NetApp and Microsoft Virtualization: Making Integrated Server and Storage Virtualization a Reality

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1 NETAPP TECHNICAL REPORT NetApp and Microsoft Virtualization: Making Integrated Server and Storage Virtualization a Reality Abhinav Joshi, NetApp Chaffie McKenna, NetApp August 2008 TR-3701 Version 1.0 ABSTRACT This document provides technical insight into the unique value propositions of virtual storage solutions from NetApp for a Microsoft Hyper-V environment that can help reduce costs, increase storage utilization, increase fault tolerance, and address the challenges associated with backup and restore in virtual infrastructures.

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY VIRTUALIZATION OVERVIEW BACKGROUND ON VIRTUALIZATION CHALLENGES WITH TRADITIONAL DEPLOYMENTS BENEFITS OF VIRTUALIZATION KEY CONSIDERATIONS OF SERVER VIRTUALIZATION NETAPP AND MICROSOFT VIRTUALIZATION INTRODUCTION TO MICROSOFT HYPER-V KEY ENABLING FEATURES OF MICROSOFT HYPER-V HOW NETAPP DELIVERS VALUE IN MICROSOFT HYPER-V ENVIRONMENTS CONCLUSION

3 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Virtualization in the data center is a major initiative that organizations of all sizes are undertaking today. There are several aspects of data center virtualization that together work as an overall solution that brings benefits like reduced cost, increased agility, and realization of the vision of the green data center. Server virtualization is one major component of data center virtualization and plays a key role in this initiative; Microsoft is a major player with its Hyper-V server virtualization solutions. However, server virtualization by itself is not a complete solution for transforming the data center, especially when combined with traditional storage. It requires far more intelligent storage, data protection, and business continuance solutions to achieve a comprehensive solution that delivers the full value of the virtualization strategy. This white paper provides an overview of how NetApp complements Microsoft Hyper-V server virtualization solutions by providing the most cost-effective, operationally efficient, flexible, and environment-friendly integrated storage, data protection, and business continuance solution. By providing this solution, NetApp and Microsoft Hyper-V combine successfully to help virtualize the data center. 2 VIRTUALIZATION OVERVIEW Data center virtualization has begun to demonstrate tremendous benefits in every data center, including reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO), better utilization of infrastructure resources, an increase in management and operational efficiencies, and the flexibility to adapt to the swiftly moving pace of technology. Virtualization is a great strategy to address the challenges that exist in traditional distributed IT environments. But, customers who virtualize their data center without first considering all facets of a comprehensive virtualization strategy will soon realize that server virtualization is not an end-to-end solution by itself. It is only one of the essential components of a complete data center virtualization strategy and requires intelligent storage, data protection, and business continuance strategies to deliver the full value that virtualization can provide. 3 BACKGROUND ON VIRTUALIZATION 3.1 CHALLENGES WITH TRADITIONAL DEPLOYMENTS Traditional IT infrastructure deployments suffer from several challenges, including increased cost of acquisition, management, licensing, heavily underutilized resources, operational complexities and inefficiencies, and the inability to make transformations that are required to meet ever-changing business demands. All of these challenges result in ever-increasing TCO for most traditional IT solutions. 3.2 BENEFITS OF VIRTUALIZATION Virtualization can play a key role in transforming the data centers of any organization, becoming a major asset and ultimately a business enabler. It helps resolve the key challenges associated with traditional deployments it reduces TCO, achieves better utilization rates, increases management and operational efficiencies, and provides flexibility and agility to the environment. Server virtualization is a key enabler of data center virtualization. However, it can result in unanticipated challenges and cost elements if you don't consider the big picture of complete data center virtualization. 3.3 KEY CONSIDERATIONS OF SERVER VIRTUALIZATION With every server virtualization deployment, unanticipated challenges must be addressed to enable a complete, cost-effective, and comprehensive data center virtualization solution. These include: 1. Consolidated risk. Consolidating multiple business applications traditionally hosted on discrete physical servers onto a single physical server running server virtualization (e.g., Microsoft Hyper-V) provides the tremendous benefits outlined in the sections above. However, the risk of data unavailability can be significantly greater in this scenario than with traditional discrete deployments unless significant steps are taken. Addressing the need for a robust data-availability capability should 3

4 be at the foundation of any server virtualization strategy that consolidates applications onto a single physical server. 2. Unique data storage requirements. The benefits associated with server virtualization pose additional demands on the underlying storage infrastructure because of the shared SAN storage requirement to avail yourself of the complete benefits of server virtualization, as compared to DAS storage. This requirement can have a negative impact on storage costs if the underlying storage infrastructure does not possess intelligent data hosting and management capabilities. The storage infrastructure should also possess the capability to meet the aggregate disk I/O demands of the discrete applications hosted on the virtual infrastructure. 3. Enhanced data protection and business continuance requirements. Server virtualization enables very efficient sharing and utilization of physical server resources (e.g., CPU and memory) under a normal business operations workload. However, addressing the data protection and business continuance demands of all the virtual machines (VMs) hosted on the same physical server using the traditional approach poses numerous challenges. The challenges are primarily due to the disproportionate ratio of data to physical bandwidth available, which is created as a result of consolidating several physical servers as VMs on one physical server. This results in increased disk I/O demands for fulfilling data protection and business continuance objectives. The available server resources (e.g., CPU, memory, I/O capability) are insufficient to meet the demands of protecting all the VMs in the ever-shrinking backup window. As server virtualization technology matures and more mission-critical applications are run on VMs, site disaster recovery becomes a very critical issue that must be addressed by any storage solution hosting the VM data. To summarize, organizations deploying server virtualization solutions demand the most cost-effective, operationally efficient, flexible, and environment-friendly integrated storage, data protection, and business continuance solution to solve the challenges described above. In the next sections we provide an overview of Microsoft Hyper-V server virtualization and how NetApp storage, data management and protection, and business continuance offerings address these key challenges and thereby help provide a comprehensive data center virtualization solution. 4 NETAPP AND MICROSOFT VIRTUALIZATION 4.1 INTRODUCTION TO MICROSOFT HYPER-V Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, the next-generation hypervisor-based server virtualization solution, allows the customer to make the best use of server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate VMs running on a single physical machine. With Hyper-V, different versions of Windows and Linux operating systems can simultaneously run on a single physical machine, and fully leverage the power of x64 computing. Hyper-V provides a reliable virtualization platform that enables customers to virtualize their infrastructure and reduce costs. It features thin microkernelized hypervisor architecture with a minimal attack surface and is available as a Server Core role. With integrated management, customers can use a single set of tools to manage both their physical and virtual resources. Hyper-V easily plugs into customers' IT infrastructure and lets them leverage their existing patching, provisioning, management, and support tools and processes. It provides great value because it is available as a feature of Windows Server For more details, please refer to Virtualization and Consolidation with Hyper-V on the Microsoft site. 4.2 KEY ENABLING FEATURES OF MICROSOFT HYPER-V Following are the key features of Microsoft Hyper-V that make it a solution of choice for server virtualization initiatives across data centers of any size. New and improved architecture. Hyper-V is a very secure, scalable, and reliable platform that can be used to efficiently host multiple virtual machines at the same time. With the new architecture, 4

5 Hyper-V provides improved access and utilization of core resources, such as disk, networking, and video. Support for various operating systems. Hyper-V provides the capabilities to run several operating systems (e.g., Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows XP, SUSE Linux) simultaneously on the same physical server without any issues. Support for multicore VMs. Hyper-V supports Symmetric Multiprocessors (SMP) to efficiently host VMs that require up to four processor cores to meet the needs of the most demanding business applications. Network load balancing. Hyper-V fully supports redundant, load-balanced networking infrastructures. VM snapshots. Hyper-V provides VM-level snapshot capabilities to facilitate backing up the VM in a crash-consistent state. High availability. Hyper-V provides all the required high-availability features to deal with failures across both the software and the hosting hardware layers of the infrastructure. Quick migration: Hyper-V enables rapid migration of a running virtual machine from one physical server to another with minimal downtime, leveraging high-availability capabilities of Windows Server and System Center management tools. Centralized infrastructure management: System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) provides unique virtual infrastructure management capabilities, including centralized VM provisioning, placement and management of VMs on physical servers, a centralized library of infrastructure components, efficient monitoring, reporting, and performance and resource optimization. Full support for cluster-aware applications. Hyper-V provides full support for hosting the most demanding cluster-aware business applications. 4.3 HOW NETAPP DELIVERS VALUE IN MICROSOFT HYPER-V ENVIRONMENTS NetApp offers intelligent virtualized storage, data protection, and business continuance solutions that complement Microsoft Hyper-V server virtualization technology and completely address all the challenges described above. NetApp solutions help reduce overall TCO while also increasing the flexibility, availability, and manageability of the virtual infrastructure. NetApp serves as the most cost-effective, operationally efficient, flexible, and environment-friendly integrated storage, data protection, and business continuance solution for Microsoft Hyper-V server virtualization deployments. KEY ENABLING NETAPP TECHNOLOGIES The key NetApp technologies that provide the foundational strength to support the above claims include: RAID-DP Thin provisioning FlexClone Deduplication Snapshot TM SnapMirror The table below shows a mapping of the magnified challenges that result from incomplete data center virtualization against the key enabling NetApp technologies. It demonstrates that NetApp offers multiple technologies that complement each other and work together as an integrated solution to address these challenges. 5

6 Table 1) Challenges versus NetApp technologies. Challenges with Incomplete Data Center Virtualization Strategy Key NetApp Value Proposition Key Enabling NetApp Technologies Consolidated Risk Unique Data Storage Requirements Cost effective Operationally efficient Flexible RAID-DP Snapshot SnapMirror Thin provisioning FlexClone Deduplication Enhanced Data Protection and Business Continuance Requirements Environment friendly RAID-DP FlexClone Snapshot SnapMirror Each of these key enabling NetApp technologies is described in detail below. RAID-DP - ADDRESSES CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH CONSOLIDATED RISK AND UNIQUE DATA PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS With any Hyper-V deployment, data protection is critical, because any storage system failure can cause dozens to hundreds of business applications to be unavailable. NetApp RAID-DP provides a level of risk mitigation and data protection that is unique and unmatched in the storage industry. It provides protection against the failure of any two disks in an array compared to RAID 5, which protects against the failure of only a single disk, and at a much lower cost than RAID 10, and with no performance penalty. For more information on RAID-DP, please review NetApp RAID-DP: Dual-Parity RAID 6 Protection without Compromise. THIN PROVISIONING - ADDRESSES CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH UNIQUE DATA STORAGE REQUIREMENTS For Hyper-V environments, a VM can often require that dedicated storage be allocated for its use. For traditional server deployments, this was not much of a problem (especially for the boot drive) because of the attached local storage that is dedicated to the server. To leverage full flexibility and the high-availability features of Hyper-V (like any other server virtualization solution), more costly shared storage is required, even to host the boot drives for VMs. Applying the traditional model of provisioning dedicated storage to a Hyper-V environment requires more spending on the shared storage infrastructure. NetApp thin provisioning is a way of presenting more storage space to the hosts that connect to the storage system than has been physically allocated. With thin provisioning, the storage administrator takes a pool of disks (called an aggregate in NetApp terminology) and creates logical disks (called flexible volumes or FlexVol volumes in NetApp terminology) for different applications to use, but does not actually allocate any space up front to those flexible volumes. The space is allocated only when the host application needs it. Thin provisioning allows you to delay purchasing storage until it is actually required. Alternatively, if you already have the disks, the unused space in the entire aggregate is available for the existing thinly provisioned volume to expand or for use in creation of new volumes. For more details on thin provisioning, please review NetApp Thin Provisioning: Better for Business. Figure 1) Difference in savings between traditional thin provisioning and NetApp thin provisioning 6

7 Figure 2) Typical storage utilization of a volume managed by a standard volume manager compared to NetApp thin provisioning FLEXCLONE - ADDRESSES CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH UNIQUE DATA STORAGE REQUIREMENTS With Hyper-V deployments (like any other server virtualization solution), the boot images for the VMs with the same operating system are essentially redundant data on the back-end shared SAN storage, since most of the binary files of the operating system will be the same across VMs. NetApp FlexClone technology helps reduce the storage cost of VMs by creating replicas of logical disks or flexible volumes hosting data (e.g., boot image for Windows Server 2008) without requiring storage space for the data that is common across the copies. A NetApp FlexClone volume is a writable point-in-time image of a logical disk or another FlexClone volume. FlexClone volumes add a new level of agility and efficiency to storage operations. They take only a few seconds to create and are created without interrupting access to the parent logical disk. FlexClone volumes use space very efficiently, leveraging the Data ONTAP architecture to store only data that changes between the parent and the clone. This is a huge potential saving in dollars, space, and energy. In addition to all these benefits, FlexClone volumes have the same high performance as other flexible volumes. Also, FlexClone technology provides enormous benefits for disaster recovery (DR) testing DR testing with FlexClone is safe, has no risk, and can be performed during operating hours at any time. For more information on FlexClone technology concepts, please review NetApp TR3447: FlexClone Volumes: A Thorough Introduction. DEDUPLICATION - ADDRESSES CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH UNIQUE DATA STORAGE REQUIREMENTS In a Hyper-V environment, NetApp deduplication technology has immense value if we consider a situation in which hundreds and thousands of VMs are using the same binaries of operating systems and applications deduplication can offer storage savings greater than 50% in many cases. Deduplication can help reduce redundant data blocks, with minimal performance overhead, ultimately resulting in reduced storage costs, greater energy savings, and less physical space requirements. NetApp deduplication eliminates deduplicative blocks anywhere in the active file system within the entire flexible volume, regardless of how the data got there. It can be used with primary as well as backup and archival data. For more information on NetApp deduplication, please visit us on the Web. 7

8 SNAPSHOT AND SNAPMIRROR - ADDRESS CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH CONSOLIDATED RISK, ENHANCED DATA PROTECTION, AND BUSINESS CONTINUITY REQUIREMENTS Applying a traditional host-based data protection and business continuance solutions model to a virtualized server environment poses numerous challenges that were described previously. With consolidated risk and ever-shrinking backup windows, an intelligent storage array based data protection and business continuance solution is a necessity. The storage-based virtual infrastructure data protection solutions from NetApp are built around the revolutionary NetApp Snapshot technology. With Snapshot there is no performance penalty for taking Snapshot copies, because the data is never moved, as it is with copy-onwrite (COW) technologies. The cost for Snapshot copies is minimal, only at the rate of block-level changes, not 100% for each backup as with traditional solutions. By combining NetApp Snapshot technology with Hyper-V, administrators can protect their entire virtual infrastructure in seconds. For satisfying unique business continuance requirements, NetApp Snapshot copies can be replicated to a remote site using NetApp SnapMirror technology. SnapMirror replicates only changed data blocks at 4K granularity. With SnapMirror, the value of deduplication on the primary storage is retained across the remote sites. Also, the value of SnapMirror can be further extended by using FlexClone to create writable zero-up-front-cost copies of the replicated data at the remote site to use for DR testing or test and development work. Snapshot copies can also be backed up to disk or tape. VMs hosted in Hyper-V can be restored almost instantly, individual files can be quickly and easily recovered, and clones can be instantly provisioned for test and development environments. For more information on NetApp Snapshot and SnapMirror technologies, please visit us on the Web: NetApp Snapshot Technology NetApp SnapMirror Technology 8

9 5 CONCLUSION We have highlighted the key benefits of server virtualization using Microsoft Hyper-V, developed the business case for NetApp solutions as the perfect combination with Hyper-V, and discussed the key NetApp value proposition of providing the most cost-effective, operationally efficient, flexible, and environmentfriendly integrated storage, data protection, and business continuance solution. We also discussed the key enabling NetApp technologies that serve as the foundation to support our claims. NetApp has been on the forefront of solving complex business problems with its innovative technology breakthroughs and end-to-end solutions approach. Please contact your local NetApp sales representative to speak with one of our Microsoft Hyper-V solutions experts. We are dedicated to helping you transform your data center to help your business go further, faster Network Appliance, Inc. All rights reserved. Specifications subject to change without notice. NetApp, the Network Appliance logo, NearStore, SnapLock, and SnapVault are registered trademarks and Network Appliance, DataFort, FlexClone, and FlexVol are trademarks of Network Appliance, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group. Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. All other brands or products are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and should be treated as such. TR-3701

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