Microsoft SQL Server 2014 in a Flash

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Microsoft SQL Server 2014 in a Flash

Combine  Violin’s  enterprise-­‐class  all-­‐flash  storage  with  the  ease  and  capabilities  of  Windows  Storage  

Server  in  an  integrated  solution  so  you  can  achieve  higher  performance  and  efficiency  for  your  SQL  Server  

2014  databases  and  business  critical  Microsoft  applications      

January  2015    



Microsoft  SQL  Server  2014  scales  to  support  large  workloads  in  the  data  center.  Yet  legacy  storage  solutions  are  keeping  SQL   Server  databases  and  related  applications  from  reaching  their  full  potential,  which  means  expensive  server  investments  are   underutilized.  The  ideal  solution  delivers  enterprise-­‐class  high-­‐performance  high-­‐capability  storage  that  is  tightly  integrated  with   the  Windows  environment,  holistically  managed  by  native  Windows  tools  and  utilities,  and  delivers  state  of  the  art  efficiency  as  



Table of Contents

1. Introduction  ...  3

2. Performance  challenges  in  SQL  Server  2014  environments  ...  3

3. Higher  performance  storage  for  SQL  Server  2014  ...  4

3.1. Violin  Windows  Flash  Array  +  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  ...  4

3.2. Microsoft  ecosystem  friendly  ...  5

3.3. What  is  SMB  Direct?  ...  6

3.4. Performance  that  transforms  business  ...  6

3.5. Enhance  performance  for  SQL  Server  2014  ...  9

3.6. Resiliency  for  continuous  availability  ...  9

3.7. Scalability  to  grow  efficiently  ...  10

3.7.1. Non-­‐disruptive  volume  extensibility  ...  10

3.7.2. Pay-­‐as-­‐you-­‐grow  scalability  ...  10

3.7.3. Efficient  scalability  for  SQL  Server  ...  11

3.8. Relevant  data  services  when  you  need  them  ...  11

4. Case  Study:  Australian  Department  of  Defence  ...  12

4.1. The  challenge  ...  12

4.2. The  solution  ...  12

5. Conclusion  ...  15





Microsoft®  SQL  Server®  2014  has  grown  far  beyond  that  of  a  simple  workgroup  database.  It  is  a  mature  and  sophisticated   platform  suitable  for  large  enterprise  workloads  including  scalable  online  transaction  processing  (OLTP),  parallel  data  

warehouses  (DW),  business  intelligence  (BI),  and  cloud  computing.  Many  organizations  have  grown  up  around  SQL  Server;  it  is   an  integral  part  of  their  operations.  Likewise,  businesses  expect  their  SQL  Server  environment  will  grow  with  them;  however,   limitations  in  the  current  IT  infrastructure  have  made  achieving  this  goal  difficult,  if  not  impossible.    

The  scalability  of  SQL  Server  has  increased  dramatically  with  the  2012  and  2014  versions  of  the  product.  SQL  Server  Enterprise   edition  running  on  Windows®  Server  2012  can  support  up  to  64  physical  processors  and  640  logical  processors.  The  Microsoft   SQL  Server  2012  and  2014  Fast  Track  Data  Warehouse  reference  architectures  illustrate  how  much  SQL  Server’s  capabilities  have   matured  to  be  able  to  deliver  proven  performance  and  scalability  for  data  warehouse  workloads.  At  the  same  time,  Microsoft’s   self-­‐service  Business  Intelligence  initiative  is  empowering  Excel®  and  SharePoint®  users  with  new  ways  to  access  SQL  Server  data,   which  in  turns  raises  demand  for  SQL  Server  resources.  

In  many  organizations,  SQL  Server  is  being  deployed  within  and  outside  of  centralized  IT  control.  Any  tactically  deployed  SQL   Server  resources  are  most  likely  not  optimized  for  performance  nor  manageability,  including  safeguards  against  outages.   Windows  Server  Hyper-­‐V®  virtualization  is  mature  and  scalable  and  offers  a  way  to  recentralize  many  SQL  Server  deployments   and  ensure  their  availability  without  taking  away  local  or  line  of  business  control  over  the  application.  In  a  nod  to  future   possibilities,  many  are  investigating  how  Microsoft  Azure™  SQL  Database  may  prove  to  be  an  integration  consideration  later.      


Performance challenges in SQL Server 2014 environments

Although  CPU  performance  and  network  connectivity  have  grown  dramatically  over  the  past  several  years,  improvements  in   storage  have  largely  been  limited  to  increased  capacity,  not  performance  and  capabilities.  Legacy  storage  solutions  (disk  drives)   perform  best  when  read  and  write  operations  are  linear.  Yet  modern  workloads  such  as  SQL  Server  databases  and  Hyper-­‐V   virtual  machines  (VMs)  are  filled  with  random  I/O  requests,  which  results  in  high  latency  and  poor  application  performance.   Various  striping  techniques,  solid-­‐state  drives,  and  optimization  algorithms  seek  to  improve  operations  yet  I/O  performance   remains  lacking.  To  compensate,  IT  managers  over  provision  storage  and/or  add  cache  to  controllers  in  an  attempt  to  garner   enough  I/O  capacity;  however,  this  approach  is  inefficient  and  enforces  continued  spending  on  capacity  when  the  need  is   actually  for  lower  latency  and  higher  IOPS.  Both  CAPEX  and  OPEX  are  negatively  affected  by  the  status  quo.  

Poor  storage  performance  leads  to  poor  CPU  utilization.  CPUs  spend  more  time  waiting  than  executing,  which  means  servers  are   expensive  and  mostly  idle  investments.  This  reality  has  not  escaped  the  attention  of  CIOs,  CFOs,  and  other  senior  management.   In  an  attempt  to  scale  beyond  the  workgroup  level,  some  IT  directors  have  ported  Windows  applications  to  another  storage   platform  such  as  a  SAN,  or  different  application  altogether.  For  example,  former  SQL  Server  data  may  have  “graduated”  to  an   Oracle  implementation.  One  way  to  raise  server  utilization  is  virtualization.  Yet  ironically,  virtualization  drives  random  I/O  even   higher  and  some  virtualization  solutions  raise  server  overhead.  Organizations  are  faced  with  an  unpleasant  reality  that  their  only   choice  in  responding  to  growth  has  meant  scaling  the  inherent  inefficiency  and  expense  of  legacy  storage  solutions.  

Storage  area  networks  (SANs)  typically  require  vendor-­‐specific  tools  and  skill  sets.  Organizations  cannot  easily  leverage  the   management  skills  of  their  existing  Microsoft-­‐savvy  staff,  which  reduces  flexibility  and  increases  operational  expense.  Even  some   direct  attached  storage  (DAS)  solutions  may  require  special  handling  or  expertise  in  their  set  up  and  operation.  This  is  just  one   shortcoming  of  bifurcated  storage  where  Ethernet-­‐based  storage  is  the  norm  for  file  services  (the  bulk  of  the  Microsoft   universe),  and  dedicated  block-­‐based  storage  supports  high-­‐performance  applications  such  as  SQL  Server  and  Hyper-­‐V.  


Ensuring  continuous  availability  is  a  challenge,  but  essential.  For  example,  AlwaysOn  Availability  Groups  are  one  approach  to   maintain  SQL  Server  availability;  however,  there  are  limitations.  AlwaysOn  is  host-­‐based  and  does  not  fully  mirror  all  data  such  as   system  databases,  login  data,  scheduler  tasks,  etc.  Setting  up  availability  groups  is  time  consuming  and  requires  ongoing  

administration.  Replication  is  an  alternative  but  asynchronous  replication  can  suffer  data  loss  if  the  primary  array  goes  down.   Synchronous  mirroring  is  more  resilient,  but  it  is  expensive  and  has  a  slow  two-­‐phase  commit  process.  In  either  case,  close   coordination  of  application  and  storage  administrators  is  needed  during  scheduled  maintenance.    

From  these  challenges,  it  is  clear  that  a  new  approach  is  needed  to  deliver  the  performance  and  scalability  required  for  your  SQL   Server  environment  to  achieve  its  full  potential  without  breaking  the  IT  budget.  


Higher performance storage for SQL Server 2014

To  address  the  shortcomings  of  legacy  storage,  Violin  Memory  and  Microsoft  have  co-­‐developed  the  Violin  Windows  Flash  Array   (WFA).  The  WFA  combines  Violin  Memory’s  patented  Flash  Fabric  Architecture™  (FFA),  Microsoft’s  fast  SMB  Direct  protocol,  and   Microsoft  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  to  deliver  storage  that  easily  keeps  up  with  your  needs.  With  the  WFA,  you  can  start   the  process  of  transforming  your  data  center  economics  from  legacy  expense  levels  to  that  of  the  All  Flash  Data  Center.      

3.1. Violin Windows Flash Array + Windows Storage Server 2012 R2

The  WFA  is  based  upon  the  Violin  All  Flash  Array  6000.  Dual  blades  run  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  with  support  for  SMB   Direct  through  RDMA-­‐enabled  network  cards.  The  WFA  architecture  features  sub-­‐millisecond  latency  (as  illustrated  in  Figure  3-­‐1   on  page  5)  and  wide  stripe  vRAID  accelerated  switched  flash  for  maximum  performance.  With  SMB  Direct,  the  WFA  delivers  the   features  of  SAN,  the  performance  of  DAS,  at  the  price  of  NAS.  You  get  maximum  performance  for  every  byte  every  time.   Table  3-­‐1:  Violin  Windows  Flash  Arrays  by  model  


Windows  Storage  Sever  2012  R2  delivers  enterprise  data  services  including  deduplication,  live  migration,  thin  provisioning,   compression,  replication,  Scale-­‐out  File  Server  (SOFS),  and  data  encryption.  The  SMB  3.0  protocol  boosts  network  storage   performance.  In  particular,  SMB  Direct  (SMB  3.0  over  RDMA)  enables  remotely  stored  data  on  the  WFA  to  be  read  directly  into   application  servers’  memory.  The  result  is  remote  storage  performing  like  blazing  fast  local  storage.  In  fact,  Microsoft  and  Violin   collaborated  extensively  to  optimize  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  at  the  kernel  level  to  take  full  advantage  of  our  FFA  to   delivery  enterprise-­‐class  performance  for  the  Violin  Flash  Array.  

Windows  Flash  Array  Model   WFA-­‐64   WFA-­‐48   WFA-­‐32   WFA-­‐24   WFA-­‐16  

Form  Factor  /  Flash  Type   3U  /  MLC   3U  /  MLC   3U  /  MLC   3U  /  MLC   3U  /  MLC  

Raw  Capacity  (TB)   70   52   35   26   17.5  

Usable  Capacity  (TB)  

at  84%  format  level   44   33   22   16   11  

I/O  Connectivity   10GbE,  56Gb  IB   10GbE,  56Gb  IB   10GbE,  56Gb  IB   10GbE,  56Gb  IB   10GbE,  56Gb  IB   Max.  4KB  IOPS   1.1M  IOPS   1.1M  IOPS   800k  IOPS   800k  IOPS   800k  IOPS  

Max.  Bandwidth   4GB/s   4GB/s   4GB/s   4GB/s   4GB/s  


  Figure  3-­‐1:  WFA-­‐64  4K  Random  Read  Latency  over  Increasing  Queue  Depth  

The  WFA  helps  you  attain  24x7  operations  for  SQL  Server  databases  and  related  applications  through  multi-­‐layered  hardware   and  software  resiliency.  Active-­‐Active  clustering  delivers  continuous  uptime  and  SMB  Multichannel  ensures  that  cluster  node   connectivity  is  maintained.  With  the  WFA,  you  can  get  higher  utilization  and  performance  with  a  smaller,  less  expensive  IT   footprint  and  you  can  scale  as  business  conditions  warrant.  You  may  find  that  you  no  longer  need  dedicated  storage  to  support   your  high-­‐performance  Windows  applications.    

3.2. Microsoft ecosystem friendly


  Figure  3-­‐2:  Wait  State  Reduction  


Violin  Memory  and  Microsoft  co-­‐developed  and  optimized  the  WFA  to  leverage  its  unique  performance  profile.  SMB  3.0  and   SMB  Direct  are  part  of  the  Microsoft  strategic  roadmap  for  network  storage  and  the  WFA  fully  supports  these  protocols  to   deliver  performance  and  scalability  not  available  elsewhere.  

There  is  no  need  for  third-­‐party  storage  management  tools  or  skill  sets.  Your  existing  Microsoft  admin  staff  can  manage  all  of   your  servers,  storage,  and  applications  with  Microsoft  System  Center  and  PowerShell.  The  tight  integration  of  the  WFA  with   Microsoft  management  tools  delivers  a  holistic  view  of  your  Microsoft  environment  for  simplified  and  cost-­‐effective   management  of  physical  and  virtual  servers.  

3.3. What is SMB Direct?

The  WFA  addresses  the  traditional  bottlenecks  that  limit  performance  by  delivering  a  state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art  storage  solution  where   speed,  scale,  and  resiliency  combine  to  deliver  operational  and  financial  efficiency.  The  use  of  SMB  Direct  can  improve  the   performance  of  most  vendors’  storage  and  we  expect  that  over  time  most  will  offer  this  support.  However,  the  combination  of   SMB  Direct  with  the  Violin  FFA  and  kernel-­‐level  optimization  of  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  uniquely  takes  performance  to   the  next  level.  With  the  WFA,  you  get  ultra-­‐fast  read  and  write  access  with  sustained  throughput  of  up  to  1.1  million  4K  IOPS   with  greater  than  4  GB/s  of  bandwidth.  SMB  Direct  recoups  up  to  30%  of  your  SQL  Server’s  CPU  utilization,  which  provides  you   with  more  flexibility  in  how  you  allocate  server  resources  and  can  have  a  dramatic  effect  on  your  CAPEX  and  OPEX  requirements.     As  illustrated  in  Figure  3-­‐2,  your  servers  will  spend  more  time  doing  than  waiting  so  you  can  support  additional  workloads  with   existing  resources  and  achieve  faster  response  times.  Our  support  for  SMB  3.0  along  with  a  suite  of  enterprise  data  services   delivers  a  high-­‐performance  feature-­‐rich  storage  solution  that  will  help  ensure  you  can  deliver  business  in  a  flash.    

3.4. Performance that transforms business

Meeting  growing  demand  has  strained  databases  as  legacy  storage  solutions  hit  their  design  limits.  The  WFA  is  particularly  suited   for  transaction-­‐oriented  workloads  driven  by  SQL  Server  and  others  including  Hyper-­‐V  virtualization  that  have  a  high  degree  of   random  I/O  activity.  By  raising  the  available  I/O  to  meet  processor  demand,  the  WFA  enables  SQL  Server  to  spend  more  time   processing  data  as  opposed  to  waiting  for  it.  This  means  you  can  optimize  CPU  investments  across  SQL  workloads  to  meet  your   performance  objectives.  In  addition,  you  can  run  multiple  mixed  workloads  with  consistent  performance  and  linear  scalability.     With  the  WFA,  you  can  improve  SQL  Server  performance  today  while  aligning  with  Microsoft’s  technology  roadmap  for   networked  storage.  You  can  benefit  from  full  support  for  the  SMB  3.0  feature  set  operating  on  a  low-­‐latency  (~500  

microseconds)  all-­‐flash  SMB  Direct  solution.  Tight  integration  with  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  ensures  support  for  large   sector  (4K)  storage  as  well  as  other  performance  optimizations  collaboratively  developed  between  Microsoft  and  Violin.  


  Figure  3-­‐3:  WFA-­‐64  4K  Random  Read  Performance  (SQLIO)  

As  illustrated  in  Figure  3-­‐3,  the  4K  random  read  performance  achieved  by  our  scale-­‐out  reference  architecture  reveals  that  the   WFA  delivers  over  1  million  IOPS  and  4  GB/s  of  bandwidth  at  queue  depth  of  64  in  a  single  array.  By  adding  a  second  WFA  to  the   cluster,  performance  and  capacity  scales  linearly.  Likewise,  Figure  3-­‐4  shows  the  corresponding  4K  random  write  performance  of   over  810k  IOPS  and  3  GB/s  of  bandwidth  at  queue  depth  of  64  in  a  single  array.  

  Figure  3-­‐4:  WFA-­‐64  4K  Random  Write  Performance  (SQLIO)  

The  WFA  is  well  suited  to  the  short  block  random  read/write  workloads  associated  with  OLTP,  which  is  a  critical  application  for   most  any  enterprise.  


Our  parallel  read/write  across  all  of  the  flash  is  excellent  for  parallel  data  warehouses  where  there  are  many  simultaneous   related  queries.  Figure  3-­‐5  highlights  the  sustained  bandwidth  in  excess  of  4  GB/s  at  queue  depth  of  one  that  a  single  WFA  can   deliver  in  data  warehouse  or  other  large  block-­‐size  sequential  access  environments.    

  Figure  3-­‐5:  WFA-­‐64  512K  Sequential  Read  Performance  

Similarly,  Figure  3-­‐6  shows  the  matching  512K  sequential  write  performance  of  over  810k  IOPS  and  3  GB/s  of  bandwidth  at   queue  depth  of  one  in  a  single  array.    

  Figure  3-­‐6:  WFA-­‐64  512K  Sequential  Write  Performance  



Connecting  through  SMB  Direct  can  free  up  to  30%  of  CPU  usage;  these  cycles  could  be  put  towards  BI  initiatives  or  other  value   added  activities.  Likewise,  if  consolidation  or  virtualization  of  SQL  Server  instances  is  your  preferred  approach,  the  WFA  can   enable  you  to  increase  virtualization  density.  

Unlike  legacy  solutions,  our  all-­‐flash  arrays  do  not  suffer  from  write  cliff  due  to  the  non-­‐blocking  nature  of  our  distributed   garbage  collection.  The  WFA’s  architecture  delivers  maximum  performance  for  every  byte  every  time  regardless  of  block-­‐size  or   the  random  or  sequential  nature  of  access.    

The  bottom  line  is  that  you  can  experience  higher  SQL  Server  performance  through  an  optimized  storage  platform  that  is  smaller   and  with  a  less  expensive  IT  footprint.  

3.5. Enhance performance for SQL Server 2014

One  of  the  selling  points  of  SQL  Server  2014  is  its  new  in-­‐memory  processing  capability  for  OLTP.  However,  for  most  users  this   very  specialized  tool  will  not  apply  to  the  bulk  of  their  SQL  Server  workloads.  Nevertheless,  the  high  performance  delivered  by   the  WFA  can  dramatically  improve  most  any  SQL  Server  implementation.    

While  in-­‐memory  processing  can  boost  specific  transaction  processing  speeds,  to  maintain  overall  high  performance  you  need   persistent  storage  that  is  up  to  the  task  of  supporting  the  rest  of  the  DBMS,  otherwise  database  performance  will  be  

constrained.  When  SQL  Server  2014  workloads  access  the  WFA  through  SMB  Direct,  you  get  ultra-­‐fast  read  and  write  commits.   Customer  performance  testing  has  revealed  that  the  WFA  delivers  up  to  twice  the  SQL  writes  throughput  and  up  to  50%  higher   SQL  read  performance  and  compared  with  an  industry  standard  all-­‐flash  array.  Therefore,  you  can  achieve  consistent  high   performance  for  SQL  Server  2014  overall.  In  addition,  SMB  Direct  can  reduce  application  CPU  demand  by  up  to  30%  thus  giving   you  greater  flexibility  in  how  your  structure  your  SQL  Server  resources.  With  Hyper-­‐V  virtualization,  you  can  optimize  CPU  cycles   without  the  performance  penalty  of  other  virtualization  solutions.    

3.6. Resiliency for continuous availability

With  the  WFA,  you  benefit  from  continuous  availability  of  Microsoft  SharePoint  and  other  in-­‐house  developed  applications  using   SQL  Server  data  stores  along  with  reduced  risk  to  operations  through  multiple  layers  of  hardware-­‐and  software-­‐based  

protection.  Windows  Failover  Clustering  in  conjunction  with  the  WFA  hardware  can  sustain  any  single  point  of  failure  to  ensure   continuous  operations.  SMB  Multichannel  I/O  provides  bandwidth  trunking  as  well  as  enhanced  node-­‐to-­‐node  network   connectivity  and  availability.  Should  you  desire  a  high  availability  configuration,  deployment  is  option-­‐rich  and  as  simple  as   software  configuration.  In  addition,  in-­‐flight  and  at-­‐rest  encryption  guards  against  eavesdropping  or  unauthorized  data   disclosure.    


3.7. Scalability to grow efficiently



Figure  3-­‐7:  Performance  Improvements  —  WFA  vs.  Industry  Standard  All  Flash  Array  

With  the  WFA,  you  can  optimize  CPU  investments  across  SQL  Server  workloads  to  achieve  greater  scale  and  flexibility  in  how  you   maintain  consistent  performance  while  adding  users,  threads,  tables,  etc.  As  illustrated  in  Figure  3-­‐7,  the  superior  performance   and  linear  scalability  of  the  WFA  will  enable  your  organization  to  support  a  greater  number  or  larger  size  of  SQL  Server  

workloads  with  existing  infrastructure.  With  increased  I/O  capacity,  freed  up  CPU  cycles,  and  decreased  latency,  the  WFA  scales   predictability  by  delivering  consistent  performance  even  as  your  mix  of  workloads  change.    

3.7.1. Non-disruptive volume extensibility

The  WFA  allows  you  to  scale  up  to  meet  growing  demand.  SOFS  enables  linear  scalability  of  capacity  and  performance.  You  can   scale  out  to  four  arrays  (eight  nodes)  per  cluster.    

Ensuring  continuous  availability  is  especially  important  as  SQL  Server  is  the  back  end  for  many  applications  and  their  data  growth   is  driving  SQL  Server  demand.  For  example,  the  Microsoft  self-­‐service  Business  Intelligence  (BI)  initiative  interconnects  

SharePoint  Server  and  Microsoft  Excel  with  the  Microsoft  SQL  Server  BI  platform.  Through  Excel,  self-­‐service  BI  empowers  end   users  to  process  millions  of  rows  of  data,  and  provide  customer  reporting  without  involving  the  IT  department.  

3.7.2. Pay-as-you-grow scalability

Having  the  resources  and  flexibility  to  support  growth  is  essential  for  a  successful  enterprise;  however,  the  timing  of  this   investment  expense  is  equally  important.  With  WFA’s  pay-­‐as-­‐you-­‐grow  pricing,  you  can  non-­‐disruptively  scale  capacity  to  meet   your  business  needs  without  having  to  order  and  install  new  capacity  in  advance.  This  enables  you  to  more  closely  align  CAPEX   with  the  benefit  received.  As  a  result,  you  can  non-­‐disruptively  scale  your  WFA  raw  capacity  in  8.8  TB  increments  within  one  of   two  ranges,  17.5-­‐35  TB  or  52-­‐70  TB,  based  upon  your  timing.  You  can  scale  capacity  without  full  expenditure  at  the  onset,  but   maintain  the  operational  flexibility  to  license-­‐up  the  capacity  to  support  your  business  growth  over  time.  


3.7.3. Efficient scalability for SQL Server

Consolidation  or  virtualization  of  SQL  Server  workloads  is  unleashed  with  the  WFA.  SQL  Server  can  now  scale  to  enterprise   workloads  while  delivering  consistent  service  levels  so  you  can  eliminate  application  growth  barriers,  which  increases  your   investment  protection.  As  your  workloads  change,  Storage  Live  Migration  streamlines  virtual  machine  (VM)  migration  through   direct  WFA  to  WFA  communication  that  bypasses  the  VM  host  to  complete  the  process  more  rapidly.  This  delivers  increased   flexibility  and  simplicity  in  addressing  potential  service  interruptions  due  to  sudden  workload  spikes  or  seasonal  peaks.  

In  addition,  Windows  Server  Hyper-­‐V  does  not  suffer  from  the  up  to  the  20%  overhead  of  competitive  virtualization  solutions  so   you  can  consolidate  workloads  such  as  SQL  Server  with  little,  if  any,  performance  penalty.  Since  you  can  consolidate  and  scale   SQL  Server  to  meet  your  performance  needs,  there  is  no  imperative  to  migrate  to  another  platform.  In  fact,  you  might  find  that   the  combination  of  SQL  Server  and  the  WFA  yields  better  performance  than  competitive  solutions,  even  DAS.  

Developers  can  easily  establish  new  test  beds,  which  closely  match  the  speed  and  architecture  of  the  production  environment,   for  development,  testing  or  quality  assurance  for  your  strategic  applications.  Roll  out  and  roll  up  is  quick  and  simple,  with   minimal  waiting  on  IT  administrators.  What’s  more,  the  WFA  is  a  very  efficient  private  cloud  platform.  As  you  consider  the  role   private  and/or  public  clouds  might  play  in  your  IT  infrastructure,  be  assured  that  the  WFA  is  a  future-­‐proof  technology   investment  with  a  defined  transition  or  interaction  path  for  Microsoft  Azure  SQL  Database.  Should  Microsoft  Azure  be  part  of   your  data  center  strategy,  you  can  easily  move  files  between  the  WFA  and  Azure  Data  Services  through  backup,  replication,  or   custom  developed  applications  to  maximize  flexibility  in  your  choice  of  onsite  and  offsite  cloud  storage.      

3.8. Relevant data services when you need them

Table  3-­‐2  highlights  some  of  the  many  data  services  offered  by  the  WFA  to  increase  the  efficiency  of  your  data  center.     Table  3-­‐2:  Enterprise  Data  Services  Provided  by  the  Windows  Flash  Array  

Storage  and  File  System     File  and  Block  Access   Networking  

Data  Deduplication     Compression   NTFS  Availability    

Offloaded  Data  Transfer  (ODX)   Thin  Provisioning  


SMB  3.0    

NFS  3.0  and  NFS  4.1  

Support  for  VMware  VMs  over  NFS   Scale-­‐out  File  Server  (SOFS)  

VSS  for  Remote  SMB  File  Shares  (snaps)  

SMB  Direct  (RDMA)   SMB  Multichannel   Encryption  

Transparent  Failover  

Clustering   Virtualisation   Management  

Cluster  Shared  Volumes  v2  

DFS  Replication   Live  Storage  Migration  New  VHDX  standard   Microsoft  System  Center  PowerShell    

Unlike  many  competitive  offerings,  the  WFA  lets  you  choose  which  of  the  data  services  to  deploy,  and  on  which  of  the  WFA   nodes.  For  example,  this  granularity  means  that  you  can  enable  deduplication  only  on  the  shares  that  would  benefit,  such  as   those  supporting  virtual  desktops.    

Windows  Storage  Sever  2012  R2  delivers  many  enterprise  data  services  that  help  drive  the  efficiency  of  your  storage  solution.   Most  relevant  to  SQL  Server  environments  are  Windows  Cluster  Failover,  live  migration,  and  Scale-­‐out  File  Server  (SOFS).  With   the  WFA,  you  are  always  protected  against  a  single  point  of  failure  as  the  active-­‐active  node  configuration  ensures  that  data   remains  accessible  even  if  an  array  controller  should  become  inoperative.  In  addition,  SMB  Multipathing  not  only  aggregates   bandwidth  for  higher  performance  but  can  also  detect  connectivity  failures  and  reroute  traffic  accordingly.  Live  migration  of   VMs  delivers  flexibility  in  resource  allocation  without  impacting  application  servers  or  requiring  taking  applications  or  databases  


offline.  Logical  organization  of  multiple  large  databases  is  streamlined  through  SOFS,  which  can  deliver  a  single  namespace   across  multiple  WFAs  thus  simplifying  the  management  of  large  amounts  of  data.  


Case Study: Australian Department of Defence  

The  Australian  Department  of  Defence  was  an  early  adopter  of  the  WFA.  The  HMAS  Harman  is  the   Royal  Australian  Navy  communications  and  logistics  facility  that  provides  communications,  network   operations,  and  information  systems.  Located  in  Canberra,  New  South  Wales,  the  base  undertook  a   massive  consolidation  of  the  SQL  Server  environment  located  at  HMAS  Harman.  

4.1. The challenge

Originally,  HMAS  Harman  was  seeking  to  take  advantage  of  high  availability  and  virtualization  that  their  current  storage  solution   could  not  support.  The  combination  of  latency  sensitive  applications,  massive  IOPS  requirements,  and  space  limitations  within   the  data  center  made  the  existing  solution  untenable.  

The  workloads  involved  monitoring  and  dashboard  reporting  on  network  performance,  Hyper-­‐V  applications,  SQL  Server,   corporate  and  commercial  off-­‐the-­‐shelf  applications,  and  94  software  services.  These  supported  over  110,000  network  users   spanning  450+  sites  with  500+  data  collection  points.  They  needed  to  achieve  a  higher  rate  of  server  and  storage  consolidation   while  enabling  the  requisite  performance  to  support  their  activities.  The  existing  storage  solution  was  not  up  to  the  task,  so  the   department  had  to  reconsider  how  it  would  meet  its  present  objectives  as  well  as  support  the  inevitable  data  growth.  

4.2. The solution

The  workloads  in  question  had  specific  service  level  requirements  that  mandated  all  processing  must  be  completed  within  the   following  data  load  windows:  

• Software  Services:  5  minute  window  for  data  feeds  from  200+  devices  in  15  SQL  Server  instances  

• Business  Intelligence:  15  minute  data  load  window  

• Network  Performance  and  Systems  Analysis:  data  is  loaded  every  6  and  24  hours    

In  order  to  meet  these  service  levels,  the  Australian  DoD  deployed  two  WFA-­‐64s  and  undertook  a  massive  SQL  Server   consolidation  initiative  that  was  enabled  by  the  low  latency  and  high  performance  of  the  WFA.    


  Figure  4-­‐1:  Server  and  Licensing  Reduction  Achieved  by  the  Australian  DoD  Using  the  WFA  

As  shown  in  Figure  4-­‐1,  the  number  of  physical  application  servers  was  reduced  from  45  to  two.  In  addition,  the  number  of  CPU   sockets  licensed  for  SQL  Server  was  decreased  from  90  to  eight.    

The  impact  on  the  data  center  facilities  requirement  was  equally  significant  with  a  90%  reduction  in  floor  space  and  cooling   requirements.    

Operationally,  the  new  solution  allowed  HMAS  Harman  to  simplify  its  data  center  architecture,  which  enabled  additional  savings   in  both  IT  and  human  resources.  Since  each  WFA  is  two  Windows  Server  Cluster  nodes,  it  was  possible  to  leverage  the  existing   Microsoft  admin  staff  to  manage  all  of  its  physical  and  virtual  servers,  storage,  and  applications  with  from  within  the  Microsoft   System  Center  and  PowerShell  toolkit.  Since  Hyper-­‐V  is  included  at  no  cost  with  Windows  Server  2012,  license  costs  for  virtual   machine  technology  were  eliminated.    

By  moving  away  from  the  traditional  SAN  implementation,  there  was  no  longer  a  need  for  SAN  hardware,  third-­‐party  SAN   storage  management  tools  or  related  employee  skill  sets.  This  resulted  in  direct  savings  for  the  SAN  hardware  and  management   software  but  also  reduced  employee  training  costs  since  the  pool  of  Microsoft-­‐equipped  admins  could  leverage  their  skill  sets   across  a  larger  set  of  IT  assets  without  incurring  additional  training  expense.  


  Figure  4-­‐2:  Simplified  Architecture  Achieved  with  the  WFA  


By  updating  its  storage  environment,  the  Royal  Australian  Navy  communications  and  logistics  facility  at  HMAS  Harman  was  able   to  transform  its  data  center  by  dramatically  reducing  the  number  of  application  servers,  SQL  Server  licenses,  floor  space   allocated  to  storage,  and  overall  operational  expense  while  simultaneously  meeting  all  of  its  service  level  targets.  The  shift  to  a   modern  high-­‐performance  storage  solution  as  enabled  by  the  Violin  Windows  Flash  Array  fundamentally  changed  OPEX  and   CAPEX  while  delivering  greater  performance  and  efficiency.      

“The  Windows  Flash  Array  has  exceeded  our  expectations  within  the  data  warehouse  and  business  reporting   environments.  The  combination  of  the  Windows  2012  technologies  and  Flash  Array  as  a  platform  enables   virtualized  environments  to  be  truly  scalable  and  resilient  with  a  performance  level  equal  to  or  greater  than   direct  attached  flash  storage.  This  translates  to  a  data  warehouse  and  reporting  environment  returning   immediate  value,  outperforming  traditional  vendor  offerings  and  with  the  lowest  TCO  compared  to  traditional   storage  arrays.”  

—  Justin  Gasparre,  Director  Situational  Awareness,    

Service  Integration  Branch,  CIO  Group,  Dept.  of  Defence,  Australia    




Legacy  storage  solutions  are  built  for  capacity,  not  I/O  performance.  Yet  today’s  Microsoft  environments  are  performance   oriented  and  this  results  in  complex,  expensive,  and  hard-­‐to-­‐scale  solutions  being  deployed  to  meet  the  needs  of  business   critical  SQL  Server  databases  and  applications.  The  Violin  Windows  Flash  Array  is  a  fundamentally  different  and  better  storage   solution  for  Microsoft  SQL  Server  2014  environments  that  addresses  the  performance  shortcomings  of  legacy  storage  while   enhancing  the  performance  of  in-­‐memory  database  objects.  The  WFA  is  an  all-­‐flash  active-­‐active  HA  multi-­‐node  cluster  platform   with  native  Windows  Storage  Server  2012  R2  that  delivers  a  rich  suite  of  enterprise  data  services.    

The  expense  of  a  legacy  data  center  based  upon  magnetic  storage  will  become,  if  it  has  not  already,  a  competitive  disadvantage   for  any  enterprise.  The  superior  economics  of  the  All  Flash  Data  Center  will  cause  executive  staff  such  as  the  CIO,  CTO,  and  CFO   to  take  note.  Even  if  your  executive  staff  does  not  embrace  the  All  Flash  Data  Center  for  performance  and  agility  reasons,  the   financial  benefits  are  too  significant  to  pass  up.  It  is  simply  a  matter  of  time.  The  WFA  is  an  enterprise-­‐class  storage  solution  that   is  at  home  in  the  All  Flash  Data  Center.  

You  can  unleash  your  SQL  Server  database  and  application  performance  and  free  up  existing  resources  to  do  more.  In  fact,  the   performance  of  the  WFA  is  so  high  that  you  should  choose  to  eliminate  your  existing  dedicated  storage  infrastructure  that  is   supporting  your  SQL  Server  databases.  The  WFA  can  help  reduce  CAPEX  both  in  the  short  and  long  term.  You  can  recoup  existing   server  and  facilities  investments  while  delaying  future  expenditures,  which  will  free  up  resources  to  invest  in  innovation  and   growing  your  business  success.  

With  the  WFA,  you  can  simplify  your  management  paradigm  with  Microsoft  System  Center  and  PowerShell  to  achieve  holistic   control  and  flexibility  of  your  Windows-­‐based  physical  and  virtual  infrastructure.  You  can  consolidate  and  virtualize  a  mix  of   workloads  while  maximizing  your  Windows  performance  on  a  storage  architecture  that  is  simpler  and  faster,  and  on  Microsoft’s   strategic  roadmap  at  substantial  cost  savings.    

If  you  would  like  to  learn  more  about  how  the  Violin  Windows  Flash  Array  can  dramatically  improve  your  SQL  Server   performance  and  transform  your  data  center,  please  contact  your  Violin  Memory  representative  today.  




About Violin Memory

Business  in  a  Flash.  Violin  Memory  transforms  the  speed  of  business  with  high  performance,  always  available,  low  cost   management  of  critical  business  information  and  applications.  Violin’s  All  Flash  optimized  solutions  accelerate  breakthrough   CAPEX  and  OPEX  savings  for  building  the  next  generation  data  center.  Violin’s  Flash  Fabric  Architecture  (FFA)  speeds  data   delivery  with  chip-­‐to-­‐chassis  performance  optimization  that  achieves  lower  consistent  latency  and  cost  per  transaction  for   Cloud,  Enterprise  and  Virtualized  mission-­‐critical  applications.  Violin's  All  Flash  Arrays  and  Appliances,  and  enterprise  data   management  software  solutions  enhance  agility  and  mobility  while  revolutionizing  data  center  economics.  Founded  in  2005,   Violin  Memory  is  headquartered  in  Santa  Clara,  California.  For  more  information,  visit  www.violin-­‐  Follow  us  on   Twitter  at  




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