Tag Archives: flash

FVP Freedom: Get Pernix’d for free

This posting is ~4 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

PernixData is one of the presenting sponsors at the Virtualization Field Day 5 (VFD5). One of the four key announcements is FVP Freedom.

FVP Freedom will be available in the Fall of 2015 and it’s a completely free version of PernixData FVP. Of course, the functionality is limited. FVP Freedom will only support a single cluster, but with an unlimited number of VMs. Instead of SSDs, FVP Freedom will support up to 128 GB of DFTM (Distributed Fault Tolerant Memory) per cluster. FVP Freedomm will be completely community supported.

You can register for FVP Freedom following this link.

Beside the announcement of FVP Freedom, PernixData also announced important enhancements to PernixData FVP. With the upcoming release of FVP, it will support VMware vSphere 6 and VVols. PernixData also added a new “phone home” functionality and a new HTML5 based GUI.

The two other announcements are PernixData Architect, a software to monitor your infrastructure from the storage perspective and which provides recommendations for your infrastructure, and PernixData Cloud. Latter provides a kind of benchmark how your infrastrucutre does compare to other infrastructures. The data for PernixData Cloud will provided by PernixData Architect and FVP Freedom.

You can watch the whole presentation on the VFD5 website. It will be available shortly.

My first impressions about PernixData FVP 2.5

This posting is ~5 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

On February 25, 2015 PernixData released the latest version of PernixData FVP. Even if it’s only a .5 release, FVP 2.5 adds some really cool features and improvements. New features are:

  • Distributed Fault Tolerant Memory-Z (DFTM-Z)
  • Intelligent I/O profiling
  • Role-based access control (RBAC), and
  • Network acceleration for NFS datastores

Distributed Fault Tolerant Memory-Z (DFTM-Z)

FVP 2.0 introduced support for server side memory as an acceleration resources. With this it was possible to use server side memroy to accelerate VM I/O operations. Server side memory is faster then flash, but also more expensive. With FVP 2.5, the support for adaptive memory compression. was added. DFTM-Z provides a more efficient use of the expensive resource “server side memory”.  Some of you may think “Oh no, compression! This will only cost performance!”. I don’t think that this is fair. ;) The PernixData engineers are focused on performance and I think that they haven’t during the development of DFTM-Z. DFTM-Z is enabled on hosts that use at least 20 GB memory for FVP. With increasing memory used for FVP, the area used for compression in the memory is also increased. So not the whole memory area used for acceleration is compressed, it’s only a part of it. With 20 GB contributing the FVP cluster, the compressed memory region is 4 GB. With more than 160 GB, the region is increased to 32 GB.

Intelligent I/O profiling

A VM usually has a specific I/O profile. Sometimes this I/O profile changes quickly, e. g. when doing backups (large sequential I/Os). With intelligent I/O profiling, such workloads can now be bypassed. This doesn’t disable acceleration! The active FVP footprint of the VM remains active and is used to accelerate I/O. The intelligent I/O profiling can be enabled on a per-VM basis using PowerShell.

Role-based access control (RBAC)

The access to FVP can now be controlled with a role-based model. For this, three different roles can be used.

  • Read and Write – View and change configuration, view performance charts
  • Read-Only – View configuration and performance charts only
  • No Access – no access

vCenter users with administrator permission have read/ write access to FVP. Users without administrator permission have only read-only access. All other users have no access to FVP.

Network acceleration for NFS datastores

In the past it was not possible to use the VM footprint, the “hot data”, after a vMotion, if the VM was stored in a NFS datastore. Now this VM footprint can used for read I/O over the network.

The update process

The update from FVP 2.0 to 2.5 is really easy:

  1. Transition the VMs to write through mode
  2. Update the FVP Management server
  3. Remove host extension on the hosts
  4. Install the new host extension on the hosts
  5. Enable vSphere Plugin (C# or Web Client)
  6. Transition the VMs to write back mode

I have performed this update in my lab, and the process went smooth. Be sure to take a look into the upgrade guide. Sometimes there are interesting things in it. ;)

Overall, I’m still totally convinced of PernixData and I hope to place it in a customer project soon.

The beginning of a deep friendship: Me & PernixData FVP 2.0

This posting is ~5 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

I’m a bit late, but better late than never. Some days ago I installed PernixData FVP 2.0 in my lab and I’m impressed! Until this installation, solutions such as PernixData FVP or VMware vSphere Flash Read Cache (vFRC) weren’t interesting for me or most of my customers. Some of my customers played around with vFRC, but most of them decieded to add flash devices to their primary storage system and use techniques like tiering or flash cache. Especially SMB customers had no chance to use flash or RAM to accelerate their workloads because of tight budgets. With decreasing costs for flash storage, solutions like PernixData FVP and VMware vSphere Flash Read Cache (vFRC) getting more interesting for my customers. Another reason was my lab. I simply hadn’t the equipment to play around with that fancy stuff. But things have changed and now I’m ready to give it a try.

The environment

For the moment I don’t have any SSDs in my lab servers, so I have to use RAM for acceleration. I will add some small SSDs later. Fortunately PernixData FVP 2.0 supports NFS and I can use host memory to accelerate my lab workloads.

The installation

I have installed PerniXata FVP 2.0 in my lab and deployed the host extension with the vSphere Update Manager to three of my lab hosts.

PernixData FVP consists of three components:

  • Host Extension
  • Management Server running on a Windows Server
  • UI Plugin for the vSphere C# and vSphere Web Client

The management server needs a MS SQL database and it installs the 64 bit version of Oracle Java SE 7. For a PoC or a small deployment, you can use the Express version of Microsoft SQL Server 2012. I installed the management server onto one of my Windows 2008 R2 servers. This server hosts also my vSphere Update Manager, so I had already a MS SQL database in place. I had some trouble right after the installation, because I missed to enable the SQL Browser service. This is clearly stated in the installation guide. So RTFM. ;)

NOTE: The Microsoft® SQL Server® instance requires an enabled TCP/IP protocol even if the database is installed locally. Additional details on enabling TCP/IP using the SQL Server Configuration Manager can be found here. If using a SQL Named Instance, as in the example above, ensure that the SQL Browser Service is enabled and running. Additional details on enabling the SQL Browser Service can be found here.

After I had fixed this, the management server service started without problems and I was able to install the vSphere C# client plugin. You need the plugin to manage FVP, but the plugin installation is only necessary, if you want to use the vSphere C# client. You don’t have to install a dedicated plugin for the vSphere Web Client.

To install the host extension, you can simply import the host extension into the vSphere Update Manager, build a host extension baseline, attach it to the hosts (or the cluster, datacenter object etc.) and remediate them. The hosts will go into the maintenance mode, install the host extension and then exit maintenance mode. A reboot of the hosts is not necessary!

Right after the installation, I created my first FVP cluster. The trial period starts with the installation of the management server. There is no special trial license to install. Simply install the management server and deploy the host extension. Then you have 30 days to evaluate PernixData FVP 2.0.

Both steps, the installation of the host extension using the vSphere Update Manager, as well as the installation of the Management server, are really easy. You can’t configure much, and you don’t need to configure much. You can customize the network configuration (what vMotion network or which ports should be used), you can blacklist VMs and select VADP VMs. Oh, and you can re-enable the “Getting started” started screen. Good for the customer, bad for the guy who’s payed to install FVP. ;) Nothing much to do. But I like it. It’s simple and you can quickly get started.

First impressions

My FVP cluster consists of three hosts. Because I don’t have any SSDs for the moment, I uses host memory to accelerate the workload. During my tests, 15 VMs were covered by FVP and they ran workloads like Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, some Linux VMs, Windows 7 Clients, Fileservices, Microsoft SCOM. I also played with Microsoft Exchange Jetstress 2013 in my lab. A mixed bag of different applications and workloads. A picture says more than a 1000 words. This is a screenshot of the usage tab after about one week. Quite impressive and I can confirm, that FVP accelerates my lab in a noticeable way.

pernixdata_results

Patrick Terlisten/ www.vcloudnine.de/ Creative Commons CC0

I’ve enabled FVP on Monday evening. Check the latency diagram, that I’ve taken from vCenter. See the latencies dropping on Monday evening? The peaks during the week were caused by my tests.

pernixdata_results_02

Patrick Terlisten/ www.vcloudnine.de/ Creative Commons CC0

Final words

Now it’s time to convince my sales colleagues to sell PernixData FVP. Or some customers read this blog post and ask my sales colleagues for PernixData. ;) I am totally convinced of this solution. You can buy PernixData FVP in different editions:

  • FVP Enterprise: No limit on the number of hosts or VMs
  • FVP Subscription: FVP Enterprise purchased using a subscription model
  • FVP Standard: No limit on the number of hosts or VMs. Perpetual license only. No support for Fault Domains, Adaptive Resource Management and Disaster Recovery integration (only in FVP Enterprise).
  • FVP VDI: Exclusively for VDI (priced on a per VM basis)
  • FVP Essentials Plus: FVP Standard that supports 3 hosts and accelerates up to 100 VMs. This product can only be used with VMware vSphere Essentials (Plus).

If you’re interested in a PoC or demo, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I’d like to thank Patrick Schulz, Systems Engineer DACH at PernixData, for his support! I recommend to follow him on Twitter and don’t foget to take a look at his blog.