You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘usp’ tag.
One of the customers I work with regularly has a set of key MS SQL databases totaling over 100TB in size which process transactions for their customer facing systems. If these databases are down, no transactions can be processed and customers looking to spend money will go elsewhere. The booking rate related to these databases is ~$90,000 per minute, all day, every day.
Today these databases live on Symmetrix DMX storage which has been very reliable and performant. As happens in an IT world, some of these Symmetrix systems are getting long in the tooth and we are working on refreshing several older DMX systems into fewer, newer VMAX systems. Aside from the efficiency and performance benefits of sub-LUN tiering (EMC FASTVP), and the higher scalability of VMAX vs DMX as well as pretty much any other storage array on the market, EMC has added another new feature to VMAX that is particularly advantageous to this particular customer — Federated Live Migration
Tech Refresh and Data Migrations:
Tech Refresh is a fact of life and data migrations, as a result are common place. The challenge with a data migration is finding a workable process and then shoehorning that process into existing SLAs and maintenance windows. In general, data migrations are disruptive in some way or another, and the level of disruption depends on the technology used and the type of migration. EMC has a long list of migration tools that cover our midrange storage systems, NAS systems, as well as high-end Symmetrix arrays. The downside with these and other vendors’ migration tools is that there is some level of downtime required.
There are 3 basic approaches:
- Highest Amount of Downtime:
- Take system down, copy data, reconfigure system, bring system online
- Less Downtime:
- Copy Data, Take system down, copy recent changes, reconfigure system, bring system online (EMC Open Replicator, EMCopy, RoboCopy, Rsync, EMC SANCopy, etc)
- Even Less Downtime:
- Set up new storage to proxy old storage, reconfigure system, serve data while copying in the background. (EMC Celerra CDMS, EMC Symmetrix Open Replicator)
- (Traditional virtualization systems like Hitachi USP/VSP, IBM SVC, etc are similar to this as well since you must take some level of downtime to get hosts configured through the virtualization layer, after which you can non-disruptively move data).
Common theme in all 3? Downtime!
Non-Disruptive Migrations are becoming more realistic:
A while ago now, EMC added a feature to PowerPath called Migration Enabler which is a way to non-disruptively migrate data between LUNs and/or Storage arrays from the host perspective. PowerPath Migration Enabler could also leverage storage based copy mechanisms and help with cut over. This is very helpful and I have multiple customers who have successfully migrated data with PPME. The challenge has been getting customers to upgrade to newer versions of PowerPath that include the PPME features they need for their specific environment. Software upgrades usually require some level of downtime, at least on a per-host basis, and we run into maintenance windows and SLAs again.
EMC Symmetrix Federated Live Migration (FLM)
For Symmetrix VMAX customers, EMC has added a new capability that could make data migrations easy as pie for many customers. With FLM, a VMAX can migrate data into itself from another storage array, and perform the host cutover, automatically, and non-disruptively. The VMAX does not have to be inserted in front of the other storage array, and there is no downtime required to reconfigure the host before or after the migration.
Federation is the key to non-disruptive migrations:
The way FLM works is really pretty simple. First, the host is connected to the new VMAX storage without removing the connectivity to the old storage. The VMAX is also connected to the old storage array directly (through the fabric in reality). The VMAX system then sets up a replication session for the devices owned by the host and begins copying data. This is all pretty straightforward. The smart stuff happens during the cut over process.
As you probably know, the VMAX is an Active/Active storage system, so all paths from a host to a LUN are active. Clariion, similar to most other midrange systems is an Active/Passive storage system. On Clariion, paths to the storage processor that owns the LUN are active, while paths to the non-owner are passive until needed. PowerPath and many other path management tools support both active/active and active/passive storage systems.
Symmetrix FLM leverages this active/passive support for the cut over. Essentially the old storage system is the “owning SP” before and during the migration. At cut over time, the VMAX essentially becomes the owning SP and it’s paths go active while the old paths go passive. PowerPath follows the “trespass” and the host keeps on chugging. To make this work, VMAX actually spoofs the LUN WWN and host ID, etc from the old array, so the host thinks it’s still talking to the old array. Filesystems and LVMs that signature and track LUNs based on WWN and/or Host ID are unaffected as a result. The cut over process is nothing more than a path change at the HBA level. The data copy and cut over are managed directly from the VMAX by an administrator.
Of course there are limitations… FLM initially supports only EMC Symmetrix DMX arrays as the source and requires PowerPath. From what I gather, this is not a technical limitation however, it’s just what EMC has tested and supports. Other EMC arrays will be supported later and I have no doubt it will support non-EMC arrays as a source as well.
Solving the $5 million problem:
Symmetrix Federated Live Migration became a signature feature in our VMAX discussions with the aforementioned customer because they know that for every minute their database is down, they lose $90,000 in revenue. Even with the fastest of the 3 traditional methods of migration, they would be down for up to an hour while 12 cluster nodes are rezoned to new storage, LUNs masked, drive letters assigned, etc. A reboot alone takes up to 30 minutes. 1 hour of downtime equates to $5,400,000 of lost revenue. By the way, that’s quite a bit more than the cost of the VMAX, and FLM is included at no additional license cost, so FLM just paid for the VMAX, and then some.
A comment about HDS’s Zero Page Reclaim on one of my previous posts got me thinking about the effectiveness of thin provisioning in general. In that previous post, I talked about the trade-offs between increased storage utilization through the use of thin-provisioning and the potential performance problems associated with it.
There are intrinsic benefits that come with the use of thin provisioning. First, new storage can be provisioned for applications without nearly as much planning. Next, application owners get what they want, while storage admins can show they are utilizing the storage systems effectively. Also, rather than managing the growth of data in individual applications, storage admins are able to manage the growth of data across the enterprise as a whole.
Thin provisioning can also provide performance benefits… For example, consider a set of virtual Windows servers running across several LUNs contained in the same RAID group. Each Windows VM stores its OS files in the first few GB of their respective VMDK files. Each VMDK file is stored in order in each LUN, with some free space at the end. In essence, we have a whole bunch of OS sections separated by gaps of no data. If all VMs were booting at approximately the same time, the disk heads would have to move continuously across the entire disk, increasing disk latency.
Now take the same disks, configured as a thin pool, and create the same LUNs (as thin LUNs) and the same VMs. Because thin-provisioning in general only writes data to the physical disks as it’s being written by the application, starting from the beginning of the disk, all of those Windows VMs’ OS files will be placed at the beginning of the disks. This increased data locality will reduce IO latency across all of the VMs. The effect is probably minor, but reduced disk latency translates to possibly higher IOPS from the same set of physical disks. And the only change is the use of thin-provisioning.
So back to HDS Zero Page Reclaim. The biggest problem with thin provisioning is that it doesn’t stay thin for long. Windows NTFS, for example, is particularly NOT thin-friendly since it favors previously untouched disk space for new writes rather than overwriting deleted files. This activity eventually causes a thin-LUN to grow to it’s maximum size over time, even though the actual amount of data stored in the LUN may not change. And Windows isn’t the only one with the problem. This means that thin provisioning may make provisioning easier, or possibly improve IO latency, but it might not actually save you any money on disk. This is where HDS’s Zero Page Reclaim can help. Hitachi’s Dynamic Provisioning (with ZPR) can scan a LUN for sections where all the bytes are zero and reclaim that space for other thin LUNs. This is particularly useful for converting thick LUNs into thin LUNs. But, it can only see blocks of zeros, and so it won’t necessarily see space freed up by deleting files. Hitachi’s own documentation points out that many file systems are not-thin friendly, and ZPR won’t help with long-term growth of thin LUNs caused by actively writing and then deleting data.
Although there are ways to script the writing of zeros to free space on a server so that ZPI can reclaim that space, you would need to run that script on all of your servers, requiring a unique tool for each operating system in your environment. The script would also have to run periodically, since the file system will grow again afterward.
NetApp’s SnapDrive tool for Windows can scan an NTFS file system, detect deleted files, then report the associated blocks back to the Filer to be added back to the aggregate for use by other volumes/LUNs. The Space Reclamation scan can be run as needed, and I believe it can be scheduled; but, it appears to be Windows only. Again, this will have to be done periodically.
But what if you could solve the problem across most or all of your systems, regardless of operating system, regardless of application, with real-time reclamation? And what if you could simultaneously solve other problems? Enter Symantec’s Storage Foundation with Thin-Reclamation API. Storage Foundation consists of VxFS, VxVM, DMP, and some other tools that together provide dynamic grow/shrink, snapshots, replication, thin-friendly volume usage, and dynamic SAN multipathing across multiple operating systems. Storage Foundation’s Thin-Reclamation API is to thin-provisioning what OST is to Backup Deduplication. Storage vendors can now add near-real-time zero page reclaim for customers that are willing to deploy VxFS/VxVM on their servers. For EMC customers, DMP can replace PowerPath, thereby offsetting the cost.
As far as I know, 3PAR is the first and only storage vendor to write to Symantec’s thin-API, which means they now have the most dynamic, non-disruptive, zero-page-reclaim feature set on the market. As a storage engineer myself, I have often wondered if VxVM/VxFS could make management of application data storage in our diverse environment easier and more dynamic. Adding Thin-Reclamation to the mix makes it even more attractive. I’d like to see more storage vendors follow 3PAR’s lead and write to Symantec’s API. I’d also like to see Symantec open up both OST and the Thin-Reclamation API for others to use, but I doubt that will happen.