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News
Jun
18

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: SOFS, Storage Spaces, and a Big Thanks to the Intel Technology Provider Program!

What was once the Intel Channel Program and now ITP has been very generous to us over the years.

We make no bones about our support of both the program but also the excellent Intel Server Systems and Intel Storage Systems that we deploy on a regular basis.

With the introduction of the Grizzly Pass product line we received a product that was bang-on with Dell, HP, and IBM feature for feature, construction quality for construction quality, with two very significant advantages to the Intel product:

  1. Flexibility
    • We can utilize an extensive tested hardware list to custom configure our server and storage systems to order way beyond what Tier 1 offers even in their Build-to-Order programs.
    • We are able tune our configurations to very specific performance needs.
  2. Support
    • The folks on the other end of the support line are second to none. Some of the folks we have worked with have been our contact for cases over the last ten years or more! These folks know their stuff.
    • Advanced no questions asked warranty replacement for almost all products is also a huge asset.

This is the product stack we have been working on lately for our Proof-of-Concept testing for Scale-Out File Server failover clusters, Hyper-V over SMB via 10GbE provided for by two NETGEAR XS712T 10GbE switches, and Storage Spaces performance testing.

image

The top two servers are Intel R1208JP4OC 1U single socket servers supporting the Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 v1/v2 series CPUs. They have dual Intel X540T2 NICs via I/O Module and PCIe add-in card along with a pair of Intel RS25GB008 SAS HBAs to provide connectivity to the Intel JBODs at the bottom.

Two of the Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC 2U dual socket servers were here for the last couple of months on loan from the Intel Technology Provider program. We have been using them extensively in our SOFS and Storage Spaces testing along with the other four servers that are our own.

One of the Intel Storage System JBOD2224S2DP units in the above picture is a seed unit provided to us by ITP as we are planning on utilizing this unit for our Data Centre deployments. The other two were purchased through Canadian distribution. Currently two are in a dedicated use configuration with the third to be used to test enclosure resilience in a Storage Spaces 3-Way Mirror configuration.

We have been acquiring HGST SAS SSDs in the form of first and second generation units with an aim to get into 12Gb SAS at some point down the road. We still have a few more first and second generation SSDs to go to reach our goal of 24 units total.

The second JBOD has 24 Seagate Savvio 10K SAS spindles that will be worked on in our next round of testing.

Our current HGST SAS SSD based IOPS testing average is about 375K on an 8 SSD disk set up in a Storage Spaces Simple configuration (similar to RAID 0):

image

We have designs on the board for providing enclosure resilient solutions that run into the millions of IOPS. As we move through our PoC testing we will continue to publish our results here.

We are currently working with Iometer for our baseline and PoC testing. SQLIO will also be utilized once we get comfortable with performance behaviours in our storage setups to fine tune things for SQL deployments.

Again, thanks to Scott P. and the Intel Technology Program for all of your assistance over the years. It is greatly appreciated. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


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Jun
9
Storage Configuration: Know Your Workloads for IOPS or Throughput
Posted by Philip Elder on 09 June 2014 11:30 AM

Original Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Storage Configuration: Know Your Workloads for IOPS or Throughput

Here we have a practical example of how devastating a poorly configured disk subsystem can be.

image

The above was one of the first Iometer test runs we did on our Storage Spaces setup. The above 45K IOPS was running on 17, yes seventeen, 100GB SSD400S.a HGST SAS SSDs.

Obviously the configuration was just whacked. :(

Imagine the surprise and disappointment one would have supplying a $100K SAN and ending up with the above results after the unit was put into production and the client was complaining that things were not happening anywhere near as fast as expected.

What we are discovering is that tuning a storage subsystem is an art.

There are so many factors that one needs to keep in mind as far as the types of workloads that will be running on the disk subsystem right through to the hardware driving it all.

After running a large number of tests using Iometer, and with some significant input from fellow MVP Tim Barrett, we are beginning to gain some insight into how to configure things for the given workload.

This is a snip taken of a Simple Storage Space utilizing _just two_ 100GB HGST SSD400S.a SAS SSDs (same disks as above):

image

Note how we are now running at 56K IOPS. :)

Microsoft has an awesome, in-depth, document on setting things up for Storage Spaces performance here:

We suggest firing the above article into OneNote for later reference as it will prove invaluable in figuring out the basics for configuring a Storage Spaces disk subsystem. It can actually provide a good frame of reference for storage performance in general.

Our goal for our Proof-of-Concept testing that we are doing was around 1M IOPS.

Given what we are seeing so far we will hopefully end up running at about 650K to 750K IOPS! That’s not too shabby for our “commodity hardware” setup. :)

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

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


Read more »



Jun
5
Cluster Starter Labs: Hyper-V, Storage Spaces, and Scale-Out File Server
Posted by Philip Elder on 05 June 2014 02:55 PM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Cluster Starter Labs: Hyper-V, Storage Spaces, and Scale-Out File Server

The following are a few ways to go about setting up a lab environment to test out various Hyper-V and Scale-Out File Server Clusters that utilize Storage Spaces to tie in the storage.

Asymmetric Hyper-V Cluster
  • (2) Hyper-V Nodes with single SAS HBA
  • (1) Dual Port SAS JBOD (must support SES-3)

In the above configuration we set up the node OS Roles and then enable Cluster. Once cluster is enabled we can import our not initialized shared storage into Cluster Disks and them move them over to Cluster Shared Volumes.

In this scenario one should split the storage up three ways.

  1. 1GB-2GB for Witness Disk
  2. 49.9% CSV 0
  3. 49.9% CSV 1

Once the virtual disks have been set up in Storage Spaces we run the quorum configuration wizard to set the witness disk up.

We use two CSVs in this setup so as to assign 50% of the available storage to each node. This shares the I/O load. Keep this in mind when looking to deploy this type of cluster into a client setting as well as the need to make sure all paths between the nodes and the disks are redundant (dual SAS HBAs and a dual expander/controller JBOD).

Symmetric Hyper-V Cluster with Scale-Out File Services
  • (2) Scale-Out File Server Nodes with single SAS HBA
  • (1) Dual Port SAS JBOD
  • (2) Hyper-V Nodes

For this particular set up we configure our two storage nodes in a SOFS cluster and utilize Storage Spaces to deliver our shares for Hyper-V to access. We will have a witness share for the Hyper-V cluster and then at least one file share for our VHDX files depending on how our storage is set up.

Lab Hardware

The HP MicroServer would be one option for server nodes. Dell C1100 1U off-lease servers can be found on eBay for a song. Intel RS25GB008 or LSI 6Gb SAS Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) are also easily found.

For the JBOD one needs to make sure the unit supports the full compliment of SAS commands being passed through to the disks. To run with cluster two SAS ports that access all of the storage installed in the drive bays is mandatory.

The Intel JBOD2224S2DP (WSC SS Site) is an excellent unit to work with that compares feature wise with DataON, Quanta, and the Dell JBODs now on the Windows Server Catalogue Storage Spaces List.

Some HGST UltraStar 100GB and 200GB SAS SSDs (SSD400 A and B Series) can be had via eBay every once in a while for SSD Tier and SSD Cache testing in Storage Spaces. We are running with the HGST product because it is a collaborative effort between Intel and HGST.

Storage Testing

For storage in the lab it is preferred to have at least 6 of the drives one would be using in production. With six drives we can run the following tests:

  • Single Drive IOPS and Throughput tests
    • Storage Spaces Simple
  • Dual Drive IOPS and Throughput tests
    • Storage Spaces Simple and Two-Way Mirror
  • Three Drive IOPS and Throughput tests
    • Storage Spaces Simple, Two-Way Mirror, and Three-Way Mirror
  • ETC to 6 drives+

There are a number of factors involved in storage testing. The main thing is to establish a baseline performance metric based on a single drive of each type.

A really good, and in-depth, read on Storage Spaces performance:

And, the Microsoft Word document outlining the setup and the Iometer settings Microsoft used to achieve their impressive 1M IOPS Storage Spaces performance:

Our previous blog post on a lab setup with a few suggested hardware pieces:

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

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


Read more »



May
23

Original Posted Here: Three Intel Server Systems based Hyper-V and Scale-Out File Server Clusters

Here are three base Intel Server Systems configurations we are working on for our Intel Modular Server replacement in a Data Centre or client setting.

Unfortunately, the Intel JBOD does not self-power at this time. So, for SMB/SME solutions we will be supplying a DataON DNS-1640 2U JBOD as it will automatically power-up after a full power outage.

All solution sets are based on Windows Server 2012 R2 as a starting point for Hyper-V, Storage Spaces, and SOFS.

  • Option 1: Asymmetric Hyper-V Cluster via Storage Spaces CSV
    • Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC, Dual E5-2640, 128GB ECC or 256GB ECC, 120GB SSD RAID 1, dual SAS HBAs, add-in Intel i350T4 PCIe
    • Intel JBOD2224S2DP
  • Option 2: Hyper-V Cluster via SMBv3 Scale-Out File Server cluster and Storage Spaces
    • Intel Server System R1208JP4OC, E5-2640, 128GB ECC, 120GB SSD RAID 1, dual SAS HBAs, Intel X540T2 I/O Module, Intel X540T2 PCIe
    • Intel JBOD2224S2DP
    • Intel Server System R1208JP4OC, E5-2640, 128GB ECC, 120GB SSD RAID 1, Intel i350T4 PCIe, Intel X540T2 I/O Module, Intel X540T2 PCIe
    • NETGEAR XS712T 10GbE Switches
  • Option 3: Hyper-V Cluster via SMBv3 Scale-Out File Server cluster and Storage Spaces with enclosure resilience
    • (3) Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC, Dual E5-2640, 128GB ECC, 120GB SSD RAID 1, SIX SAS HBAs, Intel X540T2 I/O Module, Intel X540T2 PCIe
    • (3) Intel JBOD2224S2DP
    • (2) Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC, Dual E5-2640, 128GB ECC, 120GB SSD RAID 1, Intel i350T4 PCIe, Intel X540T2 I/O Module, Intel X540T2 PCIe
    • (2) NETGEAR 24-Port 10GbE Switches
  • Storage Networking Option
    • Option 2 and Option 3 can be facilitated by InfiniBand NICs and Switches
      • Enables RDMA and 56Gbps per connection
      • Microsoft’s 1.4M IOPS demo based on InfiniBand backend
      • Intel Server Systems have an InfiniBand I/O Module with the second being a Mellanox PCIe

The first setup is relatively simple while the second two require some structuring around how the networking is configured to allow for SMB Multi-Channel on the storage network side.

At this point the above setups utilizing Intel Server Systems provide us with an amazing value for our IT budgets.

5 year warranties and next business day on-site support options can be had too.

We purchase our Intel Channel product primarily through ASI Canada. Ingram Micro, Synnex Canada, and Tech Data Canada are also Intel Authorized Distributors.

As an FYI we continue to build our own server systems because the experience proves to be invaluable when it comes to troubleshooting problems especially when software vendors are pointing fingers.

Building our own systems also gives us a very strong foundation for creating server configurations that will work with a client workload set.

And finally, it allows us to be very particular with Tier 1 vendors when it comes to creating a server configuration using their hardware.

EDIT: Note that we _always_ install a physical DC on our cluster networks. For option 1 it would probably be an HP MicroServer while the others would be a 1U single socket with some storage for ISOs.

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

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


Read more »



Apr
21
A Microsoft Cluster Troubleshooting Guide
Posted by Philip Elder on 21 April 2014 01:02 PM

Original Post Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: A Microsoft Cluster Troubleshooting Guide

Here are some of the tools we can use when troubleshooting a cluster, Scale-Out File Server, Hyper-V, and other cluster issues:

Failover Cluster Manager 

The FCM gives us the ability to dig into the various Windows Logs and delimit them by time, node, and log type.

  • FCM –> Cluster Name –> Cluster Events –> Query

image

We set up a few different queries out of the box. One with everything Cluster, Failover Clustering, and Hyper-V related. We then create a subset of queries. The various queries get saved to a local folder on the management DC/RSAT system.

Get-ClusterLog

The Get-ClusterLog PowerShell commandlet allows us to pull the full log set from one or all nodes. Note that the default output folder is NODEC$WindowsClusterCluster.LOG (C:WindowsClusterCluster.LOG) unless specified in the command.

This log can be very busy and a bit of a challenge to work through. If one has a good idea of what to look for then the log can be quite informative.

  • Get-ClusterLog -Destination .
    • Places the log in the local directory (we create C:Temp on all nodes for this kind of thing)
  • (get-cluster).ClusterLogLevel=5
    • There are five levels with 5 being the most verbose. Default level is 3 and best left there unless absolutely needed. Level 5 file can be large.

EDIT: The Default cluster log location is C:WindowsClusterReportsCluster.log

Microsoft Message Analyzer

This is an in-depth tool. There is no way around it. Thus, a learning curve is required.

However, there is an amazing amount of information that we can then have at our fingertips and not only that colour coded!

image

image

One can use a series of filters under the log file settings to delimit by time period among others.

image

We can set up our columns:

image

Once we have our Cluster column, for example when looking for a problematic cluster component, we can set up a filter:

image

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. One will need to spend some time with this tool to really get into its abilities such as colour coding source node, information levels, and so much more!

Please check the Message Analyzer Blog for more information.

Note that an absence of System Centre and its components is deliberate. We find, at least at this time, that Failover Cluster Manager provides a far superior cluster management experience.

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

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


Read more »



Apr
11
Cluster-Aware Update Runs: How Long?
Posted by Philip Elder on 11 April 2014 10:08 AM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Cluster-Aware Update Runs: How Long?

When one needs to provision a new Windows Server 2012 RTM/R2 cluster one of the time factors to keep in mind is the Cluster-Aware Update runs that will happen once the cluster has been brought up.

image

The above is a new Windows Server 2012 R2 four node cluster that we finished configuring last night.

The first CAU run started around 2300Hrs. As can be seen each node took about an hour to run through the process.

Even though we are not too far into the product release cycle for R2 one needs to keep in mind the update maintenance process if one is not using an up-to-date image for deployment. This would be especially true if deploying 2012 RTM or 2008 R2 clusters.

Cluster node configuration:

  • Intel Server System SR1695GPRX2AC with RMM
    • Intel Xeon Processor X3470, 32GB ECC, 120GB Intel SSD RAID 1, Dual Intel SAS HBAs

Some important Cluster update tracking links:

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

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


Read more »




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