Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V in a Flash

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1 Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V in a Flash Combine Violin s enterprise- class all- flash storage arrays with the ease and capabilities of Windows Storage Server in an integrated solution to achieve higher density, performance, and efficiency for your Windows Server Hyper- V workloads January 2015 Abstract Microsoft Windows Server Hyper- V scales to support large numbers of virtual servers in the data center. Yet legacy storage solutions are keeping Hyper- V virtualization and associated workloads from reaching their full potential, which means expensive server investments are underutilized. The ideal storage solution delivers enterprise- class high- performance storage that is tightly integrated with the Windows environment and holistically managed by native Windows tools and utilities. This increases the value of existing human and technology investments while transforming Hyper- V machine densities and virtualization economics. The result is enhanced business efficiency, resiliency, and ROI for all of IT.

2 Table of Contents 1. Introduction Performance challenges in Windows Hyper- V environments Higher performance storage for Windows Server Hyper- V Violin Windows Flash Array + Windows Storage Server 2012 R What is SMB Direct? Resiliency for continuous availability Performance that transforms business Linear performance and capacity scalability through SOFS Pay- as- you- grow scalability Efficient scalability for server and desktop virtualization Choice in connectivity Relevant data services when you need them Use cases Server virtualization Desktop virtualization Private cloud Conclusion Pg. 2

3 1. Introduction Microsoft technology has grown far beyond that of simple workgroup applications to become a mission- critical component of enterprise IT. At the same time, organizations are focused on improving the financial and operational efficiency of their IT investments. Server and application consolidation are a key part of IT s future as the benefits are simply too great to ignore. Many organizations have grown up around Windows Server; it is an integral part of their business operations. As they respond to the allure of consolidation and virtualization, Windows Server Hyper- V is a logical choice given its technological maturity and ease of deployment. Yet businesses expect that they will grow and that their legacy Windows Server applications and newer Windows Server Hyper- V virtualization environment will grow with them. To address the need for cost- effective growth, the scalability of Windows Server virtualization has increased dramatically. Windows Server 2012 Hyper- V can support up to 320 logical processors with 1024 executing virtual machines (VMs) and a maximum of 2048 virtual processors per server. At this degree of scale, Hyper- V is able to deliver large- scale data center consolidation. However, virtualization initiatives to date have been constrained by the inefficiency and poor scaling of legacy storage infrastructure that cannot handle the random I/O requests that virtualized servers generate. The ideal solution would deliver enterprise- class storage with the I/O performance needed to maximize VM density on server hosts while providing acceptable performance levels. In addition, it would be tightly integrated with the Windows environment and managed by native Windows tools and utilities. Your organization would benefit from a rich suite of enterprise data services that transform application and server performance as well as IT economics by improving the efficiency, resiliency, and ROI for all of IT as part of the journey to the All Flash Data Center. 2. Performance challenges in Windows Hyper-V environments Legacy storage solutions (disk drives) perform best when operations are sequential or large batch. Yet modern virtualized workloads are filled with random I/O requests, and other workloads make use of tremendous numbers of small 4K files, such as genomics research, both of which result in high latency and poor application performance. Various striping techniques, over provisioning, solid- state drives, and optimization algorithms have been tried yet I/O performance remains lacking. This approach is inefficient and enforces continued spending on capacity when the need is for lower latency and higher IOPS. Poor storage performance leads to poor CPU utilization and low VM density. CPUs spend more time waiting than executing, which means expensive servers are mostly idle investments. This has not escaped the attention of senior management. One way to raise server utilization is virtualization. Yet ironically, virtualization drives random I/O even higher and some virtualization solutions raise server overhead. When SANs are deployed, they typically require vendor- specific tools and skill sets. Organizations cannot easily leverage the management skills of their existing Microsoft- savvy staff, which reduces flexibility and increases operational expense. In addition, they are faced with an unpleasant reality that responding to growth has meant scaling the inherent inefficiency and expense of legacy storage. Both CAPEX and OPEX are negatively affected by the status quo. Ensuring continuous availability is a challenge, but essential. Replication is a traditional approach to this end but asynchronous replication can suffer data loss if the primary array goes down. Synchronous mirroring is more resilient, but it is expensive and has a slow two- phase commit process. In either case, close coordination of application and storage administrators is needed during scheduled maintenance. From these challenges, it is clear that a new approach is needed to deliver the performance, density, and scalability required so your Hyper- V virtualization initiatives can achieve their full potential without breaking the IT budget. Pg. 3

4 3. Higher performance storage for Windows Server Hyper-V To address the shortcomings of legacy storage, Violin Memory and Microsoft have co- developed the Violin Windows Flash Array (WFA). The WFA combines Violin Memory s patented Flash Fabric Architecture (FFA), Microsoft s fast SMB Direct protocol, and Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 to deliver storage that easily keeps up with your needs. With the WFA, you can start the process of transforming your data center economics from legacy expense levels to that of the All Flash Data Center Violin Windows Flash Array + Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 The WFA is based upon the Violin All Flash Array Dual blades run Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 with support for SMB Direct through RDMA- enabled network cards. The WFA architecture features sub- millisecond latency (as illustrated in Fig. 3-1 on page 4) and wide stripe vraid accelerated switched flash for maximum performance. With SMB Direct, the WFA delivers the features of SAN, the performance of DAS, at the price of NAS. You get maximum performance for every byte every time. Windows Storage Sever 2012 R2 delivers a suite of enterprise data services software including deduplication, live migration, thin provisioning, compression, replication, Scale- out File Server (SOFS), and data encryption. The SMB 3.0 protocol boosts network storage performance. In particular, SMB Direct (SMB 3.0 over RDMA) enables remotely stored data on the WFA to be read directly into application servers memory. The result is remote storage performing like blazing fast local storage. In fact, Microsoft and Violin collaborated extensively to optimize Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 at the kernel level to take full advantage of our FFA to delivery enterprise- class performance for the Violin Flash Array. Table 3-1: Violin Windows Flash Arrays by model Windows Flash Array Model WFA- 64 WFA- 48 WFA- 32 WFA- 24 WFA- 16 Form Factor / Flash Type 3U / MLC 3U / MLC 3U / MLC 3U / MLC 3U / MLC Raw Capacity (TB) Usable Capacity (TB) at 84% format level I/O Connectivity 10GbE, 56Gb IB 10GbE, 56Gb IB 10GbE, 56Gb IB 10GbE, 56Gb IB 10GbE, 56Gb IB Max. 4KB IOPS 1.1M IOPS 1.1M IOPS 800k IOPS 800k IOPS 800k IOPS Max. Bandwidth 4GB/s 4GB/s 4GB/s 4GB/s 4GB/s Nominal Latency <500 µsec <500 µsec <500 µsec <500 µsec <500 µsec Windows Storage Sever 2012 R2 delivers enterprise data services including deduplication, live migration, thin provisioning, compression, replication, Scale- out File Server (SOFS), and data encryption. The SMB 3.0 protocol boosts network storage performance. In particular, SMB Direct (SMB 3.0 over RDMA) enables remotely stored data on the WFA to be read directly into application servers memory. The result is remote storage performing like blazing fast local storage. In fact, Microsoft and Violin collaborated extensively to optimize Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 at the kernel level to take advantage of our FFA to deliver enterprise- class performance for the WFA. As a result, you can achieve significantly faster VM (VHDx) access, so you can optimize Hyper- V density and smooth out or eliminate performance chokepoints. Pg. 4

5 Figure 3-1: WFA- 64 4K Random Read Latency over Increasing Queue Depth Virtualization enables enterprise application consolidation, so ensuring continuous availability is key. The WFA helps you meet 24x7 operational requirements for your Tier- 1 Hyper- V virtualized applications through multi- layered hardware and software resiliency. Active- Active clustering delivers continuous availability and SMB Multichannel ensures that cluster node connectivity is maintained. With the WFA, you can get higher utilization and performance with a smaller, less expensive IT footprint and you can scale as business conditions warrant. You may find that you no longer need a dedicated SAN or DAS to support your mix of virtualized high performance Windows applications. In addition, Hyper- V s low virtualization overhead means that more of your CPUs effort goes for actual work. Violin Memory and Microsoft co- developed the WFA to easily integrate into existing Windows- based environments. SMB 3.0 and SMB Direct are part of the Microsoft strategic roadmap for network storage and the WFA fully supports these protocols to deliver performance and scalability not available elsewhere. There is no need for third- party storage management tools or skill sets. Your existing Microsoft admin staff can manage all of your servers, applications, and now WFA storage with Microsoft System Center and PowerShell. This tight integration delivers a holistic view of your Microsoft environment for simplified and cost- effective management of physical and virtual server workloads. Pg. 5

6 3.2. What is SMB Direct? Figure 3-2: Wait State Reduction The WFA addresses the traditional bottlenecks that limit performance by delivering a state- of- the- art storage solution where speed, scale, and resiliency combine to deliver operational and financial efficiency. The use of SMB Direct can improve the performance of most any vendors storage and we expect that over time most will offer this support. However, the combination of SMB Direct with the Violin FFA and kernel- level optimization of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 uniquely takes performance to the next level. With the WFA, you get ultra- fast read and write access with sustained throughput of up to 1.1 million 4K IOPS with greater than 4 GB/s of bandwidth. SMB Direct recoups up to 30% of your SQL Server s CPU utilization, which provides you with more flexibility in how you allocate server resources and can have a dramatic effect on your CAPEX and OPEX requirements. As illustrated in Figure 3-2, your servers will spend more time doing than waiting so you can support additional workloads with existing resources and achieve faster response times. Our support for SMB 3.0 along with a suite of enterprise data services delivers a high- performance feature- rich Tier- 1 NAS solution that will help ensure you can deliver business in a flash Resiliency for continuous availability With the WFA, you benefit from continuous availability of your critical applications and file shares. Windows Failover Clustering in conjunction with the WFA hardware can sustain any single point of failure to ensure continuous availability. SMB Multichannel I/O provides bandwidth trunking as well as enhanced node- to- node network connectivity and availability. Should you desire a high availability configuration, deployment is option- rich and as simple as software configuration. In addition, in- flight and at- rest encryption guards against eavesdropping or other unauthorized data disclosure Performance that transforms business The WFA is particularly suited for workloads that have a high degree of random I/O activity, sequential I/O, or any mix of the two. By raising the available I/O while lowering latency to meet processor demand, the WFA enables application servers to Pg. 6

7 spend more time processing data as opposed to waiting for it. The combination of SMB Direct with flash- based storage achieves significantly faster VM (VHDx) access, which can reduce CPU wait times for storage I/O and decrease CPU load by up to 30%. Moreover, you can run multiple mixed workloads with consistent performance. Since our unique architecture ensures consistent performance with linear scalability, you can run multiple mixed workloads without concern about noisy neighbors. In addition, you may find that you can support the same number of workloads with need fewer CPUs so can optimize CPU investments across workloads to meet your objectives; thus, the WFA can enable you to increase virtualization density to new heights. Unlike legacy solutions, there is no wasted capacity due to drive striping to improve performance. Our arrays do not suffer from write- cliff due to the non- blocking nature of our distributed garbage collection; the WFA can enable you to increase your virtualization density while supporting multiple mixed workloads and achieve significantly faster VM (VHDx) access. Unlike other flash- based solutions, the WFA does not suffer from write cliff due to the non- blocking nature of our distributed garbage collection. Our FFA delivers maximum performance for every byte every time regardless of block- size or the random/sequential nature of access. With the WFA, you benefit from full support for the SMB 3.0 feature set operating on a low- latency, all- flash SMB Direct solution featuring integrated RDMA- enabled network cards. Tight integration with Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 ensures support for large sector (4K) storage as well as other performance optimizations collaboratively developed between Microsoft and Violin. You can improve VM density and performance today while aligning with Microsoft s storage technology roadmap Linear performance and capacity scalability through SOFS Figure 3-3: WFA- 64 4K Random Read and Write Performance, 512K Sequential Read and Write Performance With faster storage performance, you can optimize CPU investments more effectively across workloads without concern about the performance profile of the storage. All of the results shown were measured against virtualized workloads running under Hyper- V. Pg. 7

8 As illustrated in Figure 3-3, our reference architecture for SOFS delivers the predictable high performance that enables you to maintain service consistency even as the character of your virtualized workloads changes. The 4K random read performance achieved by our scale- out reference architecture reveals that the WFA delivers over 1 million IOPS and 4 GB/s of bandwidth at queue depth of 64 in a single array. The corresponding 4K random write performance is over 810k IOPS with 3 GB/s of bandwidth at queue depth of 64 in a single array. As you can see, the WFA is well suited for the short block random read/write workloads associated with OLTP, which is a critical application for most any enterprise, as well as other random access workloads such as virtualized server and desktop environments. Figure 3-3 (on page 6) also shows the WFA s ability to sustain high bandwidth in the sequential access modes common in data warehouse, business intelligence, decision support systems or other large block- sized access workloads. With the WFA, you can achieve in excess of 4 GB/s sustained bandwidth for 512K sequential reads in a single array. Corresponding 512K sequential write performance of over 810k IOPS and 3 GB/s of bandwidth at queue depth of one can be achieved in a single array. The WFA allows you to scale out to meet growing demand by adding a second, third or fourth WFA to the cluster. With SOFS, performance and capacity scales linearly. In addition, you can take advantage of a single name space to simplify the administration of your shares across multiple WFAs and present a unified view of storage resources. The mix of applications common in today s data center means that workloads are rarely overwhelmingly read- or write- centric. Rather access is a mixture of read and writes, and of various block- sizes. While this can jeopardize the performance of legacy solutions, it is just one more example of where the unique architecture of the WFA delivers and legacy solution cannot. Figure 3-4: WFA- 64 8K OLTP Random R/W Performance, 32K Exchange Server Random and Sequential R/W Performance Figure 3-4 illustrates two different mixed workloads, an 8K OLTP random access with 90% reads and 10% writes; and a 32K Exchange Server with 80% random and 20% sequential access with 60% reads and 40% writes. The performance achieved shows Pg. 8

9 the WFA delivering over 550k IOPS and 4.4 GB/s of bandwidth at queue depth of 64 in a single array for the 8K workload. The corresponding 32K mixed workload performance is 130k IOPS with 4.16 GB/s of bandwidth at queue depth of 64 in one array. As with the other workloads, when a second WFA is added to the cluster, the performance doubles, that is, it scales linearly. As shown here, the WFA is not only well suited for random or sequential read/write workloads, it also excels with mixed workloads. Therefore, regardless of the specific workload or combination thereof in your data center, the WFA can deliver the low latency and high performance necessary to run your business in a flash Pay-as-you-grow scalability Having the resources and flexibility to support growth is essential for a successful enterprise; however, the timing of this investment expense is equally important. With WFA s pay- as- you- grow pricing, you can non- disruptively scale capacity without installing new capacity in advance. This enables you to more closely align CAPEX with the benefit received. As a result, you can non- disruptively scale your WFA raw capacity in 8.8 TB increments within one of two ranges, TB or TB, based upon your timing. You can scale capacity without full expenditure at the onset, but maintain the operational flexibility to license- up the capacity to support growth Efficient scalability for server and desktop virtualization The WFA s enterprise data services support your virtualized workloads while ensuring maximum utilization of your storage investment. Our data efficiency services include thin provisioning, compression, and deduplication so that you can achieve the highest virtual machine (VM) density on your application servers with lowest storage capacity possible. Depending upon your workloads, our data reduction capability can reduce your required storage by up 10x. You can choose when these efficient services run on a granular basis as well as which nodes within your WFA cluster perform these tasks. With Windows Server Hyper- V as your hypervisor layer, you can consolidate workloads with little, if any, performance penalty. As your workloads change, Live Migration streamlines VM migration through direct WFA to WFA communication that bypasses the VM host to complete the process more rapidly. What s more, the WFA is a very efficient private cloud platform. As you consider the role private clouds may play in your IT infrastructure, be assured that the WFA is a future- proof investment. Should Microsoft Azure be part of your data center strategy, you have the flexibility to move files between the WFA and Azure Data Services through backup or custom developed applications to maximize flexibility in your choice of onsite and offsite cloud storage, Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines, and other Azure offerings Choice in connectivity With the WFA, you have choice in connecting your All Flash Array to your existing IT infrastructure. The WFA supports both 10 Gb Ethernet and 56 Gb FDR InfiniBand. In either case, you benefit from the efficiency and high performance afforded by SMB Direct and the rest of the SMB 3.0 feature set. Although SMB 3.0 is the standard networking protocol on Windows Server, the NFS protocol is favored by other operating systems that are common in the enterprise data center. As part of its data center focus, the WFA fully supports NFS 3.0 and NFS 4.1 to simplify data sharing within your enterprise. You can achieve blazing fast NFS performance for interconnection with application servers running operating systems such as Linux and UNIX, amongst others. In addition, your WFA- based file shares are simultaneously available through either protocol, either as Windows file shares over SMB 3 or as NFS exports. There are no artificial data silos separating SMB- and NFS- based applications with the WFA, just seamless integration of high performance, easily accessible all- flash storage. Pg. 9

10 3.7. Relevant data services when you need them Table 3-2 highlights some of the many data services offered by the WFA to increase the efficiency of your data center. Table 3-2: Enterprise Data Services Provided by the Windows Flash Array Storage and File System File and Block Access Networking Data Deduplication Compression NTFS Availability Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX) Thin Provisioning Encryption SMB 3.0 NFS 3.0 and NFS 4.1 Support for VMware VMs over NFS Scale- out File Server (SOFS) VSS for Remote SMB File Shares (snaps) SMB Direct (RDMA) SMB Multichannel Encryption Transparent Failover Clustering Virtualisation Management Cluster Shared Volumes v2 DFS Replication Live Storage Migration New VHDX standard Microsoft System Center PowerShell Unlike many competitive offerings, the WFA lets you choose which of the data services to deploy, and on which of the WFA nodes. For example, this granularity means that you can enable deduplication only on the shares that would benefit, such as those supporting virtual desktops. Thin provisioning in conjunction enables you to adjust allocations to match your actual storage needs. Since the WFA operates as a Windows Cluster Failover, you are protected against an array controller failure as the active- active configuration ensures data accessibility. In addition, SMB Multipathing not only aggregates bandwidth for higher performance but can also detect connectivity failures and reroute traffic accordingly. Live migration of VMs delivers flexibility in resource allocation without requiring taking applications or databases offline. Logical organization of multiple large databases is streamlined through SOFS, which can deliver a single namespace across multiple WFAs thus simplifying the management of large amounts of data. 4. Use cases Virtualization/consolidation is the future of IT; yet, many initiatives have been constrained by the inefficiency, and poor scaling inherent in legacy solutions. While the Violin Windows Flash Array delivers superior performance for most any enterprise workload, the WFA is particularly suited for virtualized workloads, private cloud environments, or any other applications that require consistent low latency, sustained high throughput, or a high degree of random I/O activity Server virtualization The WFA enables your virtualization initiatives to reach their full potential. As seen in Figure 4-1, the WFA delivers up to 40% or higher write performance under Hyper- V compared with an industry standard all- flash array. As a result, you can achieve significantly faster VM access, increase VM density, and smooth out or eliminate performance chokepoints. In addition, Hyper- V s low overhead means that more of your CPU s effort goes for workload execution as opposed to virtualization. As your workloads change, Live Migration streamlines VM migration through direct WFA to WFA communication that bypasses the VM host to complete the process more rapidly. You can deploy development, test, and Q/A scenarios knowing that roll out and roll up will be quick and simple, and the test beds will match the architecture of your production environment. Pg. 10

11 4.2. Desktop virtualization Virtual desktops generate lots of random I/O, which can grind traditional storage systems to a crawl, especially at boot time. The unique optimization of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 and the WFA architecture means you can consolidate more desktops per server CPU core while maintaining enterprise- class performance. The WFA delivers faster boot times, enhanced performance, and a reduction in CPU overhead of up to 30%. Consequently, the WFA can support up to 5,000 persistent desktops with 300 IOPS each at a cost of approximately $60 per desktop at expected street prices. Figure 4-1: Hyper- V Performance, WFA vs. Industry Standard All Flash Array 4.3. Private cloud Taking the next step from virtualization to private cloud requires centralized management and seemingly unlimited scalability with consistent performance. The tight integration of Windows Server Hyper- V and Violin hardware delivers the maximum scalability that you need for private cloud deployments. Multi- tenant or virtualized environments with multiple mixed workloads need not be concerned about noisy neighbors as the WFA does not develop workload hotspots. The WFA delivers a flexible single namespace for easier share management and simultaneous SMB and NFS file share access for maximum flexibility. Should Microsoft Azure be part of your data center strategy, you can easily move files between the WFA and Azure Data Services through backup, replication, or custom developed applications to maximize flexibility in your choice of onsite and offsite cloud storage. You can manage your private cloud and Azure delivered resources through a single management framework. With management based on System Center and PowerShell, existing staff can administer storage resources, which reduces the need for additional skill sets and training. SOFS lets you can scale out to four arrays (eight nodes) to meet your private cloud requirements. SMB Multichannel aggregates network connectivity within the safety of a Windows Failover Cluster so you will have the performance and resiliency to ensure that your private cloud remains available whenever it is needed. 5. Conclusion Legacy storage solutions are built for capacity, not I/O performance. Yet today s business applications are performance oriented and increasingly virtualized, which results in complex, expensive, and hard- to- scale solutions being deployed to support these applications and related files. The Violin Windows Flash Array is a fundamentally different and better NAS solution that addresses the performance shortcomings of legacy storage in supporting virtual server and desktop environments. WFA is an all- flash active- active HA multi- node cluster platform with native Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 that delivers a rich suite of enterprise data services for Tier- 1 Hyper- V virtualized applications by putting Windows intelligence in the storage array. The expense of a legacy data center based upon magnetic storage will become, if it has not already, a competitive disadvantage for any enterprise. The superior economics of the All Flash Data Center will cause executive staff to take note. Even if your executives do not embrace the All Flash Data Center for performance and agility reasons, the financial benefits are too great to pass up. It s simply a matter of time. The WFA is an enterprise- class storage solution that is at home in the All Flash Data Center. You can unleash your application performance and free up existing resources to do more. In fact, the WFA s performance is so high that you could eliminate your existing dedicated storage that is supporting your Windows Server Hyper- V workloads. The Pg. 11

12 WFA can help reduce CAPEX both in the short and long term. You can recoup existing server and facilities investments while delaying future expenditures, which will free up resources to invest in innovation and growing your business success. With the WFA, you can simplify your management paradigm with Microsoft System Center and PowerShell to achieve holistic control and flexibility of your Windows- based physical and virtual infrastructure. You can consolidate and virtualize a mix of workloads while maximizing your virtualization ROI through increased Hyper- V VM density and application performance on a storage architecture that is simpler and faster, and on Microsoft s strategic roadmap at substantial cost savings. If you would like to learn more about how the Violin Windows Flash Array can dramatically improve your Windows Server Hyper- V virtualization density while increasing your mission critical application performance, please contact your Violin Memory representative today. About Violin Memory Business in a Flash. Violin Memory transforms the speed of business with high performance, always available, low cost management of critical business information and applications. Violin s All Flash optimized solutions accelerate breakthrough CAPEX and OPEX savings for building the next generation data center. Violin s Flash Fabric Architecture (FFA) speeds data delivery with chip- to- chassis performance optimization that achieves lower consistent latency and cost per transaction for Cloud, Enterprise and Virtualized mission- critical applications. Violin's All Flash Arrays and Appliances, and enterprise data management software solutions enhance agility and mobility while revolutionizing data center economics. Founded in 2005, Violin Memory is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. For more information, visit memory.com. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/violinmemory Pg. 12

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