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Dec
18
Repeat After Me: SATA Does Not Belong In Servers Part Deux
Posted by Philip Elder on 18 December 2013 04:57 PM

Original Post Here:   MPECS Inc. Blog: Repeat After Me: SATA Does Not Belong In Servers Part Deux

NOTE to SMB Kitchen Subscribers: This is the article I was hunting for during our Hyper-V Q&A session yesterday.

For the last number of years we have stopped deploying servers with SATA drives installed.

There are so many reasons why we stopped but here are a few comparisons to SCSI/SAS:

  • SATA does not have the ability to manage a high I/O workload
  • SATA only offers a single inbound and outbound data port while SAS offers dual ports for redundant paths
  • SATA does not have the health monitoring capabilities with SMART certainly not cutting it
  • SATA does not offer anywhere near the capabilities and command set that SAS does for server related tasks, disk redundancy, disk sharing, and so much more

There is a reason why disk manufacturers have tacked on SAS controllers to SATA platter sets. These so-called NearLine drives offer all of the SAS goodness but with SATA capacities.

Here is the first public, that I know of, presentation from Microsoft on the _why_ SATA does not belong in servers.

To quote specifically:

1.Use the per I/O control mechanism that is known as Force Unit Access (FUA). This flag specifies that the drive should write the data to stable media storage before signaling (sic) is finished. Applications that have to do this make sure that data is stable on the disk issue FUA to make sure that data is not lost if a power failure occurs.

Server-class disk drives (SCSI and Fibre Channel) generally support the FUA flag. On commodity drives (ATA, SATA, and USB), FUA might not be honored. (emphasis added) This can potentially leave data in an inconsistent state unless the drive’s write cache is disabled. Make sure that the disk subsystem handles FUA correctly if you depend on this mechanism

When listening to a discussion on this the above applies even when SATA disks are used in a properly configured RAID setup whether software (host-based) or hardware RAID on Chip.

In addition, if one were to be setting up a Storage Spaces cluster with multiple paths to the JBOD unit then one would be required to set it up with SAS based SSDs for the high performance storage tier. SATA will work in a single server and single enclosure lab like setting but _not_ in production.

We have had other posts on this topic that outline many other reasons for our decision to drop SATA in servers. The SATA category and the SAS category would be one place to start. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


Read more »



Sep
2
StarTech or Vantec for SuperSpeed USB 3 Enclosures and Hubs?
Posted by Reprinted Article on 02 September 2013 09:59 PM

Hands down our choice is for StarTech.

image

The above is a 2.5" drive enclosure with a Seagate Momentus 7200 RPM SATA drive installed. Mean throughput seems to be around 60MB/Second to 80MB/Second.

image

The 3.5" enclosure has a 2TB Seagate 7200 RPM SATA drive installed. Throughput seems to be about the same as the 2.5" drive.

The following link lists all of StarTech's single drive SuperSpeed enclosures:

We also have a 2.5" SuperSpeed enclosure coming that can mount ISOs and present them to the connected device as an optical drive.

image

Both drives are connected to the above SuperSpeed USB 3 hub.

We are using the 3.5" drive to host VHDX files. We have Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 with Exchange 2013 RTM, Windows Server 2012 with SharePoint Foundation 2013, Windows Server 2012 with the Remote Desktop Services Role, Windows 8 Enterprise, and finally a Windows Server 2008 R2 OS set up with RRAS to NAT between the Internal and our own networks.

We've passed _a lot_ of data across these SuperSpeed devices without a hiccup.

The same could not be said for the Vantec SuperSpeed USB 3 hub and enclosures. They would cut out causing everything to come to a standstill. We went so far as to try a D-Link SuperSpeed USB 3 hub to see if it would work better but we ended up with connectivity issues.

In the end, we are quite happy with the StarTech products especially their stability with so much data flying around on the USB 3 bus.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Sep
2
StarTech or Vantec for SuperSpeed USB 3 Enclosures and Hubs?
Posted by Reprinted Article on 02 September 2013 09:59 PM

Hands down our choice is for StarTech.

image

The above is a 2.5" drive enclosure with a Seagate Momentus 7200 RPM SATA drive installed. Mean throughput seems to be around 60MB/Second to 80MB/Second.

image

The 3.5" enclosure has a 2TB Seagate 7200 RPM SATA drive installed. Throughput seems to be about the same as the 2.5" drive.

The following link lists all of StarTech's single drive SuperSpeed enclosures:

We also have a 2.5" SuperSpeed enclosure coming that can mount ISOs and present them to the connected device as an optical drive.

image

Both drives are connected to the above SuperSpeed USB 3 hub.

We are using the 3.5" drive to host VHDX files. We have Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 with Exchange 2013 RTM, Windows Server 2012 with SharePoint Foundation 2013, Windows Server 2012 with the Remote Desktop Services Role, Windows 8 Enterprise, and finally a Windows Server 2008 R2 OS set up with RRAS to NAT between the Internal and our own networks.

We've passed _a lot_ of data across these SuperSpeed devices without a hiccup.

The same could not be said for the Vantec SuperSpeed USB 3 hub and enclosures. They would cut out causing everything to come to a standstill. We went so far as to try a D-Link SuperSpeed USB 3 hub to see if it would work better but we ended up with connectivity issues.

In the end, we are quite happy with the StarTech products especially their stability with so much data flying around on the USB 3 bus.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Jun
29
A Storage Spaces and Hyper-V Cluster Lab Guide
Posted by Reprinted Article on 29 June 2013 06:25 PM

Here is a good start for a lab environment:

A set of DAS JBOD units can used with two small nodes and 2 SAS based HBAs per node to stand up a Storage Spaces cluster using the Server 2012 R2 bits. A couple of MicroServer Gen8 boxes would round out the Hyper-V side of it.

On this blog there are a lot of configurations discussed that utilize intelligent direct attached storage.

  • Basic setup
    • Intel Server System SR1695GPRX2AC pair with Promise VTrak E610sD or E310sD
    • This category search on the blog has a number of really good posts including configuration examples based on the SR1695GPRX2AC (blog category link)
      • This server unit has been our go-to for base configurations as it is an excellent and flexible platform
  • Advanced setup
    • Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC pair with the Promise VTrak E610sD or E310sD
  • All-Out Setup
    • All of the above plus LSI SAS 6160 Switch pair and Intel Modular Server with 3 nodes.

In the above setups the key is the intelligent storage providing mitigation services to the SAS HBAs and OS access to the central storage.

With the 2012 R2 bits we are going to put together a redundant JBOD setup for a Storage Spaces cluster. This is the next direction we are delving into as we can put together a small SS cluster for a very reasonable cost.

Today, we are working on the following (similar to David Ziembicki’s setup) setup for clustered Storage Spaces:

  • Basic
    • Intel Server System R1208JP4OC with pair of SAS HBAs (RS25GB008) (2 nodes)
      • 32GB of ECC per node to start
    • Intel Storage System JBOD2224S2D2 JBOD2224S2DP Intel JBOD units (2 units)
      • JBOD is dual expander and dual port backplane
      • Seagate Savvio SAS drives are dual port
    • 1m SAS Cables (4)
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 beta – Storage Spaces Cluster Setup
    • Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC pair for Hyper-V nodes (we have had these in our lab for a year or so now).
      • 64GB to 128GB of ECC
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 beta or RTM – Hyper-V Nodes
  • Advanced
    • Add a pair of 8-Port or 12-Port NETGEAR 10Gbit Ethernet switches
      • Ports on each NIC would be split between switches for redundancy
    • Add a pair of Dual-Port 10Gbit PCIe and/or I/O Module NICs to each node
      • 10Gbit Ethernet would SMBv3 Storage Spaces located VHDX
      • 10Gbit Ethernet would be for Live Migration Network
    • LSI SAS Switches (we have a pair of these in our lab setting)
    • Additional Intel JBOD units to test switches and scaling storage out

Using David Ziembicki’s setup though one would be able to start at the base level and put together a similar configuration on a budget.

An HP MicroServer Gen8 would make an excellent platform for testing as they are relatively inexpensive and have pretty close to the full Intel virtualization Acceleration feature set.

Note that the Sans Digital MS28X listed in his blog post splits drives 0-3 and 4-7 between the two available external SAS connections. That means that there is no ability to use this storage unit without an LSI SAS 6160 Switch pair (Sans Digital MS28X Quick Installation Guide PDF)!

However, the Sans Digital MS8X6 unit does support redundancy and therefore they could be used to test Storage Spaces clustering configurations (Sans Digital MS8X6 Quick Installation Guide PDF).

Of course, for the added functionality there will be an extra cost involved, however one could drop the LSI SAS Switch for a set of these units for about the cost of the original MS28X plus SAS Switch!

  • Storage Spaces Cluster
    • Storage Spaces Node
      • Intel Xeon E3-1230
      • Intel Server Board S1200BTLSH
      • 16GB ECC
      • Intel Integrated RAID RMS2AF040
      • 120GB Intel 320 Series SSD (or small 10K SAS) RAID 1 pair for host OS
      • Quad-Port Intel Gigabit Server NIC PCIe
      • Intel certified chassis (whether Intel or other)
    • Storage
      • Sans Digital MS8X6
        • 300GB 15K 3.5" SAS drives can be found for a good deal today
    • Hyper-V Node
      • Intel Xeon E3-1230
      • Intel Server Board S1200BTLSH
      • 32GB ECC
      • Intel Integrated RAID RMS2AF040
      • 120GB Intel 320 Series SSD (or small 10K SAS) RAID 1 pair for host OS
      • Quad-Port Intel Gigabit Server NIC PCIe
      • Intel certified chassis (whether Intel or other)
    • OPTIONS
      • Add Intel RMM4 for full KVM over IP
      • Add Dual-Port 10Gbit Intel Ethernet for SMBv3 and Live Migration Networks
      • Add Intel Storage Systems JBOD2224S2DP at a later date for full SAS Dual Port Redundancy

There are so many different ways to go about this.

The main thing is to start small and work one’s way up to a full scale server grade lab as the jobs come in! That’s how we built our own lab systems up and how we built up the knowledgebase and experience!

EDIT: Oops, Star Wars on the mind. Intel Storage Systems part number should be JBOD2224S2DP (I had JBOD2224S2D2 above!). :)

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Jun
29
A Storage Spaces and Hyper-V Cluster Lab Guide
Posted by Reprinted Article on 29 June 2013 06:25 PM

Here is a good start for a lab environment:

A set of DAS JBOD units can used with two small nodes and 2 SAS based HBAs per node to stand up a Storage Spaces cluster using the Server 2012 R2 bits. A couple of MicroServer Gen8 boxes would round out the Hyper-V side of it.

On this blog there are a lot of configurations discussed that utilize intelligent direct attached storage.

  • Basic setup
    • Intel Server System SR1695GPRX2AC pair with Promise VTrak E610sD or E310sD
    • This category search on the blog has a number of really good posts including configuration examples based on the SR1695GPRX2AC (blog category link)
      • This server unit has been our go-to for base configurations as it is an excellent and flexible platform
  • Advanced setup
    • Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC pair with the Promise VTrak E610sD or E310sD
  • All-Out Setup
    • All of the above plus LSI SAS 6160 Switch pair and Intel Modular Server with 3 nodes.

In the above setups the key is the intelligent storage providing mitigation services to the SAS HBAs and OS access to the central storage.

With the 2012 R2 bits we are going to put together a redundant JBOD setup for a Storage Spaces cluster. This is the next direction we are delving into as we can put together a small SS cluster for a very reasonable cost.

Today, we are working on the following (similar to David Ziembicki’s setup) setup for clustered Storage Spaces:

  • Basic
    • Intel Server System R1208JP4OC with pair of SAS HBAs (RS25GB008) (2 nodes)
      • 32GB of ECC per node to start
    • Intel Storage System JBOD2224S2D2 JBOD2224S2DP Intel JBOD units (2 units)
      • JBOD is dual expander and dual port backplane
      • Seagate Savvio SAS drives are dual port
    • 1m SAS Cables (4)
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 beta – Storage Spaces Cluster Setup
    • Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC pair for Hyper-V nodes (we have had these in our lab for a year or so now).
      • 64GB to 128GB of ECC
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 beta or RTM – Hyper-V Nodes
  • Advanced
    • Add a pair of 8-Port or 12-Port NETGEAR 10Gbit Ethernet switches
      • Ports on each NIC would be split between switches for redundancy
    • Add a pair of Dual-Port 10Gbit PCIe and/or I/O Module NICs to each node
      • 10Gbit Ethernet would SMBv3 Storage Spaces located VHDX
      • 10Gbit Ethernet would be for Live Migration Network
    • LSI SAS Switches (we have a pair of these in our lab setting)
    • Additional Intel JBOD units to test switches and scaling storage out

Using David Ziembicki’s setup though one would be able to start at the base level and put together a similar configuration on a budget.

An HP MicroServer Gen8 would make an excellent platform for testing as they are relatively inexpensive and have pretty close to the full Intel virtualization Acceleration feature set.

Note that the Sans Digital MS28X listed in his blog post splits drives 0-3 and 4-7 between the two available external SAS connections. That means that there is no ability to use this storage unit without an LSI SAS 6160 Switch pair (Sans Digital MS28X Quick Installation Guide PDF)!

However, the Sans Digital MS8X6 unit does support redundancy and therefore they could be used to test Storage Spaces clustering configurations (Sans Digital MS8X6 Quick Installation Guide PDF).

Of course, for the added functionality there will be an extra cost involved, however one could drop the LSI SAS Switch for a set of these units for about the cost of the original MS28X plus SAS Switch!

  • Storage Spaces Cluster
    • Storage Spaces Node
      • Intel Xeon E3-1230
      • Intel Server Board S1200BTLSH
      • 16GB ECC
      • Intel Integrated RAID RMS2AF040
      • 120GB Intel 320 Series SSD (or small 10K SAS) RAID 1 pair for host OS
      • Quad-Port Intel Gigabit Server NIC PCIe
      • Intel certified chassis (whether Intel or other)
    • Storage
      • Sans Digital MS8X6
        • 300GB 15K 3.5" SAS drives can be found for a good deal today
    • Hyper-V Node
      • Intel Xeon E3-1230
      • Intel Server Board S1200BTLSH
      • 32GB ECC
      • Intel Integrated RAID RMS2AF040
      • 120GB Intel 320 Series SSD (or small 10K SAS) RAID 1 pair for host OS
      • Quad-Port Intel Gigabit Server NIC PCIe
      • Intel certified chassis (whether Intel or other)
    • OPTIONS
      • Add Intel RMM4 for full KVM over IP
      • Add Dual-Port 10Gbit Intel Ethernet for SMBv3 and Live Migration Networks
      • Add Intel Storage Systems JBOD2224S2DP at a later date for full SAS Dual Port Redundancy

There are so many different ways to go about this.

The main thing is to start small and work one’s way up to a full scale server grade lab as the jobs come in! That’s how we built our own lab systems up and how we built up the knowledgebase and experience!

EDIT: Oops, Star Wars on the mind. Intel Storage Systems part number should be JBOD2224S2DP (I had JBOD2224S2D2 above!). :)

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Jun
25
SMBKitchen: Just Released: Hyper-V Cluster Configuration Considerations
Posted by Reprinted Article on 25 June 2013 04:44 PM

This chapter, just released to the SMBKitchen Project’s knowledgebase, is jam packed with pearls that were the result of _months_ of trial and error plus sifting through all of the very incomplete and lacking vendor documentation.

image

Covered are all of the key elements required for setting up a Hyper-V Cluster on the Intel Modular Server with or without Direct Attached Storage via two SAS Controllers.

Also covered are the key elements required for setting up a cluster on a two or more node setup that utilize SAS based DAS intelligent storage. This configuration is the one we have been running with and is now our main focus as the Intel Modular Server has been retired.

image

This document covers a lot of different areas including node configuration, storage, networking, and more.

Cluster for highly available virtual machines, and now that we have the 2012 R2 bits, for Storage Spaces are an important part of our SMB business strategy going forward into the On-Premises and Hybrid future.

Coming soon for the SMBKitchen project will be a series of How-To videos on everything from teaming in Windows Server 2012 via PowerShell to configuring RemoteFX. There are plans to do cluster How-To videos as well.

Tie that into the author’s chats we have once a month that give subscribers front-line access to the authors and I am sure that we are providing great value for the subscription dollars! :)

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »




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