EMC EXTREME PERFORMANCE AND EFFICIENCY FOR MICROSOFT SQL SERVER

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1 White Paper EMC EXTREME PERFORMANCE AND EFFICIENCY FOR MICROSOFT SQL SERVER Optimize very high throughput for OLTP SQL Server workloads Virtualize and consolidate database instances Create multiple snapshot copies with no performance impact Minimize storage footprint for multiple database copies EMC Solutions Abstract This white paper describes the operational advantages of virtualized Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and 2014 databases deployed on an EMC XtremIO all-flash array, and how the solution enhances the capabilities of SQL Server dependent environments. June 2014

2 Copyright 2014 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. All trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners. Part Number H

3 Table of contents Executive summary... 6 Business case... 6 Solution overview... 6 Key results... 7 Introduction... 8 Purpose... 8 Scope... 8 Audience... 8 Terminology... 8 Technology overview... 9 Overview... 9 EMC XtremIO... 9 Key advantages... 9 Inline data reduction Writeable snapshots XtremIO Management Server VMware vsphere Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft SQL Server Solution architecture Overview Architecture diagram Hardware resources Software resources Storage layer: EMC XtremIO Overview Storage design Database storage design considerations Storage design details Microsoft SQL Server database design Overview OLTP database storage design OLTP database profile OLTP database design

4 Network layer Overview SAN networking best practices IP network best practices VMware vsphere network best practices Physical servers and virtualization layer Overview Compute and storage resources Network virtualization Design considerations Overview XtremIO configuration best practices Fibre Channel switch configuration Server configuration vsphere Native Multipathing configuration Performance testing and validation Overview Notes on results Test objectives Test scenarios OLTP workload performance test Test methodology Test procedure Test results XtremIO system performance SQL Server 2012 versus SQL Server 2014 performance System with XtremIO snapshot performance test Test methodology Test procedure Test results XtremIO data reduction analysis Cost-effective data reduction Deduplication rate Conclusion Summary Findings References

5 EMC documentation White papers Product documentation EMC XtremIO VMware documentation Microsoft SQL Server documentation

6 Executive summary Business case In today s increasingly demanding business environments, enterprises are being driven to optimize processes and improve service. There are also higher demands on IT infrastructure performance and data availability, which are driven by: High-transaction workloads Time-critical applications and escalating service-level agreements Turnkey and third-party applications with high sensitivity for I/O responsiveness Replication of application databases for use by supporting business processes such as business intelligence (BI) reporting, testing, and development functions Need for highly available architectures In most environments, enterprises need to create copies of production data with minimal impact to the system, and safely repurpose those copies for business teams within their organization to use the data. Typically, they must wait hours or days to get access to copies of production data. This delay reduces their effectiveness for tasks such as BI insight, testing and development (test/dev), data integrity, validation, and auditing. As enterprises attempt to improve data availability, issues occur when the technology solution cannot meet expectations, such as: Complex configuration for SQL Server environments for production, test/dev, and analytics Limited capabilities to maintain multiple copies of databases for read and write purposes, without affecting production performance or incurring significant costs for duplicated high-performance environments Over-used operations staff and increased costs associated with third-party tools due to unwieldy backup and recovery methods Enterprises that rely on Microsoft SQL Server must consider new approaches to meet continuing operational performance and capacity management challenges. Currently, they must consider systems that provide higher levels of performance while minimizing operational costs and complexity. Solution overview Working together, Microsoft and EMC supply the critical components to deliver highperformance, enterprise-class availability solutions for SQL Server environments. With EMC XtremIO, EMC provides you with a storage solution that is optimized for extreme online transactional processing (OLTP) database performance for SQL Server and ensures that you can maximize the efficiencies of other system resources, such as CPU and memory. Provisioning storage for optimal database performance is traditionally a complex, time-consuming process that requires expert knowledge of the database itself, not only of storage systems. The XtremIO all-flash array responds to changing conditions 6

7 such as transaction processing spikes and complex queries, and supports test and development environments with up-to-date copies of production databases. Through XtremIO array-based snapshot capabilities, this solution not only provides near-instant recovery technology to minimize downtime once a database issue (data loss, logical corruption, and so on) occurs, but also enables faster, easier, and more cost effective data accessibility that improves business intelligence and analytics. XtremIO all-flash arrays resolve database storage challenges by: Creating a volume with just a few clicks and enabling the entire database structure to be put into it. No planning, provisioning, or tuning steps are required. Automatically employing all storage system resources solid-state drives (SSDs) and controllers all the time. Scaling out the XtremIO system and increasing performance if your requirements exceed what a single XtremIO X-Brick delivers. Eliminating complexities by using XtremIO snapshots to manage multiple instances and copies of databases. Key results The solution shows that the EMC XtremIO all-flash storage array delivers: Fast and simple setup with little to no storage tuning. XtremIO works as seamlessly in virtualized SQL Server environments as in physical ones, and is easy to manage and monitor. Support for the most demanding transactional SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 workloads, with throughput that can easily exceed 200,000 IOPS for a two X-Brick configuration while maintaining sub-millisecond latencies. Substantial storage footprint savings by using XtremIO inline data reduction and snapshots, which we observed in this configuration with a 16:1 overall efficiency. Close to real-time, high-performance copies of data using XtremIO snapshot technology at no measurable cost, while providing near-instant recovery of production data, even in TBs of data scale. 7

8 Introduction Purpose Scope Audience Terminology This white paper describes a highly available and scalable solution for Microsoft SQL Server deployed in a virtualized vsphere environment with XtremIO storage. The white paper also demonstrates that XtremIO read/writeable snapshots provide highly effective reporting or development environments with no impact to the consolidated production server performance. The white paper demonstrates how: The solution improves and enhances the performance of SQL Server 2012 and 2014 versions by providing new capabilities and simplifying the configuration of the environment XtremIO read/writeable snapshots provides instant creation of multiple database copies with minimal performance impact on production databases The white paper is intended for Microsoft SQL Server database administrators (DBAs), VMware administrators, storage administrators, IT architects, and technical managers responsible for designing, creating, and managing Microsoft SQL Server databases, infrastructure, and data centers. The white paper includes the following terminology. Table 1. Terminology Term Data synchronization OLTP Round robin VMDK Definition The process by which changes to a primary database are reproduced on a secondary database. Typical applications of online transaction processing (OLTP) include data entry and retrieval transaction processing. Round robin uses an automatic path selection policy to rotate through all available paths, enabling the distribution of load across the configured paths. Round robin can present one of the most performance-effective ways of path selection. The next available I/O path in the list is selected without any determining factor. If you had, for example, six I/Os in the queue to storage, paths 1 to 6 would be used in order. A virtual machine datafile for VMware. 8

9 Technology overview Overview EMC XtremIO The key technology components used in this white paper are: EMC XtremIO VMware vsphere Microsoft SQL Server The EMC XtremIO storage array is an all-flash system based on scale-out architecture. The system uses building blocks, called X-Bricks, which can be clustered together to grow performance and capacity as required. This solution uses two X-Bricks clustered together as a single logical storage system. Key advantages XtremIO uses flash to deliver value across the following main dimensions: Performance: Regardless of how busy the system is, and regardless of storage capacity utilization, latency and throughput remain consistent, predictable, and constant. Latency within the array for an I/O request is typically far less than one millisecond (ms). Figure 1 shows an example of the XtremIO dashboard used to monitor performance. Figure 1. XtremIO Storage Management Application dashboard Scalability: Based on a scale-out architecture, the XtremIO storage system s single X-Brick is a building block. Multiple X-Bricks can be clustered together to provide additional performance or capacity. Performance scales linearly, ensuring that two X-Bricks supply twice the IOPS and four X-Bricks supply four times the IOPS of the single X-Brick configuration, while latency remains consistently low as the system scales out. XtremIO arrays scale out to any required performance or capacity level, as shown in Figure 2. 9

10 Figure 2. X-Brick scaling units Data reduction: The core XtremIO engine implements content-based inline data reduction. XtremIO automatically reduces (deduplicates) data as it enters the system. This reduces the amount of data written to flash, improving longevity of the media and reducing cost. Volumes are always thin-provisioned without any loss of performance, over-provisioning of capacity, or fragmentation. Data protection: XtremIO uses a proprietary flash-optimized data protection algorithm, XtremIO Data Protection (XDP), which provides superior data protection, while enabling performance that surpasses any existing RAID algorithms. Optimizations in XDP also result in fewer writes to flash media for data protection purposes. Functionality: XtremIO supports high performance and space-efficient snapshots, inline data reduction, thin provisioning, and full vsphere VAAI, integration with support for Fibre Channel (FC) and iscsi protocols. Simplicity: There is no need to choose the RAID type, create a RAID group, or decide whether or not to enable thin provisioning or deduplication. These functions are already built into the system. Provisioning storage with XtremIO is as simple as deciding how large a LUN you want to create. Inline data reduction XtremIO inline data reduction provides a number of benefits including: Cost-effective data reduction while increasing performance and reliability Easy scale-out Inline, global, and always on Improved array performance Extended flash endurance 10

11 Deduplication, data reduction, and scale-out One of the key differentiators for XtremIO is the built-in deduplication, which is 100 percent optimized for flash drives (SSDs) and always on with no setup, administration, or tuning required. While flash performance is highly desirable, the cost can be prohibitive. With the XtremIO real-time data-reduction technology, you can sustain a logical capacity that often exceeds the physical flash capacity of the system by a large margin. The effective cost of XtremIO can be lower than a traditional array for the same amount of data, making it extremely attractive compared to other flash-based solutions. With data reduction, the XtremIO system s capacities can expand beyond its physical storage. The effective logical capacity of a single X-Brick can be much more than its nominal flash capacity in environments that contain highly duplicate information. Inline, global, and always on Historically, data reduction techniques were relegated to secondary workloads such as backup and archiving because they resulted in a severe negative performance impact. In contrast, the XtremIO data reduction technology not only creates no performance loss, but also accelerates data reduction. Data reduction occurs between all logical volumes on the array and across all X- Bricks in a cluster. Data reduction ratios are greatly enhanced since the process is not constrained within a single volume. XtremIO built-in data reduction is always on and does not require any administration work. Extended flash lifetime XtremIO data reduction extends the life of the flash. Writes are avoided by reducing data in flight, and extending flash endurance by leaving flash write cycles available for unique data. Improved array performance On XtremIO storage, the more data reduction that takes place, the faster the array runs. XtremIO inline data reduction reduces data in real time in the data path and does not need post-processing operations, which improves performance, consistency, and predictability while adding less I/Os to the flash drives. Writeable snapshots XtremIO elevates writeable snapshots beyond data protection as the key enabler of huge productivity gains by: Creating as many writeable copies of production volumes as you need with a small storage footprint Consolidating test/dev, data warehousing, business intelligence copies, and application workloads Managing the agile database lifecycle 11

12 XtremIO snapshots are equivalent to production volumes in terms of performance, property, and functions, which means that a snapshot in XtremIO can be considered the same as the production volume. Figure 3 shows how XtremIO works in an environment with a demand for large amounts of test/dev, quality assurance (QA) data from a writeable snapshot. Figure 3. XtremIO snapshots XtremIO snapshots provide users not only with a clone-like image that can be used as a test bed, but also lower the cost of creating and keeping many of them. This makes it possible for many applications to use production data for development as needed, and makes data available for QA or business intelligence needs. Benefits of snapshots include: Inherently writeable, not read-only Built into metadata Metadata is only needed for globally unique writes. Entire metadata copies are not required as in other snapshot implementations. Can be used as live production volumes without the need to create a writeable or instantiate snapshot for read/write access Space and metadata efficient Each snapshot does not need full metadata structure 12

13 Common metadata is shared between production and snapshot Space is only used for new unique data blocks and associated metadata Deduplication and thin provisioning is always on Enables affordable consolidation Maximum performance, scalability, and economy Instant creation of a complete snapshot No impact on system performance No overhead from brute-force copies No metadata bloat Minimizes deletion penalty for data and metadata Flexibility Take and keep as many snapshots as needed Take snapshots of snapshots at any level Create any snapshot tree topology as needed Remove snapshots or their parent volume as needed XtremIO Management Server XtremIO Management Server (XMS) is a standalone dedicated Linux-based server that is used to control the XtremIO system operation. XMS can be either a physical or a virtual server. The array continues operating if it is disconnected from XMS but cannot be configured or monitored. VMware vsphere VMware vsphere is a complete and robust virtualization platform, virtualizing business-critical applications with dynamic resource pools for unprecedented flexibility and reliability. It transforms the physical resources of a computer by virtualizing the CPU, RAM, hard disk, and network controller. This transformation creates fully functional virtual machines that run isolated and encapsulated operating systems and applications. VMware vsphere 5.5 is the VMware virtual data center operating system. It continues to transform IT infrastructure into the most efficient, shared, and on-demand utility, with built-in availability, scalability, and security services for all applications and simple, proactive automated management. vsphere 5.5 has the following scalability and performance enhancements, which enable a virtual machine to use more resources from the hypervisor: Support for 62 TB virtual machine datafile (VMDK) Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) updates: VMware introduced a number of additional features to support MSCS, including: Microsoft Windows 2012 cluster 13

14 Round-robin path policy for shared storage 1 iscsi protocol for shared storage FC over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol for shared storage with regard to the introduction of round-robin support 16 GB E2E support: VMware introduced 16 GB end-to-end FC support. Both the HBAs and array controllers can run at16 GB as long as the FC switch between the initiator and target supports it. PDL AutoRemove: Introduced with vsphere 5.5, this feature automatically removes a device from a host when the device enters a PDL state. vsphere Replication Interoperability vsphere Replication Multi-Point-in-Time Snapshot Retention vsphere Flash Read Cache XtremIO offers efficient enterprise storage working with VMware vsphere 5.5 cloud infrastructure. Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is the Microsoft database management and analysis system for ecommerce, line-of-business, and data warehousing solutions. AlwaysOn SQL Server AlwaysOn refers to the comprehensive high availability and disaster recovery (DR) solution for SQL Server AlwaysOn presents enhanced capabilities for both specific databases and entire instances, providing flexibility to support various high availability configurations through: AlwaysOn failover cluster instances (FCI) AlwaysOn Availability Groups (AAG) This solution explores AAG, with a focus on the transaction-level replication feature that provides access to near-live readable secondary replicas of production databases. AlwaysOn Availability Groups AAG is a high-availability and disaster recovery solution introduced in SQL Server 2012, which enables administrators to maximize availability for one or more user databases. SQL Server instances are configured so that a single primary database or a group of primary databases can have up to four secondary database copies residing on Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) nodes. 1 A number of changes were made in vsphere 5.5 concerning the SCSI locking mechanism used by MSCS when a failover of services occurs. To facilitate this new path policy, changes have been implemented that make it irrelevant which path is used to place the SCSI reservation; any path can free the reservation. 14

15 Readable Columnstore indexes The Columnstore index introduced in SQL Server 2012 provides significantly improved performance for data warehousing types of queries. SQL Server 2012 Columnstore indexes cannot be dynamically updated. Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Microsoft's release of SQL Server 2014 has several compelling features. New In-Memory OLTP Engine By moving selected tables and stored procedures into memory, SQL Server 2014 can drastically reduce I/O and improve performance of the OLTP applications. The in-memory OLTP engine is designed for high concurrency and uses an optimistic concurrency control mechanism to eliminate locking delays. In-memory OLTP tables are copied into memory and made durable by transaction log writes to disk. Enhanced Windows Server 2012 Integration SQL Server 2014 provides improved integration with Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012: Scales up to 640 logical processors and 4 TB of memory in a physical environment Scales up to 64 virtual processors and 1 TB of memory when running on a virtual machine Supports Windows 2012 R2 Storage Spaces feature to create tiered storage pools that improve performance Takes advantage of Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 enhancements to achieve high-performance database storage on file shares With the new SMB Direct feature, you can use the network interface card (NIC) remote direct memory access (RDMA) feature to provide access speeds for SMB file shares nearing the access speed for local resources. Resource Governor Improvement The SQL Server 2014 Resource Governor provides a new capability to manage application storage I/O utilization. The Resource Governor can limit the physical I/Os issued for user threads in a given resource pool, enabling more predictable application performance. This can be used to limit the number of I/Os issued at the SQL Server instance boundary. Buffer pool extension The buffer pool extension provides the seamless integration of SSDs as a high-speed, nonvolatile random access memory (NVRAM) extension to the Database Engine standard buffer pool to significantly improve I/O throughput. The new buffer pool extensions can provide the best performance gains for read-heavy OLTP workloads Enhancements to AlwaysOn Availability Groups The SQL Server 2014 AAG has been enhanced with support for additional secondary replicas and Windows Azure integration. 15

16 Readable secondary replicas in SQL Server 2014 are available for read-only workloads, even when the primary replica is unavailable. Updateable Columnstore indexes Columnstore indexes in SQL Server 2014 are updateable. You can make updates to the underlying table without first needing to drop the Columnstore index. A SQL Server 2014 Columnstore index must use all of the columns in the table, and it cannot be combined with other indexes. 16

17 Solution architecture Overview This section describes the solution architecture. The solution provides an optimal cost-to-performance ratio for Microsoft SQL Server mission-critical application environments. The SQL Server 2012 and 2014 databases are deployed as virtualized databases on an XtremIO storage array consisting of two X-Bricks. There are also virtualized test/dev SQL Server instances in the environment that access the XtremIO snapshots of the production database for testing and development purposes. Architecture diagram Figure 4 shows the logical architecture of this solution. Figure 4. Solution architecture The architecture is composed of the following: Storage layer: Comprised of two X-Bricks in a single XtremIO cluster (12U, XtremIO version 2.4) with TB of usable physical capacity. SQL Servers database layer: Comprised of both SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 as production servers. SQL Server 2012 has six databases and a total of about 7 TB data. SQL Server 2014 has three databases and total of 17

18 about 4 TB data. Snapshots can be mounted onto any of the mount hosts at any time, when needed. Network layer: Comprised of two IP switches and two director-class SAN switches, which we 2 configured to produce 108 GB/s active bandwidth. The SAN switches are designed for deployment in storage networks supporting virtualized data centers and enterprise clouds. Physical servers and virtualization layer: Comprised of three servers that use a total of 120 Intel E7 processor cores with 2.9 GHz processors and a total of 2 TB RAM. The rack server enables a high-performing, consolidated, virtualized approach to a Microsoft SQL Server infrastructure, resulting in deployment flexibility without the need for application modification. The servers are installed with vsphere 5.5 and configured as a VMware ESXi cluster. The cluster is comprised of two enterprise-class production SQL Server virtual machines (SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014). There are also three more standalone SQL Servers two SQL Server 2012 and one SQL Server 2014 virtual machines. Each virtual machine is configured with 16 vcpus and 32 GB RAM. We examined the performance by running OLTP workloads against the databases on these SQL Servers. Hardware resources Table 2 lists the hardware resources used in the solution. Table 2. Hardware resources Hardware Quantity Configuration Storage array 1 XtremIO consisting of two X-Bricks Servers 3 20 cores, 2.9 GHz processors, 512 GB RAM, including: 2 x 1 Gb quad Ethernet (GbE) NICs 2 x 10 GbE NICs 2 x 8 GB FC dual-port HBAs LAN switches 2 10 GbE, 32-port non-blocking SAN switches 2 FC director-class switches with 6 blades Software resources Table 3 lists the software resources used in this solution. Table 3. Software resources Software Version Notes XtremIO 2.4 All-flash storage VMware vsphere 5.5 Hypervisor hosting all virtual machines VMware vcenter 5.5 Management of vsphere 2 In this white paper, we refers to the EMC Solutions engineering team that validated the solution. 18

19 Software Version Notes Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 Operating system for database servers Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 Enterprise Edition Database Microsoft SQL Server 2014 RTM Enterprise Edition Database Microsoft BenchCraft TPC-E Toolkit TPC-E-like OLTP benchmark workload tool 19

20 Storage layer: EMC XtremIO Overview XtremIO uses its multi-controller scale-out design and RDMA fabric to maintain all metadata in memory. This makes XtremIO arrays impervious to changes in workload it does not matter what LUN sizes are used, whether there are random or sequential access patterns, or if there is locality of reference or not. The performance is always consistent and predictable. The need for a careful, painstaking storage design for optimized performance is no longer necessary. For example, disruptive tempdb database workloads can co-exist in the same LUN with its write-intensive transaction logs and still provide excellent performance. With built-in thin provisioning, storage is only allocated when it is needed. This enables DBAs to create larger LUNs to accommodate future or unexpected growth for databases, without wasting any physical space on storage. Best of all, heavy metadata operations such as inline data reduction, thin provisioning allocations, and internal array copy operations are conducted entirely in memory, instantly, without impacting I/O. Storage design Database storage design considerations Performance is the number one consideration for tier-1 database storage design, but inherent in traditional performance storage designs are the complexities and high costs. Database storage design typically requires free space at all levels of the storage stack, from actual data in databases, to space allocated to datafiles and log files. If a database runs out of datafile space, the database instance stops committing any new transactions, and an immediate manual remediation is required to avoid crashing the database and losing data. It is critical that the line of business is not affected. If database file autogrowth is enabled, SQL Server automatically allocates additional chunks of storage on disk to avoid this database file-full situation, but that operation usually affects database performance and, if used indiscriminately, could cause repeated fragmentation of datafiles across disks, which can further impact the performance. EMC and Microsoft SQL Server best practices recommend that you configure SQL Server datafile sizes to be 10 to 20 percent larger than the current or intended database size. Doing this requires free space at the NTFS volume level, and results in the underlying storage space being locked out without perceivable value until the space is needed. A maintenance window and manual intervention is required if the NTFS volume needs expansion. It is difficult to balance how much free disk space to allocate at the design stage, which will not have an immediate use, versus the amount of readily available free space for growth. 20

21 Figure 5 shows an example of wasted space in a 1 TB database. This issue occurs multiple times in database environments with multiple databases and log files across many SQL Server instances, which compounds the cost and management complexities. Figure 5. Traditional storage capacity consumption planning In this example, you have 1 TB of data, but need at least 1.58 TB of allocated storage space, by adhering to the traditional storage planning best practices. This represents about a 58 percent waste of physical storage allocation for free space purposes. Figure 6 shows how a 1 TB database can easily use less than 1 TB of physical storage allocation on XtremIO and still satisfy the logical free space required for storage planning. Figure 6. XtremIO storage capacity consumption planning With XtremIO, using thin provisioning (allocate-on-demand) and deduplication means that a 1 TB database requires less than 1 TB of allocated physical space. The 21

22 operational complexities can be eliminated by allocating as much LUN space, virtual file system space and, therefore, NTFS volume space, as required from the start because storage is only allocated on demand. Storage design details For this solution, XtremIO is deployed in a two X-Brick cluster configured by default with XtremIO XDP to provide a physical capacity of TB, as shown in Figure 7. Figure 7. XtremIO Management Application dashboard storage panel With XtremIO, both random and sequential I/O generated from the database are treated equally as data is randomized and distributed in a balanced way throughout the array. The storage design for the Microsoft SQL Server database can be simplified compared to traditional provisioning techniques. For this solution, the volume size is standardized for easy deployment as shown in Table 4. If you take advantage of thin provisioning, larger volume allocation does not waste any physical storage while leaving room for growth. Table 4. Microsoft SQL Server storage design on XtremIO Volume name Volume purpose LUN size SQL_OS Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 OS and SQL Server software installation volume, which is used for multiple virtual machines such as VMDK on the same datastore 1 TB SQL_DB Microsoft SQL Server database datafile volumes 2 TB SQL_log Microsoft SQL Server database log file volumes 500 GB Tempdb Microsoft SQL Server tempdb volumes 1 TB 22

23 For the production databases, volumes are created and presented to the virtual machine for use with the Microsoft SQL Server virtual machines, as shown in Table 5. Table 5. Volume/LUN assignment for OLTP Database Volume Volume size Volume type OS 120 GB VMDK on OS LUN/VMFS volume SQL Server installation and systems databases 120 GB VMDK on OS LUN/VMFS volume SQL Server data 2 TB RDM or VMDK SQL Server log 500 GB RDM or VMDK Tempdb 1 TB RDM or VMDK Note: Performance and availability of either RDM or VMDK volumes is very similar, so either choice is reasonable depending on individual design requirements. Certain technologies, such as Windows Failover Clustering, require RDMs when running in-virtual-machine clustering (to support SCSI-3 reservations). 23

24 Microsoft SQL Server database design Overview OLTP database storage design OLTP database profile In this solution, two virtualized instances with transactional OLTP databases (one on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and one on Microsoft SQL Server 2014) were created on a vsphere high availability (HA) cluster. As Table 5 on page 23 shows, we used six 2 TB database volumes to store the relevant database files, including datafiles, and transaction log files, and temporary files for the SQL Server 2012 databases. We used three 2 TB database volumes to store the relevant files for the SQL Server 2014 databases. Table 6 lists OLTP database profile for the solution. Table 6. Database profile for OLTP database Property SQL Server 2012 SQL Server 2014 Database type OLTP (transactional) OLTP (transactional) Database size Total: 5 TB Total: 2.25 TB Microsoft SQL Server databases 1 x 2 TB, 1 x 1 TB, 1 x 750 GB, 2 x 500 GB, 1 x 250 GB 1 x 1 TB, 1 x 750 GB, 1 x 500 GB Memory for SQL Server 32 GB 32 GB Workload profile OLTP workload simulated by Microsoft BenchCraft Read/write ratio: 90/10 OLTP workload simulated by Microsoft BenchCraft Read/write ratio: 90/10 Average data block size 8 KB 8 KB OLTP database design Table 7 and Table 8 list the OLTP database actual LUN design for the solution. Table 7. OLTP database actual LUN design detail for SQL Server 2012 Detail Databases Database name DB_01 DB_02 DB_03 DB_04 DB_05 DB_06 Tempdb Actual database size 750 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 250 GB 1 TB 400 GB LUN size 2 TB 2 TB 2 TB 2 x 2 TB 2 TB 2 TB 1 TB Actual log size 350 GB 250 GB 320 GB 360 GB 175 GB 320 GB 80 GB Log LUN size 500 GB 500 GB 500 GB 500 GB 500 GB 500 GB n/a Total data and log size Total LUN size 7.2 TB 16 TB 24

25 Table 8. OLTP database actual LUN design detail for SQL Server 2014 Detail Databases Database name DB_01 DB_02 DB_03 Tempdb Actual database size 750 GB 500 GB 1 TB 400 GB LUN size 2 TB 2 TB 2 TB 1 TB Actual log size 350 GB 250 GB 320 GB 80 GB Log LUN size 500 GB 500 GB 500 GB n/a Total data and log size Total LUN size 3.7 TB 8.5 TB Note: This design is based on our test workload. In a production environment, database size, especially log file and tempdb sizes, can vary, depending on the type of transactions and queries that are running on those databases. 25

26 Network layer Overview SAN networking best practices IP network best practices VMware vsphere network best practices This section describes the network details used in this solution for SAN and IP network configuration, and for ESXi Server networks. When deploying a virtualized database solution, such as Microsoft SQL Server, EMC recommends that you ensure both compute and network redundancy at all levels when designing networking fault tolerance. EMC recommends you use the following SAN network best practices: Use 8 Gb/s FC switches and HBA ports. Use multiple HBAs on the ESXi servers and at least two SAN switches to provide multiple redundant paths between the server and the XtremIO cluster. Zone each FC port from the database servers to all ports on the XtremIO X- Bricks for high availability and performance. EMC recommends that you use the following IP network best practices: Use multiple network cards and switches for network redundancy. Use 10 GbE for network connection, if available. Use virtual local area networks (VLANs) to logically group devices that are on different network segments or sub-networks. Enable and configure jumbo frames 3 throughout the physical or virtual stack for 10 GbE networks. Networking in virtual environments requires more considerations for traffic segmentation, availability, and throughput in addition to the best practices followed in a physical environment. This solution was designed to efficiently manage multiple networks and redundancy of network adapters on ESXi hosts. The key best practice guidelines are to: Separate infrastructure traffic from virtual machine traffic for security and isolation. Use the VMXNET3 family of paravirtualized network adapters. Aggregate physical network cards for network redundancy and performance, for example, use pairs of physical NICs per server/vswitch, and uplink each physical NIC to separate physical switches. For more information on networking with vsphere, refer to the instructions in VMware vsphere Networking. 3 Maximum Transfer Unit (MTU) sizes of greater than 1,500 bytes are referred to as jumbo frames. Jumbo frames require Gigabit Ethernet across the entire network infrastructure, including servers, switches, and database servers. 26

27 Physical servers and virtualization layer Overview The choice of a server platform for a virtualized infrastructure is based on both the supportability of the platform and the technical requirements of the environment. In production environments, it is essential that the servers used have: Sufficient processors and memory to support the required number and workload of the virtual machines. Sufficient connectivity, both Ethernet and FC, to enable redundant connectivity to the IP and storage network switches. Sufficient capacity to withstand a server failure and support failover of the virtual machines. In this test environment, three physical servers running vsphere ESXi 5.5 are configured as a vsphere HA cluster. Five virtual machines are created on this vsphere cluster, two of which are configured to create virtualized Microsoft SQL Server database virtual machines. The other three virtual machines are created as test/dev instances that can be used to mount various snapshots for repurposing (test/dev). Compute and storage resources EMC recommends that you implement the following VMware compute resource best practices as explained in the Microsoft SQL Server Databases on VMware Best Practices Guide: Use Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) on the ESXi servers, a computer architecture in which memory located closer to a particular processor is accessed with less delay than memory located farther from that processor. Allocate virtual machine memory (vram) in a virtual machine to be less than or equal to the local memory accessed by the NUMA node (processor). Install VMware Tools, including several utilities that enhance the performance of the virtual machine's guest operating system and improve the ability to manage the virtual machine. Configure the virtual machine memory reservations to be, at a minimum, the size of the Microsoft SQL Server and operating system overhead. Microsoft SQL Server only supports RDM for clustering, so use RDM in ESXi virtual machine for database and log files that needs to failover in an MSCS clustering. Configure multiple paravirtualized SCSI (PVSCSI) controllers for the database volumes. Using multiple virtual SCSI controllers enables the execution of several parallel I/O operations inside the guest operating system. 27

28 Network virtualization On each ESXi server, we created two standard vswitches with a common configuration as listed in Table 9. Table 9. Name vswitch0 vswitch1 vswitch configuration Purpose Management and public virtual machine traffic Fault tolerant configuration for Microsoft SQL Server Cluster interconnect Each virtual machine was assigned two vnics (1 GbE and 10 GbE) using the high performance VMXNET3 driver. The 1 GbE vnic was mapped to vswitch0 to deliver public traffic. The 10 GbE vnic was mapped to vswitch1 to deliver Microsoft SQL Server interconnect traffic. 28

29 Design considerations Overview XtremIO makes it possible to run extremely high I/O loads on a single storage system. With the XtremIO balanced architecture combined with performance, inline data reduction, and virtually provisioned storage, many of the fine-tuning and configuration practices that a traditional storage array requires are no longer needed. To take full advantage of the high throughput that XtremIO storage provides, the entire connectivity stack needs to be configured properly to reach extreme performance, from optimizing queue depths on hosts to the number of available FC paths that must be considered so that enough I/O can be pushed towards the XtremIO system. XtremIO configuration best practices Fibre Channel switch configuration For an XtremIO dual X-Brick cluster, a host may have up to eight paths per device. Figure 8 shows the logical connection schemes for eight paths. Figure 8. XtremIO dual X-Brick FC switch configuration Note: You can use EMC Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) Path Management to configure path management across EMC platforms, including XtremIO. Refer to the EMC VSI Path Management Product Guide for further information on using this VMware vsphere client plug-in. Server configuration To optimize performance to extreme levels, hosts accessing the XtremIO storage array must be configured to enable higher I/O throughout instead of using the default settings. UCS server configuration Most server default HBA throttle settings are not optimized for the high throughput that a flash array provides. Therefore, it is important to choose the highest value for this setting for the server so it will not limit the I/O throttle. To adjust HBA I/O throttle of the Cisco UCS HBA, use these steps: 1. In UCSM navigation, under Server, select Inventory. 29

30 2. Select Cisco VIC Adapters. 3. Navigate to vhba Properties. 4. Set I/O Throttle Count to 1024, as shown in Figure 9. Figure 9. Change I/O Throttle Count for Cisco UCS Server ESXI server configuration To optimally configure the ESX host for XtremIO storage (for vsphere 5.5), use these steps: 1. On vsphere, adjust the HBA queue depth through the ESX command-line interface (CLI). The queue depth setting controls the amount of outstanding I/O requests per a single path. For optimal operation with XtremIO storage, follow the HBA vendor and server vendor recommendations. As a general rule, you should set the queue depth to the highest allowed by the HBA manufacturer (for example, 256). Note: For more information about adjusting HBA queue depth with ESX, refer to VMware KB article 1267 on the VMware website. 2. Set the SchedQuantum ( to 64) and DiskMaxIOSize (to 4096) parameters: esxcfg-advcfg -s 64 /Disk/SchedQuantum esxcfg-advcfg -s 4096 /Disk/DiskMaxIOSize 3. Obtain the NAA for the XtremIO LUNs presented to the ESX host and locate the NAA of the XtremIO volume: esxcli storage nmp path list grep XtremIO -B1 30

31 4. Run the following command to set SchedNumReqOutstanding for the device to its maximum value (256): esxcli storage core device set -d naa.xxx -O 256 vsphere Native Multipathing configuration XtremIO supports the VMware vsphere Native Multipathing (NMP) technology. For best performance, EMC recommends that you configure the native vsphere multipathing for XtremIO volumes using these steps: 1. Set the native round-robin path selection policy on XtremIO volumes presented to the ESXi host. 2. Set the vsphere NMP round-robin path switching frequency to XtremIO volumes from the default value (1,000 I/O packets) to 1. These settings ensure optimal distribution and availability of load between I/O paths to XtremIO storage. Note: Use the ESX command line to adjust the path switching frequency of vsphere NMP round robin. To set the vsphere NMP round-robin configuration, use one of these options: Per volume, using vsphere Client, for each host where the volume is presented Per volume, using ESX command line, for each host where the volume is presented Per host for all XtremIO volumes, presented to the host using ESX command line If EMC PowerPath /VE is used for ESXi, PowerPath/VE treats XtremIO devices as generic. Enabling generic loadable array module (LAM) support enables PowerPath/VE to recognize and manage XtremIO devices. You can also use EMC VSI for XtremIO for the NMP round-robin configuration. Round-robin path management enablement in vcenter GUI On each virtual machine, the LUNs for database storage were added from the XtremIO array as RDM and spread across four PVSCSI controllers to balance I/O. The LUNs for OS and SQL Server software installations are configured as VMDK so that the low I/O storage LUNs can share the same volume on XtremIO. 31

32 The I/O intensive database LUNs need to be configured as Round Robin (VMware) in path management, as shown in Figure 10, if they are not managed by PowerPath. Figure 10. Storage device path management configuration 32

33 Performance testing and validation Overview The purpose of this testing is not to showcase raw performance ceiling numbers of any of the compute, switch, or storage elements of this solution. The purpose is to showcase, through scaling, how enterprise workloads can continue to be easily serviced by XtremIO while all elements, including storage, stay within the green zone, that is, an area of utilization and latencies that is healthy and sustainable for production workloads. The OLTP workloads were generated using a Microsoft Partner toolkit that creates a TPC-E-like workload. This toolkit, based on the BenchCraft TPC-E Toolkit, was used to simulate realistic OLTP workloads in this solution. The system I/O performance metrics (IOPS, transactions per second (TPS), and latency) were collected at the server/database and storage levels. All tests were run on a properly configured XtremIO system. Notes on results Test results are highly dependent upon workload, specific application requirements, and system design and implementation. Relative system performance will vary as a result of these and other factors. Therefore, this workload should not be used as a substitute for a specific customer application benchmark when critical capacity planning and/or product evaluation decisions are contemplated. All performance data contained in this report was obtained in a rigorously controlled environment. Results obtained in other operating environments may vary significantly. EMC does not warrant or represent that a user can or will achieve similar performance expressed in transactions per minute. Note: The database metric TPS is described and used within our test results. As transactions differ greatly between database environments, these figures should only be used as a reference and for comparative purposes within these test results. Test objectives The overall test objectives were to demonstrate: The high performance achieved when virtualized Microsoft SQL Server databases were run on XtremIO. How XtremIO significantly simplified storage operations for Microsoft SQL Server. Sustained storage array IOPS for OLTP workloads on Microsoft SQL Server OLTP database. Significant storage space savings with inline data reduction on XtremIO when snapshots of production volumes are used for repurposing (test/dev, backup, BI, and so on) within environments. 33

34 Test scenarios The following scenarios were tested and are described in more detail in subsequent sections: OLTP workload performance test System with XtremIO snapshot performance test We also completed an XtremIO data reduction analysis in this solution s SQL Server environment. OLTP workload performance test This test was used to measure the performance of the whole environment with both SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 database workloads. This test also showed how an XtremIO system can deal with growing database workloads and continue to show stable performance. Test methodology Microsoft BenchCraft was used to generate the OLTP workload to drive high physical random I/O from a database platform. We ran the fixed number of concurrent users for each database with the same set of OLTP queries simultaneously against all SQL Server database in the environment, then measured the performance statistics. During the test, the number of concurrent users was controlled so that we could generate a specific level of IOPS. Test procedure The test began with a single database workload. We ran it for a period of time to stabilize the workload, and then we added another database workload while the previous workload was still running. Each database workload continued to drive additional IOPS on the XtremIO storage system without the host experiencing increased I/O latency. We started testing with the full loads shown in Table 10, which were run consecutively to test the differences between SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 (workload sequence 1 st to 6 th steps) and additional loads on SQL Server 2012 to achieve a full system workload. Table 10. Test workload sequence for full system load Workload sequence Database name Database size SQL Server 1 st DB_ GB SQL Server /200 2 nd DB_ GB SQL Server /200 3 rd DB_ GB SQL Server /200 4 th DB_ GB SQL Server /200 5 th DB_03 1 TB SQL Server /200 6 th DB_03 1 TB SQL Server /200 Workload (No. of users/maximum transaction rate) 34

35 XtremIO total IOPS XtremIO average latency (µsec) Workload sequence Database name Database size SQL Server 7 th DB_04 2 TB SQL Server /200 8 th DB_ TB SQL Server /200 9 th DB_06 1 TB SQL Server /200 Workload (No. of users/maximum transaction rate) Test results As shown in Figure 11, the XtremIO array is highly scalable with multiple concurrent SQL Server enterprise-scale database workloads. Overall, the average latency remained low for the XtremIO array, while the added SQL Server database workloads generated more I/O into the system. The entire system generated over 4,200 TPS with a total of 200,000 IOPS when all nine database workloads were fully loaded, while array latency remained under 1 ms for the XtremIO system. The host average disk latency ranged from under 1 ms to under 2.5 ms. 250, , , , , Total SQL Server TPS IOPS Avg-Latency (µsec) Figure 11. SQL Server/XtremIO scalability test 35

36 XtremIO system performance When we pushed the full system load, XtremIO provided extremely high IOPS and throughput with very low latency and a high overall SQL Server transaction rate as shown in Figure 12 and Figure 13. Figure 12. Latency and IOPS observed in XtremIO X-Bricks during full load run of SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 Figure 13. Bandwidth observed on XtremIO X-Bricks during full load run of SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 SQL Server 2012 versus SQL Server 2014 performance As shown in Figure 14, with the same server processor, memory, and setup, SQL Server 2014 delivered more TPS than SQL Server Microsoft has improved memory usage for transactions in SQL Server

37 Total TPS SQL Server processor utilization % % 50% % 30% % 10% 0 Workload on one DB Workload on two DBs Workload on three DBs Total TPS SQL Server 2014 Total TPS SQL Server 2012 Processor SQL Server 2014 Processor SQL Server % Figure 14. SQL Server database transactional performance: 2012 versus 2014 The SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 servers were set up with the same hardware (servers, RAM, and number of processors). SQL Server transactional performance In a low transaction level, SQL Server 2014 has a similar performance to SQL Server 2012 with around 400 TPS (7 percent higher). With a more demanding workload, the high performance back-end XtremIO enables SQL Server 2014 to handle a higher transaction rate. As shown in Figure 14, there were up to 12.5 percent more transactions processed by SQL Server 2014 when the transactions were increased. The higher cumulative CPU utilization for SQL server 2014 (60 percent versus 55 percent for SQL Server 2012 ) was a result of the 20 percent more transactions that SQL Server 2014 was executing. That is a 9 percent CPU usage increase for a 12.5 percent higher transaction rate. Overall, SQL Server 2014 provides efficient performance and can handle a hightransaction system much better with XtremIO to eliminate any possible storage latency, as shown in our tests. SQL Server disk I/O The disk I/O performance was very similar for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server As shown in Figure 15, SQL Server 2014 has slightly better overall performance for the datafile LUNs (slightly better IOPS and lower latency). 37

38 IOPS SQL Server LUN average latency ( ms) 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 23,277 23,044 34,496 30,651 21,223 19, , ,000 5, DB_01 DB_02 DB_03 DB_01 Log DB_02 Log DB_03 log tempdb SQL 2014 IOPS SQL 2012 IOPS SQL Server 2014 avg. latency(ms) SQL Server 2012 avg. latency(ms) Figure 15. SQL Server disk I/O performance: 2012 versus 2014 Log file LUN disk IO latencies are similar in both version of SQL Server, with much lower IOPS in SQL Server 2012 (due to less transactions). Tempdb, has significantly less IOPS in SQL Server 2012 (indicates that SQL Server 2014 may have improved the transaction performance by optimizing the execution plan and therefore more usage of tempdb). The tempdb latency, however is also much lower in SQL 2014, making SQL 2014 a much better choice for performance sensitive IO intensive SQL Server databases. System with XtremIO snapshot performance test In this scenario, we used XtremIO snapshots to create multiple copies of the production database that could be used for test/dev environment provisioning. XtremIO snapshot creation was instant; the snapshot created was available immediately. Taking XtremIO snapshots did not have a visible performance effect during or after the creation of these snapshots; the database was always online with the same performance characteristics observed before snapshot creation. The physical space utilization was minimal, so more snapshots could be created without impact on the production database than in a traditional array. There was no performance difference between accessing the primary volumes versus accessing the snapshot volumes. The snapshots could also be used as writeable copies if needed without any impact on the production database. An XtremIO writeable snapshot can be viewed as a traditional array s clone without the same space requirements. XtremIO snapshots produce a much smaller footprint on the physical storage. Test methodology This test used BenchCraft creating the same workload as in performance testing while measuring the performance of the environment. 38

39 After a set of snapshots was created, we continued to run the workload for eight hours to simulate a typical workday workload. After that, another snapshot set was created to measure the impact that one day s workload introduced into the environment. The deduplication ratio and thin provisioning savings of XtremIO storage were monitored for their impact on the snapshots created in this test. These crash-consistent snapshots were then mounted on separate mount hosts, and recovered to simulate a test/development workload. Read-only and read/write workloads were introduced to the snapshots. Test procedure We used the following steps in this test: 1. Workload created for the whole environment of the production database, captured the current deduplication ratios, used physical capacity, and thin provisioning space savings as a baseline. 2. Created the first snapshot of the SQL Server 2012 database LUNs. 3. Created first snapshot of SQL Server 2014 database LUNs. 4. Created five snapshots. 5. Continued to run the workload on the production database for eight hours to simulate the change to this environment during a workday. Continued to monitor the performance of the environment. 6. Created another snapshot of the production database SQL Server 2012 and then SQL Server 2014, captured the deduplication ratios, used physical capacity, and saved thin provisioning space on the XtremIO array management console. 7. Created snapshot of both SQL Server 2012 and 2014 in the same operation. 8. Mounted one of the snapshots created earlier and recovered it on a separate SQL server (on both SQL Server 2012 and 2014 databases). 9. Added an additional workload on another mounted snapshot database, and then checked the system performance. 10. Added an additional read/write workload on the mounted snapshot database, and then checked the system performance. Test results Snapshot creation observation During snapshot creation, all snapshots were completed instantly, without any delay. All of the snapshots were available for read/writeable use immediately after creation. Consistent XtremIO performance over a prolonged period of time As shown in Figure 16, XtremIO provides SQL Server with very consistent performance during a very long period of extremely heavy workload. The latency is kept flat at about 1 ms more than 10 hours of extremely heavy workload with five snapshots created for all the SQL Server production databases. 39

40 18:23:36 18:40:51 18:58:06 19:15:21 19:32:36 19:49:51 20:07:06 20:24:21 20:41:36 20:58:51 21:16:07 21:33:22 21:50:37 22:07:52 22:25:07 22:42:22 22:59:37 23:16:41 23:34:07 23:51:22 00:08:37 00:25:52 00:43:07 01:00:22 01:17:37 01:34:52 01:52:07 02:09:22 02:26:37 02:43:52 03:01:07 03:18:22 03:35:37 03:52:52 04:10:07 04:27:23 04:44:38 05:01:53 Average latency (ms) Figure 16. Consistent XtremIO performance over prolonged heavy workload An XtremIO array with 15 TB of usable physical flash capacity served 181 TB of volume space to the hosts. This has a huge cost benefit compared to traditional storage or other flash arrays that lack the XtremIO efficiency technology. All databases have a flat consistent performance with close to 1 ms latency on the server side and kept the same high transaction rate throughout the entire testing period. The spikes between 1 ms and 1.5 ms are database checkpoint activities. Other than that, the entire test run kept a very flat and consistent latency. Performance impact of XtremIO snapshots We captured the metrics shown in Figure 17 to show the performance impact of the XtremIO snapshot. 40

41 Total IOPS Latency (ms) 250,000 Additional IOPS from workload on multiple mounted snapshots , ,000 } ,000 50, total IOPS latency(ms) Figure 17. XtremIO snapshot performance impact Our test shows: In a fully loaded database environment, creating an XtremIO snapshot does not impact performance. The snapshot is created instantly and immediately available for use. The number of snapshots does not affect the performance of the production database. As shown later in our results, the storage use of these snapshots is also low. You can create as many snapshots as you want without any impact on the performance of the production database. In this test, we mounted both SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2012 databases on two different mount-host virtual machines and ran a full workload on three of the databases. Figure 17 shows that after we introduced about a 50,000 IOPS workload on the snapshot, XtremIO sustained about 212,000 IOPS, and still maintained a very low latency. The workload on snapshots can achieve the same level as that on production with the same performance as long as the total IOPS capacity is within the limits of XtremIO. 41

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