In today’s fast-paced world, IT organizations are continuously looking for better ways to increase the productivity and agility of their business. One major initiative that IT organizations have already implemented is virtualizing mission-critical applications; especially core business and database applications such as Oracle, SAP, SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint.This is not an easy task for IT organizations because they have the mission and pressure to provide a fast, non-stop service to the business while maintaining low operating costs. But like everything else in life, there are always tradeoffs to make and IT is not the exception. IT organizations have some difficult decisions to make when virtualizing mission-critical applications. The key is to figure out the optimal approach to achieve the best result in three of the main areas they are measured on, which are performance, uptime, and costs.
One of the major pain points we hear from IT organizations that have migrated their database applications into a virtualized environment is that they are experiencing a significant impact on application performance. The reason why they see this impact is because all the virtualized applications are now competing for access to retrieve data from storage. This problem is most commonly known as an I/O bottleneck. This is a major challenge because a significant impact on application performance causes a direct impact on business productivity. This is unacceptable to any business.
Another major pain point we are hearing from IT organizations delivering virtualized applications is the amount of downtime due to service interruptions. Service interruptions are a bigchallenge as well because end users rely on these applications to run the business and they cannot afford any downtime. If a server is taken down for maintenance or a system component fails, then all the virtualized applications go down with the server. If end users cannot access their applications, then there’s a major disruption in day-to-day business operations. This is also unacceptable to any business.
One solution typically implemented to minimize downtime is creating a cluster. In a cluster you have a group of servers running virtualized applications acting as a redundant system to immediately migrate workloads from one server to another. This cluster approach provides continued service when a server goes offline for any particular reason. However, something to keep in mind is that the virtualized applications require the use of shared storage in a cluster approach. This not only means that you have to make an additional investment on external storage, but you are also wasting existing and valuable server storage resources. By now you are probably thinking, well I might not be fully utilizing my server resources, but I can live with that because now I have a solution that minimizes downtime and takes care of my problem. Right?... ClickNot exactly. There is still another factor you have to consider because your system is still vulnerable. Just implementing a cluster with a shared storage array leads to a bigger problem. This solution has limitations because now all your servers and shared storage reside in one location. So what happens if there’s an outage in that facility due to a power failure, an air conditioning malfunction, a water leak, or even a construction accident? Now that facility becomes a single point of failure causing major downtime and a huge impact on the business.
The third and final pain point for IT we want to highlight is managing the complexity of the environment. Using storage hardware from different manufacturers can become an environment that is difficult to manage because there’s a strict dependency on specific configuration parameters, like firmware levels, channel protocols and inter-device compatibility. Even if the hardware is from the same manufacturer, there’s always the challenge when new technologies arrive because the existing hardware might not be compatible with the new technology forcing IT to make the decision between investing in new hardware upgrades or not leveraging the new technology as part of their infrastructure. Additionally, figuring out how to allocate the data to different storage resources and managing it introduces more complexity in the environment.
All these three pain points we have discussed are very common in any IT organization. Unfortunately some of the quick solutions implemented to address these pain points tend to force IT to make significant tradeoffs between performance, uptime, complexity, and costs. Instead of making tradeoffs in all these areas you are measured on and settling for one of them, why not evaluate a different approach to delivering data that is optimized to address all theses pain points simultaneously? Now let us share with you a better approach to increase business productivity and agility for your organization. This approach will help you improve the performance of your virtualized applications and maintain non-stop business operations while reducing your capital and operating expenses.
The first part of the approach consists of aligning your storage tiers to your application requirements. This means that as a best practice you should leverage tiering across different types of storage to deliver the right balance between those applications that demand the fastest performance versus the ones that demand the largest capacity.
In fact, one way to take application performance to the next level is by introducing a new and faster tier consisting of flash memory for those data-intensive applications that require quick access to information. Fusion-io provides technologies that leverage flash memory to significantly increase datacenter efficiency with enterprise grade performance. Later on, we’ll show you some examples on how to implement and share flash across virtualized workloads to deliver faster data.
In addition to introducing a flash tier and leveraging tiering across your storage devices, it is recommended to provide a virtualized environment that can provide continuous availability to your business operations.
This can be accomplished by creating a physical separation that extendsyour cluster and expands your storage resources into a different location. This approach allows you to maintain an independent copy of your data that can be used to provide continuous access in case some type of service interruption occurs on the other end.
The best way to leverage tiering and take advantage of physical separation to provide fast performance and continuous availability for your virtualized applications is via high-performance storage virtualization. Through storage virtualization you are adding a storage hypervisor – an intelligent software layer residing between the applications and the disks that virtualizes the individual storage resources it controls and creates one or more flexible pools of storage capacity to improve their performance, availability, and utilization. The benefit of DataCore’s storage hypervisor is that it has the ability to present uniform virtual devices and services from dissimilar and incompatible hardware, even from different manufacturers, making these devices interchangeable. Continuous replacement and substitution of the underlying physical storage may take place, without altering or interrupting the virtual storage environment that is presented.
Now let us show you how a high-performance storage virtualization solution will help you speed up your virtualized applications.
Here’s how it works. A key capability of the DataCore storage virtualization software is its ability to dynamically optimize storage capacity based on which disk blocks are most frequently accessed. Let’s say you have a multi-tier pool, using bulk storage for Tier 2, fast disks for Tier 1, and the blazing-fast Fusion-io flash memory cards for Tier 0, which are renowned for accelerating response in the most demanding data-intensive environments as flash-based storage servers. The DataCore software organizes the Fusion-io cards and the other available disks into a virtual storage pool. It classifies the flash memory as the top tier, and assigns less speedy, higher density drives to lower tiers based on performance characteristics that you set. The software dynamically directs workloads to the most appropriate class of storage device, favoring the Tier 0 flash memory for high-priority demands needing very high-speed access. It relegates lower priority requests to fast disks and bulk drives, striking a balance between the blazing speed of Fusion-io flash memories and the economies of larger-capacity HDDs. Any special, high-priority workloads can also be pinned to the Fusion-io cards. At the same time, the software migrates less-frequently used blocks to the hard disk drives to avoid undesirable contention for the flash memory. This novel approach helps you avoid unnecessary spending on additional disk equipment or exotic storage devices and more importantly, it maximizes application performance.
If we take a closer look at the DataCore nodes you will notice the Fusion-io flash memories, which play an instrumental role in reducing the disk latencies often responsible for mission-critical applications running poorly.Additionally, if you already have other types of disk arrays, you can combine all of them as part of your storage pool. The Fusion-io cards can operate as the fastest member in your balanced storage hierarchy, accompanied by high-performance SAS devices and bulk SATA storage. The flash cards are dynamically selected by the auto-tiering intelligence within the DataCore software for the most critical apps. When the flash memory disk capacity is consumed with high-priority requests, less critical requests are automatically directed to the SAS devices or SATA storage depending on their relative importance.
Now let us show you how a high-performance storage virtualization solution will help you prevent storage from taking down your applications, providing continuous availability for your business operations.
Another major capability of the DataCore software is that it allows you to configure redundant storage pools by synchronously mirroring between DataCore nodes at different locations. Basically, the virtual disk is really a logical representation of a dual-ported drive except that two independent copies are being updated in real time at each location. Notice that as a best practice, it is recommended that the two storage copies reside in two separate physical locations up to 100 km apart. To better load balance these configurations, traffic is evenly spread between the two pools by equally distributing the preferred paths from the host servers across the active/activeSAN. In other words, each node is generally set up to serve as the primary resource for half of the capacity while the other covers primary responsibility for the other half.
So for example, if one of the storage pools needs to be taken out of service, or any of its devices suffers a failure, the application servers sense that they cannot reach the disks through the preferred path and automatically redirect the applications on the alternate path without disruption. That request is fielded by the redundant node using the mirrored copy. When the service is completed on the left side, any changes that transpired while absent are sent over by the right node. After they are both back in sync, then the application servers which had redirected their requests are signaled to return to their preferred paths. They repeat the same procedure at the other site if necessary, never interrupting users despite the magnitude of the change. This technique maximizes uptime.
Now let us show you a couple of real-world examples from businesses who have experienced the benefits of implementing a high-performance storage virtualization solution as part of their IT infrastructure.
The University Hospital Würzburg is one of the oldest hospitals in Germany and has been operating for over 400 years. The hospital is a research and academic center for the faculty of medicine and provides comprehensive medical care for a region of 1.5 million people. The University Hospital of Würzburg’s business runs on an SAP-based ERP Medical Information System where thousands of MDs, nurses, scientists, and administrators work on it 24/7/365.The hospital IT environment consisted of 12 SAP servers, 2 large Oracle servers, 168 hard disks and 2 large SANs for storage. However, they were facing some challenges in regards to application performance and high capital costs. More specifically, they were getting slow SAP dialog response times as well as slow update and background process times. Their end goal was to improve the SAP database and ERP system performance so the hospital could utilize new SAP and Oracle features, as well as support a growing user base. Therefore, the hospital required implementing a system that could:Deliver maximum performance and fast response times Provide reliability they could trust mission critical operations toReduce costs and scale to growth
The team decided to migrate and upgrade the entire SAP and Oracle database. After evaluating multiple solutions, they decided to move its ERP system off a physical SAN and onto a high-performance storage virtualization system. As part of the process, they took their existing environment and virtualized it. This allowed them to consolidate servers and deploy the very fast Fusion-io flash cards in DataCore nodes as part of their new storage infrastructure. The results speak for themselves. Basically, through virtualization, they were able to consolidate the number of application and database servers, reducing the number of SAP servers by half, and replacing the two large SANs and hundreds of hard disks they had with two DataCore nodes and 4 Fusion-io flash cards, providing all the storage functionality they needed. This implementation allowed the hospital to reduce the hardware and capital expenses of their existing system by 33%.
Not only the hospital was able to reduce their costs, but their SAP performance results were extraordinary. All interaction with the system is now faster. SAP dialog response times were 4.5X faster and the update times were 8.3X faster on the new system. Thanks to the Fusion-io and DataCore solution, now the hospital can provide high-quality services to the organization faster, whether users are retrieving patient data, screens are being rendered, or statistics are being calculated.The end result is many more satisfied customers. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.The full case study offers more insights into their accomplishments. --- (suggested reading) ---http://www.fusionio.com/case-studies/wurzburg/
Here’s another real-world implementation. Great Plains Communications – the largest Nebraska-owned telecommunications provider – provides telephone service, Internet hosting, digital cable television, and cloud hosting services to its customers. Their IT project was triggered by the growing needs of internal corporate apps used for maintaining all customer information, e-mail hosting, accounting, billing, and business analysis. ClickTwo major challenges they faced were slow application response times and fear of downtime due to unexpected outages or system failure. Therefore, their principal objectives were improving application performance and assuring business continuity.ClickTo address their requirements, the IT team also chose a high-performance storage virtualization solution and spread their datacenter between two locations. In other words, as part of their IT infrastructure, Great Plains Communications operates one logical datacenter split between two physical sites, about 10 miles apart with each location handling roughly half of the total workloads. Among the major virtualized applications, Great Plains Communications runs several mission-criticaldatabases, including Microsoft SQL Server. They also run Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Lync, and LinuxMagicMagicMail.Throughout their datacenter, they use the DataCore software to virtualize the disks and mirror all data between the separate and redundant facilities in real-time. The multi-tiered storage infrastructure incorporates the latest flash memories supplied by Fusion-io alongside a variety of devices with SAS and SATA drives. ClickWith this setup, any one of the sites can automatically take over the entire corporate application load should the other site be intentionally shut down or suffer an unexpected outage. The apps use the storage closest to them, unless it is temporarily out of service. In which case, they are automatically re-directed without a glitch to the secondary facility, 10 miles away across a 10-Gigabit fiber link. This solution provided many benefits to Great Plains Communications. First, the combination of the DataCore software with the Fusion-io flash memory cards allowed them to overcome I/O bottlenecks and accelerate application response times. Secondly, the solution allowed them to provide business continuity by eliminating the downtime caused by scheduled and emergency maintenance as well as unexpected outages. Finally, the solution allowed them to reduce their costs by separating their storage hardware lifecycle from their SAN software lifecycle, essentially allowing them to extend the life of their storage arrays as well as to support the latest technologies like Fusion-io flash memory cards. Another great success story!The full case study offers more insights into their accomplishments. --- (suggested reading) ---http://www.datacore.com/Testimonials/Great-Plains-Communications.aspx
Now that we have already shared with you the value proposition of the solution as well as two real-world implementations in the healthcare and telecom industries, let us go over the recommended steps to adopt this high-performance storage virtualization solution as part of your current environment.
Let’s say your current environment consists of a set of virtualized applications in a cluster connected to a shared storage array represented by Tier 1 in the yellow square. As discussed earlier, in this type of setup your virtualized applications are competing for access to the storage disks frequently causing I/O bottlenecks and resulting in slower response times.
So in order to accelerate the performance of your virtualized applications, the first step is to introduce a new storage tier – Tier 0, consisting of the high-performance Fusion-io flash cards in conjunction with the storage virtualization capabilities of the DataCore software. In this setup you will configure the storage virtualization software to take high-priority requests from one of your business critical applications (App 1) and route them to the flash cards, which are used as the fastest dedicated storage resources in the pool. This approach allows you to compare the application performance of your original environment with the DataCore and Fusion-io technologies and see for yourself the performance improvements of the solution. Meanwhile, the rest of your virtualized applications continue to communicate directly with your Tier 1 storage.
The second step in the adoption process is to extend the capabilities of the solution by sharing the use of the flash devices between two of your virtualized applications. Again the virtualization software will take care of managing the most critical data requests from these two applications and route them directly to the flash cards. Any lower priority data requests from these two applications will be also routed to the flash cards if the capacity allows. Also, notice that all of your virtualized applications continue to communicate directly with the Tier 1 storage device. This would be a good time to evaluate the performance benefits of the solution.
After you evaluate and validate the performance improvements obtained from the DataCore and Fusion-io solution, the third step is to extend the use of the DataCore software by taking advantage of its auto-tiering capabilities.For this setup, you will connect the two virtualized applications directly into the DataCore node and use the auto-tiering capabilities of the software to help manage data requests across different storage tiers. The rest of your virtualized applications continue to be connected directly to the Tier 1 storage. By taking this approach, now you have a storage virtualization solution that will automatically optimize the resources available for these two applications by tieringacross any of the storage resources in your datacenter; those that you may have purchased in the past, as well as new technologies that you are likely to acquire in the future. This means that the hottest data requests will be automatically allocated to the top tier with the Fusion-io flash cards while the rest of the requests go to the disks in Tier 1. At this moment you can evaluate the application performance improvements of the solution as well as the efficiency of the built-in auto-tiering capabilities.
The final step is to implement full storage virtualization by connecting all your virtualized applications to the DataCore node and letting the software manage all the data requests. You can even introduce a third storage tier consisting of bulk storage, which can be used for the lower-priority requests. In this configuration, the auto-tiering intelligence of the DataCore software will automatically send the high-priority requests from the most critical applications to the top tier with Fusion-io flash cards, the medium-priority requests to the middle tier, and the low-priority ones to the lowest tier based on the criteria that you have specified.
There you have it! This is what we call our blueprint for adoption and success.
We have talked about how the combination of DataCore’s storage virtualization software and the Fusion-io flash memory cards help accelerate application performance and maximize uptime. In this animation, I will also show you how this solution also helps you reduce costs by repurposing your existing assets to maximize your investment and avoid additional costs on exotic storage devices.I’ll walk you through the staged transition from a traditional physical environment to a robust, fully virtualized infrastructure spread across separate campuses for extra resiliency. ClickThe first step you’re quite familiar with. We take the siloed workloads from the 7 machines and re-host them as virtual machines on 3 of the servers. Click ClickWe’ll install the DataCore software on a couple of the freed-up servers and add the Fusion-io flash memory cards. ClickThen we’ll move the internal data drives from the server farm behind the two nodes. Those that don’t fit inside the two nodes will be placed on external disk trays.Initially, the data on those drives is simply passed-through to the app servers as if it was merely re-attached. Later the data are mirrored and re-organized behind the scenes to take advantage of thin provisioning, auto-tiering and other storage hypervisor features. As previouslyshown, the nodes should be split so that they are not exposed to the same environmental factors; ideally on a nearby campus within the same metro area. This configuration will maximize application performance and provide continuous availability .ClickThen we’ll establish a disaster recovery (DR) site by repurposing another one of the servers, adding a Fusion-io card, and connecting it to the primary data center. Updates made to critical volumes at the primary location are automatically replicated asynchronously to the disaster recovery site. This additional configuration will support a business continuity strategy in a cost-effective way by repurposing existing equipment.And there you have it. That’s what a high-performance data delivery platform looks like.
Finally to wrap up the presentation and open it up for questions, here are the next steps you can take if you are interested in learning more about how to improve application performance by sharing flash across virtualized workloads. First, we encourage you to give us a call to get in touch with our sales professionals, obtain more information, and schedule an onsite meeting. Secondly, rethink your virtualization strategy to make sure it’s comprehensive. Our Sales Directors are available at your disposition to sit down with you, understand your needs, and build a plan together. Finally, request an assessment. Our Sales Engineers will work with you to provide a live demonstration and assess your business and technical requirements.We look forward to helping you transform your business and keep your organization competitive and well-positioned for future growth.Thank you for your time!
Now let’s open it up for questions and remember you can also contact us via our websites at www.datacore.com and www.fusionio.com. -- Use the next slide as a visual to keep during the Q&A so that the audience is not staring at a blank slide
Use this slide as a visual to keep during the Q&A so that the audience is not staring at a blank slide.
Presentation to customers sharing flash across virtualized workloads (1)