Storage Basics – Part VI: Storage Workload Characterization

Most of what I covered in Storage Basics Parts 1 through 5 was at a very elementary level.  The math I used to do IOPS calculations, for example, is only true under very certain conditions.  RAID controllers implement caching and other techniques that skew the simple math that I provided.  I mentioned that the type of interface that you ought to use on your storage array should not be randomly chosen.  In fact, choosing the right array with the appropriate components and characteristics can only be done when you enlighten your decision with a characterization of workloads it will be … [Read more...]

Storage Basics – Part V: Controllers, Cache and Coalescing

My Storage Basics series has been neglected for some time (sick kids, snow storms, VMware Upgrades, SAN implementations and some Cisco switch upgrades took all my free time), so let's jump right in to Part V - Cache, Controllers, and Coalescing.   Between the alliteration and fancy words, it might seem like I am about to tell a tale of international espionage.  Unfortunately, my introductory treatment of these aspects of a storage system will probably not keep you on the edge of your seat - but I'll try to keep it interesting. Throughout this series, we've been working our way from the … [Read more...]

Installing PowerPath/VE using VMware Update Manager

I am finishing up an installation of an EMC Clariion CX4 SAN. One of the final steps of the installation is to configure PowerPath/VE on the ESXi hosts. PowerPath/VE is EMC's multipathing extension module for VMware (and Hyper-V), designed to replace the Native Multipathing Plugin (NMP) for increased I/O performance and failover management.  To simplify and automate the installation of PowerPath/VE, I decided to use VMware Update Manager (VUM) to push the extension to the ESXi 4.x hosts in the environment. The process of setting up an additional VUM patch repository to host PowerPath/VE … [Read more...]

ESXTOP Batch Mode Analysis with Windows Perfmon

I needed to grab some stats from my ESX hosts for off-line analysis so I fired up my trusty ESXTOP intent on using batch mode to capture a .csv formatted output.  I started to manually select the counters I was interested in while working in ESXTOP interactive mode (you can save your selected counters to the esxtop configuration file with the 'w' command) and thought that there must be a better way.  I found that better way in the VMware Performance Community:  There is now a -a switch that can be used to include ALL performance counters.  I'm … [Read more...]

Balloon Driver Problems with SQL

I have been meaning to write this up for a while; Scott Drummonds' 'Love Your Balloon Driver' post today at his Virtual Performance blog gave me a nice reminder.  I actually caught a sneak peak at the graphs with an explanation from Scott at his instructor-led lab at VMworld 2009.  Scott calls out that the only workload they discovered suffers from balloon driver activity is Java.  The reason for Java's problems with balloon driver activity is that Java itself runs in a VM and so the guest OS cannot properly determine which pages should be swapped out when the balloon driver calls for … [Read more...]