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Top 9 Storage Concepts Virtual Administrators Need to Know


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As organizations continue to leverage innovative technologies to modernize the data center, the roles of IT administration are beginning to converge, with responsibilities expanding into new domains. Yesterday’s “silo” administrator is quickly becoming today’s “infrastructure administrator,” a next-generation role requiring a broad spectrum of knowledge across multiple IT domains. As part server administrator, virtual environment manager, network engineer, and storage architect, today’s infrastructure administrator needs the skills to build, maintain and manage high performing data center infrastructure solutions. It’s the administrator’s job to create a flexible infrastructure in which capacity can be scaled up or down as business requirements change, while concentrating simultaneously on data center cost optimization.

As a leading provider of storage tools for the enterprise, Dell Software has identified nine storage concepts an infrastructure administrator needs to understand to holistically manage the virtual environment.

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Top 9 Storage Concepts Virtual Administrators Need to Know

  1. 1. Top 9 Storage Concepts Every Virtualization Administrator Should Understand Visualize, Analyze and Optimize with Foglight for Virtualization
  2. 2. In the old days… • IT used to be three separate divisions with hard walls between them Systems Engineering Network Engineering Storage
  3. 3. Times Have Changed • The uptake of virtualization has forced these walls to come down • Today’s resources are no longer “separate but equal” but are inextricably intertwined
  4. 4. Today’s Focus • Storage is a foundational element in virtual environments • Storage also introduces some of the biggest challenges in virtualization • With that in mind, let’s discuss nine concepts that every virtualization administrator should understand about storage
  5. 5. Concept 1: What are VAAI and ODX and why are they so popular and important? • VAAI and ODX are increasingly common virtualizationspecific technologies that can introduce significant storage-related performance gains in the data center • VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) • A broad set of API “primitives” that storage vendors can implement to improve overall storage operation performance • Microsoft’s Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX) • More limited than VAAI, but provides important performance benefits
  6. 6. Concept 2: What are the best ways to measure various aspects of the storage environment? • Latency • The time it takes for an entire storage operation to take place • Above about 20 ms and you have problems • IOPS • The number of Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS) that storage can support • Affected by RAID level • Affected by drive type • Affected by storage transport • Monitoring in general is an important activity
  7. 7. Concept 3: How do different kinds of hard drives differ from one another? • Different kinds of hard drives for different uses SATA NL-SAS SAS
  8. 8. Concept 4: What is solid state storage and why is it important? • Extraordinarily fast storage • Relies on the use of cell-based storage media rather than platters • SSD challenges • Single level cell • Very fast • Very expensive • Limited capacity • Multi level cell • Quite fast • Less expensive than SLC • Better capacity than SLC • Low capacity • Cell “death” • Still much more expensive than rotational storage
  9. 9. Concept 5: What different RAID levels are available and what is the impact of each? • RAID 0: Disk striping • In RAID 0 configuration, data is chunked into individual blocks and written to each disk simultaneously • Characteristics Storage Controller • 2 or more drives required • Affords no data protection and as more disks are added, data loss risk increases • Very fast since multiple disks are in use at the same time A1 • Theoretically, performance improves as more disks A4 are added A7 • Maximizes use of storage capacity Disk 1 A2 A5 A3 A6 A8 A9 Disk 2 Disk 3
  10. 10. Concept 5: What different RAID levels are available and what is the impact of each? • RAID 1: Disk mirroring • Data is written twice to separate drives to increase overall data integrity Storage Controller • Characteristics 2 drives required High level of redundancy Provides improved read performance Introduces a 50% capacity “charge” due to need to A1 write data twice • Write performance will suffer A2 A1 A2 A3 A3 Disk 1 Disk 2 • • • •
  11. 11. Concept 5: What different RAID levels are available and what is the impact of each? • RAID 5: Independent access with rotating parity • Blocks of data are written across all disks with parity information is interspersed with the rest of the data • Characteristics 3 or more drives required Enjoys very broad support in the storage industry Tolerates the loss of a single drive Provides improved read performance Minimal capacity overhead needed A1 RAID 5 is considered a dangerous level by many B1 storage pros due to the long rebuild times required if a large drive fails CP • Performance during a rebuild may be very poor Disk 1 • • • • • • Storage Controller A2 BP AP B2 C1 C2 Disk 2 Disk 3
  12. 12. Concept 5: What different RAID levels are available and what is the impact of each? • RAID 6: Independent Data disks with two independent distributed parity schemes • Blocks of data are written across all disks with parity information written twice and interspersed with the rest of the data Storage Controller • Characteristics • Enjoys good support in the storage industry • Very high level of protection and considered essential in situations that would have called A1 for RAID 5 in the past B1 • Tolerates the loss of up to two drives in the array CP1 • Provides improved read performance • Very poor write performance due to need toDisk 1 write parity multiple times A2 BP1 AP1 BP2 AP2 B2 CP2 C1 C2 Disk 2 Disk 3 Disk 4
  13. 13. Concept 5: What different RAID levels are available and what is the impact of each? • RAID 10: Stripe of Mirrors, RAID 1+0, or RAID 1 then RAID 0 • Multiple mirror sets (RAID 1) and striped across those disk Storage Controller sets (RAID 0) • Characteristics • Can withstand the loss of one disk in every RAID 1 array • Provides very good read and write performance A1 • High (50%) capacity overhead A3 • Scalability is limited and expensive A5 Disk 1 RAID 0 Stripe A1 A2 A2 A3 A5 A4 A6 A4 A6 A4 Disk 2 Disk 3 Disk 4 RAID 1 Mirrored Disk Set RAID 1 Mirrored Disk Set
  14. 14. Concept 5: What different RAID levels are available and what is the impact of each? • RAID 50: Striping across a RAID 5 Parity Set (sometimes called RAID 5+0) • Striping across individual RAID 5 sets enables the potential to lose one disk per RAID 5 set Storage Controller • Characteristics • Can withstand the loss of one disk in every RAID 5 set • Provides good read and write performance A1 • Not supported by all RAID B1 controllers CP • Rebuilds can be very slow and 1 Disk affect overall storage performance RAID 0 Stripe A2 AP A3 A4 AP BP B2 B3 BP B4 C1 C2 CP C3 C4 Disk 2 Disk 3 Disk 1 Disk 2 Disk 3 RAID 5 Parity Disk Set RAID 5 Parity Disk Set
  15. 15. Concept 6: How do enterprise level storage features play important roles in virtualization? Thin Provisioning Deduplication Encryption
  16. 16. Concept 7: What is Microsoft doing playing in the storage arena with Windows Server 2012? Storage Spaces TRIM/UNMAP Deduplication iSCSI target Aggregates all available and supported storage into a single pool of storage Provides Thin provisioning Deduplication Downsides can’t use RAID-based volumes Can’t use iSCSI-based volumes Allows the thin provisioning process to reclaim previously used space that has since become unused This is a complement to thin provisioning and brings the service to enterprise-class levels Microsoft has added this enterprise-class storage feature to the operating system. Windows Server 2012 uses a post-process deduplication method. Microsoft’s deduplication service works on a file basis by breaking files down into small chunks and running these chunks through the deduplication Enables Windows Servers to share storage with other network systems Storage Spaces support Works with Storage Spaces-managed volumes 4K sector disk support Brings support for modern drives to Windows’ iSCSI target SMB 3 An enterprise-class storage transport protocol Includes enhancements that improve the performance, scalability, and reliability of SMB and is now suitable for use with HyperV 2012, Exchange, and SQL databases
  17. 17. Concept 8: What storage transport mechanisms are available? • Different kinds of hard drives for different uses Direct Attached iSCSI Fiber Channel NAS
  18. 18. Concept 9: What kinds of storage arrays are on today’s market? Use cases Best for Capacity Best for Performanc e Storage Type Description Hard disk-based arrays These tried and true data center stalwarts have enjoyed decades of success in the data center, but because they are mechanical devices, are prone to failure. Further, their ability to scale to acceptable levels of performance can be expensive and challenging. File storage, archiving, SMB and midmarket general purpose Excellent Poor Hybrid storage arrays These relative newcomers to the storage market blend the best of both the legacy hard disk and modern solid state storage worlds into an extremely effective blend of capacity and performance. In short, hybrid vendor leverage solid state disks to accelerate the performance of hard disks, thus breathing new life into an aging technology while keeping performance costs very reasonable. VDI, most mainstream workloads, Exchange, databases, virtualization Very Good Very Good VDI, analytics, big data Poor Excellent Acceleration, VDI, big data, general purpose, virtualization Poor Excellent All flash storage arrays Server-side flash When it comes to raw performance, solid state/flash-based storage arrays are the speed demons of the storage industry. There exist a number of arrays out there that boast all flash storage and vendors tout the ability to push 1 million IOPS with a single array. However, these storage arrays remain prohibitively expensive. Server side flash consists of PCI-e cards that pack hundreds of gigabytes or even terabytes of storage. These cards can be used as a massive cache in front of existing storage devices or they can be used as primary storage themselves.
  19. 19. Gain control with Analytics, Advice, & Automation Storage Management Find and Prevent Performance Issues in storage infrastructure • Understand where an I/O bottleneck exists within the data path • Set alerts for issues and bottlenecks to be warned proactively • Organize issues based on priority and infrastructure area Understand Connection from Application to Disk • Visualize the topology of infrastructure components in the data path • Understand the status of each component in the storage infrastructure • Understand the impact of storage maintenance or array issues to the applications Gain Visibility Into Storage Infrastructure • Present findings on storage component status and topology • Export troubleshooting reports and information • Generate custom reports and create tailored dashboards bringing together data from the application to the disk 19 Confidential Download Fully Functional Free 30 Day Trial: oglight-for-storage-management/ Global Marketing
  20. 20. Thank you for your participation More conversations on line Michele Ballinger @ballingertweets Visit us on the Web: Join the conversation… Learn More on Foglight Foglight on Facebook Foglight for Virtualization on Twitter @DellVirt The Foglight for Virtualization Community 20 Performance Monitoring