Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.78	 2013 Issue 02 | dell...
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
80	 2013 Issue 02 | solutionsReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright ©...
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Boosting Storage Performance for I/O-Intensive Enterprise Applications


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The business-critical applications that keep enterprises humming place ever-increasing I/O demands on storage. The Dell™ Compellent™ Storage Center™ platform optimizes I/O-intensive workloads in virtual desktop, messaging and database environments.

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Boosting Storage Performance for I/O-Intensive Enterprise Applications

  1. 1. Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. | 2013 Issue 02 77Advances in virtualization,networking and storagetechnology have stimulatedthe growth of infrastructureto heighten performance for transaction-and I/O-intensive applications. And yetaccelerating online and cloud activitycontinues to generate enormous amountsof data for enterprises, which places heavydemand on mission-critical applications. Inresponse, many IT administrators are lookingto transition to powerful, flexible and scalablesystems designed to handle escalating storagedemands for virtual desktop infrastructure(VDI), messaging and database environments.For example, widespread adoption ofvirtualization has led to a rising number ofVDI implementations that help streamlinedesktop management, enhance security andsimplify OS migrations. VDI also facilitatesefficient backup and restore of desktopstates, minimizes power and cooling costs,and helps enrich the end-user experiencefor applications that extend communicationand collaboration across the workplace.Along with the growth of suchapplications, including instant messagingand social networking, I/O-intensive emailsystems continue to be a communicationnerve center in the workplace. Plus, manyorganizations utilize enterprise-scaledatabases as the backbone for web-basedapplications that handle heavy transactions,online analytical processing (OLAP) and onlinetransaction processing (OLTP).In particular, Microsoft® Exchange Servermessaging and Microsoft® SQL Server®database applications are fueling a demandfor top-performing storage systems. DellCompellent Storage Center storage areanetwork (SAN) arrays based on the next-generation Dell Compellent SC8000controller and utilizing the Dell Fluid Data™architecture enable tremendous performanceadvances in these environments.The Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.3platform is an enterprise-scale SAN designedto cost-effectively enhance performanceThe business-critical applications that keep enterpriseshumming place ever-increasing I/O demands on storage.The Dell™ Compellent™ Storage Center™ platform optimizesI/O-intensive workloads in virtual desktop, messaging anddatabase environments.By Julita Kussmaul, Dan Bock, Justin Braun,Doug Bernhardt, Mark Boeser and Darin SchmitzBoosting storageperformance forI/O-intensiveenterprise applicationsInnovations in virtualized storageAutomated tiered storage is designed to maximize storage performance,efficiency, flexibility, reliability and manageability. Download this whitepaper to learn more about how innovative tiering capabilities are builtinto the Dell Compellent virtualized storage solutions
  2. 2. Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.78 2013 Issue 02 | solutionsfor write-heavy or I/O-intensive workloads.It utilizes the Fluid Data architecture andoptimizes data placement through DellCompellent Data Progression™ automatedtiering by moving data where it is neededbased on actual use and performanceneeds. Moreover, Storage Center 6.3, builton a flexible, persistent hardware platform,scales easily and nondisruptively, allowingdata center environments to expandwithout the need to rip and replace existinghardware. Through perpetual softwarelicensing, organizations with existingStorage Center systems can easily upgradeto Storage Center 6.3. (See the sidebar,“Fast, flexible expansion.”)Elevating I/O performanceThe introduction of 64-bit architecturein Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.0established the foundation for enhancedstorage performance capabilities. Coupledwith SC8000 controller hardware, StorageCenter 6.3 builds on this foundation inseveral important ways. Write optimizationwith a flash-based stack, accelerated pageallocation, driver tuning and optimizationof the software stack help increaseperformance. End-to-end 16 Gbps FibreChannel connectivity — from serverto switch to storage — is designed todouble bandwidth and accelerate accessto business-critical applications anddata. Along with these enhancements,Storage Center 6.3 is designed to simplifymanagement and improve administration,which helps reduce operating costs.(See the sidebar, “Storage efficiency forbusiness applications.”)Assessing performance requirementsImplementing enterprise applications can bea complex undertaking for IT organizations.Successful deployments depend onhigh-performance storage systems thatare easy to manage and quick to scale.Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.3 arraysaddress specific storage challenges to helpoptimize workload performance in business-critical application environments.Virtual desktopsVDI deployments are a paramount concernfor decision makers and stakeholders intoday’s enterprises. VDI workloads canbe extremely taxing on storage resourcesFast, flexible expansionUpgrades to Storage Center 6.3 are easy for existing deployments of Dell CompellentStorage Center storage area network (SAN) arrays — enabling organizations toenhance performance without replacing hardware. Storage Center 6.3 is designed torun on Dell Compellent SC8000- and Series 40–based arrays.Perpetual software licensing available from Dell allows enterprises with a currentmaintenance agreement to download Storage Center 6.3 features at no additionalcharge. Moreover, perpetual software licensing helps organizations save up to87 percent in software costs during the maintenance agreement period; modularhardware expansion helps organizations save up to 47 percent in hardware costs.** Based on a Dell Compellent Storage Center system with 60 TB capacity estimated to grow 30 percent annually in anorganization with a 10-year agreement.Storage efficiency for business applicationsDell Compellent Storage Center 6.3advancements enhance an existing suiteof powerful tools, built-in automationand intelligence features to elevatestorage performance and efficiency inenterprise data centers.• Replication: Enhanced synchronousreplication rounds out the DellCompellent replication portfolioto provide a comprehensive set offeature-rich options.• Directory services: LightweightDirectory Access Protocol (LDAP)and the Microsoft® Active Directory®directory service help simplifymanagement of administrator accountsin Dell Compellent storage arrays.• Alerts management: Enhancements toSimple Network Management Protocol(SNMP) are designed to improvecentralized management of alerts.• Host OS support: Microsoft WindowsServer 2012 OS support includesrecent storage area network (SAN)integrations to help offloadprocesses from host to array andfree host resources.• Volume monitoring: The VolumeAdvisor feature enables intelligentvolume placement guidance acrossmultiple systems, helping reduceerrors and avoid the need foradditional monitoring tools.• IP protocol: Support for IP version 6(IPv6) allows organizations tocapitalize on recent IP protocoladvances, including the capabilityto use more IP addresses thanever before.These automated tools enableorganizations to keep operating costs lowwhile helping increase the efficiency ofbusiness-critical application environments.
  3. 3. Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. | 2013 Issue 02 79because of the high number of writeoperations they require. In a typicalSAN, disk usage is usually heavier onreads than writes — a typical read-to-write percentage ratio is 70:30. But in aVDI environment, the write ratio is oftenconsiderably higher, as much as 90 percent,which may result in significant storagelatency that slows overall performance.Voluminous, write-heavy I/O activity stemsnot only from thousands of employeesusing applications at the same time, butalso from near-continuous communicationfrom the operating systems to centralizedstorage. A VDI initiative may be doomedif line-of-business users complain to theirmanagers that their virtual desktops aretoo slow, and they want their old desktopcomputers back.MessagingEmail is active continuously in just aboutany enterprise workplace, includingMicrosoft Exchange Server environments.This messaging volume places highdemand on storage, and Exchangeenvironments may be write heavy and I/Ointensive, particularly in large deployments.Heavy write-I/O and read-I/O spikes mayalso be experienced when end users starttheir computers at the same time in themorning and after lunchtime, when theysimultaneously pull data down to theirlocal cache from the mailbox server.Exchange servers are often constantlybusy communicating with backgrounddatabases as well. In addition, virtualizingan Exchange environment can add latencyto storage operations.DatabasesIn most Microsoft SQL Server databaseenvironments, OLTP activity occurs duringbusiness hours, and then maintenanceoccurs during an off-hour window oftime. These maintenance activities, whichinclude database backups, restores andre-index activity, can be particularlydemanding on storage systems. Many ITgroups are under intensifying pressure tospeed maintenance processing and shrinkthe maintenance window to maximizeuptime for online end users.Moreover, OLTP activity supportedby SQL Server databases is prone tobursts from rapid-fire I/O requests, andstorage systems need to efficiently handlethese I/O surges. Automated storagetiering, together with I/O performanceenhancements, helps support I/O spikeswithout having to add more drives oraccelerate response times.Measuring storage performanceIn testing conducted October 2012and updated in January 2013 at DellCompellent Technical Solutions Labs,Dell engineers compared three types ofbusiness-critical application workloads. Thegoal was to assess potential performanceimprovements that may result fromupgrading to Dell Compellent StorageCenter 6.3. This test study demonstratedseveral Storage Center 6.3 performancegains for VDI, Microsoft Exchange Servermessaging and Microsoft SQL Serverdatabase environments compared withStorage Center 6.1 (see figure).Virtual desktop workloadsThe VMware® View™ Planner testingconfiguration included Dell storage andservers. Storage consisted of Storage Center6.3 equipped with 200 GB solid-statedrives (SSDs) and 600 GB Serial AttachedSCSI (SAS) drives. Servers included DellPowerEdge™ M620 blade servers capableof running approximately 170 Windows 7–based virtual machines per host.Using VMware View Planner for loadgeneration, the results in this test studyshowed that Storage Center 6.3 ran2.5 times more virtual desktops thanStorage Center 6.1, while keeping disklatency under the generally accepted20 ms standard for VDI performance.This increase in the performance ceilingallows the storage system to scale upsignificantly, helping to delay the needfor procuring additional hardware andreduce data center complexity. In addition,fast storage for VDI enables an improvedend-user experience with a correspondingproductivity boost.2.5 timesincrease invirtual desktopsVirtual desktopworkloads2 timesIOPS increaseTypical databaseworkloads45 percentperformanceincreaseMessaging workloads87 percentlatencyreductionStorage Center 6.1 Storage Center 6.3Based on testing performed in October 2012 and updated January 2013 at Dell Compellent Technical Solutions Labs by Dell engineersto evaluate performance comparisons between Storage Center 6.3 and Storage Center 6.1 for VDI deployment, Exchange messaging,and SQL Server database workloads. Note: Actual results may vary based on configuration, usage and manufacturing variability.Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.3 performance gains when compared with Storage Center 6.1
  4. 4. 80 2013 Issue 02 | solutionsReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.Messaging workloadsThe Jetstress configuration for testingExchange Server workloads includedDell storage and virtual servers. Storageconsisted of Storage Center arraysequipped with 900 GB SAS drives withRAID-5–9 volumes for databases and RAID-10volumes for transaction logs. Six VMwarevSphere® 5.0 ESX servers each hosted twovirtual machines running the Microsoft®Windows Server® 2008 R2 OS andExchange 2010 Jetstress. Two 14 TBvolumes and two 800 GB volumes weremapped to the ESX hosts to be used asVirtual Machine File System (VMFS) datastores, and each ESX server had a single500 GB datastore for boot drives.The messaging platform consisted ofMicrosoft Exchange Server 2010 ServicePack 2 (SP2) configured with 50,000mailboxes. The two Storage Center arrayswith independent disks provided isolation ofdatabase copies for mailbox resiliency.Key Exchange Server performancefactors between Storage Center 6.3 andStorage Center 6.1 were compared in thisbenchmark study. Storage Center 6.3demonstrated a 14 percent latencyimprovement for database reads and a76 percent latency improvement fordatabase writes. Averaging read and writelatency reductions in these test resultsindicates that Storage Center 6.3 has thepotential to increase Exchange databaseperformance by up to 45 percent. Inaddition, these test findings indicate thatStorage Center 6.3 can decrease Exchangelog latency by up to 87 percent.These latency improvements, combinedwith the increase in usable I/O, helporganizations meet escalating storagedemands generated by the growth of busyemail environments. Organizations can providea fast, responsive end-user experience, evenduring extremely I/O-intensive periods suchas computer start-up spikes.Database workloadsThe Quest Benchmark Factory™ testingconfiguration included Dell serversand storage. Storage consisted of DellCompellent Storage Center 6.3 equippedwith SSDs and 300 GB 15,000 rpmhard drives. The database was storedon an SSD, and backups were stored on15,000 rpm hard drives. A 780 GBMicrosoft SQL Server 2012 database washosted on a PowerEdge R820 serverrunning Microsoft Windows Server 2012.Comparing Storage Center 6.3 toStorage Center 6.1 in this test study,backups required 4 percent less time,restores required 25 percent less timeand full database re-indexing required145 percent less time. These findingsindicate that large reductions inmaintenance windows are possibleusing Storage Center 6.3 compared toStorage Center 6.1. The performanceresults can be particularly advantageousfor websites with a high number ofonline purchase transactions, whichtypically result in frequent but smallI/O requests.Scalability is also greatly enhancedby the ability to handle more I/Os persecond (IOPS) in Storage Center 6.3 thanStorage Center 6.1. Depending on theworkload, the results of this test studyindicate Storage Center 6.3 has thepotential to increase IOPS performanceup to 100 percent over Storage Center 6.1when running enterprise workloads.1Upgrading storage firmware forperformance gainsTransaction- and I/O-intensive VDI,Microsoft Exchange Server and MicrosoftSQL Server application environmentsare creating a demand for increasedstorage performance, including supportfor extremely heavy write activity. Resultsfrom the test study reported in this articledemonstrate significant performancegains achieved by Storage Center 6.3compared with Storage Center 6.1. Asend-user demands continue unabated,the substantial performance advantagesenabled by Storage Center 6.3 helporganizations bolster enterprise storageenvironments to meet requirements forbusiness-critical applications.Learn moreDell Compellent family storage Compellent Storage Center data Compellent enterprise storage – application storage – desktop Kussmaul is a senior marketing managerin the Dell Enterprise Infrastructure SolutionsMarketing Group.Dan Bock is a senior product marketing managerin the Dell Enterprise Storage Product Group.Justin Braun manages the Dell CompellentTechnical Solutions team in the Enterprise SolutionsGroup. Follow Justin on Twitter @justinbraun.Doug Bernhardt is a SQL Server product specialiston the Dell Compellent Technical Solutions teamand has over 18 years of experience with SQLServer in enterprise environments.Mark Boeser is a an Exchange Server productspecialist in the Dell Compellent TechnicalSolutions team and is responsible for ExchangeServer application integration best practices.Darin Schmitz is a virtualization product specialistat Dell and focused on VMware virtualization.1 Testing was performed with prerelease Storage Center code version 6.3 and ran OLTP workloads using the Iometer benchmark with a 100 percent random 70:30 read-write mix and 4 KB transfer sizes.