Graphics: AMD FirePro W4100 w/ 2GB RAM makes my Visio buttery smooth.
Networking: The Supermicro has a pair of Intels, an I-210 and a 217V, both of which connect up to my Cisco 2960S in the garage. To that I’ve also added a Pro1000 PCIe 2.0 card with dual ports, one of which also connects to the 2960S (I only ran 3 cables from the garage to my home office)
OS: Server 2012 R2 Standard, naturally, with full Desktop GUI and Windows Management Framework February 2015 preview so that I can tinker with DSC
Case: NZXT 340 something or other. Very nice case for $70. I’ve never wanted to exhibit the inside of a PC I’ve built, but this case makes it so simple to hide the nasty PC underlay (power, SATA etc)
#WhiteboxGlory shot of the innards that make the child partition go “wooooow!!”
A few brief updates & random thoughts from the last few days on all the stuff I’ve been working on.
Refreshing the Core at work: Summer’s ending, but at work, a new season is advancing, one rack unit at a time. I am gradually racking up & configuring new compute, storage, and network as it arrives; It Is Not About the Hardware™, but since you were wondering: 64 Ivy Bridge cores and about 512GB RAM, 30TB of storage, and Nexus 3k switching.
Ahh, the Nexus line. Never had the privilege to work on such fine switching infrastructure. Long time admirer, first-time NX-OS user. I have a pair of them plus a Layer 3 license so the long-term thinking involves not just connecting my compute to my storage, but connecting this dense stack northbound & out via OSPF or static routes over a fault-tolerant HSRP or VRRP config.
To do that, I need to get familiar with some Nexus-flavored acronyms that aren’t familiar to me: virtual port channels (VPC), Control Plane policy (COPP), VRF, and oh-so-many-more. I’ll also be attempting to answer the question once and for all: what spanning tree mode does one use to connect a Nexus switch to a virtualization host running Hyper-V’s converged switching architecture? I’ve used portfast in the lab on my Catalyst, but the lab switch is five years old, whereas this Nexus is brand new. And portfast never struck me as the right answer, just the easy one.
To answer those questions and more, I have TAC and this excellent tome provided gratis by the awesome VAR who sold us much of the equipment.
Into the vCPU Blender goes Lync: Last Friday, I got a call from my former boss & friend who now heads up a fast-growing IT department on the coast. He’s been busy refreshing & rationalizing much of his infrastructure as well, but as is typical for him, he wants more. He wants total IT transformation, so as he’s built out his infrastructure, he laid the groundwork to go 100% Microsoft Lync 2013 for voice.
Yeah baby. Lync 2013 as your PBX, delivering dial tone to your endpoints, whether they are Bluetooth-connected PC headsets, desk phones, or apps on a mobile.
Forget software-defined networking. This is software-defined voice & video, with no special server hardware, cloud services, or any other the other typical expensive nonsense you’d see in a VoIP implementation.
If Lync 2013 as PBX is not on your IT Bucket List, it should be. It was something my former boss & I never managed to accomplish at our previous employer on Hyper-V.
Now he was doing it alone. On a fast VMware/Nexus/NetApp stack with distributed vSwitches. And he wanted to run something by me.
So you can imagine how pleased I was to have a chat with him about it.
He was facing one problem which threatened his Go Live date: Mean Opinion Score, or MOS, a simple 0-5 score Lync provides to its administrators that summarizes call quality. MOS is a subset of a hugely detailed Media Quality Summary Report, detailed here at TechNet.
My friend was scoring a .6 on his MOS. He wanted it to be at 4 or above prior to go-live.
So at first we suspected QoS tags were being stripped somewhere between his endpoint device and the Lync Mediation VM. Sure enough, Wireshark proved that out; a Distributed vSwitch (or was it a Nexus?) wasn’t respecting the tag, resulting in a sort of half-duplex QoS if you will.
He fixed that, ran the test again, and still: .6. Yikes! Two days to go live. He called again.
That’s when I remembered the last time we tried to tackle this together. You see, the Lync Mediation Server is sort of the real PBX component in Lync Enterprise Voice architecture. It handles signalling to your endpoints, interfaces with the PSTN or a SIP trunk, and is the one server workload that, even in 2014, I’d hesitate making virtual.
My boss had three of them. All VMs on three different VMware hosts across two sites.
I dug up a Microsoft whitepaper on virtualizing Lync, something we didn’t have the last time we tried this. While Redmond says Lync Enterprise Voice on top of VMs can work, it’s damned expensive from a virtualization host perspective. MS advises:
You should disable hyperthreading on all hosts.
Do not use processor oversubscription; maintain a 1:1 ratio of virtual CPU to physical CPU.
Make sure your host servers support nested page tables (NPT) and extended page tables (EPT).
Disable non-uniform memory access (NUMA) spanning on the hypervisor, as this can reduce guest performance.
Talk about Harshing your vBuzz. Essentially, building Lync out virtually with Enterprise Voice forces you to go sparse on your hosts, which is akin to buying physical servers for Lync. If you don’t, into the vCPU blender goes Lync, and out comes poor voice quality, angry users, bitterness, regret and self-punishment.
Anyway, he did as advised, put some additional vCPU & memory reservations in place on his hosts, and yesterday, whilst I was toiling in the Hot Lane, he called me from Lync via his mobile.
He’s a married man just like me, but I must say his voice sounded damn sexy as it was sliced up into packets, sent over the wire, and converted back to analog on my mobile’s speaker. A virtual chest bump over the phone was next, then we said goodbye.
Another Go Live Victory (by proxy). Sweet.
Azure Outage: Yesterday’s bruising hours-long global Azure outage affected Virtual Machines, storage blobs, web services, database services and HD Insight, Microsoft’s service for big data crunching. As it unfolded, I navel-gazed, when I felt like helping. There was literally nothing I could do. Had I some crucial IaaS or PaaS in the Azure stack, I’d be shit out of luck, just like the rest. I felt quite helpless; refreshing Mary Jo’s page and the Azure dashboard didn’t help. I wondered what the problem was; it’s been a difficult week for Microsofties whether on-prem or in Azure. Had to be related to the update cycle, I thought.
On the plus side, Azure Active Directory services never went down, nor did several other services. Office 365 stayed up as well, though it is built atop separate-but-related infrastructure in my understanding.
Lastly, I pondered two thoughts: if you’re thinking of reducing your OpEx by replacing your DR strategy with an Azure Site Recovery strategy, does this change your mind? And if you’re building out Azure as your primary IaaS or PaaS, do you just accept such outages or do you plan a failback strategy?
Labworks : Towards a 100% Windows-defined Daisetta Lab: What’s next for the Daisetta Lab? Well, I have me an AMD Duron CPU, a suitable motherboard, a 1U enclosure with PSU, and three Keepin’ it RealTek NICs. Oh, I also have a case of the envies, envies for the VMware crowd and their VXLAN and NSX and of course VMworld next week. So I’m thinking of building a Network Virtualization Gateway appliance. For those keeping score at home, that would mean from Storage to Compute to Network Edge, I’d have a 100% Windows lab environment, infused with NVGRE which has more use cases than just multi-tenancy as I had thought.
Greetings to you Labworks readers, consumers, and conversationalists. Welcome to the last verse of Labworks Chapter 1, which has been all about building a durable and performance-oriented ZFS storage array for Hyper-V and/or VMware.
Today we’re going to circle back to the very end of Labworks 1:1, where I assigned myself some homework: find out why my writes suck so bad. We’re going to talk about a man named ZIL and his sidekick the SLOG and then we’re going to check out some Excel charts and finish by considering ZFS’ sync models.
But first, some housekeeping: SAN2, the ZFS box, has undergone minor modification. You can find the current array setup below. Also, I have a new switch in the Daisetta Lab, and as switching is intimately tied to storage networking & performance, it’s important I detail a little bit about it.
Labworks 1:4 – Small Business SG300 vs Catalyst 2960S
Cisco’s SG-300 & SG-500 series switches are getting some pretty good reviews, especially in a home lab context. I’ve got an SG-300 and really like it as it offers a solid spectrum of switching options at Layer 2 as well as a nice Layer 3-lite mode all for a tick under $200. It even has a real web-interface if your CLI-shy, which
I’m not but some folks are.
Sadly for me & the Daisetta Lab, I need more ports than my little SG-300 has to offer. So I’ve removed it from my rack and swapped it for a 2960S-48TS-L from the office, but not just any 2960S.
No, I have spiritual & emotional ties to this 2960s, this exact one. It’s the same 2960s I used in my January storage bakeoff of a Nimble array, the same 2960s on which I broke my Hyper-V & VMware cherry in those painful early days of virtualization, yes, this five year old switch is now in my lab:
Sure it’s not a storage switch, in fact it’s meant for IDFs and end-users and if the guys on that great storage networking podcast from a few weeks back knew I was using this as a storage switch, I’d be finished in this industry for good.
But I love this switch and I’m glad its at the top of my rack. I saved 1U, the energy costs of this switch vs two smaller ones are probably a wash, and though I lost Layer 3 Lite, I gained so much more: 48 x 1GbE ports and full LAN-licensed Cisco IOS v 15.2, which, agnostic computing goals aside for a moment, just feels so right and so good.
And with the increased amount of full-featured switch ports available to me, I’ve now got LACP teams of three on agnostic_node_1 & 2, jumbo frames from end to end, and the same VLAN layout.
Here’s the updated Labworks schematic and the disk layout for SAN2:
Disk Type, Quantity, Size, Format, Speed, Function
WD Red 2.5″ with NASWARE, 6, 1TB, 4KB AF, SATA 3 5400RPM, Zpool Members
Samsung 840 EVO SSD, 1, 128GB, 512byte, SATA 3, L2ARC Read Cache
Labworks 1:5 – A Man named ZIL and his sidekick, the SLOG
Labworks 1:1 was all about building durable & performance-oriented storage for Hyper-V & VMware. And one of the unresolved questions I aimed to solve out of that post was my poor write performance.
Review the hardware table and you’ll feel like I felt. I got me some SSD and some RAM, I provisioned a ZIL so write-cache that inbound IO already ZFS, amiright? Show me the IOPSMoney Jerry!
Well, about that. I mischaracterized the ZIL and I apologize to readers for the error. Let’s just get this out of the way: The ZFS Intent Log (ZIL) is not a write-cache device as I implied in Labworks 1:1.
The ZIL, whether spread out among your rotational disks by ZFS design, or applied to a Separate Log Device (a SLOG), is simply a synchronous writes mechanism, a log designed to ensure data integrity and report (IO ACK) back to the application layer that writes are safe somewhere on your rotational media. The ZIL & SLOG are also a disaster recovery mechanisms/devices ; in the event of power-loss, the ZIL, or the ZIL functioning on a SLOG device, will ensure that the writes it logged prior to the event are written to your spinners when your disks are back online.
Now there seem to be some differences in how the various implementations of ZFS look at the ZIL/SLOG mechanism.
Nexenta Community Edition, based off Illumos which is the open source descendant of Sun’s Solaris, says your SLOG should just be a write-optimized SSD, but even that’s more best practice than hard & fast requirement. Nexenta touts the ZIL/SLOG as a performance multiplier, and their excellent documentation has helpful charts and graphics reinforcing that.
In contrast, the most popular FreeBSD ZFS implementations documentation paints the ZIL as likely more trouble than its worth. FreeNAS actively discourages you from provisioning a SLOG unless it’s enterprise-grade, accurately pointing out that the ZIL & a SLOG device aren’t write-cache and probably won’t make your writes faster anyway, unless you’re NFS-focused (which I’m proudly, defiantly even, not) or operating a large database at scale.
What’s to account for the difference in documentation & best practice guides? I’m not sure; some of it’s probably related to *BSD vs Illumos implementations of ZFS, some of it’s probably related to different audiences & users of the free tier of these storage systems.
The question for us here is this: Will you benefit from provisioning a SLOG device if you build a ZFS box for Hyper-V and VMWare storage for iSCSI?
I hate sounding like a waffling storage VAR here, but I will: it depends. I’ve run both Nexenta and NAS4Free; when I ran Nexenta, I saw my SLOG being used during random & synchronous write operations. In NAS4Free, the SSD I had dedicated as a SLOG never showed any activity in zfs-stats, gstat or any other IO disk tool I could find.
One could spend weeks of valuable lab time verifying under which conditions a dedicated SLOG device adds performance to your storage array, but I decided to cut bait. Check out some of the links at the bottom for more color on this, but in the meantime, let me leave you with this advice: if you have $80 to spend on your FreeBSD-based ZFS storage, buy an extra 8GB of RAM rather than a tiny, used SLC or MLC device to function as your SLOG. You will almost certainly get more performance out of a larger ARC than by dedicating a disk as your SLOG.
Labworks 1:6 – Great…so, again, why do my writes suck?
Recall this SQLIO test from Labworks 1:1:
As you can see, read or write, I was hitting a wall at around 235-240 megabytes per second during much of “Short Test”, which is pretty close to the theoretical limit of an LACP team with two GigE NICs.
But as I said above, we don’t have that limit anymore. Whereas there were once 2x1GbE Teams, there are now 3x1GbE. Let’s see what the same test on the same 4KB block/4KB NTFS volume yields now.
SQLIO short test, take two, sort by Random vs Sequential writes & reads:
By jove, what’s going on here? This graph was built off the same SQLIO recipe, but looks completely different than Labworks 1. For one, the writes look much better, and reads look much worse. Yet step back and the patterns are largely the same.
It’s data like this that makes benchmarking, validating & ultimately purchasing storage so tricky. Some would argue with my reliance on SQLIO and those arguments have merit, but I feel SQLIO, which is easy to script/run and automate, can give you some valuable hints into the characteristics of an array you’re considering.
Let’s look at the writes question specifically.
Am I really writing 350MB/s to SAN2?
On the one hand, everything I’m looking at says YES: I am a Storage God and I have achieved #StorageGlory inside the humble Daisetta Lab HQ on consumer-level hardware:
SAN2 is showing about 115MB/s to each Broadcom interface during the 32KB & 64KB samples
Agnostic_Node_1 perfmon shows about the same amount of traffic eggressing the three vEthernet adapters
The 2960S is reflecting all that traffic; I’m definitely pushing about 350 megabytes per second to SAN2; interface port channel 3 shows TX load at 219 out of 255 and maxing out my LACP team
On the other hand, I am just an IT Mortal and something bothers:
CPU is very high on SAN2 during the 32KB & 64KB runs…so busy it seems like the little AMD CPU is responsible for some of the good performance marks
While I’m a fan of the itsy-bitsy 2.5″ Western Digitial RED 1TB drives in SAN2, under no theoretical IOPS model is it likely that six of them, in RAIDZ-2 (RAID 6 equivalent) can achieve 5,000-10,000 IOPS under traditional storage principles. Each drive by itself is capable of only 75-90 IOPS
If something is too good to be true, it probably is
Sr. Storage Engineer Neo feels really frustrated at this point; he can’t figure out why his writes suck, or even if they suck, and so he wanders up to the Oracle to get her take on the situation and comes across this strange Buddha Storage kid.
Labworks 1:7 – The Essence of ZFS & New Storage model
In effect, what we see here is is just a sample of the technology & techniques that have been disrupting the storage market for several years now: compression & caching multiply performance of storage systems beyond what they should be capable of, in certain scenarios.
As the chart above shows, the test2 volume is compressed by SAN2 using lzjb. On top of that, we’ve got the ZFS ARC, L2ARC, and the ZIL in the mix. And then, to make things even more complicated, we have some sync policies ZFS allows us to toggle. They look like this:
The sync toggle documentation is out there and you should understand it it is crucial to understanding ZFS, but I want to demonstrate the choices as well.
I’ve got three choices + the compression options. Which one of these combinations is going to give me the best performance & durability for my Hyper-V VMs?
SQLIO Short Test Runs 3-6, all PivotTabled up for your enjoyment and ease of digestion:
As is usually the case in storage, IT, and hell, life in general, there are no free lunches here people. This graph tells you what you already know in your heart: the safest storage policy in ZFS-land (Always Sync, that is to say, commit writes to the rotationals post haste as if it was the last day on earth) is also the slowest. Nearly 20 seconds of latency as I force ZFS to commit everything I send it immediately (vs flush it later), which it struggles to do at a measly average speed of 4.4 megabytes/second.
Compression-wise, I thought I’d see a big difference between the various compression schemes, but I don’t. Lzgb, lz4, and the ultra-space-saving/high-cpu-cost gzip-9 all turn in about equal results from an IOPS & performance perspective. It’s almost a wash, really, and that’s likely because of the predictable nature of the IO SQLIO is generating.
Last point: ZFS, as Chris Wahl pointed out, is a sort of virtualization layer atop your storage. Now if you’re a virtualization guy like me or Wahl, that’s easy to grasp; Windows 2012 R2’s Storage Spaces concept is similar in function.
But sometimes in virtualization, it’s good to peel away the abstraction onion and watch what that looks like in practice. ZFS has a number of tools and monitors that look at your Zpool IO, but to really see how ZFS works, I advise you to run gstat. GStat shows what your disks are doing and if you’re carefully setting up your environment, you ought to be able to see the effects of your settings on each individual spindle.
Now look at this gstat sample. Under SQLIO-load, the zvol is showing 10,000 IOPS, 300+MB/s. But ada0-5, the physical drives, aren’t doing squat for several seconds at a time as SAN2 absorbs & processes all the IO coming at it.
That, friends, is the essence of ZFS.
Links/Knowledge/Required Reading Used in this Post:
Introducing Fail File #1, where I admit to screwing something up and reflect on what I’ve learned
SAN2.daisettalabs.net, the NAS4Free server I built to simulate some of the functions I perform at work with big boy SANs, crashed last night.
Or, to put it another way, I pushed that little AMD-powered, FreeBSD-running, Broadcom-connected, ZFS-flavored franken-array to the breaking point:
Such are the perils of concentrated block storage, amiright? Instantly my Hyper-V Cluster Shared Volumes + the 8 or 9 VMs inside them dropped:
So what happened here?
I failed to grok the grub or fsck the fdisk or something and gave BSD an inadequate amount of swap space on the root 10GB partition slice. Then I lobbed some iSCSI packets its way from multiple sources and the kernel, starved for resources (because I’m using about 95% of my RAM for the ARC), decided to kill istgt, the iSCSI target service.
Thinking back to the winter, when I ran Nexenta -derived from Sun’s Solaris, not BSD-based- the failure sequence was different, but I’m not sure it was better.
When I was pounding the Nexenta SAN2 back in the winter, volleying 175,000+ iSCSI packets per second its way onto hardware that was even more ghetto, Nexenta did what any good human engineer does: compensate for the operator’s errors & abuses.
It was kind of neat to see. Whether I was running SQLIO simulations, an iometer run, robocopy or eseutil, or just turning on a bunch of VMs simultaneously, one by one, Nexenta services would start to drop as resources were exhausted.
First the gui (NMV it’s called). Then SSH. And finally, sometimes the console itself would lock up (NMC).
But never iSCSI, the disk subsystem, the ARC or L2ARC…those pieces never dropped.
Now to be fair, the GUI, SSH & console services never really turned back on either….you might end up with a durable storage system you couldn’t interact with at all until hard reset, but at least the LUNs stayed online.
This BSD box, in contrast, kills the most important service I’m running on it, but has the courtesy to admit to it and doesn’t make me get up out of my seat: GUI/SSH all other processes are running fine and I’ve instantly identified the problem and will engineer against it.
One model is resilient, bending but not breaking; the other is durable up to a point, and then it just snaps.
Which model is better for a given application?
Fail File Lesson #1: It’s just as important to understand how things fail as it is to understand why they fail, so that you can properly engineer against it. I never thought inadequate swap space would result in a homicidal kernel gunning for the most important service on the box…now I know.
Hello Labworks fans, detractors and partisans alike, hope you had a nice Easter / Resurrection / Agnostic Spring Celebration weekend.
Last time on Labworks 2:1-4, we looked at some of the awesome teaming options Microsoft gave us with Server 2012 via its multiplexor driver. We also made the required configuration adjustments on our switch for jumbo frames & VLAN trunking, then we built ourselves some port channel interfaces flavored with LACP.
I think the multiplexor driver/protocol is one of the great (unsung?) enhancements of Server 2012/R2 because it’s a sort of pre-virtualization abstraction layer (That is to say, your NICs are abstracted & standardized via this driver before we build our important virtual switches) and because it’s a value & performance multiplier you can use on just about any modern NIC, from the humble RealTek to the Mighty Intel Server 10GbE.
But I’m getting too excited here; let’s get back to the curriculum and get started shall we?
5. Understand what Microsoft’s multiplexor driver/LBFO has done to our NICs
6. Build our Virtual Machine Switch for maximum flexibility & performance
7. The vEthernets are Coming
8. Next Steps: Jumbo frames from End-to-end and performance tuning
2:5 Understand what Microsoft’s Multiplexor driver/LBFO has done to our NICs
So as I said above, the best way to think about the multiplexor driver & Microsoft’s Load Balancing/Failover tech is by viewing it as a pre-virtualization abstraction layer for your NICs. Let’s take a look.
Our Network Connections screen doesn’t look much different yet, save for one new decked-out icon labeled “Daisetta-Team:”
Meanwhile, this screen is still showing the four NICs we joined into a team in Labworks 2:3, so what gives?
A click on the properties of any of those NICs (save for the RealTek) reveals what’s happened:
The LBFO process unbinds many (though not all) settings, configurations, protocols and certain driver elements from your physical NICs, then binds the fabulous Multiplexor driver/protocol to the NIC as you see in the screenshot above.
In the dark days of 2008 R2 & Windows core, when we had to walk up hill to school both ways in the snow I had to download and run a cmd tool called nvspbind to get this kind of information.
Fortunately for us in 2012 & R2, we have some simple cmdlets:
So notice Microsoft has essentially stripped “Ethernet 4” of all that would have made it special & unique amongst my 4x1GbE NICs; where I might have thought to tag a VLAN onto that Intel GbE, the multiplexor has stripped that option out. If I had statically assigned an IP address to this interface, TCP/IP v4 & v6 are now no longer bound to the NIC itself and thus are incapable of having an IP address.
And the awesome thing is you can do this across NICs, even NICs made by separate vendors. I could, for example, mix the sacred NICs (Intel) with the profane NICs (RealTek)…it don’t matter, all NICs are invited to the LBFO party.
No extra licensing costs here either; if you own a Server 2012 or 2012 R2 license, you get this for free, which is all kinds of kick ass as this bit of tech has allowed me in many situations to delay hardware spend. Why go for 10GbE NICs & Switches when I can combine some old Broadcom NICs, leverage LACP on the switch, and build 6×1 or 8x1GbE Converged LACP teams?
LBFO even adds up all the NICs you’ve given it and teases you with a calculated LinkSpeed figure, which we’re going to hold it to in the next step:
2:6 Build our Virtual Machine Switch for maximum flexibility & performance
If we just had the multiplexor protocol & LBFO available to us, it’d be great for physical server performance & durability. But if you’re deploying Hyper-V, you get to have your LBFO cake and eat it too, by putting a virtual switch atop the team.
This is all very easy to do in Hyper-V manager. Simply right click your server, select Virtual Switch Manager, make sure the Multiplexor driver is selected as the NIC, and press OK.
Bob’s your Uncle:
But let’s go a bit deeper and do this via powershell, where we get some extra options & control:
New-vmswitch : the cmdlet we’re invoking to build the switch. Run get-help new-vmswitch for a rundown of the cmdlet’s structure & options
-NetAdapterInterfaceDescription : here we’re telling Windows which NIC to build the VM Switch on top of. Get the precise name from Get-NetAdapter and enclose it in quotes
-Allow ManagementOS 1 : Recall the diagram above. This boolean switch (1 yes, 0 no) tells Windows to create the VM Switch & plug the Host/Management Operating System into said Switch. You may or may not want this; in the lab I say yes; at work I’ve used No.
-Minimum Bandwidth Mode Weight: We lay out the rules for how the switch will apportion some of the 4Gb/s bandwidth available to it. By using “Weight,” we’re telling the switch we’ll assign some values later
Name: Name your switch
A few seconds later, and congrats Mr. Hyper-V admin, you have built a converged virtual switch!
2:7 The vEthernets are Coming
Now that we’ve built our converged virtual switch, we need to plug some things into it. And that starts on the physical host.
If you’re building a Hyper-V cluster or stand-alone Hyper-V host with VMs on networked storage, you’ll approach vEthernet adpaters differently than if you’re building Hyper-V for VMs on attached/internal storage or on SMB 3.0 share storage. In the former, you’re going to need storage vEthernet adpters; in the latter you won’t need as many vEthernets unless you’re going multi-channel SMB 3.0, which we’ll cover in another labworks session.
I’m going to show you the iSCSI + Failover Clustering model.
In traditional Microsoft Failover Clustering for Virtual Machines, we need a minimum of five discrete networks. Here’s how that shakes out in the Daisetta Lab:
Network Name, VLAN ID, Purpose, Notes
Management, 1, Host & VM management network, You can separate the two if you like
CSV, 14, Host Cluster & communication and coordination, Important for clustering Hyper-V hosts
LM, 15, Live Migration network, When you must send VMs from broke host to host with the most LM is there for you
iSCSI 1-3, 11-13, Storage, Soemwhat controversial but supported
Now you should be connecting that dots: remember in Labworks 2:1, we built a trunked port-channel on our Cisco 2960S for the sole purpose of these vEthernet adapters & our converged switch.
So, we’re going to attach tagged vethernet adapters to our host via powershell. Pay attention here to the “-managementOS” tag; though our Converged switch is for virtual machines, we’re using it for our physical host as well.
You can script his out of course (and VMM does that for you), but if you just want to copy paste, do it in this order:
Notice we didn’t include a Gateway in the New-NetIPAddress cmdlet; that’s because when we built our Virtual Switch with the “-managementOS 1” switch attached, Windows automatically provisioned a vEthernet adapter for us, which either got an IP via DHCP or took an apipa address.
So now we have our vEthernets and their appropriate VLAN tags:
2:8: Next Steps : Jumbo Frames from end-to-end & Performance Tuning
So if you’ve made it this far, congrats. If you do nothing else, you now have a converged Hyper-V virtual switch, tagged vEthernets on your host, and a virtualized infrastructure that’s ready for VMs.
But there’s more you can do; stay tuned for the next labworks post where we’ll get into jumbo frames & performance tuning this baby so she can run with all the bandwidth we’ve given her.
Links/Knowledge/Required Reading Used in this Post:
Aidan Finn, upstanding Irishman, apparent bear-cub puncher, hobbyist photog, MVP all-star and one of my favorite Hyper-V bloggers (seriously, he’s good, and along with DidierV & the Hyper-Dutchman has probably saved my vAss more times than I can vCount) appeared on one of my favorite podcasts last week, RunAs Radio with Canuck Richard Campbell.
Which is all sorts of awesome as these are a few of my favorite things piled on top of each other (Finn on RunAs).
The subject? Hyper-V, scale out file servers (SoFS) in 2012 R2, SMB 3.0 multichannel and Microsoft storage networking, which are just about my favoritest subjects in the whole wide world. I mean what are the odds that one of my favorite Hyper-V bloggers would appear on one of my favorite tech podcasts? Remote. And talk about storage networking tech, Redmond-style, during that podcast?
All that and an adorable Irish brogue?
This is Instant nerdgasm territory here people; if you’re into these black arts as I am, it’s a must-listen.
Anyway, Finn reminded me of his famous powershell demos in which he demonstrates all the options we Hyper-V admins have at our disposal now when it comes to Live Migrating VMs from host to host.
And believe me, we have so many now it’s almost embarrassing, especially if you cut your teeth on Hyper-V 2.0 in 2008 R2, where successfully Live Migrating VMs off a host (or draining one during production) involved a few right clicks, chicken sacrifice, Earth-Jupiter-Moon alignment, a reliable Geiger counter by your side and a tolerance for Pucker Factor Values greater than 10* **.
Nowadays, we can:
Live Migrate VMs between hosts in a cluster (.vhdx parked in a Cluster Shared Volume, VM config, RAM & CPU on a host….block storage, the Coke Classic option)
Live Migrate VMs parked on SMB 3.0 shares, just like you NFS jockeys do
Shared-nothing Live Migration, either storage + VM, just storage, or just VM!
A for instance: from my Dell Latitude i7 ultrabook with Windows 8.1 and client hyper-v installed (natch), I can storage Live Migrate a .vhdx off my skinny but fast 256GB SSD to a spacious SMB share at work, then drop it back on my laptop at the end of the day, all via Scheduled Task or powershell with no downtime for the VM
With Server 2012/2012 R2 you get all those options + SMB 3.0 multichannel
Not only that, but we have some cool new toys with which to make the cost of Live Migration a VM to the host with the most a little less painful:
Standard TCP/IP : I like this because I’m old school and anything that stresses the network and LACP is fun because it makes the network guy sweat
Compression: Borrow spare cycles from the host CPU, compress the VM’s RAM, and Live Migrate your way out of a tight spot
SMB via Remote Direct Memory Access : the holy of holies in Live Migration. As Finn points out, this bit of tech can scale beyond the bandwidth capabilities of the PCIe 3 bus. SMB 3.0 + RDMA makes you hate your Northbridge
Finn*** of course provided some Live Migration start:finish times resulting from the various methods above, which I then, of course, interpreted as Finn daring me personally over the radio to try and beat those times in my humble Daisetta Lab.
Now this is just for fun people; not a Labworks-style list of repeatable results, so let’s not nerd-out on how my testing methodology isn’t sound & I’m a stupidhead, ok?
Anyway, Sysinternals has a nice little tool to redline the RAM in your Windows VM. I don’t know how Finn does it, but I don’t have workloads (yet!) in the Lab that would fill 4GB of RAM with non-random data on a VM, so off to the cmd we go:
You type this (haven’t played with all the switches yet) in this navy blue screen:
And then this happen and the somewhat pink graph goes full pink:
Then we press this button to test Live Migration w/ compression, as the Daisetta Lab doesn’t have fancy RDMA NICs like certain well-connected Irish Hyper-V bloggers:
Which makes this bluecelestedenim Azure colored line get all spikey:
all of which results in a wicked-fast Live Migrations & really cool orange-colored charts in my totally non-random, non-scientific but highly enjoyable laboratory experiment
Still, in the end, I like my TCP/IP uncompressed Live Migrations because 1) sackcloth & ashes, and 2) I didn’t go to the trouble of building a multiplexed LACP team -with a virtual switch on top!- just to let the Cat5es in my attic have an easy day at the office:
But at work: yes. I love this compression stuff and echo Finn’s observations on how Hyper-V doesn’t slam your host CPUs beyond what the host & its VM fleet could bear.
Anyway, did I beat Finn’s Live Migration times in this fun little test? Will the Irish MVP have to admit he’s not so esteemed after all and surrender his Hyper_V_MVP_badge.gif to me?
Of course I did and yes he will.
But not really.
[table caption=”Daisetta Lab LM vs Finn’s Powershell LM Scripts – 4GB VM” width=”500″ colwidth=”20|100|50″ colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Who,TCP/IP LM,Compressed LM,RDMA & SMB 3 LM,Notes
Finn,78 seconds, 15 seconds,6.8 seconds, “Mr. I once moved a VM with 56GB of RAM in 35 seconds probably has a few Xeons”
D-Lab,38 seconds,Like 12 or something,Who’s ass do I need to kiss to get RDMA/iWarp?, But seriously my VM RAM was probably not random
Finn notes in his posts that he’s dedicating an entire 1GbE NIC for his Live Migration Demos, wheras I’m embracing the converged switch model and haven’t even played with bandwidth or QOS settings on my Hyper-V switch.
How do my VMware colleagues & friends measure this stuff & think about vMotion performance & reliability? I know NFS can scale & perform, but am ignorant on the nuances of v3 vs v4, how it works on the host and Distributed vSwitch and your “Shared nothing” storage vMotion. And what’s this I hear that vSphere won’t begin a vMotion without knowing it will complete? How’s that determined?
I mean I could spend an hour or two googling it, or you could, I don’t know, post a comment and save me the time and spread some of your knowledge 😀
I’m jazzed about SMB 3.0, but there are only a handful of storage vendors who have support for the new stack, and among them, as Finn points out, Microsoft is #1 storage vendor for SMB 3 fans, with NetApp probably in 2nd place.
* Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad. Most days.
** Pucker Factor Value can be measured by querying obscure wmi class win32_pfv
*** Finn is a consultant. So you can hire him. I have no relationship with him other than admiration for his scripting skillz
Greetings Labworks fans, today we’re going to learn how to build converged Hyper-V switches, switches so cool they’re nearly identical to the ones available to enterprise users with their fancy System Center licenses.
If you’re coming from a VMware mindset, a Hyper-V converged switch is probably most similar to Distributed vSwitches, though admittedly I’m a total n00b on VMware, so take that statement with a grain of salt. The idea here is to build an advanced switching fabric on your Hyper-V hosts that is fault-tolerant & performance-oriented, and like a Distributed vSwitch, common among your physical hosts and your guests.
This is one of my favorite topics because I have a serious & problematic love-affair with LACP and a Terrets-like urge to team things up & jumbo, but you don’t need an LACP-capable switch or jumbo frame to enjoy Converged Switching goodness.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Prepare the physical switch for Jumbo Frames
Understand LBFO: Microsoft’s Load Balancing/Fail Over teaming technology introduced in Server 2012
Enable LACP on the Switch and on the Server
Build the Switch on the Team & Next Steps
Required Tools ‘n Tech:
Server 2012 or 2012 R2…sorry Windows 8.1 Professional/Enterprise fans…LBFO is not available for 8.1. I know, I feel your pain. But the naked Hyper-V 3.0 Hypervisor (Core only) is free, so what are you waiting for?
A switch, preferably gigabit. LACP not required but a huge performance multiplier
NICs: As in plural. You need at least two. Yes, you can use your Keepin’ it RealTek NICs..Hyper-V doesn’t care that your NICs aren’t server-grade, but I advise against consumer-NICs for production!!
State of the Lab as of today. Ag_node_1 is new, with a core i7 Haswell (Yay!), ag_node_2 is the same, still running CSVs off my ZFS box, and check it out, bottom right: a new host, SMB1:
2:1 Prepare the Physical Switch for Jumbo Frames
You can skip this section if all you have at your disposal is a dumb switch.
Commands below are off of a Cisco 2960s. Commands are similar on the new SG300 & 500 series Cisco switches. PowerConnect 5548 switches from Dell aren’t terribly different either, though I seem to recall you have you enable jumbo mtu on each port as well as the switch.
First we’re going to want to turn on Jumbo Frames, system-wide, which usually requires a reload of your switch, so schedule for a maintenance window!
daisettalabs.net(config)#system mtu jumbo 9198
You can run a show system mtu after the reload to be sure the switch is ready for the corpulent frames you will soon send its way:
daisettalabs.net#show system mtu
System MTU size is 1514 bytes
System Jumbo MTU size is 9198 bytes
System Alternate MTU size is 1514 bytes
Routing MTU size is 1514 bytes
2:2 Load Balancing & Failover
Load Balancing & Failover, or LBFO as it’s known, was the #1 feature I was looking forward to in Server 2012.
And boy did Microsoft deliver.
LBFO is a driver/framework that takes whatever NICs you have, “teams” them, applies a mature & resilient multiplexor driver to them, and gives you redundancy & performance in just a few clicks or powershell cmdlets. Let’s do GUI for the team, and later on, we’ll use Powershell to build a switch on that team.
Sidenote: Don’t bother applying IP addresses, VLANs to your LBFO-destined physical NICs at this point. Do bother installing your manufacturer’s latest driver, or hacking one on as I’ve had to do with my new ag_node_1 Intel NIC. (SideSideNote: as this blogger states, Intel can eat a bag of d**** for dropping so many NICs from Server 2012 support. Broadcom, for all the hassles I’ve had with them, still updates drivers on four year old cards!)
On SMB1 from the above schematic, I’ve got five gigabit NICs. One is a RealTek on the motherboard, and the other four are Intel; 1-4 on a PCIe Quad Gigabit network card, i350 x4 I believe.
The RealTek NIC has a static IP and is my management interface for the purposes of this labworks. We’ll only be teaming the four Intel NICs here. Be sure to leave at least one of your NICs out of the LBFO team unless you are sitting in front of your server console; you can always add it in later.
Launch Server Manager in the GUI and click on “All Servers,” then right click on SMB1 and select Configure NIC Teaming:
A new window will emerge,titled, NIC Teaming.
In the NIC Teaming window, notice on the right the five GbE adapters you have and their status (Green Arrow). Click on “Tasks” and select “New Team” (Red Arrow):
The New Team window is where all the magic happens. Let’s pause for a moment and go to our switch.
On my old 2960s, we’re building LACP-flavored port channels by using the “channel group _ mode active” command, which tells the switch to use the genuine-article LACP/802.11ax protocol rather than the older Cisco proprietary Port Aggregation Protocol (PAgp) system, which is activated by running “channel group _ mode auto.”
However, if you have a newer switch, perhaps a nice little SG 300 or something similar, PAgp is dead and not available to you, but the process for LACP is like the old PAgp command: “channel group _ mode auto” will turn on LACP.
Here’s the 2960s process. Note that my Intel NICs are plugged into Gig 1/0/20-23, with spanning-tree portfast enabled (which we’ll change once our Converged virtual switch is built):
daisettalabs.net#show run int gig 1/0/20
Current configuration : 63 bytes
Enter configuration commands, one per line. End with CNTL/Z.
daisettalabs.net(config)#int range gig 1/0/20-23
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#description SMB1 TEAM
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#channel-group 3 mode active
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#switchport mode trunk
Presto! That wasn’t so hard was it?
Note that I’ve trunked all four interfaces; that’s important in Hyper-V Converged switching. We’ll need to trunk po3 as well.
Let’s take a look at our new port channel:
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#do show run int po3
Current configuration : 54 bytes
switchport mode trunk
Now let’s check the state of the port channel:
daisettalabs.net#show etherchannel summary
Flags: D - down P - bundled in port-channel
I - stand-alone s - suspended
H - Hot-standby (LACP only)
R - Layer3 S - Layer2
U - in use f - failed to allocate aggregator
M - not in use, minimum links not met u - unsuitable for bundling w - waiting to be aggregated d - default port Number of channel-groups in use: 3 Number of aggregators: 3 Group Port-channel Protocol Ports ------+-------------+-----------+-----------------------------------------------
1 Po1(SU) LACP Gi1/0/1(P) Gi1/0/2(P) Gi1/0/3(P)
2 Po2(SU) LACP Gi1/0/11(D) Gi1/0/13(P) Gi1/0/14(P) Gi1/0/15(P) Gi1/0/16(P)
3 Po3(SD) LACP Gi1/0/19(s) Gi1/0/20(D) Gi1/0/21(s) Gi1/0/22(s) Gi1/0/23(D)
po3 is in total disarray, but not for long. Back on SMB1, it’s time to team those NICs:
I’m a fan of naming-conventions even if this screenshot doesn’t show it; All teams on all hosts have the same “Daisetta-Team” name, and I usually rename NICs as well, but honestly, you could go mad trying to understand why Windows names NICs the way it does (Seriously. It’s a Thing). There’s no /dev/eth0 for us in MIcroosft-land, it’s always something obscure and strange and out-of-sequence, which is part of the reason why Converged Switching & LBFO kick ass; who cares what your interfaces are named so long as they are identically configured?
If you don’t have an LACP-capable switch, you’ll select “Switch Independent” here.
As for Load Balancing modes: in server 2012, you get Address Hash (Source/Dest MAC or IP in Layer 3 LACP), or Hyper-V Port, which is sort of a round-robin approach (VM1 goes to one port in the team, VM2 to the other).
I prefer the new (with 2012 R2) Dynamic mode which negotiates with the physical switch. More color on those choices & what they mean for you in the References section at the bottom.
Press ok, sit back, and watch my gifcam shot:
Mmmm, taste the convergence.
2:4 Build a Switch on top of that team & Next Steps
If you’ve ever built a switch for Hyper-V, you’ll find building the converged switch immediately familiar, save for one technicality: you’re going to build a switch on top of that multiplexor driver you just created!
Sounds scary? Perhaps. I’ll go into some of the intricacies and gotchas and show some cool powershell bits ‘n bobs on the next episode of Labworks.
Eventually we’re going to dangle all sorts of things off this virtual switch-atop-a-multiplexor-driver!
Links/Knowledge/Required Reading Used in this Post:
I’ve been going on, insufferably at times, about my new Nimble storage array at work. Back in January, it passed my home-grown bakeoff with flying colors, in February I wrote about how it was inbound to my datacenter, in March I fretted over iSCSI traffic, .vhdx parades, and my 6509-E.
Well it’s been just about a month since it was racked up and jacked into my Hyper-V fabric and I thought maybe the storage nerds among my readers would like an update on how its performing.
Fast: It’s been strange getting compliments, kudos and thank yous rather than complaints and ALL CAPS emails punctuated by Exclamation Marks. I have a couple of very critical SQL databases, the performance of which can make or break my job, and after some deliberation, we took the risk and moved the biggest of them to the Nimble about three weeks ago.
Here’s a slightly edited email from one power user 72 hours later:
Did I say THANK YOU for the extra zip yet?
STILL LOVING IT!!
I’m taken aback by all the affection coming my way…no longer under user-siege, I feel like maybe I should dress better at work, shave every day, turn on some lights in the office perhaps. Even the dev team was shocked, with one of them invoking Spaceballs and saying his storage-dependent process was moving at “Ludicrous speed.”
It’s Easy: I can’t underscore this enough. If you’re a mid-sized enterprise with vanilla/commodity workloads and you can tolerate an array that’s just iSCSI (you can still use NFS or SMB 3, just from inside clustered VMs!), Nimble’s a good fit, especially if your staff is more generalist in nature. or you don’t have time to engineer a new SAN from scratch.
This was a Do It Yourself storage project for me; I didn’t have the luxury or time to hire storage engineers or VARs to come in and engineer it for me. Nimble will try to sell you on professional services, but you can decline and hook it up yourself, as I did. There are best practice guides a-plenty, and if you understand your stack & workload, your switching & compute, you’ll do fine.
Buying it was easy: Nimble’s lineup is simple and from a customer standpoint, it was a radically different experience to buy a Nimble than a traditional SAN.
Purchasing a big SAN is like trying to decide what to eat at French restaurant in Chinatown…you recognize the letters and & the pictures on the menu look familiar, but you don’t know what that SKU is exactly or how you’ll feel in the morning after buying & eating it. And while the restaurant has provided a helpful & knowledgeable garçon to explain French cuisine & etiquette to you, you know the garçon & his assistants moonlight at the Italian, German and Sushi place down the road, where they are equally knowledgeable & enthusiastic about those cuisines. But they can’t talk about the Italian place because they have something called agency with the french restaurant; so with you, they are only French cuisine experts, and their professional opinion is that Italian, German and Sushi are horrible food choices. Also, your spend with the restaurant is too small to get the chef’s attention..you have to go through this obnoxious garçon system.
Buying from Nimble, meanwhile, is like picking a burger at In ‘n Out. You have three options, all of them containing meat, and from left to right, the choices are simply Good, Better, Best. You can stack shelves onto controller-shelves, just like a Double-Double, and you know what you’ll get in the end. Oh sure, there’s probably an Animal Style option somewhere, but you don’t need Animal Style to enjoy In ‘n Out, do you?
Lesson is this: Maybe your organization needs a real full-featured SAN & VAR-expertise. But maybe you just need fast, reliable iSCSI that you can hook up yourself.
It’s nice that we in customer-land have that option now.
ASUP & Community: The Autosupport from Nimble has left nothing to be desired, in fact, I think they nag too much. But I’ll take that over a downed array.
I’ve grown to enjoy Connect.Nimble.com, the company’s forum where guys like me can compare notes. Shout out to one awesome Nimble SE named Adam Herbert who built a perfect signed MPIO Powershell script that maps your initiators to your targets in no time at all.
And then you get to sit back and watch as MPIO does its thang across all your iSCSI HBAs, producing symmetrical & balanced utilization charts which, in turn, release pleasing little bursts of storage-dopamine in your brain.
It works fine with Hyper-V, CSVs, and Converged Fabric vEthernets: What a mouthful, but it’s true. Zero issues fitting this array into System Center Virtual Machine Manager storage (though it doesn’t have SMI-S support a “standard” which few seem to have adopted), failing CSVs from one Hyper-V node to another, and resizing CSVs or RDMs live.
And for the convergence fans: I pretty much lost my fear of using vEthernet adapters for iSCSI traffic during the bakeoff and in the Daisetta Lab at home, but in case you needed further convincing that Hyper-V’s converged fabric architecture kicks ass, here it is: Each Hyper-V node in my datacenter has 12 gigabit NICs. Eight of them per host are teamed (that is to say they get the Microsoft Multiplexor driver treatment, LACP-flavor) and then a Converged Virtual switch is built atop the multiplexor driver. From that converged v-switch, I’m dangling six virtual Ethernet adapters per host, two of which, are tagged for the Nimble VLAN I built in the 6509.
That’s a really long and complicated way of saying that in a modest-sized production environment, I’m using LACP teaming on the hosts, up to 4x1GbE vNics on the VIP guests, and MPIO to the storage, which conventional storage networking wisdom says is a bit like kissing your sister and bragging about it. Maybe it’s harmless (even enjoyable?) once or twice, but sooner or later, you’ll live to regret it. And hey the Department of Redundancy Department called, they want one of their protocols back.
I’ve read a lot of thoughtful pieces from VMware engineers & colleagues about doing this, but from a Hyper-V perspective,this is supported, and from a Nimble array perspective, I’m sure they’d point the finger at this if something went wrong, but it hasn’t, and from my perspective : one converged virtual switch = easy to deploy/templatize, easy to manage & monitor. Case closed.
LACP + MPIO in Hyper-V works so well that in three weeks of recording iSCSI stats, I’ve yet to record a single TCP error/re-transmit or anything that would make me think the old model was better. And I haven’t even applied bandwidth policies on the converged switches yet; that tool is still in my box and right now iSCSI is getting the Hyper-V equivalent of best effort.
It’s getting faster: Caching is legit. All my monitors and measurements prove it out. Implement your Nimble correctly, and you may see it get faster as time goes on.
And by that I mean don’t tick the “caching” box for every volume. Conserve your resources, develop a strategy and watch it bloom and grow as your iSCSI packets find their way home faster and faster.
The DBA is noticing it too in his latency timers & long running query measurements, but this graph suffices to show caching in action over three weeks in a more exciting way than a select * from slow-ass-tables query:
Least Frequently Used, Most Recently Used, Most Frequently Used….who frequently/recently cares what caching algorithm the CASL architecture is using? A thousand whiteboard sessions conducted by the world’s greatest SE with the world’s greatest schwag gifts couldn’t sell me on this the way my own charts and my precious perfmons do.
My cached Nimble volumes are getting faster baby.
Compression wise, I’m seeing some things I didn’t expect. Some volumes are compressing up to 40x. Others are barely hitting 1.2x. The performance impact of this is hard to quantify, but from a conservation standpoint, I’m not having to grow volumes very often. It’s a wash with the old dedupe model, save for one thing: I don’t have to schedule compression. That’s the CPUs job, and for all I know, the Nehalems inside my CS260 are, or should be, redlining as they lz4 my furious iSCSI traffic.
Busy Box & CLI: The Nimble command line in version 1.4x felt familiar to me the first time I used it. I recognized the command structure, the help files and more, and thought it looked like Busy Box.
What’s Busy Box? How to put this without making enemies of The Guys Who Say Vi…Busy Box is a collection of packages, tools, servers and scripts for the unix world developed about 25 years ago by an amazing Unix engineer. It’s very popular, it’s everywhere, and it’s reliable and I have no complaints about it other than the fact that it’s disconcerting that my Nimble has the same package of tools I once installed on my Android handset.
But that’s just the Windows guy talking, a Windows guy who was really fond of his WAFL and misses it but will adapt and holds out hope that OneGet & PowerShell, one day, will emerge victorious over all.
The SSL cert situation is embarrassing and I’m glad my former boss hasn’t seen it. Namely that situation is this: you can’t replace the stock SSL cert, which, frankly looks like something I would do while tooling around with OpenSSL in the lab.
I understand this is fixed in the new 2.x OS version but holy shit what a fail.
Other than that, I’m very pleased -and the organization is very pleased***- with our Nimble array.
It feels like at last, I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor, I’m riding a high-performance storage array that was cost-effective, easy to install, and is performing at/above expectations. I’m like Major Kong, my array is literally the bomb, man and his machine are in harmony and there’s some joy & euphoria up in the datacenter as my task is complete.
*Remember this lesson #StorageGlory seekers: no one knows your workload like you. The above screenshot of cache hits is of a 400GB SQL transaction log volume of a larger SQL DB that’s in use 24/6. Your mileage may vary.
*** I do not speak for the organization even though I just did.
Labworks #1: Building a durable, performance-oriented ZFS box for Hyper-V, VMware
Primary Goal: To build a durable and performance-oriented storage array using Sun’s fantastic, 128 bit, high-integrity Zetabyte File System for use with Lab Hyper-V CSVs & Windows clusters, VMware ESXi 5.5, other hypervisors,
Secondary Goal: Leverage consumer-grade SSDs to increase/multiply performance by using them as ZFS Intent Log (ZIL) write-cache and L2ARC read cache
Bonus: The Windows 7 PC in the living room that’s running Windows Media Center with CableCARD & HD Home Run was running out of DVR disk space and can’t record to SMB shares but can record to iSCSI LUNs.
Technologies used: iSCSI, MPIO, LACP, Jumbo Frames, IOMETER, SQLIO, ATTO, Robocopy, CrystalDiskMark, FreeBSD, NAS4Free, Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V 3.0, Converged switch, VMware, standard switch, Cisco SG300
I picked the Gigabyte board above because it’s got an outstanding eight SATA 6Gbit ports, all running on the native AMD A88x Bolton-D4 chipset, which, it turns out, isn’t supported well in Illumos (see Lab Notes below).
I added to that a cheap $20 Marve 9128se two port SATA 6gbit PCIe card, which hosts the boot volume & the SanDisk SSD.
Disk Type, Quantity, Size, Format, Speed, Function
WD Red 2.5″ with NASWARE, 6, 1TB, 4KB AF, SATA 3 5400RPM, Zpool Members
I’m not finished with all the benchmarking, which is notoriously difficult to get right, but here’s a taste. Expect a followup soon.
All shots below involved lzp2 compression on SAN2
SQLIO Short Test:
ATTO standard run:
None so far. From a VMware perspective, I want to rebuild the Standard switch as a distributed switch now that I’ve got a VCenter appliance running. But that’s not my priority at the moment.
Pulled two drives -the limit on RAIDZ2- under normal conditions. Put them back in, saw some alerts about the “administrator pulling drives” and the Zpool being in a degraded state. My CSVs remained online, however. Following a short zpool online command, both drives rejoined the pool and the degraded error went away.
Because it’s not all about repeatable lab experiments. Here’s a Gifcam shot from Node-1 as it completely saturates both 2x1GbE Intel NICs:
and some pretty blinking lights from the six 2.5″ drives:
Lab notes & Lessons Learned:
First off, I’d like to buy a beer for the unknown technology enthusiast/lab guy who uttered these sage words of wisdom, which I failed to heed:
You buy cheap, you buy twice
Listen to that man, would you? Because going consumer, while tempting, is not smart. Learn from my mistakes: if you have to buy, buy server boards.
Secondly, I prefer NexentaStor to NAS4Free with ZFS, but like others, I worry about and have been stung by Open Solaris/Illumos hardware support. Most of that is my own fault, cf the note above, but still: does Illumos have a future? I’m hopeful, NextentaStor is going to appear at next month’s Storage Field Day 5, so that’s a good sign, and version 4.0 is due out anytime.
The Illumos/Nexenta command structure is much more intuitive to me than FreeBSD. In place of your favorite *nix commands, Nexenta employs some great, verb-noun show commands, and dtrace, the excellent diagnostic/performance tool included in Solaris is baked right into Nexenta. In NAS4Free/FreeBSD 9.1, you’ve got to add a few packages to get the equivalent stats for the ARC, L2ARC and ZFS, and adding dtrace involves a make & kernel modification, something I haven’t been brave enough to try yet.
Next: Jumbo Frames for the win. From Node-1, the desktop in my office, my Core i5-4670k CPU would regularly hit 35-50% utilization during my standard SQLIO benchmark before I configured jumbo frames from end-to-end. Now, after enabling Jumbo frames on the Intel NICs, the Hyper-V converged switch, the SG-300 and the ZFS box, utilization peaks at 15-20% during the same SQLIO test, and the benchmarks have show an increase as well. Unfortunately in FreeBSD world, adding jumbo frames is something you have to do on the interface & routing table, and it doesn’t persist across reboots for me, though that may be due to a driver issue on the Broadcom card.
The Western Digital 2.5″ drives aren’t stellar performers and they aren’t cheap, but boy are they quiet, well-built, and run cool, asking politely for only 1 watt under load. I’ve returned the hot, loud & failure prone HGST 3.5″ 2 TB drives I borrowed from work; it’s too hard to put them in a chassis that’s short-depth.
Lastly, ZFS’ adaptive replacement cache, which I’ve enthused over a lot in recent weeks, is quite the value & performance-multiplier. I’ve tested Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Appliance’s tiered storage model, and while I was impressed with it’s responsiveness, ReFS, and ability to pool storage in interesting ways, nothing can compete with ZFS’ ARC model. It’s simply awesome; deceptively-simple, but awesome.
Lesson is that if you’re going to lose an entire box to storage in your lab, your chosen storage system better use every last ounce of that box, including its RAM, to serve storage up to you. 2012 R2 doesn’t, but I’m hopeful soon that it may (Update 1 perhaps?)
Here’s a cool screenshot from Nexenta, my last build before I re-did everything, showing ARC-hits following a cold boot of the array (top), and a few days later, when things are really cooking for my Hyper-V VMs stored, which are getting tagged with ZFS’ “Most Frequently Used” category and thus getting the benefit of fast RAM & L2ARC:
Find out why my writes suck so bad.
Test Nas4Free’s NFS performance
Test SMB 3.0 from a virtual machine inside the ZFS box
Sell some stuff so I can buy a proper SLC SSD drive for the ZIL
Re-build the rookie Standard Switch into a true Distributed Switch in ESXi
Links/Knowledge/Required Reading Used in this Post: