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Jan 31 2014

vShape, Episode II: The Rise of an Ecosystem

18 months after its launch, vShape – Fujitsu's reference architecture for converged infrastructures – serves as the basis for a new class of data management and BI solutions specifically designed for virtual environments.

So-called pre-packaged infrastructures have always been popular among ICT providers, resellers and customers alike. That's only logical, since these packages typically include everything you need to run an application successfully and can be ordered from a single source. In other words, they're convenient, they're reliable, and they're cost-savers. These rules still apply today as they did in the 1990s. However, one major difference exists: in the era of Big Data and cloud computing, these packages must be more scalable and flexible as well as easier to integrate and automate than ever before. And they have to offer deeper insights into business and IT processes. Fujitsu vShape and the 'packages' introduced in this article help IT departments build infrastructures that fulfill these requirements to a tee.

Fujitsu vShape
vShape is Fujitsu's rational response to the boom in server virtualization. Having observed that many companies tended to build their own infrastructures from scratch, we developed an easy-to-install, pre-integrated package that helps novices and experts avoid typical pitfalls of virtualization projects, especially with regard to exploding costs and complexity. Therefore, all vShape reference architectures use technology from leading server, storage, and network manufacturers as building blocks: x86 PRIMERGY servers from Fujitsu, storage systems from Fujitsu or from NetApp, and switches from Brocade. Moreover, they are validated using industry-leading hypervisors like VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V. Available in sample configurations for 25, 50, and 100 VMs, all packages are modular and scalable, and their building blocks are interchangeable. So in essence, each vShape solution can be configured to fit individual customer requirements. Building on this kind of 'integrated flexibility,' Fujitsu is now creating an ecosystem of expansion packs for more specific usage scenarios with the help of technology partners.

vShape and eCloud Manager
vShape solutions combine all aspects of a virtual environment and are simple to implement and operate. But for modern businesses that keep changing on a weekly or even daily basis, this kind of simple may not be simple enough – especially if users call for fast, on-demand access to IT resources and data. Consequently, we started looking for a management tool that offered an even greater degree of simplicity and convenience – and found it in eCloud Manager from Walldorf-based software vendor fluid Operations.

eCloud Manager implements what fluid Operations calls "semantic integration of heterogeneous data sources," essentially the ability to search, categorize, and connect information based on its meaning alone, regardless of file format, application, and underlying hard- or software platform. More simply put, the software collects data that is normally spread out across a company's entire IT landscape, from different sites and standalone applications, and makes them universally available. It can thus act as a central monitoring and orchestration tool on top of each vShape infrastructure, enabling customers to automate IT and data management, integrate and explore the collected data, and get a real-time overview of IT and business processes. These capabilities turn eCloud Manager into the ideal management tool for private clouds in companies of all sizes.

vShape and Jedox
In today's business world, even small and midsize companies easily amass terabytes of data each quarter: CDI files, product catalogues, sales figures and the like pile up in heaps of information that are typically complicated to explore and even tougher to analyze. At the same time, being able to evaluate mission-critical data in real or near-real time is mandatory if they want to react quickly and adequately to market developments.

With business intelligence and analytics software from our technology partner Jedox AG, users have the required functionality at their fingertips. The core idea was to deliver meaningful results as fast as possible. To achieve this, Jedox' eponymous BI solution uses validated, well-known technologies: while vShape provides the hardware layer and hypervisor, the modular software itself builds on Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet program and can be managed via a Web interface. The familiar GUI enables employees from all departments and branch offices to develop their own reporting, analytical and planning tools that draw input from multiple sources such as ERP systems, RDBs, and data warehouses. Based on this new type of "self-service BI," customers can rapidly and substantially increase their agility and reach new levels of cost-efficiency.

vShape Meets Backup
Backups in virtualized environments have often been compared to full data center backups from the mid to late 90s. Like their ancestors from the pre-cloud days, they're complicated, error-prone and call for the oversight of a skilled administrator who knows what he's doing. But even with such an expert at hand, they may simply last too long – which explains why roughly 65% of all VMs are left unprotected.

Against this backdrop, it is no surprise that one of the first 'packages' developed for Fujitsu vShape was an adequate backup solution. Unlike the solutions described above, it requires an extra storage component, in this case the Fujitsu ETERNUS CS800 Data Protection Appliance. A turnkey system designed for disk-to-disk backup, the ETERNUS CS800 is best known for its highly efficient deduplication technology that reduces storage capacity requirements by up to 95 percent. The appliance uses Symantec's Backup Exec 2012 V-Ray Edition, a data protection software developed especially for VMware and Hyper-V environments. Thanks to its comprehensive backup and recovery functions, administrators can not only restore VMs or applications, but also single files, emails, and Active Directory objects. What's more, the package is easy to manage and maintain and allows for flexible upgrades. In a nutshell, it provides all the simplicity and efficiency you can ask for in a backup solution for virtual environments.

Questions to Discuss
Which software functionalities would you like to be validated on vShape?
What do you expect from a reference architecture? What is most important to you?
Are you interested in validating your software on vShape?


Kathrin Hofherr


About the Author:

Kathrin Hofherr

Product Marketing Manager Storage at Fujitsu


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