Virtualized Computing Goes Better with Flash Storage, Says Micron Manufacturing

By Wendy Wheeler - 2019-01-07

You’ve heard of eating your own dog food? Or, to be more upscale, drinking your own champagne? That’s when the creation of your product includes the use of that self-same product. In this case, fast flash storage is both the enabler and the end result of Micron’s highly efficient and globally distributed manufacturing processes.

The semiconductor wafer with our 3D NAND architectures from which we make our data center and client solid state drives (SSDs) benefits from Micron IT deploying those same Micron SSDs to accelerate virtualized computing.

“In the 20-plus years I’ve been deeply engaged in data center technology, I’ve never seen a technology that has had a more significant impact on the data center than that of flash based storage,” Jason Bair told me. An enterprise architect for Micron Technology manufacturing, he’s responsible for establishing the roadmaps for the Compute and Storage divisions of Micron’s internal data centers and determining technologies that Micron will use. “It has enabled operations personnel to consolidate a broader range of workloads through virtualization that previously would have never been possible. It’s simplified operations so you no longer have to manage to tiers for various workloads, as flash can address them all.”

Virtualization Solutions 2

Jason’s enthusiasm for virtualized computing is definitely in the mainstream. IDC’s 2017 virtual machine (VM) forecast finds “virtualization is the foundation of the data center, with over 80% of workloads being virtualized today.” Virtualization allows multiple, independent applications and operating systems to run "virtually" on a single server, with a hypervisor platform managing the physical resources, making the most of each physical server’s capacity. Virtualizing a physical IT infrastructure can lower costs and help eliminate server sprawl. It can also reduce cooling and other energy costs, free up rack space, increase flexibility and improve disaster recovery. Even more targeted, a tightly integrated, all-flash virtualization multiplies benefits, such as:

  1. Flash storage inside the servers: There are no external flash arrays connected through their own network. SSDs inside the servers means vSAN™ provides ultra-short VM-to-data paths resulting in lightning-quick IO.
  2. Uniform management: A single pane of glass within the VMware® vCenter® console manages all vSAN’s essential functions. Policy-based management makes this simple.
  3. Cross-platform visibility: Because vSAN is managed from within vCenter, you can have end-to-end visibility into storage including snapshots and replication. Plus, there’s no VM-to-array mapping, also making it easier to see what is happening in your VMs from a single management console.
  4. Short VM-to-data paths: A single storage IO from a VM in an all-flash vSAN can execute on the VM host, or a host via high-bandwidth, low-latency fabrics.

Virtualization Solutions

Micron is the third largest memory company in the world, with facilities in more than 17 countries. We have 12 manufacturing sites, and just broke ground in 2018 on a new fabrication facility in Singapore, to be dedicated to manufacturing 3D NAND flash memory.

Jason is part of a team that runs almost 19,000 virtual machines on just 950 or so physical hosts. This places enormous demand on those platforms, so we load them with our own high-performance SSDs and DRAM. Compared to similar VM deployments that use HDDs, Jason said that our virtualized computing takes up less physical space, and has reduced power and cooling requirements. And that’s just physical infrastructure. We’re also getting better rigor, flexibility and extensibility for our manufacturing IT environment.

Want to read more about how we work? Download and read the full Micron case study: All-Flash Virtualization for Global Manufacturing IT. Data is massive and complex. With Micron memory and storage solutions, your IT infrastructure doesn’t have to be. How’s virtualized computing improved your business practices? Let us know.

Wendy Lee-Kadlec

Wendy Wheeler

A strategic communicator in Micron’s Storage Business Unit, Wendy Wheeler writes about digital transformation strategies like flash storage, AI, and the IoT.