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Hyper-V Storage Buying Guide

While VMware remains the Big Kahuna in the virtualization space, companies are increasingly turning to Microsoft Hyper-V as their virtualization platform of choice. A major advantage is the price.

“Organizations with Windows Server 2008 or more recent have Hyper-V built in with no extra charge – so it’s automatically less expensive, and there is no additional licensing required to use Hyper-V,” said Pat Simpson, a Technical Architect for CDW. “It’s also less expensive because there is not as much of a learning curve – the management tools are less complex to adopt.”

But to get the most out of Hyper-V requires buying storage that is optimized for the platform. Here are five storage vendors with products designed for use with Hyper-V.


Brocade

Brocade has a range of SAN and Ethernet facbric switching and adaptor products designed to ensure compatibility and enable new networking functionality with Windows Server 2012. 

“By working closely with the Microsoft engineering team in the early stages of the new OS’s development, Brocade has ensured that Brocade Ethernet and Fibre Channel fabric solutions work seamlessly with Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V to deliver innovative new networking functionality for highly virtualized, cloud-based data centers,” said Jack Rondoni, Vice President, Data Center Storage and Solutions at Brocade.

Among the new features are:

· Virtual Fibre Channel, which allows direct access to Fibre Channel SAN storage by multiple-guest virtual machine (VM) partitions in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V environments. It enables distributed workload clustering and dynamic live migration of high-availability applications across VMs, without impacting workflows or requiring SAN reconfiguration.

· Dynamic Circuit Network (DCN), which enables Quality of Service (QoS) configuration from a Data Center Bridging (DCB) network and allows users to initiate ad-hoc dedicated allocation of network bandwidth.

· Network Virtualization Using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE), the Microsoft-recommended virtualization mechanism for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Network Virtualization deployments.

Brocade offers Fibre Channel SAN switches, such as the DCX 8510 modular chassis switch with Gen 5 16Gbps Fibre Channel and up to 384 ports per chassis; 40 Gbps Ethernet switches such as the VDX 8770; and host bus adapters. Switch prices start at about $10,000.

For Hyper-V environments, virtual machines can now match the scalability and connectivity of physical servers and actually exceed the capabilities of a physical machine by leveraging the abstraction and mobility that virtualization provides,” said Rondoni.

Gridstore

“A virtualized environment is an entirely new architecture that is not compatible with the traditional storage architectures designed almost two decades before virtualization existed,” said Kelly Murphy, Co-Founder and CEO of Gridstore. “All traditional storage suffers from the I/O blender that severely impacts application performance in virtual environments.”

I/O blender is what occurs when different VMs, which each have their own optimized I/O for the application they are running, are sharing the same hardware, resulting in conflicts and bottlenecks. Gridstore’s storage is built from the ground up for virtualized environments, using a patented Server-side Virtual Controller Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender at the source and accelerate applications. Instead of a single controller sitting at the end of a network connection that is unable to optimize per VM, Gridstore virtualizes the controller and moves this directly into each hypervisor where it can isolate, optimize and prioritize I/O from each VM before it leaves the hypervisor.

Gridstore 3.0 has two 1U storage appliances. The GS-2000-4 has 4TB (2x2TB) of SATA storage and the GS-2100-12 has 12TB (4x3TB). Both have dual 1Gbps Ethernet connections and come with a 3 year warranty. The MSRP for the GS-2000-4 starts at $4,600; the GS-2100-12 at $11,500.

NetApp

NetApp storage solutions deliver unique capabilities and features that offer tremendous value-add to all virtualized environments, regardless of hypervisor,” said Calvin Nieh, Product Marketing Manager, NetApp. “Our optimization for Hyper-V is delivered through tight integration with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1. This allows our unique storage features and capabilities to be leveraged in Hyper-V environments and Microsoft private clouds built with Windows Server and System Center.”

NetApp’s unified storage architecture supports key NAS and SAN protocols including NFS, CIFS(SMB), FC, FCoE and iSCSI. Integration with Windows Server 2012 includes support for SMB 3.0, including the SMB 3.0 Witness Protocol, Continuously Available Shares, and VSS for SMB Shares (a.k.a. Remote VSS) and ODX (Offloaded Data Transfer). NetApp’s unified storage architecture allows access to Hyper-V data, e.g. VHDX files for Hyper-V VMs, to be switched from SAN to NAS through pointer manipulation, and without actually moving or copying the physical data, which would take ten to even one hundred times longer.

NetApp’s FAS Series controllers come in three sizes. Designed for smaller businesses, the 2200 series (e.g. FAS2240) is a 2U or 4U controller with drives in the face of the controller and no Fibre Channel ports. It supports up to 144 drives per controller pair. The 3200 Series (e.g. FAS3250) which is a 3U or 6U controller that uses attached drive shelves. Designed for the majority of the market, it can scale to 720 drives per controller pair.

For larger customers, the 6200 Series (e.g. FAS6270) is a 6U or 12U controller that uses attached drive shelves and scales to 1440 drives per controller pair. The number of available ports (10Gb/s, FC, FCoE, GbE, SAS) and the number of PCI slots increases with the larger controllers. NetApp also offers a special card called a FlexCache which contains 1TB of Flash and incorporates itself as a read Cache to the controller when inserted.


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Tags: data storage, virtualization, Hyper-V


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