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Because of the high I/O demand caused by running multiple VMs, increasing cache sizes can reduce the read/write bottlenecks. Imation’s Nexsan hybrid storage solutions use a caching technology called “FASTier” that combines DRAM and SSDs to create fault-tolerant read/write caches that can be customized at a storage pool level, enabling organizations to use FASTier on those Hyper-V virtual machines and applications that would gain the most from faster storage.
“Virtualized environments, including those built around Hyper-V, put increased demands for random I/O performance and scalability on the storage infrastructure,” said Bill Schilling, marketing director, Imation's Nexsan solutions. “Using FASTier, Imation enables storage and/or virtualization administrators to create an intelligent, dynamic acceleration tier that sits on top of efficient storage arrays of spinning disks.”
In August, Nexxan released the NST6000 series of hybrid storage products. These 6U controllers use Xeon processors (24 cores) and up to 384GB DRAM system memory. The FASTier cache includes up to 64GB for a write cache and 9.2TB for a read cache. It also holds up to 48 SSD drives (19.2TB). Attached disk storage scales up to 756 TB using SAS drives or 5PB with SATA. It supports block (Fibre Channel, iSCSI) and File (NFS, DIFS, SMB and FTP) storage.
“Because only about 10-15 percent of data is ‘hot,’ or actively in use, at any given time, many companies are moving to hybrid storage systems that use of combination of solid-state technologies to accelerate the performance of the underlying spinning hard disk drives,” said Schilling. “By using a modest amount of DRAM and SSD, hybrid storage systems assign read/write caches to storage pools of spinning disk and dramatically increase the read and write operations to and from the disk.”
“It is critical for the storage infrastructure of any virtualization environment to be designed from the start to match the benefits of server virtualization and meet changing business needs,” said Parissa Mohamadi, Solution Marketing Manager, HP Storage. “Incorrect storage choices can lead to performance bottlenecks, limiting the success of any virtualization project and preventing the virtualization of tier-one applications.”
HP has a large range of converged storage products designed for Hyper-V deployments. These improve workflow productivity and allow customers to double VM density while supporting the large, unpredictable workloads of virtualized environments. HP’s 3PAR StoreServ Storage is Tier 1 storage that was designed specifically to deliver optimal performance while supporting many, varying workloads simultaneously.
It has built in high-availability features including redundant controllers, persistent cache and ports, fast RAID 5, rapid recovery with fast RAID rebuilds, online servicing, and online updates. HP Peer Motion, available on both HP 3PAR StoreServ and StoreVirtual Storage arrays, complements Hyper-V Live Migration by offloading the migration of Hyper-V clusters to the array, therefore eliminating the burden placed on server and network resources.
The new HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 includes an all-flash storage array with up to 96TB of raw storage. It has a 2U form factor, and comes in 2-node and 4-node configurations. The 4-node configuration consists of (8) built-in 8 Gb/sec FC ports, (8) 8Gb shortwave FC SFP, 10 GbE iSCSI (8) Ports and (4) PCIe adapter slots for host adapter cards. Prices start at $99,000.
The StoreVirtual Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) software functionality, available Sept. 30, 2013, includes automated sub-LUN (logical unit number) storage tiering and increased VMware and Microsoft integration to improve efficiency and performance.
The new HP MSA 2040 Storage system simplifies management and improves performance up to four times faster than similarly priced external disk storage solutions. The 2U shared storage array holds up to 288 TB in high-performance and high-speed SSD rives, enterprise-class SAS, and SAS Midline drives. This entry level SAN controller starts at $11,470.
X-IO (Formerly Xiotech)
Virtualization does a great job at cutting down on the hardware required, but that hardware still needs to be robust enough to manage peak loads.
“Hyper-V creates a multitenant environment for both enterprise applications and hosted desktops – both of which require enough performance headroom to handle SQL Server ETL operations through boot storms and logins,” said Blair Parkhill, VP of Marketing at X-IO. “Because much of the high performance needs for Hyper-V tend to be transient or of the 95 percentile, a storage solution designed for Hyper-V must also be able to adapt to these high performance peaks, again, without having to overprovision storage media to handle it.”
To meet this need, X-IO produces the Hyper ISE 7-Series of hybrid storage devices. These come with up to 27TB of raw disk capacity (30 900GB SAS drives) and 1.6TB of flash capacity for acceleration (10 200GB SSDs). The units have a maximum read bandwidth of 1.4 GB/sec, the same for write, and a 300,000 IOPS maximum. For less demanding operations, the ISE 200 series has up to 20GB of RAID 5 storage, with up to 13,500 IOPS.
“Storage for Hyper-V should be predictable, simple and focused on what matters in storage – performance, capacity, availability and reliability,” said Parkhill. “Hyper-V for Windows Server provides many data protection, replication and data management features, so why pay extra for storage that also has these features if they are not needed.”