Bringing Simplicity, Scalability, and Resiliency to Nutanix AHV Protection

Traditional data center infrastructure has many separate silos of compute, storage, networking, and virtualization resources. Procurement, deployment, and management of these separate components are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Legacy enterprise data protection and recovery typically consists of complicated and expensive products and solutions. Today, with new types of applications driving more and more digital business, modernizing and protecting your data center, extending it to the cloud, and developing for the cloud have never been more important. 

The Nutanix Acropolis operating system is a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform with built-in virtualization, Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). Nutanix AHV is native, enterprise-grade virtualization, and is included with Enterprise Cloud OS. 

Bringing Cohesity DataPlatform together with Nutanix AHV enables you to protect the virtual machines that run on Nutanix AHV. Cohesity DataPlatform employs the Nutanix API to deliver protection using a snapshot-based, incremental-forever backup approach on a scalable, resilient platform that provides a single pane for backup, granular recovery, disaster recovery, cloud archive, and cloud tiering.

Some of the advantages of this solution include:

  • An API-first architecture that eliminates the need for proxies and agents.
  • A snapshot-based workflow provides a granular control.
  • Incremental-forever backups capture, move, and store only changed data, reducing ingress and egress costs.
  • Distributed, parallel, and workload-optimized ingest.

Cohesity DataPlatform integrates seamlessly with Nutanix AHV. You can register Nutanix Prism as a protection source. After registration, Cohesity DataPlatform auto-discovers Nutanix cluster nodes, VMs, and vDisks. Users can define Protection Policies for backup, replication, and archival that are based on business needs.

Both Cohesity and Nutanix provide hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) that delivers simple, efficient, and cost-effective ways to keep data and applications safe. Cohesity DataPlatform is specifically designed and engineered to provide services to organizations with an entirely new and modern approach for data protection and recovery. This solution brings a snapshot-based, incremental-forever backup approach on a scalable and powerful platform for your Nutanix AHV backups.

If you are a Cohesity customer or interested in using Cohesity DataPlatform for your AHV environment,  ask Cohesity sales engineers about Nutanix AHV Solution Guide.

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SimpliVity OmniStack Virtual Desktop Design and Sizing Guidelines

With SimpliVity OmniStack, you can start small with as few as two OmniStack nodes (for storage HA) and grow the environment as needed. This provides the flexibility of starting with a small scale proof of concept and growing to large scale production without guessing the workload and purchasing up front.

The following section covers the OmniStack, XenDesktop, infrastructure and network design guidelines for  XenDesktop and XenApp deployments on SimpliVity OmniStack.

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Citrix XenDesktop 7.X Design Guidelines

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Sizing

Compute, Storage, and Network resources for each infrastructure VM were selected using Citrix best practices as a baseline and modified based on their observed performance on the OmniStack systems.

 

OmniStack Servers – Two 5-host vSphere Clusters comprised of OmniStack Integrated Solution with Cisco UCS C240 M4 systems to support the Office Worker desktop workload.

The following design patterns were observed:

  • Limit physical CPU to virtual CPU oversubscription
  • Do not overcommit memory

Limit physical CPU to virtual CPU oversubscription

The table below shows steps on how to calculate useable physical CPU:

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Memory Calculation

In this configuration, each OmniStack system has 384GB or 512GB of available physical memory. We used 384GB memory for hosted shared desktops and 512GB for hosted desktops. The table below shows steps on how to calculate useable physical memory:

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Storage

For infrastructure, a single datastore per server is recommended to ensure even SimpliVity storage distribution across cluster members. This is less important in a 2 OmniStack server configuration; however, following this best practice guideline will ensure a smooth transition to a 3+ node OmniStack environment, should the environment grow over time. This best practice has been proven to deliver better storage performance and is highly encouraged.

For desktops, an equal number of SimpliVity datastores to the number of OmniStack systems in each vSphere Cluster were deployed. In this 5+5 Federation configuration, five SimpliVity datastores were created for each vSphere Cluster. This is done to more evenly distribute storage load across the OmniStack systems in the vSphere Cluster, as well as increase the likelihood any given desktop has locality with its VMDK disk.

Each datastore contains a virtual machine template and write cache files for every virtual machine. The write cache file contains all disk writes of a target device when using a write-protected vDisk (Standard Image).

Networking – The following best practices were utilized in the vSphere networking design:

  • Segregate OVC networking from ESXi host and virtual machine network traffic
  • Leverage 10GbE where possible for OVC and virtual machine network traffic

These best practices offer the highest network performance to VMs running on OmniStack 3.0. Taking this into consideration, a single vSphere Standard Switch is deployed for management traffic, and a single vSphere Distributed Switch is deployed for the remaining traffic, including:

  • Virtual Machines
  • SimpliVity Federation
  • SimpliVity Storage
  • vMotion
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VDI Without Compromise with SimpliVity OmniStack and Citrix XenDesktop

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After 2 month LoginVSI extensive tests, I finally published this performance white paper.

This white paper documents the results of SimpliVity-led testing to provide evidence of these efficiency gains on Citrix XenDesktop. Two Citrix XenDesktop provisioning methods, Machine Creation Services (MCS) and Provisioning Server (PVS), were used during the tests. All performance testing utilized Login VSI (http://www.loginvsi.com), the industry-standard load testing solution for virtualized desktop environments, and all testing configurations and results have been validated by Login VSI. These tests offer insight in to the latest performance results of Citrix XenDesktop 7.6 on SimpliVity OmniStack 3.0.

Summary of Results

The performance testing illustrates SimpliVity’s ability to deliver an excellent end-user experience in VDI deployments as the environment scales.

Highlights include:

1. Performance at scale: Consistent, very low VSIMax Average < 2000ms measured throughout XenDesktop Hosted Shared deployments and Hosted Desktop deployments.

2. Reduce capacity and IO requirement: Inline deduplication and compression rate above 20:1.

3. With four (4) SimpliVity nodes on Hosted Shared Desktop deployments, 800 users can be supported with MCS and 1200 users can be supported with PVS RAM Cache option.

4. With four (4) SimpliVity nodes on Hosted Desktop deployments, 600 users can be supported with MCS and 800 users can be supported with PVS RAM cache option.

5. PVS “write cache on RAM with overflow to disk” option can almost eliminate IOPS.

 

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SimpliVity Citrix XenDesktop Reference Architecture

SimpliVity has built reference architecture by implementing a 4 nodes SimpliVity OmniStack as a building block. With SimpliVity solution, it is flexible to start a small Pod and scale out to thousands virtual desktops. OmniStack systems are clustered together to form pool of shared compute (CPU and memory), storage and network resources. VMWare vSphere 5.5u2 and Citrix XenDesktop 7.6 were used to provide a high performance, easy to scale and resilient virtual desktop solution.

The building block includes:

  • SimpliVity OmniStack with 4 Cisco C240-M4SX based 2 Intel Xeon E5-2697 v3 CPU core 2.6 Ghz and each 384GB RAM with module speed 2133 MHz for desktop workloads
  • 2 SimpliVity OmniCubes with 2 Dell PowerEdge R730 16 core 2.6GHz CPU and 256GB RAM for management workloads
  • 1TB datastores for desktop workloads; 2TB datastores for server workloads
  • 10GbE networking
  • Windows 7 SP1 for XenDesktop hosted desktops
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 for XenDesktop hosted shared servers
  • N+1 design for management workloads and infrastructure where possible

architecture

Machine Creation Service Datastore configuration:

4 x 2TB NFS datastores were used. The best practice is to create one storage group per datastore and create VMs equally cross the storage group. XenDesktop clones the master image to each datastore. Each VM has its won folder. There is a diff (delta) disk and ID disk for each VM. For MCS-based VMs, all writes goes to the diff disk. This disk can be either persistent (dedicated static desktops) or non-persistent (pooled desktops). The ID Disk is always persistent and 6MB in size. ID disk contains the identity data for example computer name or AD account and password. This information is merged into the operating system during reboot.

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PVS Datastore configuration

Each datastore contains a VM template and write cache files for every VM. Write cache file contains all disk writes of a target device when using a write-protected vDisk (Standard Image).

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Office Worker Virtual Machine Configuration

Attribute Hosted Desktop   Hosted Shared Desktop
Operating System Windows 7 SP1 64-bit Windows Server 2012
Number of vCPUs 1 5
Memory ( MCS ) 1.5GB 20GB
Virtual Disk – VMDK 25GB 60GB
SCSI Controller VMware Paravirtual VMware Paravirtual
NIC vendor and model

Number of ports/NIC x speed

VMXNET3

1x 10 Gigabit Ethernet

VMXNET3

1x 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Summary of Results

The performance testing illustrates SimpliVity’s ability to deliver an excellent end user experience in VDI deployments as the environment scales. Highlights include:

  1. Performance at scale: Consistent, very low latency < 2000ms measured throughout XenDesktop hosted shared deployments and hosted desktop deployments.
  2. Reduce capacity and IO requirement: Inline deduplication and compression rate above 20:1.
  3. With 4 OmniStack nodes on hosted shared desktop deployments, 800 users can be supported with MCS and 1200 users can be supported with PVS RAM Cache option.
  4. With 4 OmniStack nodes on hosted desktop deployments, 600 users can be supported with MCS and 800 users can be supported with PVS RAM cache option.
  5. Boot time for 40 hosted shared VM is 7 minutes and 800 hosted VM is 16 minutes.
  6. PVS “write cache on RAM with overflow to disk” option can almost eliminate IOPS.

Utilizing Simplivity OmniStack hyperverged infrastructure dramatically simplies IT systems management. OmniStack’s Data Virtualization Platform delivers industry-leading data efficiency, global unified management and built-in data protection. For VDI environments, Simplivity provides an unmatched user experience without compromising desktop density or resiliency.

 

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The future is now: Hyper-converged Infrastructure

The data center technology has been changing. We have gone through standalone server, shared storage, virtualization, flash and now hyperconverged infrastructure. Traditional data centers have diff…

Source: The future is now: Hyper-converged Infrastructure

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The future is now: Hyper-converged Infrastructure

The data center technology has been changing. We have gone through standalone server, shared storage, virtualization, flash and now hyperconverged infrastructure.

Traditional data centers have different IT groups to manage server, network and storage.  Customers are asking for central management, less moving parts, quick deployment and linear scale out. Hyperconverged infrastructure made it possible to merge these silo systems and management structure.  Customers can  purchase and get support from one vendor.

SimpliVity OmniStack is a software-defined hyper-converged infrastructure solution. OmniStack runs on x86 industry standard servers to deliver turnkey hyper-converged infrastructure for the software-defined data center. Clustering multiple OmniStack-powered hyperconverged infrastructure units forms a shared resource pool and delivers high availability, mobility, and efficient scaling of performance and capacity.

SimpliVity OmniStack assimilates all IT infrastructure and services below the hypervisor into a single, scalable 2U building block. Two or more instances of OmniStack-powered hyperconverged building blocks deployed together form a federation—delivering a massively-scalable pool of shared resources. The solution runs on commodity servers OEMed by SimpliVity under the SimpliVity OmniCube brand name and with third-party servers, including Cisco UCS  and Lenovo System X servers, under the SimpliVity OmniStack name.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.23.29 PM

An individual OmniStack node includes:

  •  OVC – OmniCube Virtual Controller – A virtual machine is deployed and pinned to the host servicing an NFS datastore to the ESXi kernel. OVC uses DirectPath I/O for the local SCSI controller and the OA. Manages all aspects of SVTFS file system. Maintains a read cache in OVC’s memory. Multiple OVCs in a VMware Datacenter present a unified namespace of storage across all OmniCubes within that Datacenter as a vSphere Datastore.
  •  OA – OmniStack Accelerator – Acknowledges writes, performs data efficiency operations, manages metadata and works with OVC to store metadata in the SSD pool. DRAM is used for transient data. Super capacitors are used to de- stage DRAM to Flash in the event of a power failure.
  •  Cache and Metadata SSD Pool – SSD drives (number and sizes vary based on OC model) protected with RAID1 or RAID5 using a local SCSI controller – provides read cache and metadata storage.
  •  Capacity Pool – HDD drives (number and sizes vary based on OC model) protected with RAID6 using a local SCSI controller.

You can modular scale out your virtual desktop and application deployments with hyper-converged infrastructure which has three unique attributes: accelerated data efficiency, built-in data protection functionality and global unified management capabilities.

  • Deliver highly optimized storage using inline deduplication and compression
  • Policy based data management for each virtual machine
    • VM can be backed inside or between data centers
    • Allow any sized application to be backed up immediately
  • Embedded storage management in virtual center
    • Single console to manage storage, network and server
    • Leverage existing  data centers and clusters to define failure domains
  • High availability
    • Add or remove nodes without downtime and interruption

 

Next blog I would like to share hyper-converged infrastructure with virtual desktop deployment.

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