Storage Spaces Direct Explained – Storage QOS & Networking

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Storage QOS & Networking

Yo everyone…This is going to be a short blog post in this series. I am just covering Networking and Storage QoS as it pertains to S2D. There are the technologies the bind S2D together.

Storage QoS

S2D is using the Storage (QoS) Quality of Service that ships with Windows Server 2016 which provides standard min/max IOPS and bandwidth control. QoS policy can be applied at the VHD, VM, Groups of VMs, or Tenant Level. Benefits include:

  • Mitigate noisy neighbor issues. By default, Storage QoS ensures that a single virtual machine cannot consume all storage resources and starve other virtual machines of storage bandwidth.
  • Monitor end to end storage performance. As soon as virtual machines stored on a Scale-Out File Server are started, their performance is monitored. Performance details of all running virtual machines and the configuration of the Scale-Out File Server cluster can be viewed from a single location
  • Manage Storage I/O per workload business needs Storage QoS policies define performance minimums and maximums for virtual machines and ensures that they are met. This provides consistent performance to virtual machines, even in dense and overprovisioned environments. If policies cannot be met, alerts are available to track when VMs are out of policy or have invalid policies assigned.

Storage QOS & Networking

What’s New in Networking with S2D?

In Windows Server 2016, they added Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) support to the Hyper-V virtual switch.

For those that don’t know what RMDA is it technology that allows direct memory access from one computer to another, bypassing TCP layer, CPU , OS layer and driver layer. Allowing for low latency and high-throughput connections. This is done with hardware transport offloads on network adapters that support RDMA.

Back to Hyper-V virtual switch support for RDMA.  This allows you to configure regular or RDMA enabled vNICs on top of a pair of RDMA capable physical NICs. They also added embedded NIC teaming or Switch Embedded Teaming (SET).

SET is where NIC teaming and the Hyper-V switch is a single entity and can now be used in conjunction with RDMA NICs, wherein Windows 2012 Server you needed to have separate NIC teams for RDMA and Hyper-V Switch.

The images below illustrates the architecture changes between Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016.

Storage QOS & Networking

Storage QOS & Networking

Next up…Management and Operations, Until next time, Rob

 

Nano Server…Revealed

Nano Server

Nano Server

At Microsoft Ignite, I had a chance to meet and talk with Jeff Snover…a great honor…and his latest project “Windows Nano Server” is very cool.  Windows Nano Server is designed to be as lightweight and compact as possible. ‘Nano Server is a deeply refactoring version of Windows Server with a small footprint and remotely managed installation, optimised for the cloud and a DevOps workflow,‘ as quoted by Jeffrey Snover, Andrew Mason and Alan Back in a joint blog post. ‘It is designed for fewer patch and update events, faster restarts, better resource utilization and tighter security.

The result: as compared to the equivalent Windows Server build, Nano Server offers a 93 percent reduction in storage requirements, 92 percent fewer critical security bulletins, and 80 percent fewer reboots during operation. This is great for Security and Network Admins….I spent a lot of nights during my times as a network admin around patching and worry about what might blow up and this is a welcome change, especially for a Hyper-V environment 😉  Go Microsoft…

Nano Server

Naturally, those benefits come at a cost. ‘To achieve these benefits, we removed the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components,‘ the team explained. ‘There is no local logon or Remote Desktop support. All management is performed remotely via WMI and PowerShell. We are also adding Windows Server Roles and Features using Features on Demand and DISM.‘ Despite this, Nano Server remains API-compatible with other Windows Server variants – meaning it should, in theory, be relatively straightforward to port applications across to the platform.

Also, It ships with the baseline version of .NET called CoreCLR, which Microsoft in recent months made open source. The OS does not contain the binaries or metadata that typically increase the footprint and developers are expected to package applications along with dependencies in a single unit of deployment.

Core PowerShell, a minimalistic version of PowerShell refactored to run on CoreCLR, provides Remote management capabilities and Nano Server can be installed on physical hardware or virtualised infrastructure.

When Windows Server starts supporting Docker, Nano Server stands to become the become the preferred OS to run containers.

Nano Server

Windows Nano Server won’t be for everyone. Microsoft has indicated that it is targeting two prime markets for the new OS: cloud applications, which includes the ability to run multiple languages and runtimes in containers, virtual machines or physical servers; and of course its own Cloud Platform infrastructure, with support for Hyper-V compute clusters and Scale-out File Server storage clusters. It’s in virtualization where the biggest benefits will be found: with each virtual machine requiring only seven percent the storage space of previous Windows Server instances and consuming considerably fewer resources while running, the overhead of running a virtualized infrastructure is considerably lessened.

Flexibility is key to delivering a modern data center, and by using the combination of Nano Server and its new container technology Microsoft is making a big shift away from its previous monolithic server model to one that’s more aligned with the way we deliver cloud-scale services. That does mean that Nano Server won’t be for everyone. Customers are going to have to have made the shift to a DevOps model, and to using cloud-scale data center infrastructure practices of which I am a big believer in and frankly why I work for Nutanix.

Microsoft has not yet offered a release date or licensing information for Windows Nano Server. Beta bits are available via MSDN on the Windows Server Technical Preview 2 media. Instructions can be found here to get started, if you want to check it out.

In conclusion, with Nano Server, Microsoft stands a chance to blow them all out the water with keeping Windows relevant in the era of linux, containers and microservices.