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Efficient Enterprise

High-Availability
Virtualization with
Dell EqualLogic Arrays
and Microsoft Windows
Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V
By Stanley L. Stevens The Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 Release 2 (R2)
Darren W. Miller
Hyper-V™ platform introduces capabilities designed
Jim Schwartz
to deliver high availability for virtualized data centers.
Integrating a Dell ™ EqualLogic™ PS Series storage
area network into Hyper-V virtualized environments
helps organizations capitalize on new Hyper-V
capabilities, including live migration, hot-add storage,
and storage platform features that enhance usability
and performance.

F
or enterprises in a broad range of fields, virtu- Windows Server 2008 R2 is designed to provide
alization has become a popular IT strategy for ubiquitous SAN connectivity for organizations using
increasing hardware utilization, enhancing flex- existing Ethernet infrastructure and leveraging exist-
ibility, and decreasing power, cooling, and data center ing networking skills and tools.
footprint costs. But while virtualization can offer these Organizations can design an infrastructure sup-
and other benefits, running multiple applications on porting high availability and a robust, reliable shared-
each physical server can place application availability storage solution with built-in redundancy and tight
at risk: if a physical server fails, virtualized applications integration of virtualization management capabilities.
running on that server could become unavailable. In The Microsoft Multipath I/O (MPIO) framework helps
many situations, even temporary downtime for applica- provide high availability and dynamic load balancing
tions can impair worker productivity and jeopardize for SAN devices through redundant network or fabric
revenue. At a university, for example, a network outage connections. MPIO is designed to dynamically route
could prevent administrators from viewing student I/O to the best path and helps protect against
records or researchers from working with data sets. At connection-point failures between a Hyper-V host
a hospital, the inability to access patient records or and shared storage, including network interface cards
medical imaging could delay treatment. and adapters, switches, and array ports.
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2) The Dell EqualLogic Multipath I/O device-specific
with Hyper-V virtualization technology introduces module works with MPIO to provide automated man-
capabilities designed to increase application avail- agement and enhanced end-to-end load balancing
ability and avoid downtime in virtualized environ- for EqualLogic SAN volumes. EqualLogic PS Series
ments. Windows Server 2008 natively supports iSCSI SAN arrays offer a highly automated shared-
Internet SCSI (iSCSI) and Fibre Channel storage area storage foundation for virtualized data centers
networks (SANs). Of the two, iSCSI has a natural affin- that enables organizations to take full advantage
ity for virtualization, and the Microsoft iSCSI Software of the high-availability features incorporated into
Initiator available in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

60 DELL POWER SOLUTIONS | September 2009 Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, September 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
Building a virtualized PowerEdge servers also help simplify hard disk (VHD) files for each VM on iSCSI-
environment the deployment of virtualized server connected disks or create pass-through
Microsoft helped bring virtualization to a environments. This latest generation of disks that are individually owned by the VM.
wide audience when it introduced Windows servers includes a Hyper-V hypervisor so Administrators can use the quick migration
Server 2008 Hyper-V. This platform offers administrators do not have to download and live migration features to move VMs
virtualization capabilities within a cost- and install additional virtualization soft- from one physical server to another in the
effective and familiar Windows® OS–based ware. In addition, the Intel Virtualization event of a planned or unplanned outage.
environment that can extend from the Technology (Intel VT) FlexMigration capa- In addition, iSCSI storage disks can be
desktop to the data center. In addition, the bilities built into the processors allow connected from within the VM itself.
Microsoft System Center management organizations to integrate 11th-generation Support for guest clustering requires run-
suite enables organizations to access a PowerEdge servers featuring the latest ning the Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator
comprehensive array of management tools processing architecture into an environ- within the VM to allow services and features
to help simplify administration of virtual- ment with previous generations of Intel to run in the application context within the
ized environments. Windows Server 2008 Xeon processor–based PowerEdge virtual environment as they do in a physical
R2 extends the capabilities provided in servers. In this way, FlexMigration helps server environment with full visibility by
Windows Server 2008, and Dell servers simplify new deployments and protect the VM—helping provide for the transpar-
and storage arrays are designed to take existing investments. ent operation of all functions because
advantage of these new features. Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V technol- applications can instantiate common work-
For environments virtualized with ogy and PowerEdge servers help ensure flows and data movement from within the
Hyper-V technology, 11th-generation Dell high availability while also providing high VM. These services and features include
PowerEdge™ servers can provide a particu- performance, outstanding scalability, and the cluster service, MPIO, Microsoft Volume
larly robust and reliable hardware founda- simplified management. Additionally, Shadow Copy Service (VSS), hardware
tion. Featuring the Intel® Xeon® processor failover clustering can help provide redun- providers, and Microsoft Virtual Disk
5500 series architecture and designed dancy in the event of a server outage. Service (VDS) hardware providers.
to provide more integrated I/O than Hyper-V technology allows clustering to To take advantage of clustering and the
previous-generation PowerEdge servers, operate from the parent partition of the OS new high-availability capabilities available
11th-generation PowerEdge servers enable and from within individual virtual machines with Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V,
the processing performance, memory band- (VMs) (with iSCSI direct). Connecting to organizations must use shared common
width, and I/O capabilities required to host iSCSI disks from the Hyper-V parent parti- storage with high-performance disks. In
numerous virtualized applications on each tion is designed to work just as it does from many cases, an iSCSI SAN can be a suitable
physical server. Because PowerEdge serv- a physical host, including leveraging all and cost-effective approach, because iSCSI
ers incorporate multiple redundant compo- existing tools and features. On the parent connectivity helps simplify management
nents, they help to deliver high availability partition, MPIO provides high availability to compared with Fibre Channel systems.
for virtualized environments by avoiding shared storage. In this configuration, the
unplanned outages. Hyper-V host can create Microsoft virtual Incorporating Dell
EqualLogic arrays into
the virtual data center
Designed as high-availability virtualized
storage solutions, Dell EqualLogic PS Series
iSCSI SAN arrays can be an excellent fit for
data centers virtualized with Hyper-V tech-
nology. Storage is virtualized in EqualLogic
PS Series arrays, and data volumes are
provisioned automatically from a single
scalable storage pool. The EqualLogic
peer storage architecture enables the
arrays to share resources, evenly distrib-
ute workloads, and provide data protec-
tion for the VMs in virtualized environments.
Resources are applied automatically even
Dell EqualLogic PS Series SAN arrays offer robust storage in Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V environments as VMs and their workloads change.

Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, September 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. DELL.COM/PowerSolutions 61
Efficient Enterprise

EqualLogic PS Series SANs also


enhance application availability and help
protect data. They feature redundant, hot-
swappable components, including power Memory content

supplies, controllers, enclosures, and disk


Source host Destination host
drives, plus disk failover capabilities to
help ensure high availability. Cloning and
replication capabilities are also included VHD

in the firmware of EqualLogic PS Series


SANs, offering advanced data protection
Dell EqualLogic PS Series iSCSI SAN
for virtualized environments.
EqualLogic and Microsoft began work-
ing together in 2002 during the early stages Figure 1. Live migration helps accommodate planned outages without downtime
of iSCSI implementation, and the 2003
releases of the Microsoft iSCSI Software as well as NT File System (NTFS), Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 includes enhanced
Initiator and the first EqualLogic PS Series SQL Server®, and Microsoft Exchange support for iSCSI boot that provides up to
array helped a broad range of organizations data. For Hyper-V, Auto-Snapshot 32 redundant paths and integrated support
to begin deploying SANs in their data cen- Manager / Microsoft Edition provides with Windows setup.
ters. Additionally, Windows storage frame- SmartCopy snapshots of VMs and VHDs. Storage resource monitoring features
works such as MPIO, VSS, and VDS offered Those snapshots can be restored to an in Windows Server 2008 R2 enable IT
tight integration and scalability, automated EqualLogic SAN on a different remote or administrators to efficiently diagnose and
backups, and ease of management for orga- local server for new application usage or gather information on storage I/O perfor-
nizations deploying Microsoft Windows test and development when the applica- mance and storage path health, and to take
Server and EqualLogic SANs. tion supports it. action to move workloads or VMs to other
The EqualLogic PS Series is particu- Hyper-V hosts to help optimize perfor-
larly well suited for supporting Microsoft Innovating shared storage mance and avoid downtime. Storage con-
Windows Server 2008 environments. In platforms figuration reporting gathers and exports
fact, Microsoft has certified the EqualLogic Several new features in Microsoft Windows SAN component information, including the
PS Series for Windows Server 2008 x64 Server 2008 R2 are designed to enhance number of disks connected and multipath
Editions, indicating that it meets Microsoft user experience and performance with parameters. MPIO data center automation
standards for compatibility and best prac- shared storage to benefit virtualized envi- allows administrators to preconfigure mul-
tices. The EqualLogic PS Series has also ronments. The Quick Connect feature allows tipath settings before connecting storage
earned the Microsoft Simple SAN designa- a single-click connection from a system to help automate storage deployment.
tion, which means that it meets a range using the Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator The Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV)
of ease-of-use, ease-of-installation, and to iSCSI storage. The iSCSI user interface is capability—part of the failover cluster fea-
ease-of-management criteria. also now included in Windows Server 2008 ture in Windows Server 2008 R2—enables
Joint Dell and Microsoft efforts to Server Core installations, which provides the access to the same logical unit (LUN) on a
increase IT efficiency and ensure high option of configuring through a lightweight SAN for Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V–
availability have streamlined the process graphical user interface or a command line. based systems. CSV enables administra-
of administering the entire environment Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator perfor- tors to map multiple VMs to a single volume
using Microsoft System Center together mance has been optimized for 10 Gigabit or LUN, supporting live migration of VMs
with the Dell OpenManage™ systems man- Ethernet networks to help deliver wire- from one Hyper-V host to another.
agement suite. This collaboration has speed performance with reduced processor
yielded several capabilities that help sim- utilization. Additionally, Hyper-V includes Managing VMs with
plify IT when using EqualLogic PS Series support for jumbo frames and VM queues live migration
SANs with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. (VMQs), which helps increase iSCSI direct The live migration capability of Microsoft
Dell offers the EqualLogic Auto-Snapshot throughput performance in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V enables
Manager / Microsoft Edition tool to help demanding VM workloads. In addition, as IT administrators to move running VMs
simplify management and deliver high diskless servers continue to emerge, a from one physical host to another without
availability by providing fast online back- growing number of organizations are boot- disrupting service or causing downtime.
ups and rapid restores for Hyper-V VMs ing virtualized servers remotely—and Live migration helps administrators ensure

62 DELL POWER SOLUTIONS | September 2009 Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, September 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.
high availability while performing mainte- EqualLogic PS Series arrays can also pro- Hyper-V introduces several new features
nance on physical servers. Administrators vide seamless scalability for virtualized that help ensure high availability in virtual-
can also create an increasingly dynamic environments. Traditionally, administra- ized environments. Designed to provide
data center by using live migration to help tors needed to take host servers offline to virtualized storage and to protect data
with load balancing. upgrade storage. Windows Server 2008 with a wealth of redundant components,
Live migration complements quick R2 Hyper-V is designed to allow admin- Dell EqualLogic PS Series iSCSI SAN arrays
migration—an existing capability of istrators to add and remove VHDs and can help organizations capitalize on the
Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. Quick pass-through disks in the existing SCSI new capabilities of Hyper-V to help maxi-
migration was designed to save, move, and controller for a running VM without mize availability.
restore VMs to help minimize the impact of requiring downtime. As a result, admin-
downtime during unplanned outages; live istrators can respond quickly to the Stanley L. Stevens is a virtualization solu-
migration provides an easy way to avoid changing storage requirements of VMs tions marketing manager at Dell and a
disruptions during planned maintenance. without causing interruptions. They can 16-year veteran of the IT industry.
To optimize the agility gained from live also deploy mission-critical applications
migration, organizations need to use shared that might call for fast storage growth Darren W. Miller is a product consultant at
storage such as a Dell EqualLogic PS Series and require high availability. Dell and has worked in the storage industry
SAN. Live migration allows VM memory EqualLogic PS Series SANs offer an for over 12 years.
pages to be transferred from the source exceptional fit for this scalable environ-
Hyper-V physical host to the destination ment. The modular design of the EqualLogic Jim Schwartz is director of virtualization
physical host while the source VM draws PS Series helps make adding or removing solutions for Microsoft.
from the shared storage of the SAN (see disk capacity simple. Arrays can be added
Figure 1). Modifications to the VM memory without disrupting operations. By combin-
pages during this process are tracked and ing the Hyper-V hot-add storage capabili-
transferred to the destination server. Hyper-V ties with the EqualLogic PS Series SAN,
then transfers control of the storage for the administrators can create a dynamic envi-
VHD files of the VM to the destination physi- ronment in which they can quickly scale
cal server and brings the destination VM their storage infrastructure or reconfigure
online on the destination physical server. VMs to meet changing requirements. QUICK LINKs
Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V allows
administrators to queue multiple live migra- Bringing high availability
Dell EqualLogic PS Series:
tions without having to keep track of other to the virtual data center
DELL.COM/EqualLogic
migrations within the cluster. To help avoid the risk of running multiple DELL.COM/PSSeries
applications on a reduced number of physi- DELL.COM/PSSeries/Hyper-V
Scaling storage dynamically cal servers, IT administrators must imple- Microsoft Windows Server 2008:
with hot-add storage ment multiple high-availability strategies www.microsoft.com/
windowsserver2008
Working together, Microsoft Windows into their virtual data center environments.
Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Dell Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2

Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, September 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. DELL.COM/PowerSolutions 63