News | March 20, 2012

VDI Boot Storms Do A Disappearing Act With Avere

Testing shows NAS Optimization more effective at eliminating boot storms than upgrades to NAS filers

Avere Systems recently announced that testing of its FXT Series proves that NAS Optimization provides the fastest boot times when compared to traditional disk-based filers.

Testing of up to 145 Virtual Machines (VMs) scattered across multiple ESXi servers each using a single datastore on an entry-level Avere FXT 2550 maintained consistently fast sub 90-second boot times. By comparison, a similar workload on a filer from NetApp, the leader in traditional disk-based systems, revealed VM boot times 113 percent longer with as few as 16 VMs booting simultaneously on a FAS2050 filer. In addition, upgrading to a higher performance disk-based system, a NetApp FAS3240, showed marginal improvement when compared to the entry-level system.

"Using the Avere FXT dashboard analytics, we were able to determine that booting a Windows 7 64-bit system with 16GB VMDK and 2GB of memory requires approximately 340MB of ‘hot data,'" said Bernhard Behn, Principal Technical Marketing Engineer at Avere. "The faster you can serve up that 340MB of data, the faster the virtual machine will boot; however, booting several hundred VMs in parallel will cause storage to thrash — resulting in much longer boot times for all users. Avere's dynamic tiering algorithms assure that this workload scales linearly as VMs are added to the environment, providing large-scale boot storm relief without having to upgrade your NAS storage."

Most storage systems are sized to support steady-state virtual machine operation because sizing for worst case boot storm load would significantly increase the ownership cost of the storage system due to over-provisioned NAS performance. Avere's write-caching technology also optimizes steady-state VM operation where up to 80 percent of the operations are writes. Absorbing peak VM Hypervisor writes to the datastores and coalescing them into aggregated writes minimizes the load placed on the NFS storage and provides relief for boot storms generated by multiple VMS booting in parallel.

A real-world example of Avere providing boot storm relief can be found at the Belchertown School District in Massachusetts, which suffered from performance issues plaguing its NetApp FAS2000 disk-based system due to boot storms that occurred at the beginning of every class period. The school district was able to quickly add an Avere FXT two-node cluster to the existing storage environment and solve its boot storm problem in a non-disruptive and cost-effective manner.

"Booting an operating system is an I/O-intensive process," said Ron Bianchini, Avere President and CEO. "Doing so in a VDI environment, when hundreds of users may be trying to access a shared datastore at the same time, is exponentially disruptive. Administrators that run into performance problems in a VDI environment are often told to upgrade to a higher performance filer, but our testing shows this is not the best solution to the problem. With Avere you get instant relief without requiring an upgrade to the next class of storage, plus the ability to add more nodes as needed for unlimited performance scaling."

Avere's FXT 2550 contains DRAM and NVRAM to accelerate the read, write and metadata performance of hot data, or data that is currently most active. Each unit also contains SAS HDDs to store a large working set of warm data, or data that was recently hot and/or likely to become hot soon. The key to Avere FXT's performance advantage is that user data is dynamically allocated among the various media types in real-time, allowing the faster media to absorb the added load of the boot storm. 10Gb and 1Gb Ethernet interfaces are provided for connectivity to traditional disk-based storage systems, which store cold or not recently accessed data, and application clients and servers through standard Ethernet network switches.

About Avere Systems
Avere Systems brings to the market NAS Optimization solutions designed specifically to scale performance and capacity separately and take advantage of new storage media using real-time tiering. Avere's products allow organizations to achieve unlimited application performance scaling, free applications from the confines of the data center by eliminating latency and cut storage costs by more than half. For more information, visit www.averesystems.com.

SOURCE: Avere Systems

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