Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a side project with one of the Nexenta partners to prepare for the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco this week. The partner Cirracore based in Atlanta works with Equinix and Telx pretty heavily and offers a few managed private and public cloud solutions. One of these solutions is based on the Intel Modular Server Chassis(IMS). If you have not checked out this chassis, it is probably one of the most engineered but least publicized piece of hardware I have seen in years. First to give you an Idea of what the chassis is made of, then two solutions we release this week, vCloud in a Box and VDI/SMB in a Box.

The Intel IMS is a 6u chassis that combines 6 server blades, 14 2.5″ drives, and switching. The IMS comes with its own management console, which allows for some really interesting use cases. A small case is that the configuration allows you to group multiple drives, then carve the drives into virtual disks presented to individual or multiple servers. You can also add a secondary JBOD if you need more storage space. The networking is rather rudimentary in the switches, however it does allow for layer 2 VLAN tagging. One thing that has made it harder to work within the inability to change the VLAN of the management port. It is hard coded to VLAN 1.


Now for the solutions. The vCloud in a Box is the first of the two solutions. This one. Is currently available from Cirracore as a operating expense monthly. (That is Cirracore’s model) this box uses one of the blades as a management host. The management host includes vCenter, vCD, vShield Manager, Domain Controller, SQL, backup appliance. These systems are all virtual sitting on a single ESX host. 5 of the 6 blades are running ESX, all from the first two drives. The two drives then have 6 virtual drives carved out to provide OS boot drives. I mentioned 6 because on of the blades is reserved as a NexentaStor blade. Nexenta boots from the shared/virtual drive and the remaining 12 drives are assigned to the Nexenta blade and presented back to the ESX hosts as NFS. The last four blades are used as the resource cluster for vCloud. The total package will allow upwards of 75 virtual machines with self service provisioning. The next step is to turn this into a high performance small private cloud and the reference architecture should be available shortly.

The second solution is the one I have spent the most time on. Again, the 6 servers all have a virtual boot drive from the first two drives. The next two drives are presented also to blade 1 but they are used as a file storage for VMs and a virtual NexentaStor to how user profiles via a CIFS share. The next five blades are all set as ESX hosts and used as VDI hosts. The storage for each of these is a single SSD and a single spinning disk. I am still working on the performance numbers and reference architecture, but I expect that there will be approximately 500 desktops with at least a 40 iop per desktop workload. (Don’t quote me on this one, I am still working the specs) these blades specifically use the SSD because the management host also houses the VMware View connection server and the NexentaVSA for View management console. When a pool is deployed, a NexentaVSA is deployed on the VDI blades and NV4V automates the desktop provisioning process.

Keep and eye out for a few cool new reference architectures combining the Nexenta solutions and the Intel IMS within the next couple months.