Archive for February, 2009

VMware Fault Tolerance

February 22, 2009

VMware Fault Tolerance

Currently the VMware Vi3 infrastructure has many features that make life a little easier for IT departments.  vMotion allows the hot migration of virtual machines from one host to another and allowing hardware maintenance to occur during business hours.  HA enable the automatic reboot of a VM on a new host should its primary host fail. Finally DRS allows us to load balance across multiple hosts automatically.  These features provide a lot of flexibility and can improve the overall performance and uptime of your environment but VMware is soon to release a new feature that is real cool. 

VMware Fault Tolerance (FT) will be released in the next version of the virtual infrastructure product.  In short it will provide real-time clustering for any vm’s that need it.  Anyone that has worked with Microsoft Clustering knows there are certain challenges to setting it up and managing it.  Applications also need to be cluster aware for Microsoft Clustering such as SQL and Exchange.  With FT you will now be able to cluster almost any application in your environment by simply selecting a check box.  A duplicate vm is created and runs in lock step with the primary.   I think this technology will really make clustering much easier and help to keep apps that are not cluster aware up and running.  Check out the link to the video below to see the VMware demo.


HP DL380 G5 – Highest Performing 2 Processor Server for VMware

February 19, 2009

VMware View 3 Multimedia Performance

February 15, 2009

VMware View 3 Multimedia Performance

Implementing a VDI infrastructure in your environment can have lots of advantages including simplified management and lower hardware costs.  This is attractive to most companies but one concern that almost always comes up is that of performance, in particular multimedia performance.  How well will video and other multimedia files perform over a VDI session and will they be tolerable to the end users?

The last thing any IT admin or manager wants is a bunch of end users screaming that their YouTube videos or Windows Media files (purely business related of course) are choppy and impossible to watch.  The newest version of VMware View 3 integrates a technology from WYSE called TCX to help overcome this shortcoming.  TCX has a server and client component which detects certain types of files and redirects them to the local device (Thin Client) and works with RDP.  More info on TCX can be found on WYSE’s website.

VDI still has its challenges but the list is getting shorter.  Better multimedia performance and the ability to check out sessions and work offline (experimental) are just a few of the things that has addressed in its latest release of View.  Check it out.

Flash Drives – Solid State Drive Technology for your SAN

February 8, 2009

Every once and a while at client meeting the discussion about Flash Drives or Solid-State Drives (SSD) comes up.  Flash drives are now an option in EMC’s Clariion arrays.  Usually the first question is “I heard they’re expensive, what do those things cost anyway?”  Well the short answer is A LOT.   Retail from EMC is over $15,000 each!  Yeah….I’ll take a few trays just in case we need some extra storage space!

Obviously you wouldn’t purchase this type of storage to store your MP3 collection but what are the benefits and use cases for these drives?  According to EMC the new Flash Drive technology is for Tier Zero apps or in other words, applications that require incredible amounts of disk I/O and performance.  Examples of this could be some SQL and Oracle production databases.

So why use Flash Drives?  Marketing numbers from EMC state “up to 30x the IOPS” of a standard drive can be achieved.  Let’s be conservative and say 15x IOPS for the purposes of this example.  If you had a database the generated, let’s say 10,000 IOPS, you would need to stripe that data over at least 55 drives to achieve the performance needed (assuming 180 IOPS/drive).  With Flash drives you could theoretically do it with as little as 4 or 5 drives or even less.  Of course with a maximum drive size of 73GB per drive, space might be an issue.

Here is a brief summary of the benefits of these new drives:

          More Performance:        At up to 30x IOPS of a normal high-speed drive you can reduce the number of spindle you need and increase performance.  Latency is also dramatically reduced

          Greener:                             The drives use much less power because there are now moving parts which translates in to less heat, less cooling a smaller carbon footprint and more financial savings.

          Higher Reliability:           No moving parts equal less to break as well as much faster rebuild times.

          Less Rack Space:               Using less drives will free up rack space and datacenter floor space.

The obvious drawback to these drives is cost.  Most companies with tight budgets will have a hard time justifying the astronomical cost per megabyte that comes along with this technology.  For some high-performance apps though, they may be a great solution.  Hopefully with time and competition the cost will come down and the usable space will go up.

Avamar NDMP Accelerator Overview

February 1, 2009

EMC’s Avamar backup and recovery solutions provide the ability to deduplicate your data at the source before sending the data over the WAN or LAN.  This opens up all sorts of opportunities for businesses with widely distributed remote sites and greatly reduce the amount of data that is backed up.  Avamar also provides the ability to replicate itself to another offsite location which could essentially eliminate the need for tape backups.

So now, for example, you could have your primary datacenter with a SAN/NAS (EMC Celerra for this example) and several small remote offices with no local IT staff.  Using Avamar you are able to back up those remote sites to an Avamar node(s) at the datacenter with no local intervention at the remote sites.  All of your remote sites are now backed up over the WAN, deduped and consolidated at your datacenter.  But what about backing up your NAS at the datacenter?  It would make sense to dedupe and back this data up to the Avamar as well and eliminate multiple backup systems.  How is this done?  Enter the Avamar NDMP Accelerator.

The Avamar NDMP Accelerator uses the standard NDMP Protocol to backup your NAS datastores (Celerra and NetApp) just like you would use NDMP to tape.  The appliance must be located on the same LAN as the storage device being protected.


Avamar NDMP Accelerator Supported Devices:

  • EMC Celerra IP Storage with I18N enabled running DART5.5.
  • NetApp running Data ONTAP 6.5.1R1, 7.0.4, 7.0.5, 7.0.6, 7.1 or 7.2

Capabilities and Limitations Summary (partial list):

  • Full support for Storage Device ACLs and Q-tree Data 

  • Support for Backup and Restore of Volumes, Q-trees and



  • Support for Multiple Storage Devices Using One Accelerator 

  • Support for Multiple Backup Streams From a Single Storage Device 

  • Support for Multiple Simultaneous Backups 

  • Only One Target Volume or Directory per Backup or Restore 

  • Maximum Number of Files = 10 Million 

  • Celerra Incremental Backups Should Only Be Performed at the Volume



  • File Level Restores Not Supported on Network Appliance Filers