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 storage arrays with the ease and flexibility of Windows Storage Server in an integrated solution to achieve higher density, performance, and efficiency for your Windows Server Hyper-V workloads Abstract Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V scales to support large numbers of virtual servers in the datacenter. 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 would deliver enterprise-class high-performance storage that is tightly integrated with the Windows environment and holistically managed by native Windows tools and utilities. This would increase the value of existing human and technology investments while transforming Hyper-V machine densities and virtualization economics. The end result is enhanced business efficiency, resiliency, and ROI for all of IT.

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 3 Performance challenges in Windows Server Hyper-V environments... 3 Higher performance storage for Windows Server Hyper-V... 4 Violin Windows Flash Array + Windows Storage Server 2012 R Microsoft ecosystem friendly... 5 What is SMB Direct?... 5 Performance that changes business... 5 Resiliency for continuous availability... 6 Scalability to grow efficiently... 7 Conclusion... 7 Pg. 2

3 Introduction Microsoft technology has grown far beyond that of simple workgroup applications to become a missioncritical component of enterprise IT. At the same time, organizations are increasingly focused on improving the financial and operational efficiency of their IT investments. Server and application consolidation is a key part of IT s future as the financial and operational 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 datacenter 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 that can deliver the I/O performance required to maximize VM density on server hosts while providing acceptable levels of application performance. In addition, it would be tightly integrated with the Windows environment and holistically managed by native Windows tools and utilities to maximize flexibility in storage and server resource as well as administrative staff. Your organization and its user community would benefit from a rich set of storage services that transforms Windows application performance while improving efficiency, resiliency, and ROI for all of IT. Performance challenges in Windows Server Hyper-V environments Although CPU performance and network connectivity have grown dramatically over the past several years, improvements in storage have largely been limited to increased capacity, not performance. Legacy storage solutions (disk drives) perform best when read and write operations are linear. Virtualization drives random I/O and some virtualization solutions increase server overhead, which results in high latency and a negative impact on application performance. Various striping techniques, solid-state drives, and optimization algorithms seek to improve operations yet I/O performance remains lacking. To compensate, IT managers over provision storage and/or add cache to controllers in an attempt to garner enough I/O capacity; however, this approach is inefficient and enforces continued spending on capacity when the need is actually for IOPS. Organizations are faced with an unpleasant reality that their only choice in responding to growth has meant scaling the inherent inefficiency and expense of legacy storage solutions. Poor storage performance leads to poor CPU utilization, which leads to low VM densities. CPUs spend more time waiting than executing, which means servers are expensive and mostly idle investments. Storage area networks (SANs) 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. Even some direct attached storage (DAS) solutions may require special handling or expertise in their set up and operation. This is just one shortcoming of bifurcated storage where Ethernet-based storage is the norm for file services (the bulk of the Microsoft universe), and dedicated block-based storage supports high-performance workloads such as Hyper-V. Pg. 3

4 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 for your Hyper-V virtualization initiatives to achieve their full potential without breaking the IT budget. Higher performance storage for Windows Server Hyper-V To address the shortcomings of legacy storage for Windows Server Hyper-V environments, Violin Memory and Microsoft have co-developed the Violin Windows Flash Array (WFA). The WFA combines Violin s patented flash storage, Microsoft s fast SMB Direct protocol, and Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 to deliver storage that will unleash your Hyper-V application performance across all of your workloads. Violin Windows Flash Array + Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 The WFA is based upon the Violin Flash Array 6000 all-flash storage array that features global hot spares and no single point of failure. Dual memory gateways run Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 with support for SMB Direct through RDMA-enabled network interface cards. The WFA features sub-millisecond latency and wide stripe vraid accelerated switched memory for maximum performance. SMB Direct runs at PCIe speeds to deliver the features of a SAN with the performance of DAS at the price of NAS. With the WFA, you get maximum performance for every byte, every time. Windows Storage Sever 2012 R2 delivers proven storage technologies including SMB 3.0, deduplication, thin provisioning, data mirroring, live migration, Scale-out File Server (SOFS), Storage Spaces, and data encryption. The SMB 3.0 protocol boosts network storage performance. In particular, SMB Direct (SMB 3 over RDMA) enables remotely stored data to be read directly into server memory. Microsoft optimized the Storage Server kernel for tight integration with the WFA to maximize performance. When combined with Violin s optimized flash technology, the result is remote storage performing like blazing fast local storage. Table 1: Violin Windows Flash Arrays by model Windows Flash Array model WFA-64 VIMM Count and VIMM Capacity 64 x 1TiB Form Factor / Flash type 3U / MLC Raw Capacity (TiB / TB) 64 / 70 Usable Capacity (TiB / TB)* 40 / 44 I/O Connectivity 10GbE, 56G IB Maximum 4KB IOPS (Mixed) >750k IOPS Maximum Bandwidth (100% Reads) 4GB/s Nominal Latency 500 µsec (mixed) *Maximum usable capacity with 84% format level Virtualization and enterprise application consolidation are business critical; ensuring continuous availability is key. The WFA helps you attain 24x7 operations through multilayered hardware and software resiliency. Active-Active clustering delivers continuous uptime and SMB Multichannel ensures that cluster node connectivity is maintained. Nondisruptive volume extensibility is available through SOFS or thinly provisioned Storage Spaces, so you can add capacity to existing volumes without taking them offline. The WFA delivers dramatically higher I/O rates so your virtualization initiatives can reach their full potential. As a result, you can achieve Pg. 4

5 significantly faster VM (VHDx) access, so you can optimize Hyper-V density and smooth out or eliminate performance chokepoints. In addition, Hyper-V s low overhead means that more of your CPUs effort goes for actual work as opposed to virtualization overhead. As seen in Table 1 on page 4, you can choose a capacity that fits your present needs or one with room to grow. In either case, you can scale up or out as the future demands. You may find that you no longer need dedicated storage to support your mix of Hyper-V enabled applications. Microsoft ecosystem friendly Violin Memory and Microsoft co-developed and optimized the WFA to leverage its unique performance profile. 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 VM performance, density, and scalability not available on other all-flash arrays. There is no need for third-party storage management tools or skill sets. Your existing Microsoft admin staff can manage all of your servers, storage, and applications with Microsoft System Center and PowerShell. The tight integration of the WFA with Microsoft management tools delivers a holistic view of your Microsoft environment for simplified and cost-effective management of physical and virtual servers. What is SMB Direct? 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 vendor s storage and we expect that over time most will offer this support. However, the combination of SMB Direct with Violin s unique flash-based storage solution takes performance to the next level. With the WFA, you get ultra-fast file access with sustained throughput of up to 1 million 4K IOPS along with support for large sector (4K) storage. As illustrated in Figure 1, your VM hosts 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 delivers a rich set of storage services that will help ensure you can achieve the highest performance and efficiency. Figure 1: Wait State Reduction Enabled by Windows Flash Array Performance that changes business Meeting the demand for application growth has strained the IT environment as legacy storage solutions hit their design limits. The WFA addresses the bottlenecks that limit server consolidation through a state-ofthe-art solution that balances speed, scale, and resiliency to deliver maximum performance for every byte every time. 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%. Pg. 5

6 The WFA delivers dramatically higher I/O rates so your Hyper-V VM hosts to spend more time processing data as opposed to waiting for it. As seen in Figure 2, early testing found the WFA delivering 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 (VHDx) access, so you can optimize Hyper-V density while smoothing out or eliminating performance chokepoints. Hyper-V does not suffer from the up to the 20% overhead of competitive virtualization solutions so workload consolidation will suffer little, if any, performance penalty. Hyper-V s low overhead means more of your CPUs effort goes towards the actual workload. When you combine Hyper-V s efficiency with the up to 30% reduction in CPU load afforded by SMB Direct, the economics of virtualization and application consolidation initiates improves greatly. This means you can optimize CPU investments and workloads while eliminating the expense for a dedicated storage infrastructure and the third party tools to manage it. Figure 2: Hyper-V Performance Write Test, WFA vs. Industry Standard All Flash Array 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. With the WFA, you benefit from full support for the SMB 3.0 feature set operating on a low-latency, allflash SMB Direct solution featuring integrated RDMA enabled NIC 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. The WFA offers higher utilization and performance for all of your Microsoft workloads with a smaller, less expensive IT footprint than traditional SANs but with cost savings of up to 80%. Resiliency for continuous availability The WFA combines a multi-node cluster and a storage array featuring global hot spares to help you meet modern 24x7 operational requirements through multi-layered hardware and software resiliency. This solution simplifies maintenance and requires only 3U of rack space. Windows Failover Clustering in conjunction with the WFA hardware can sustain any single point of failure. SMB Multichannel I/O provides bandwidth trunking as well as enhanced node-to-node network connectivity and availability. For high availability configurations, the deployment is option-rich and as simple as software configuration. You can mirror any share with the click of a mouse. In addition, transport-level encryption guards against eavesdropping or other unauthorized data disclosure. With management based on System Center and PowerShell instead of a collection of disparate server, network, and storage management tools, existing staff can administer storage resources, which reduces the need for additional skill sets and training. Envision disaster recovery that is simple; High Availability configuration and deployment is option-rich and as quick and simple as software configuration. You can mirror any share with the click of a mouse. Windows clustered failover support ensures availability of your VMs during any single point of failure. Further, our balance of compute, network, and storage performance reduces I/O bottlenecks and potential service interruptions due to workload spikes. Pg. 6

7 Scalability to grow efficiently With the WFA, you can optimize CPU investments across Hyper-V workloads to achieve greater density while maintaining consistent performance. SMB Direct runs at PCIe speeds with the features of a SAN and the performance of DAS. As illustrated in Figure 3, the superior performance of the WFA will enable your organization to support a greater number and mix of virtualized workloads with existing infrastructure. When you access flash-based storage through SMB Direct, the result is ultra-fast VM access that can increase application performance dramatically while reducing CPU demand. Storage Live Migration streamlines VM migration through direct WFA to WFA communication that bypasses the VM host to reduce server impact and complete the process more rapidly. This delivers increased flexibility in addressing potential service interruptions due to sudden changes in workloads. Support for Windows Storage Spaces allows you to scale up to meet growing demand. Alternatively, you can scale out as the WFA also supports Scale-out File Server (SOFS) for non-disruptive volume extensibility that lets databases grow without going offline. You can scale up or out to four arrays (eight nodes) to ensure that VM densities match host server capacity to maximize utilization. If a private cloud is in your future, the WFA is a future-proof and very efficient platform. Figure 3: Customer Observed Performance Improvements, WFA vs. Industry Standard All Flash Array Consolidation or virtualization initiatives are unleashed by the WFA. With Hyper-V virtualization, your application servers can now scale to enterprise-class workloads. You can do this while delivering consistent service levels so you can eliminate application growth barriers, which increases your investment protection. Developers can rapidly deploy new test beds, which closely match the speed and architecture of the production environment of your strategic applications. Roll out and roll up is quick and simple, with minimal waiting on IT administrators. Conclusion Legacy storage solutions are built for capacity, not I/O performance. Yet today s virtualized applications running under Microsoft Server Hyper-V are performance oriented. This results in complex, expensive, and hard-to-scale storage solutions being deployed to meet the needs of business critical applications. The Violin Windows Flash Array is a fundamentally different and better storage solution for Microsoft environments that addresses the performance shortcomings of legacy storage. The WFA is an all-flash active-active HA multi-node cluster platform with native Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 that delivers rich file and storage services by putting Windows intelligence in the storage array. Support for the SMB 3.0 protocol and SMB Direct means that your storage runs at PCIe speeds with the features of a SAN with the performance of DAS at the price of NAS. You can unleash your Windows application performance and free up existing resources to do more. In fact, the performance of the WFA is Pg. 7

8 so high that you could choose to eliminate your existing dedicated storage infrastructure that is supporting your Hyper-V enterprise applications. With the WFA, you get continuous availability and reduced risk to operations through multiple layers of protection that delivers enterprise-class storage performance at an attractive price point. 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. Moreover, you can do this 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. Pg. 8

9 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 datacenter economics. Founded in 2005, Violin Memory is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/violinmemory Pg. 9 Violin Memory 4555 Great America Parkway, Suite #150, Santa Clara, CA violin-memory.com

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