EMC XtremSF: Delivering Next Generation Storage Performance for SQL Server

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1 White Paper EMC XtremSF: Delivering Next Generation Storage Performance for SQL Server Abstract This white paper addresses the challenges currently facing business executives to store and process the growing volumes of data driven by such things as new applications, virtualization, the cloud and explosive growth in web consumerization. In this paper, EMC demonstrates how advanced storage technology can be applied to Microsoft SQL Server enterprise environments to greatly improve performance while lowering costs. March 2013

2 Copyright 2013 EMC Corporation. All Rights Reserved. EMC believes the information in this publication is accurate as of its publication date. The information is subject to change without notice. The information in this publication is provided as is. EMC Corporation makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the information in this publication, and specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Use, copying, and distribution of any EMC software described in this publication requires an applicable software license. For the most up-to-date listing of EMC product names, see EMC Corporation Trademarks on EMC.com. H

3 Table of Contents Executive Summary... 4 EMC XtremSF Flash Storage Technology... 6 Key Findings... 7 Online Transaction Processing Test... 8 Figure 1: SQL Server Transaction Performance Comparative Benchmark... 9 Data Warehouse Performance Test... 9 Figure 2: Data Warehouse improvement with XtremSF SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups Figure 3: SQL Server AlwaysOn with XtremSF Configuration Figure 5: SQL Server AlwaysOn Storage Hybrid Configuration Conclusion

4 Executive Summary The enormous volume of data stored by businesses is growing exponentially, increasing system workloads and creating new challenges for IT organizations. At the same time, organizations are delivering expanded software capabilities to users that increase job complexity, all the while demanding faster results. The primary challenge for enterprise environments looking to meet this new digital data paradigm is to overcome the limitations of traditional storage related to rotational latency. This is the time it takes for the rotation of the disk to bring the required disk sector containing the requested data under the read-write head. The demand for greater I/O performance driven by such things as new applications, virtualization, the cloud and an explosive growth in web consumerization has created a challenge for many companies. While processor speeds and network bandwidth advancements have kept pace with enterprise requirements, data storage I/O (input/output) has remained a key performance constraint. As increased data load requirements continue to outpace traditional storage I/O technology, businesses are challenged with how to accelerate performance to meet new increased transactional processing and data analysis loads. The emergence of flash storage technologies offers orders-of-magnitude faster I/O performance, but there are differing approaches that need to be considered. The purpose of this White Paper is to provide the results of tests conducted by EMC that compared the performance of local server storage XtremSF a new advanced Flash storage technology and a mix of traditional storage array and XtremSF within a Microsoft SQL Server database enterprise environment. These results showed an unprecedented price/performance gain when running SQL Server by delivering maximum throughput performance while reducing infrastructure cost and lowering power consumption and cooling requirements. This White Paper contains the following: An introduction to EMC XtremSF flash storage technology; Key findings from benchmark tests conducted and configurations to achieve optimal performance; and Conclusions 4

5 This white paper is intended for Senior Management, IT Management, IT Planners and Database Administrator. 5

6 EMC XtremSF Flash Storage Technology EMC XtremSF is an advanced flash storage technology deployed in a server PCIe card slot designed to deliver unprecedented application performance by reducing latency and accelerating I/O throughput. XtremSF has been designed to transparently provide and maintain a traditional block storage interface for applications. It allows applications to access data in the most efficient manner possible. Residing on the server PCIe interconnect bus, XtremSF overcomes the limitations of mechanical disk performance and the bandwidth constraints of network storage access - reducing response time from milliseconds to microseconds. By storing data locally in the server, XtremSF can alleviates I/O bottlenecks to deliver maximum read and write performance. When measured at near-full capacity, XtremSF can delivers two times greater performance than its closest flash storage competitor. XtremSF increases performance not only because it sits on the PCIe bus taking advantage of a high speed transfer rates but also because it excels at random workloads, multi-threaded workloads, and high queue depths. XtremSF offers the industry s highest storage capacity in the smallest footprint. At half-height, half-length, XtremSF is a single low-profile card that fits in any rackmount server within the power envelope of a single PCIe slot. Its compact, universal form factor enables organizations to maximize the use of valuable datacenter space - reducing data center sprawl. XtremSF is available in 550 GB, 700 GB, 1.4 TB, and 2.2 TB MLC Flash based storage capacities, in addition to 350GB and 700GB SLC Flash based PCIe cards. XtremSF delivers sustained, predictable, high performance across a variety of mission-critical application and database workloads. XtremSF is particularly ideal for high-transactional and high-performance workloads often associated with the following operational environments: High-performance trading applications High-performance computing (HPC) Web 2.0 applications This advanced storage technology can also be used to accelerate analytics, reporting, data modeling, indexes, database dumps, batch processing, background tasks, and other ephemeral workloads. With XtremSF, both read and write database operations are performed 6

7 directly to the PCIe flash card in the server. For mission-critical workloads in which data must be protected by the array, XtremSF can be coupled with EMC VFCache - intelligent server flash caching software. While accelerating reads, VFCache leverages a write-through algorithm to ensure that newly written data persists to the networked storage array for persistent high availability, integrity, reliability, and disaster recovery. XtremSF delivers performance without compromise over the entire lifetime of the device, even when the device is full. To maximize the lifetime of the flash media, XtremSF performs dynamic global and local wear leveling. When needed, XtremSF relocates data to areas of flash that are less used. Furthermore, sophisticated scheduling algorithms allow flash management tasks to occur without impacting application performance. XtremSF is specifically designed to minimize CPU overhead in the server by offloading these flash management operations from the host CPU to the PCIe card. XtremSF offers simplified management. Unlike competing solutions, one hundred percent of the XtremSF capacity is available as a single host volume on the server. XtremSF also delivers continuity of operations in the event that there is a failure within any flash media component. Inherent in XtremSF, flash components can be isolated as separate slices and spread across RAID groups, allowing for multiple failures to occur without disrupting an application s access to the data. Organizations that want accelerated performance with protection can combine XtremSF with EMC VFCache - intelligent server flash caching software. While accelerating reads, VFCache simultaneously delivers enterprise-class protection of mission-critical application data. The software caches an application s most frequently accessed data on a PCIe flash card in the server to deliver maximum performance. Furthermore, it is designed to ensure that newly written data matches the networked storage array for persistent high availability, integrity, reliability, and disaster recovery. Key Findings EMC s overall findings include performance results when deploying multiple storage technologies within your storage architecture to deliver optimal performance at the lowest cost. These findings were collected running Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 under the Windows 2008 R2 SP1 server operating environment. Functionality and Performance testing focused on the following four application areas: 7

8 1. OLTP (online transaction processing) 2. Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse operations 3. OLTP with SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups Furthermore, by deploying XtremSF particularly in a high volume online transaction processing environment results suggest that organizations are able to lower overall CAPex (capital expenditure) and OPex (operational expenditure) in the following ways: 1. XtremSF greatly minimized the number of backend mechanical drives required to achieve similar optimal performance. This reduced infrastructure should also translate into reduced cooling and power requirements and lower TCO maintenance and costs 2. XtremSF frees server resources, thereby, allowing a single server to handle a greater workload serving multiple databases or applications. This reduced infrastructure should also translate into reduced cooling and power requirements and lower TCO maintenance and fees. Online Transaction Processing Test For this benchmark, EMC established the following configuration: Server: Cisco C-460 M2 with 512GB memory Operating System: Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Storage: 10 x 600GB SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives 1 x XtremSF 2.2TB for database Data files 1 x XtremSF 550GB for database Log files Database: SQL Server 2012 SP1 populated with 800GB of TPC-E like OLTP data EMC found that XtremSF delivered a 3,000 percent performance advantage when compared to a mechanical DAS storage alternative running Microsoft SQL Server 2012 within a high volume transaction processing OLTP model (Figure 1). The IOPs shown below are observed with SQL Server configured with Instance max memory of 64GB. The XtremSF card is capable of handling far more IOPs. 8

9 Figure 1: SQL Server Transaction Performance Comparative Benchmark 70,000 60,000 58,203 50,000 Total IOPs 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000-1,920 Local Disk VFStore Data Warehouse Performance Test For this test, EMC established the following hybrid storage configuration: Server: Cisco C-260 M2 with 256GB memory Operating System: Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Network: Cisco Nexus 5548UP Storage: VNX x 600GB SAS drives for DATA 26 x 600GB SAS drives for TempDB 1 x XtremSF 2.2TB for TempDB Database: 3 x 2TB databases (TPC-H like) In the Data Warehouse analytics environment above migrating TempDB from 26 SAS drives to one XtremSF cards reduced query completion times by 10 percent as shown by (Figure 3). The reduction in query completion time is on top of reducing the SAS drive requirement by 26 drives on the back-end storage array. These SAS drives saved can be used for deploying some other application or 9

10 expanding the existing DATA storage pool there by further improving the performance of the application. Database applications with a higher TempDB activity than shown in this test can enjoy larger benefits with XtremSF. Figure 2: Data Warehouse improvement with XtremSF 10

11 SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups XtremSF provides superior application performance compared to its competition, but like any other PCI-e DAS storage lacks high availability features that are provided by traditional storage arrays like EMC VMAX & VNX. One way to benefit from the outstanding performance delivered by XtremSF and overcome the limitation of high availability is to take advantage of AlwaysOn, an integrated high availability and disaster recovery feature found in SQL Server. Of course, IT enterprises understand that implementing a high availability and disaster recovery solution comes at a cost to performance due to a number of factors. These factors include the volume of log shipping, the distance between the primary and secondary sites and the quality and speed of interconnect or log replication network between sites. One approach is to implement XtremSF as the storage solution for the primary/production site and also for the disaster secondary/recovery site as shown below (Figure 4). Figure 3: SQL Server AlwaysOn with XtremSF Configuration A second approach was to implement XtremSF as the storage solution for the primary site to take advantage of the higher performance capabilities of this solution and to use a VMAX or VNX storage array for implementing the secondary site (Figure 5). 11

12 Figure 4: SQL Server AlwaysOn Storage Hybrid Configuration There are several advantages to this hybrid approach: 1. A single powerful storage array can act as a resilient secondary destination for multiple sites or applications. (Assumption here is that, not every application will have outage at the same time) 2. The storage array cloning features can be used on the secondary site for creating test/development copies of the database in a quick, transparent and automated fashion. 3. The storage array on the secondary site can also be used for performing reporting tasks Conclusion As IT planners prepare their data center to meet the growing need to store increasing volumes of data and to deliver greater I/O performance in a cost-effective manner, they should look to a storage architecture that combines EMC VMAX & VNX storage arrays with XtremSF flash technology to deliver immediate value. Test results with SQL Server 2012 demonstrate that an architecture using this storage solution can dramatically improve I/O performance and provide opportunities to reduce overall CAPex and OPex through increased performance for high volume transaction processing, a highly efficient storage architecture, lower cooling and power requirements and reduced maintenance costs. 12

13 With XtremSF, IT organizations can immediately realize unprecedented gains in database and application performance for demanding enterprise environments that include: High-performance trading applications Web 2.0 applications High-performance computing (HPC) The benefits from this advanced storage solution approach are revolutionizing the way leading IT organizations should be thinking about their future server and storage architectures in order to meet the new data processing and performance requirements of today s demanding enterprise environments. 13

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