a Sr. Solutions Architect. After recent partner trainings, customer demos, POCs, and implementations, I felt the need to share a couple USX deployment scenarios and installation procedures to broaden understanding of USX in the community. USX 2.0 is now generally available and available to download to customers and key partners. If you want to know how to get access to USX, please feel free to reach out!

My colleague and VMware VCDX Hugo Phan has a ton of excellent USX resources that you can find over on his For this blog, I’m going to cover the basics, then quickly jump into the installation and configuration to show you just how quick and easy it is to get up and running with USX Software Defined Storage.

If you’re not familiar with USX, I’d recommend you check out a couple of the following USX and Software Defined Storage (SDS) resources:

Atlantis Releases USX 2.0 – All-Flash Performance at Half the Cost of SAN Storage
Atlantis USX 2.0 Launch Webinar
Atlantis USX Solutions Brief
Storage Swiss Chalk Talk Video – How To Improve Software Defined Storage


To demonstrate capabilities of Atlantis USX, I’ve created the following topology diagram showing local (RAM/DAS) and shared (SAN/NAS) resources:USX_Overview

In this diagram, you can see that we can have multiple volumes (including HA VMs for those volumes) in a cluster. We can even manage multiple clusters, datacenters, and vCenter Servers using a common USX infrastructure. In each of these environments, resources could consist of SAN, NAS, DAS, or cloud based object storage. For local or shared resources USX works well with traditional mechanical media (7.2k NL, 10k, 15k SAS/FC), flash (SSD, PCI-E, All Flash Arrays, Flash on DIMM), or even hybrid storage arrays.

For each volume, USX enables the administrator to pool and abstract storage from these resources to create purpose built volumes for applications, virtual machines, or large scale workloads. These resources can be combined to create performance and capacity pools, accelerating the modern software defined datacenter! Atlantis’ data services are provided at the volume/HA VM layer for capacity consolidation and performance acceleration real-time at ingest, within the hosts and clusters where the applications reside.


Volume Types

Before I get started with the install process, let’s have a quick discussion about the volume types available within USX 2.0:
– Hybrid (SAN/NAS or Local Storage)
– All Flash
– In-Memory
– Simple Hybrid (Equivalent to disk-backed ILIO)
– Simple In-Memory (Equivalent to diskless ILIO)

The two Simple volume types were introduced in USX 2.0 to accommodate Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Server Based Computing (SBC) scenarios, while the other three were available in previous versions of USX. The original three volume types are described quite nicely in the admin guide, shown below:


Hybrid is a converged storage architecture and is the default VV type. The Hybrid volume type uses both a memory pool and a capacity pool to provide consistent performance across a wide variety of underlying storage. Shared storage or DAS is used for the capacity pool, and memory accelerates performance. This volume type provides a good balance between performance and capacity.


Hybrid configuration using shared storage

The following figure shows a hyper-converged configuration created using DAS.


Hybrid: hyper-converged configuration using DAS


All memory is from the memory pool that consists of RAM, local SSDs, flash PCIe cards, or flash on DIMMs. Memory is used both to accelerate performance and as primary storage. This configuration is not persistent, but data resilience is built-in by replicating data in memory on each of the servers from which memory is pooled. This volume type provides the best performance, but is higher risk because data will be lost if all of the servers from which memory is pooled fail. The In-Memory type is most suitable for stateless applications that require very high performance such as Hadoop, MongoDB, and Cassandra.


In-Memory volume type configuration

All Flash

Flash arrays are pooled and optimized in a memory pool, or in a capacity pool that may use other storage such as shared SAN/NAS. The All Flash volume type supports using flash local such as a Fusion-io PCIe card. This volume type provides good performance, but lower capacity, and is a good choice for most applications, including Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint.


All-Flash volume type configuration

Continue to Part 2, Installation and Configuration

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, feel free to comment below, message me on twitter or e-mail. If you want to get in contact with your local Atlantis team, use the Atlantis contact form here.


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