Storage Performance Challenges in Virtualisation

Dr Felipe Franciosi

Virtualizing storage platforms whilst maintaining high standards of performance has been a long-term challenge for all hypervisors. The added software overhead involved in access validations, general data movement and notification between domains become more and more noticeable as physical devices get faster. That affects all sorts of performance dimensions including bandwidth, IOPS and latency, most of which have been vastly hidden by the slow nature of storage devices until recently. This talk will discuss the performance challenges involved in storage virtualisation. It will dive into the architecture of various hypervisors and their overhead implications for different workloads when using low-latency storage media like 3D XPoint. Finally, it will show how Nutanix's Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) is addressing these challenges by pursuing a leaner software stack with SPDK, combining the ease-of-management provided by virtual machines with the performance advantages of modern hardware.

Felipe is a Senior Staff Software Engineer working for Nutanix since 2015, more specifically leading the engineering efforts of the Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). He brings nearly 20 years of expertise in storage performance and virtualisation. This includes four years at Citrix working on the XenServer storage datapath, a PhD at Imperial College London on performance of virtualised storage and managing storage arrays for vendors such as NetApp and EMC. In his (increasingly small) spare time, he enjoys playing bass guitar, chess and doing magic.