Review: Velostrata Decouples Storage and Compute for Better Resource Unity

Product Review: Velostrata Software 

The greater move towards the cloud has created a plethora of management and data transfer options. As organizations continue to see the price of digital business increase, the need for creative cost-cutting is burgeoning. Unfortunately, vendors are as aware of this fact and advertise with the promise of savings. Some are honest and do help slash expenditures. Others, however, may lower one item to up the charge in other areas.

Unlike replication-based migration methods, Velostrata’s software uniquely decouples compute from storage without sacrificing performance. Velostrata’s streaming and caching allows applications to be operational in the public cloud within minutes, while storage is migrated in the background.

It is pivotal for businesses to get a sense of big picture costs in mind before they lock-in with their vendor choices and select infrastructure for their virtual data center, software and hardware. One of the trickiest areas to get the full idea of expenses are with migrating data sources, cloud and cloud management.

The solution that is transforming cloud workload mobility for enterprises is Velostrata. Velostrata was founded in 2014 and received $31 million in multi-round funding. Velostrata’s founders began with the fundamental question, “why not decouple compute from storage?”

Decoupling compute from storage helps with the complexity, risk and cost of public clouds, which is exactly the route Velostrata software took. It is deployed within virtual appliances and installation requires only a few steps. First, the Velostrata OnPrem virtual appliance is downloaded in the organization’s data center. Then Velostrata’s scripts create a virtual private cloud (VPC), along with a VPN to securely connect the VPC to the Velostrata OnPrem appliance. Knowing the importance of security, Velostrata made sure that all traffic between these points is encrypted end to end, both in flight and at rest.

The next step is to deploy a VMware vCenter plug-in from within Velostrata OnPrem; then after logging into the extended vCenter, a Cloud Extension may be generated. This operation automatically deploys a pair of Velostrata Edge virtual appliances in active/active configuration into the VPC. Each Cloud Extension supports 50 concurrent VMs, and more Cloud Extensions can be added for scale.


Review: Velostrata Decouples Storage and Compute for Better Resource Unity - YourDaiilyTech
The Velostrata architecture


The Velostrata vCenter plug-in enables additional operations directly via the standard vCenter interface. To move workloads to the public clouds of AWS or Azure, one just simply right-clicks on the VM and selects Run in Cloud.


Review: Velostrata Decouples Storage and Compute for Better Resource Unity - YourDailyTech

To bring the operations back to the premises, it’s a simple matter of choosing Run On-Premises from the same Velostrata Operations menu. Velostrata currently supports vSphere in the data center and AWS or Microsoft Azure as the cloud target, but support for additional clouds will be forthcoming.

Historically, migrating workloads to the cloud required replicating images, converting them to the cloud vendor’s format (for example, AMI for machine templates in AWS), then representing the image and booting it in the cloud. In contrast, Velostrata utilizes its own generic AMI and performs a boot of an on-premises operating system over the RAM (using the on-premises boot image) in a few minutes. While the image boots, it is adjusted to meet the requirements of the target hypervisor and cloud environment automatically and transparently without any user intervention.

The system image is not replicated to the cloud; instead, Velostrata streams only a fraction of the image that is required for the workload to run and be available in the cloud. By utilizing this method, production workloads can be streamed between the data center and the cloud in minutes.

Additionally, Velostrata software leverages a multitier, read-write cache into the cloud. The cache includes the data that is frequently accessed by workloads—the “working set”— and consequently provides LAN-like performance when accessing the cached data. This cache also includes sophisticated algorithms that predict the data most likely to be needed next and retrieve it, another improvement to response times.

For writes, Velostrata recognizes the write operations locally and sends the updates back to the Velostrata OnPrem virtual appliance asynchronously. All of this is achieved with minimal latency. To ensure data resiliency, Velostrata also provides a comprehensive cloud-based multitier storage subsystem that enables high availability and high performance.

Velostrata also provides block-level data deduplication and compression algorithms that minimize the amount of data that must traverse the RAM and accelerate access to on-premises data. Due to this, for most enterprise applications, performance for this hybrid model is equal to data center’s performance, despite the storage and compute decoupling.

All Velostrata deployments include Edge nodes that are deployed in a dual-node, active/active configuration. For example, one Edge instance would be deployed in one AWS Availability Zone (AZ) and the second Edge instance would be deployed in a separate AWS AZ for redundancy and high availability. Then Velostrata acknowledges write operations and ensures data resiliency by performing write operations across two available zones.


Review: Velostrata Decouples Storage and Compute for Better Resource Unity - YourDailyTech
Velostrata is designed to enable smart migration

In addition, Velostrata stores the journal of write operations in an object store to maintain a transient resilient data store while the data is written back to the VMDKs on-premises. Velostrata keeps a maximum 30 seconds of write journal on the dual-nodes in the cloud before that data is committed to a higher-resiliency object store. Velostrata’s architecture ensures there is never any data loss related to a single Edge failure or to data consistency issues. Further, Velostrata’s architecture includes a 30-second recovery point objective (RPO) for sync with the object store in the cloud and a 30-minute RPO for sync on-premises (in case of a whole cloud outage). Both cases safeguard data for the organization.

Velostrata guarantees no changes to the applications, images, networks, storage, or drivers are required so, there is no need to learn new tools or processes. Storage can be managed exactly as is. Velostrata also claims to handle all image adaptation from vSphere to AWS or Azure (and back) automatically.

Velostrata extends the actions on an existing VM object in vCenter without replication or cloning, thus providing administrators with management context, continuity and coherency. Further, there is no change to the managed object, no ambiguity, and no loss of administrative history or operational context. It makes all the transfers between the cloud and the data center easy to follow.

Velostrata includes a REST API for simple integration into third-party management tools. Even if the workload is in the cloud, Velostrata’s vCenter plug-in may be used to manage that workload. A few additional deployment options consist of selecting the AWS or Azure instance type (larger instances may be selected to further improve performance), storage policy (cloud persist or write-back), security groups, networking, and execution options.

Enterprises may utilize Velostrata to adjust the size of their data centers as needed to meet the evolution of planned (and unplanned) circumstances. The easy deployment and speed of Velostrata would make it ideal for a wide variety of data center migration and data center extension use cases. For instance, if an entire application requires movement to the cloud, Velostrata can move the workload into the cloud while streaming data in the background, even while the application executes in the cloud.

With the newest update that came out November 15th, there are several new advantages to Velostrata software. First, Velostrata may now help organizations avoid paying for additional servers, storage, networking, power, and cooling. By migrating compute while intelligently streaming data in the background, Velostrata enables workload mobility across cloud regions without the need to move storage. New projects can be brought online quickly and resources allocated dynamically, on demand. Just as quickly, workloads can be returned to the data center.

For those with AWS cloud, they can take advantage of AWS Spot Market Instances for Stateful Workloads. The feature empowers enterprises to search for available Spot Instances, potentially saving an organization up to 90 percent off on-demand prices. It is a great option for batch processes, continuous integration, build machines, automated testing, analytics, reporting, and media rendering. Velostrata also allows for setting limits on price and usage; for example, if the process is not worth more than $.15/hour and the Spot price goes above the set line, the program can be redirected back to the premises. All of the data precautions outlined earlier are included so that no data is lost in the process.


Review: Velostrata Decouples Storage and Compute for Better Resource Unity - YourDailyTech
Cloud Interface Management

Additionally, Velostrata allows a company to “test before you migrate,” which moves an application in minutes to test performance, cost and effectiveness while leaving primary storage on-premises. Velostrata can also be used to speed dev/test projects. With Velostrata, it’s possible to spin up thin copies of production applications in the public cloud quickly and without the need to replicate data. All of that can only serve and enhance the demands of a company. Velostrata can also be tested with several different cloud vendors and help enterprises choose the best option before they commit to a vendor.

In a demo with co-owner of Velostrata, Ady Degany, it was possible to deploy a VM to the cloud within four minutes. The sample data set was over 1TB of information and the VM was set up an instance of 16 CPUs 30 gib RAM.

It was an AWS cloud with on-demand cloud with instances up to 128 CPUs 2 TB of RAM. Then there is a choice of how the data should be classified: the VMs on premise can reflect what is changed in the cloud or not (a test for instance). Additionally, there are options of how to classify the security so there is manageable control over access to certain VMs and information. Networks, specific IP addresses, and however the security configuration or network needs to be set up is done by Velostrata. Users can continually add information as long as the access is correctly set up.

Velostrata is part of a very large technology market share of software based cloud mobility and data management solutions. Nearly every large company on the market has one and there are several independent vendors that offer alternatives as well. What seems to be completely original to Velostrata’s approach is the decoupling of the compute from storage.  This approach eases the complexity and speed of data management to the cloud.

Velostrata has more plans for expanding its third party partners especially cloud vendors. Velostrata has been out of beta for about a year now and several of its testers converted from beta to confirmed customers. Both show good signs of investment and support as organizations research new options available to them.

Pricing for Velostrata comes in two different models. First, there is the bundle annual subscription, which provides 50 virtual machines (VMs) at $500 per VM per year as long as the VMs are in use, so the total cost would be $25,000. The enterprise only pays for the VMs that are being used in hybrid mode. Alternatively, there is also on-demand pricing from the marketplace that is priced per hour for on-demand usage.

Velostrata is another solid option for enterprises as they scale, evolve, and try to determine the best configuration of storage and data center infrastructure available to allow them to run the applications and support their business as needed.

Additional Resources:

Velostrata Data Sheet

Velostrata How it Works White Paper

Velostrata Resource Page

Lindsey Cobb

Lindsey Cobb, a Georgia native and former history major, is a technology researcher who is fascinated by past and future of technology. When she is not engrossed in the prophecy of science fiction stories, Lindsey is likely to be planning her next adventurous trip or petting every dog she meets. Contact Lindsey at [email protected]