IT organizations have started to deploy server virtualization technology in data center because it brings benefits such as server consolidation, capability elasticity, resource pooling, and server high availability. As a critical component of server virtualization enabling these benefits, FC SAN is used by the majority of data centers due to its performance and robust reliability. Brocade, NetApp, and Oracle jointly developed a validated configuration for OVM. The Brocade/NetApp configuration consists of:
2 X SuperMicro 2 Quad core AMD servers with 16G memory
2 X Brocade 825 8Gb dual port PCIe FC
Brocade 340 FC switch
NetApp FAS 3140
In this blog, I will address the values of FC SAN and the advantages of Brocade technologies to server virtualization followed by a brief introduction of OVM and NetApp product features.
The values of FC SAN to server virtualization
The values of FC SAN that bring to a virtualized environment are summarized in the following:
Data resiliency and disaster recovery - Having all data stored on a SAN can greatly facilitate remote storage of data backups. One can restart virtual machines on remote VM for recovery if his site is compromised. A user can store data redundantly and configures multiple FC fabrics with multipath IO to eliminate a single point of failure.
Resource flexibility – In a virtualized environment, CPU and memory are shared resources among VMs. A VM image stored in a FC SAN enables a user to unilaterally provision computing resources, such as server CPU and storage, as needed. FC SAN also exposes the inherent built-in automatic load balancing of server virtualization with the dynamic provisioning capability.
Capability elasticity – When SAN is used, capability can be rapidly and elastically provisioned to quickly scale out and rapidly released in according to user demand. The user can develop a self-tuning system that dynamically provision VMs based on this capability elasticity feature.
Management simplicity - If shared storage is on the SAN, the datacenter administrator can perform maintenance without interruptions to the user by live migrating a VM to other servers. The administrator at start reserves a large LUN using FC SAN. When additional storage is needed, portions of the LUN can be allocated to virtual machines to meet storage requirement.
Better performance – FC SAN helps to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for mission-critical applications by extending QoS to applications. FC QoS enables individual traffic flows to be specifically configured, prioritized, and optimized from end-to-end throughout the data center. Thus application performance is ensured and VM becomes more scalable.
Brocade FC products have unique values.
As a leader of FC product provider, Brocade has some unique technologies that enable its product to add values to server virtualization:
Quality of service (QoS) - Brocade Server Application Optimization (SAO) enables mission critical application and virtual machines to share a single HBA while meeting performance requirements. SAO uses dedicated hardware-based Virtual Channels (VCs) per virtual port for flexible allocation of resources. This allows Brocade HBAs to provide per port granularity control of traffic flow into VMs. From the virtual machine through the fabric to the storage port, Brocade provides the only true end-to-end QoS available today.
Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) – DCFM provides easy, centralized management of the SAN, as well as quick access to all product configuration applications. Using DCFM, one can configure, manage, and monitor his storage networks with ease. The highlights of DCFM are:
High Availability - Proactively anticipate network congestion, Eliminate human error through automation, Proactive monitoring
Unified management - HBA/CNA management with VM support, FC, FCoE/CEE, FCIP, FICON, FCR, Third-party integration
FCoE/CEE – The converged FCoE/CEE technology allows the organizations to extend the reliability and network services of FC to a broader range of server environments, reducing the cost and complexity for customers implementing a virtualized data center. Brocade takes an evolutionary approach by offering a choice of products with the most flexibility for deploying FCoE in a current infrastructure thus minimizing risk and allowing storage network administrators to plan for FCoE while taking advantage of existing FC infrastructure.
Superior performance –Multiple third party tests have validated Brocade HBA’s superior performance over competitors. Brocade relies on third party testing to prove performance as compared to our competition that use in-house testing as the basis for their claims.
N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) – NPIV is an extension to the FC standard that enables a single physical Host Bus Adapter (HBA) port to register multiple World Wide Port Names (WWPNs) with the fabric. When used with FC Zoning, NPIV delivers security and QoS to each VM.
OVM is high performance, low cost, and tightly integrated.
Oracle VM (OVM) is a Xen-based hypervisor with Oracle enhanced virtual machine manager. OVM provides a low cost, efficient virtualization alternative to current market leader. It supports Windows, Linux, and Solaris guest operating systems. Oracle provides a list of VM Templates for a quick deployment of an integrated, tested, and configured stack.
To enable an easy, fast, and low cost deployment of OVM, Oracle publishes a list of validated configurations for OVM. The program offers pre-tested, validated architectures, with documented best practices to help improve the performance, scalability, and reliability of solutions. With Brocade’s unique FC value propositions, it is not surprised to see that Brocade’s FC products are widely used in many OVM’s validated configurations
The Brocade/NetApp/OVM solution provides many benefits.
With OVM, one can leverage the x86 based servers and virtualization to provide a low cost and proven environment for maximizing development and testing efficiency. By utilizing Brocade FC products, one gets not only the FC reliability and performance but added manageability with DCFM, QoS, NPIV, and the converged FCoE/CEE technologies. The NetApp storage ensures quick disaster recovery, redundancy, and integrity of data. The jointly validated configuration provides a cost-effective, proven, risk-reduced, high performance and reliable solution that meet the data center requirements.