Writing in the Information Week Analytics Blog, Art Whittmann writes this week about a panel discussion on the future of the data center at this week's Interop show in Las Vegas. The panel consisted of leaders from Cisco, Brocade, Juniper and Riverbed, and Art points out that they all agreed on an overlying message -- now is the time to be consolidating servers, networking, storage and even data centers. With the result "a highly responsive environment that takes far fewer resources to manage."
Art then gets into the management aspect of the virtualized data center, and asks if the right vendors ("the usual suspects") are the right ones to handle this new virtualized world. Of course, at Raxco we're often pointing out that one aspect of management that sometimes gets overlooked is defragmentation. And virtualization defragmentation is just as important as physical defrag. Actually, for businesses placing more and more emphasis on virtual solutions such as ESX and Hyper-V, it could be argued that it is even more important than ever. Which is why we have virtual aware defrag solutions with PerfectDisk. The old school defraggers won't cut it in this new world.
Consolidate. Go virtual. And keep on defragmenting to get performance right.
Reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements, and often do. Politics, music, travel, to name a few. And of course, our favorite - defragmentation. And while we naturally feel PerfectDisk gives you the best defrag, what often makes the decision to use PerfectDisk a no brainer is the large amount of functionality beyond disk defragmentation and free space consolidation - PerfectDisk's Space Management component.
From freeing up space consumed by unnecessary files to finding and removing duplicate files to seeing a full view of a drive, many users find these tools invaluable. And the fact that they come included with a top-line defragger is all the better.
Leslie Alder of Austin, Texas writes that she was leaning towards PerfectDisk because she was impressed with the free space consolidation "that other tools I looked at did not address very well. But then I came across the Space Management piece of PerfectDisk and I was sold. I do a lot of video editing and I love being able to clean up my drive. After the cleanup and a defrag, my laptop and desktop run like new."
Keeping on top of all the updates, new versions, and happenings with Windows products, operating systems, drivers and the like is a challenge for everyone. In our labs here, it can be quite a learning experience just to walk through the many stations to see various combinations of software and hardware interaction. I use a combination of our internal R&D labs, official Microsoft and vendor sites, and a wide range of forums and blog sites to try to keep on top of all that's going on.
As we make final preparations for our next PerfectDisk 10 build, I was reviewing the improvements we are making to the PerfectDisk 10 for Windows Home Server installation procedure. I got to thinking that there are some really useful sites for WHS users that are packed with information and even give away WHS-related products from time to time.
For any WHS users, if you aren't already aware of the resources out there, I thought I would list a few:
If you're setting up a Windows Home Server environment, thinking about it, or have one already and just want to keep on top of the latest developments, I've found these to be some great resources. I'm sure there are other favorites; these are just some I've found particularly useful. As always, remember to defrag your WHS environment!
Database and SQL administrators deal with structured data -- defined and preset tables and the like that follow definite patterns and rules. But a lot - or most - of the data that "regular" users are creating and modifying is unstructured. For example, regular text documents, images, and videos and music files don't have a set format. This unstructured data is typically stored outside of the structured database, resulting in extra complexity for the data management. If the data is associated with structured storage, file streaming and performance can take a hit.
FILESTREAM is a new data type available with SQL Server 2008 which allows data to be stored outside of the SQL server data tables and then be handled by NTFS. FILESTREAM integrates the SQL Server Database Engine with an NTFS file system by storing varbinary(max) binary large object (BLOB) data as files on the file system. Transact-SQL statements can insert, update, query, search, and back up FILESTREAM data. FILESTREAM uses the NT system cache for caching file data, helping to reduce any effect that FILESTREAM data might have on database engine performance. The SQL Server buffer pool is not used, leaving this memory available for query processing.
The Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN), of which the PerfectDisk development team is a long-standing member, lists 6 "Best Practices" for FILESTREAM Physical Configuration and Maintenance. Number 2 on the list? "Regularly defragment FILESTREAM computer systems." Another instance where automation -- whether background processing or via an automated schedule -- and defragmentation come together to improve system performance.
If there's one thing worse than the ol' "bait and switch," it's a "bait and cover-up." Or put another way, the devil is in the details.
So from "the other guys" we get the following:
"at the root of virtual machine performance problems is file fragmentation." Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Do we think that fragmentation is the cause of many performance problems? Of course. But we're not going to sit here and tell you there are no other performance considerations in a virtual environment, just as we wouldn't say that for physical environments.
"the only real solution to optimizing virtual machine performance and reliability is a fully automatic defragmenter, one that is constantly taking care of the fragmentation problem." Well. Besides the caveat from above, I would alter it to the following: "the only viable defragmentation solution to optimizing virtual machine performance and reliability is a fully automatic defragmenter that is virtually aware. Without virtual awareness, your defragmenter will very likely do more harm than good."
Here's the deal. As Erwin Solis clearly demonstrated in our recent Webinar on defragmentation in a virtualization environment (ESX, Hyper-V, etc.), automatic defragmentation without virtual awareness is a road to performance problems. Solutions like VMware's vMotion address resource contention at the virtualized machine level. PerfectDisk 10 Server Virtual Edition addresses it at the virtualized software level. There are finite resources to go around. Treating a virtual machine like a physical machine in this environment, with the goal being to try to solve fragmentation and performance problems, is going down the wrong path.
With the PerfectDisk solution, you not only eliminate resource contention, but increase the resources available for your busy virtual machines. Without that awareness, the idle machines are basically stealing resources needed by busy guests, defeating the purpose of what you were trying to accomplish and very likely causing new performance problems. Not smart.
In Erwin's example, he shows a fairly loaded hypervisor with a couple of servers -- one busy and one not. The results without virtual awareness? Not pretty. Or as Erwin puts it, "it's like a man trapped inside a room with no doors; the room looks large, but he doesn't see the reality - he's trapped in his box."
To see and listen to the 30-minute webinar, Defragmentation in a Virtual Environment," go here.
Automatic defragmentation without virtualization is a fool's errand. Test yourself and see.
Get out of the box and see your whole world -- virtual and physical.
It's the third and final installment of our 3-part Webinar series -- Defragmentation in a Virtual Environment. You'll get to see our Virtual Aware defrag in action and see why it matters.You'll see why we say that without it, the potential for performance hits in a virtual environment are significant. If you're running VMware ESX, vMotion, Hyper-V, or any Windows-based host, you'll want to check out this 30-minute presentation. Exchange in a virtual environment is also covered, along with VMware Workstation and VMware Server. Senior technical engineer Erwin Solis presents, with our 5-time Microsoft MVP Greg Hayes handling the interactive questions and answers.
Tuesday, May 5th, 12:00 p.m. EDT, 9:00 a.m. PDT, dinner time in Europe, breakfast time in Australia. Register here.