Nexsan E-Series Storage Optimizes VI Environments for Enterprise-Class DR with Veeam Backup & Replication

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1 openbench Labs Executive Briefing: February 15, 2012 Nexsan E-Series Storage Optimizes VI Environments for Enterprise-Class DR with Veeam Backup & Replication Nexsan E-Series Simplifies SAN Management and Scales Performance for VM Data Protection

2 Executive Briefing: Jack Fegreus February 15, 2012 Nexsan E-Series Storage Optimizes VI Environments for Enterprise-Class DR with Veeam Backup & Replication Nexsan E-Series Simplifies SAN Management and Scales Performance for VM Data Protection ROADMAP TO THE VIRTUAL ENTERPRISE As IT managers move more data and applications into virtual environments, data centers are becoming more difficult to manage and protect. Adding real fuel to the virtual fire, CIOs now confront corporate mandates to build IT infrastructures that scale up to unknown demand levels and provide service assurance for fluctuating conditions that cannot be accurately projected. For the wizards of IT theory, the solution is a transition to hypervisor-independent cloud computing: A solution that many IT practitioners perceive as elusive as finding the Higgs boson a.k.a. the God particle. Nexsan-Veeam Cloud Infrastructure Value Proposition 1) Integrate Tightly with Multiple APIs to Leverage Productivity Features Developed by Third-party Vendors: Through strict compliance with storage standards and APIs, Nexsan allows IT to utilize a wealth of storage management tools on client systems to build hypervisor-independent cloud environments. 2) Minimize SAN Infrastructure Costs for SAN Scaling: Utilize both high-performance FC and low-cost iscsi paths with Nexsan to intelligently scale SAN storage resource connections. 3) Maximize Storage Density and Reliability: Nexsan devices support a mix of SSD, SAS, and SATA drives to support a full range of SLA storage requirements with respect to capacity, throughput, access, and reliability. 4) Backup and Restore Hyper-V and vsphere VMs Using Changed Block Tracking: Veeam Backup & Replication v6 utilizes highly efficient changed block tracking with vsphere and Hyper-V hosts. 5) Automate Incremental Backups for Near-Lossless RPO: Incremental backups with both deduplication and compression can be automated to run continuously for minimally spaced restore points (as short as every 5 minutes). 6) Utilize SSD Drives with Veeam Instant VM Recovery for Sub 5-Minute RTO: Restore VMs to full functionality in less than 5 minutes with full I/O performance using SSD drives to handle redirected I/O when booting VMs directly from backup files. 7) Test and Verify Application Recoverability: Veeam provides a fenced network environment with IP masquerading to test the recoverability of key applications, such as SQL Server and Exchange, and provide for the recovery of application items. 8) Compress and Deduplicate Data on Any Backup Process: Veeam applies data compression and deduplication to incremental backups of VMs on any hypervisor. For IT at mid-market enterprise sites, reality begins with meeting the storage needs of missioncritical applications, which increasingly are being moved into more abstract virtual environments. Nexsan simplifies storage management in a virtual infrastructure (VI) with arrays built on a highly flexible software architecture capable of being tightly integrated into a broad range of operating environments. In particular, Nexsan integration in a Windows Server 2008 R2 environment makes storage management nearly transparent as native OS utilities can absorb nearly all storage administration. 02

3 I n a virtualized cloud environment, a collection of Virtual Machines (VMs), each generating a distinct I/O stream based on its running applications, moves among a small number of hosts driven by VM-specific resource policies designed to optimize performance. The foundation of the Nexsan value proposition rests on capital and operating expense (CapEx and OpEx) control. That s why Nexsan arrays support a hierarchy of SSD, SAS, and SATA disk drives within a single system and easily scale to complex SAN fabrics with multiple options combining Fibre Channel (FC) and iscsi connectivity. A single Nexsan array provides a mid-market site with the ability to create multiple storage targets for a broad range of application-specific requirements. Nonetheless, for today s top IT decision makers the generalization of distributed computing into cloud computing continues to drive IT infrastructure towards a critical tipping point centered on SAN resources. CLOUD PROBABILITY MECHANICS In a traditional SAN environment, I/O fans out from a few storage resources attached to many lightly-loaded physical servers in a well defined pattern. In a virtualized cloud environment, a collection of Virtual Machines (VMs), each generating a distinct I/O stream based on running applications, moves about a small number of physical hosts. More importantly, VM movement is driven by resource policies that are designed to optimize VM performance. This means each host must consolidate the I/O streams of a nondeterministic collection of VMs. What s more, host servers present storage resources with far more intense and far more variable I/O streams that stress all three dimensions of storage measurement: throughput (MB per second), access (IOPS), and capacity (price per GB). In a cloud environment, storage resources must be capable of scaling out smoothly and efficiently in both capacity and performance, and that inextricably links storage arrays to the capital and operational expenses of any cloud initiative. With storage being a critical success factor for any cloud computing environment, openbench Labs first established I/O performance parameters for the Nexsan E18, before assessing a full hypervisor-independent cloud scenario with Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for data protection. We began by configuring a Nexsan E18 on an 8Gbps FC SAN, which included physical servers running Windows Server 2008 R2. To establish our cloud environment for testing, we provisioned the E18 with three tiers of storage. For archival storage, we configured 12TB SATA-based RAID 5 volume, which we utilized in part to store disk-todisk (D2D) backup files. We then configured 4.8TB as two RAID 5 arrays for primary production storage primarily used by vsphere 5 and Hyper-V hosts. Finally, openbench Labs added a 1.2TB high-performance storage tier backed by a RAID 0 SSD array. We utilized this tier to support the specialized Disaster Recovery (DR) features for VI environments provided by Veeam Backup & Replication. 03

4 Using Iometer, we generated synthetic I/O workloads on logical disks imported from our Nexsan E18 array. To assess streaming sequential throughput, we used large block reads and writes, which are typically used by backup, data mining, and video streaming applications, which need to rapidly stream large amounts of data in order to be effective. NEXSAN SAS STREAMING I/O Using Iometer, one RAID-5 array, and one internal controller in the E18, we consistently measured read throughput at around 1,500MB per second, which is four to five times greater than a single instance of an application that relies on data streaming will typically generate. What s more, this level of throughput for a single logical drive is three times greater than the throughput level of any other mid-market storage array tested by openbench Labs. This head room on the E18 is essential for scaling multiple processes. In particular, Veeam Backup & Replication introduces the construct of a pool of backup proxy servers, which enable large numbers of data protection processes to be run in parallel. Streaming reads with large I/O blocks approached wire-speed throughput limits using RAID arrays configured with all three types of disks (SSD, SAS, and SATA) provisioned in the Nexsan E18. We measured the highest sequential throughput with SAS drives, as read throughput reached 1,525MB per second on the controller owning the array used to export our logical disk. In addition to streaming data in large blocks, there is also a need to satisfy small discrete I/O requests. Server applications built on Oracle or SQL Server generate large numbers of discrete I/O operations that transfer a small amount of data at a time. Commercial applications that rely on transaction processing (TP) include such staples as SAP and Microsoft Exchange. TP applications seldom exhibit steady-state characteristics. In a typical mid-market environment, financial and planning applications typically generate TP loads of only several hundred IOPS. Nonetheless, these applications predictively experience heavy processing spikes, such as at the end of a financial reporting period. During these intense processing periods, TP loads can reach several thousand IOPS. That variability makes TP applications among the most ideal to target for virtualization, since a well-managed VI can automatically marshal resources and position VMs on hosts to support peak processing demands. To simulate real-world database performance, we used a mix of 70 percent reads and 30 percent writes in our tests. The complexity of implementing writes at disk heads causes writes to dramatically lower IOPS measurements. We also limited our results with a global requirement that the average I/O response time be less than 30ms a high IOPS load without a restriction on average response time creates highly unrealistic results. 04

5 Array RAID, Disk Nexsan E18 RAID-5, SSD Sequential Reads Iometer benchmark 128KB blocks Nexsan E18 I/O Throughput Windows Server 2008 R2 Round Robin with Subset MPIO Policy Sequential Writes Iometer benchmark 128KB blocks Random Reads/Writes Iometer benchmark 70% read 30% write 4KB blocks 1,450 MB/sec 580 MB/sec 16,015 IOPS MS Exchange/Jetstress Heavy use 1TPS per mailbox Supported 1,200 messages per second in Instant Recovery Nexsan E18 RAID-5, SAS Nexsan E18 RAID-5, SATA 1,525 MB/sec 980 MB/sec 6,800 IOPS 1,405 MB/sec 1,005 MB/sec 2,215 IOPS Supported 400 Active Mailboxes using 3 RAID-5 arrays Supported 150 Active Mailboxes using 3 RAID-5 arrays Our IOPS benchmarking was characterized the greatest variations in I/O performance that we measured. A SAS-based array with 15,000 RPM disks sustained 6,800 IOPS, which was about 3 times greater throughput than the transaction load sustained by a SATA-based array. Nonetheless, an SSD array sustained over 16,000 IOPS, which was nearly 2.5 times greater than our SAS-based array. These ratios would prove to be extremely useful for configuring an environment that Veeam s Instant VM Recovery feature could leverage to provide impressive Disaster Recovery (DR) support for a VM running Exchange Server. Using logical disks created on our production storage tier, which we had configured using SAS disks in RAID 5 arrays, we set up a dual-processor VM with 4GB of RAM that supported an Exchange server with 400 highly active user mailboxes. Specifically, we successfully ran the Jetstress benchmark and processed one message per mailbox per second. More importantly, when we provisioned SSD drives in a test of Veeam Instant VM Recovery with our Exchange server, we were able to process more than three times the message traffic of our standard production system. While the benchmark performance of a Nexsan E18 array breaks new ground, the bottom line for IT remains OpEx budget control. For storage resources in particular OpEx dominates the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). As a result, IT s primary focus remains fixed on minimizing resource management time while simultaneously maximizing resource utilization. FLEXIBLE STORAGE MANAGEMENT To address storage management issues, most SAN-storage vendors package proprietary software exclusively to manage and add functionality to their subsystems. This focus on exclusivity often causes the unraveling of SAN fabrics with respect to the uniform management of storage resources. All too often, IT administrators are left with a collection of virtualized resources that must still be managed as individual assets. 05

6 Trumping the impact on administrators, the isolation of SAN resources leaves CIOs without a clear set of links with which to tie storage resources to applications and business value. Worse yet, the inability to thoroughly analyze resource utilization leaves CIOs unable to provide anything other T o prevent a SAN from becoming an archipelago of independent storage resources, the Nexsan Flexible Storage Platform strategy enables IT to harness a wide range of third-party storage applications in conjunction with Nexsan s storage software. than a cursory analysis with respect to requests from Line of Business (LOB) executives for faster delivery of the services that they regard as having a high potential to transform business processes. To prevent a SAN from becoming an archipelago of independent storage resources, the Nexsan Flexible Storage Platform strategy enables IT to harness a wide range of third-party storage applications in conjunction with Nexsan s storage software. Following this strategy of inclusivity, Nexsan has implemented extensive integration with popular storage APIs and adheres to strict SCSI-3 implementation standards. As a result, adoption of Nexsan storage hardware enables IT to implement a stackmanaged approach to storage management that incorporates multiple technologies from multiple vendors. More importantly, IT is able to create an agile infrastructure that operates economically and scales up to a cloud environment. At a basic level, the impact of the Nexsan Flexible Storage Platform strategy in a Windows Server environment can be seen by examining the properties of logical disks created with Nexsan LUNs. IT administrators can simply go to the Windows properties menu of any logical disk and instantly discover the logical disk s entire profile with respect to any Nexsan array. Specifically, an extended property sheet for the logical disk will include deep-dive details about the underlying Nexsan array, such as MPIO specifics and details about the disk drives in the Nexsan array. What s more, by utilizing higher-order storage management tools, IT enhances the impact of Nexsan integration with Microsoft storage APIs including the Virtual Disk Service (VDS) and Virtual Shadow Copy Service (VSS). As an example, Nexsan integration with Storage Manager for SANs provides IT administrators with a means to configure and provision any SAN-attached server with storage resources from any Nexsan array. In our testing we configured and provisioned LUNs from a Nexsan E18 populated with SATA, SAS, and SSD drives and a Nexsan SATABeast. Storage Manager for SANs also plays an important role in simplifying the provisioning of shared storage volumes. Using shared storage for the files that represent the virtual disks of VMs significantly reduces OpEx overhead associated with systems management in a VI. More importantly, Storage Manager for SANs simplifies Windows cluster provisioning, which is a prerequisite for implementing shared disk volumes on Windows servers. 06

7 NEXSAN WINDOWS STORAGE MANAGEMENT INTEGRATION Nexsan s VDS integration with Windows allows IT administrators to configure and manage multiple storage resources using the Windows Storage Manager for SANs or Nexsan s Array Management utility within the Microsoft Management Console. IT administrators can configure a volume on an array, map the volume to a host, and then format a logical disk on a host server within a single end-to-end context. What s more, we were able to extend storage provisioning to any SAN-based server and share LUNs among multiple servers configured as clusters. For provisioning over iscsi and FC fabrics, Storage Manager for SANs listed our Nexsan arrays as a separate unit for each fabric. access to the vsphere datastores with the hosts supporting the VMs. What makes shared storage a pivotal issue in a VI is the ability to avoid moving the very large files that represent disks on VMs. Moving multiple VMs among a fixed set of host computers becomes an exponentially bigger problem if moving a VM includes moving the files that represent the disks attached to the VM. Shared disk volumes can also be used to simplify VM provisioning using off-the-shelf disk volumes maintained in a central library. Finally, to ensure that all backup data belonging to vsphere VMs is directly transfered over a SAN, backup servers must share CLOUDS OF CLOUDS The next step along the path to creating a virtual enterprise is the implementation of a hypervisor-independent cloud computing environment. To simplify cloud creation, we continued to leverage the Nexsan Flexible Storage Platform construct via the installation of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) SCVMM provides a single-pane-of-glass GUI that unifies Hyper-V and vcenter management environments. Using SCVMM 2012, openbench Labs was able to create and provision three private cloud environments with VMs that were running on vsphere 5 07

8 and Hyper-V hosts. Using these private clouds, we were able to contain the growing problem of VM sprawl by assigning VMs to specific clouds representing distinct management zones. UNIFIED PRIVATE CLOUD MANAGEMENT We configured and managed an integrated hypervisor-independent cloud environment with SCVMM In this environment we created three independent private clouds one for production VM servers, a desktop cloud, and a DR cloud with standby VMs. We populated each of our three clouds with VMs from vsphere 5 and Hyper-V hosts. We also created a SAN-based storage library for each cloud. The libraries contained VM templates for both vsphere and Hyper-V along with Hyper-V virtual disk images to support automated provisioning. In addition, each cloud library was used to store all disk and VM files associated with the Hyper-V VMs assigned to the cloud. We were also able to provision shared disk volumes from our Nexsan E18 array to create common libraries in which we stored such cloud components as VM images and virtual disk files. More importantly, IT can use SCVMM libraries to automate provisioning of VMs using preconfigured disk images based on business policies. As a result, IT is able to roll out new applications and services up to 35 times faster than it would take in a traditional physical computing environment. A critical prerequisite for establishing a production-ready hypervisorindependent cloud computing environment is the ability to set up a multi-hypervisor data protection scheme that can handle all VMs in the cloud. Preferably, data protection management should follow a single-pane-of-glass paradigm that is hypervisor agnostic in terms of functionality. Given the potential to further simplify cloud management with this operational paradigm, it is not surprising that many data protection software vendors are racing to launch new releases that work with VMs in both vsphere 5 and Hyper-V environments. Veeam Backup & Replication provides support for both vsphere and Hyper-V from a single interface to simplify data protection operations for IT administrators. More importantly, the advanced technology utilized by Veeam makes remarkably synergistic use of the functionality of the Nexsan E18 array. What s more, the technology that underpins 08

9 Veeam Backup & Replication provides a hypervisor-independent environment and helps resolve an ongoing data protection problem that traces back to the architectural differences between virtual and physical systems. CBT: THE NEW DEDUPLICATION Data deduplication plays a critical role in making D2D backups cost effective vis à vis disk-to-tape (D2T) backup. This relationship is made all the more important given the IT operational efficiencies that D2D backups provide. Nonetheless, in-line data deduplication schemes that maintain a global catalog of pointers to block patterns add very significant levels of processing overhead to a backup. VEEAM CBT INCREMENTALS When backing up VMs whether hosted on vsphere or Hyper-V hosts Veeam Backup & Replication leverages Changed Block Tracking (CBT) to create incremental backup files that contain just the disk blocks that have changed since the previous backup and not complete copies of files that contain changed blocks. As a result, a Veeam incremental backup file of a single VM contains little duplicated data. Most duplicate data occurs in jobs with multiple VMs having similar data, such as a recent SQL Server security patch. By limiting the data in an incremental backup to just With CBT-based incremental backups, we were able the changed data, Veeam incremental backup files are a to run a backup of our Exchange server, which was configured with 1TB of storage, in just over two and a fraction of the size of competitive product offerings that half minutes and created a 131.6MB backup file after transfer the full data file containing changed blocks. compression and data deduplication. Beyond eliminating unnecessary data deduplication processing, the Veeam scheme limits the scope of the data deduplication problem to just the data contained in the incremental backups of a specific group of VMs defined by a backup job. As a result, there is no global store of pointers to unique block patterns that must be checked, which dramatically lowers CPU overhead, speeds each job, and enables any Veeam backup server to restore any backup job. Furthermore, by moving backup processing from the host to the backup server, Veeam Backup & Replication puts very little impact on production systems. This means Veeam can run continuous light-weight incremental backups during a peak production processing period, which is precisely when a system failure could result in significant data loss and an IT failure to comply with Recovery Point Objective (RPO) guarantees. In addition, to deal new scalability issues associated with the rapid expansion in the number of VMs and VM sprawl, which is becoming a top-of-mind concern for IT operations, Veeam Backup servers can now be used to set up and control multiple proxy servers to off-load basic backup tasks. Specifically, proxy servers are employed to move, compress, and deduplicate data and can be simply configured with Windows Server 2008 R2 Core to minimize infrastructure costs. The backup proxy servers are then loaded with processes directly from a Veeam Backup server. 09

10 VEEAM PARALLEL BACKUP LOAD Given the throughput headroom of the Nexsan E18 array, our two SAS volumes for vsphere datastores easily handled four simultaneous Veeam backup jobs,.which the Veeam Backup server dispatched to multiple proxy servers. Running independently, the proxy servers linearly scaled the typical streaming I/O load on the Nexsan array for a single backup by a factor of four. 5-MINUTE RTO AND RPO From the perspective of an LoB executive, the value of backup and restore operations lies entirely in the recovery process. Their attention is focused on aggressive RPO and RTO targets that IT often struggles to meet. With vpower technology introduced in Veeam Backup & Replication v5 IT s ability to perform granular recovery operations, test the recoverability of 100% of backups, and meet strict RPO and RTO requirements advances dramatically. Using legacy backup and restore technology, recovering a VM to a working state corresponding to a previous point in time often requires multiple hours of work. In contrast, IT administrators can run a VM directly from a backup file using Veeam Backup & Replication. There is no need to provision a datastore, rehydrate compressed or deduplicated data, or even restore VMFS disk files before running a VM. In just 19 seconds, openbench Labs was able to start a VM directly from a backup file and publish that VM in our vsphere and SCVMM environments. The key to this functionality lies with the vpower NFS datastore. When an IT administrator invokes a function that runs a VM directly from a backup file, the process invokes the vpower NFS datastore. At the start of the process, pointers to the files contained in the backup file are set up in a specific directory on 10

11 the Veeam Backup server. That directory is then exported via NFS to the vsphere server as a NAS datastore containing read-only files representing the VM s logical volumes. To host a directory of read-only files needing very fast access, we configured a 300GB logical disk from the SSD array on our Nexsan E18 array. VPOWER NFS DATASTORE We used a VM running Exchange and Jetstress to test booting a VM directly from a backup file via vpower. In five seconds, a directory on an SSD-based logical disk on our Veeam Backup server was populated with pointers to the contents of the VM backup file and exported to the vsphere server as a read-only NFS datastore. To capture new data,veeam added a disk snapshot and CBT files to a directory on a second full access datastore, which was based on a second SSD volume. With our backup file exported on an SSD-based directory and data updates directed to a second SSD-based datastore, Jetstress performance tripled during the first phase of our recovery test and supported 50% higher throughput than our production configuration during a Storage vmotion consolidation. Having booted the recovered VM from what amounts to a read-only VMFS datastore, there needs to be a way to update the logical volumes of the recovered VM. Veeam utilizes a number of options for updating these volumes including cache files, disk snapshots, and redo logs. These options provide tradeoffs between IOPS performance and simplified consolidation of new and existing data. 11

12 Before running Instant VM Recovery, openbench Labs configured a VM test environment with Exchange and Jetstress, because is a far more demanding workload compared to other applications. Specifically we ran Exchange Server 2010 with three logical disk volumes to support 400 user mailboxes. This configuration is typical of a single Exchange server at a mid-market site. Two of the disks housed mailbox databases and the third disk supported log files for the two mailbox databases. To test Veeam Instant VM Recovery, we recovered a backup of our test configuration and ran Jetstress during the recovery process. Specifically we recovered our VM running Exchange with new data redirected to a snapshot on a second SSD-based datastore. With the snapshot located on the same class of datastore as the original VM (SAS in our test case), typical IOPS performance drops by about 50% during the initial recovery phase and another 50% during migration and consolidation of the test configuration. Using two SSD-based volumes in our Instant VM Recovery test, IOPS performance tripled to 1,200 messages per second. Then during a Storage vmotion consolidation, performance of 150% of the initial configuration was achieved as we supported 600 transactions per second. Instant VM Recovery is just one of the ways Veeam Backup leverages Nexsan storage to enhance the performance of its advanced functionality with respect to data protection and help IT to assuage the concerns of LoB executives over business continuity. Today, senior LoB executives expect IT to meet an RTO that is measured in hours and an RPO that is close to lossless. Veeam Backup & Replication empowers IT to meet and exceed those stringent RPO and RTO goals. Jack Fegreus is Managing Director of openbench Labs and consults through Ridgetop Research. He also contributes to InfoStor, Virtual Strategy Magazine, and Open Magazine, and serves as CTO of Strategic Communications. Previously he was Editor in Chief of Open Magazine, Data Storage, BackOffice CTO, Client/Server Today, and Digital Review. Jack also served as a consultant to Demax Software and was IT Director at Riley Stoker Corp. Jack holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and worked on the application of computers to symbolic logic. 12

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