Condusiv Technologies Blog

Condusiv Technologies Blog

Blogging @Condusiv

The Condusiv blog shares insight into the issues surrounding system and application performance—and how I/O optimization software is breaking new ground in solving those issues.

Caching Is King

by Gary Quan 29. July 2019 06:43

Caching technology has been around for quite some time, so why is Condusiv’s patented IntelliMemory® caching so unique that it outperforms other caching technology and has been licensed by other top OEM PC and Storage vendors? There are a few innovations that make it stand above the others. 

The first innovation is the technology to determine what data to put and keep in cache for the best performance gains on each system. Simple caching methods place recently read-in data into the cache with the hopes that this data will be read again so it can be satisfied from cache. Ok, but far from efficient and optimal. IntelliMemory takes a more heuristic approach using two main factors. One, in the background, it is determining what data is getting read most often to ensure a high cache hit rate and two, using analytics, IntelliMemory knows that certain data patterns will provide better performance gains than others. Combining these two factors, IntelliMemory will use your valuable memory resources to get the optimal caching performance gains for each individual system. 

Another important innovation is the dynamic determination of how much of the system’s valuable memory resource to use. Unlike some caching technologies that require you to allocate a specific amount of memory for caching, IntelliMemory will automatically use just what is available and not being used by other system and user processes.   And if any system or user processes need  the memory, IntelliMemory dynamically gives it back so there is never a memory contention issue.  In fact, IntelliMemory always leaves a buffer of memory available, at least 1.5 GB at a minimum. For example, if there is 4GB available memory in the system, IntelliMemory will use at most 2.5GB of this and will dynamically release it if any other processes need it, then use it again when it becomes available.  That’s one reason we trademarked the phrase Set It and Forget It® 

Developments like these put IntelliMemory caching above all others.  That’s why, when combined with our patented IntelliWrite® technology, we’ve helped millions of customers achieve 30-50% or more performance gains on their Windows systems.  Frankly, some people think it’s magic, but if you’ll pardon my assertion, it’s really just innovative thinking.

Windows 8 Released

by Alex Klein 29. October 2012 05:35

Microsoft officially released the next version of Windows last week – Windows 8. While this new release contains various technological advancements, issues with I/O performance and its effect on Windows systems still remains.

Every I/O operation that occurs takes a measureable amount of time. There’s no such thing as an instant I/O request, and simply put, the more I/Os necessary, the longer it will take for Windows to complete a particular task. 

To understand why this is still an issue on Windows 8 and even Windows Server 2012, let’s explore a bit deeper. When data is written within the Windows file system, it is naturally written in a non-optimized way. Thus when an application requests the data, the initial I/O request generally gets broken down and  splits into many additional requests (called split I/Os), and thus increases the time necessary to retrieve the information. So, as this activity naturally occurs on a daily basis, it takes more and more I/O requests and increasingly impacts the performance of your servers and workstations. 

The Windows built-in optimization tool, which is set to run on a weekly basis, attempts to handle the mounting I/O traffic, but that’s after you’ve already experienced the performance impact in the first place. For example, say I’m working on a project on a Tuesday afternoon – how is running the built-in optimization utility on Wednesday going to address this concern?

Proactive Windows I/O acceleration is the key to successful operations and improved response time to users and this is why Condusiv Technologies created our Diskeeper product. Diskeeper’s InvisiTasking and IntelliWrite technologies helps prevent the vast majority of extra I/O requests from occurring and does so without taking any additional resources from the system or other applications. This ensures that you get the least number of I/Os to go to the storage and allows your applications to run that much faster. 

 
In fact, recent independent testing by openBench labs shows up to 98% few I/O requests, server throughput increased by 130% and data throughput up to 5X faster on workstations. You can read more of this report here.

The New Age of Application and Storage Performance Software Is Here

by Alex Klein 5. June 2012 03:50

Condusiv Technologies announced today worldwide availability of the next generation in application and storage performance software – Diskeeper 12. Condusiv has long been a leader in data performance solutions for millions of Windows®-based systems for over 30 years. From boosting application performance to extending hardware life and reducing IT traffic, Condusiv offerings ensure massive benefits on Windows servers, workstations and laptops. The latest release in this category is no exception.

Whether you’re running Windows XP or Windows 7, using SSD hard drives or accessing SANs, traditional approaches to defragmentation just aren’t going to cut it anymore. You have to take a new approach - you have to be proactive and you have to be automatic. Simply put – you need Diskeeper 12

“Condusiv Technologies Corporation, winner six times in a row, is unrelenting in its dominance of this category.” – 2011 Reader’s Choice Award: Best Disk Defragmentation and Drive Monitoring Tool, Redmond Magazine

When files are created, deleted, or modified, they can be broken up and scattered around a volume instead of written in one place. This makes retrieving information like trying to read a book whose pages are out of order, and it can quickly overwork the operating system and storage devices.

The best cure for a problem is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Diskeeper 12 prevents fragmentation at the Windows level, allowing an application and storage system to write or read at peak performance – with one contiguous access – improving drive performance while extending the drive’s useful life.

All editions of Diskeeper 12 feature the breakthrough IntelliWrite® technology, which prevents the vast majority (up to 85% or more) of fragmentation from ever occurring.

InvisiTasking® technology has been redesigned in Diskeeper 12 to be more assertive in I/O active environments while still maintaining invisible processing. The enhancements will allow Diskeeper to accomplish more defragmentation and resolve it faster (e.g., Instant Defrag™), during typical production workloads.

In addition, Diskeeper 12 adds a host of new features:

-          HyperBoot®New

o   HyperBoot technology has been incorporated into Diskeeper to improve system boot time.

-          CogniSAN™New

o   Technology that detects external resource usage within a shared storage system, such as a SAN, and allows for transparent optimization by never competing for resources utilized by other systems over the same storage infrastructure without intruding in any way into SAN-layer operations. (Server editions only)

-          Disk HealthNew

o   This feature monitors hard disk for S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) data to generate alerts and provides a disk health report, warns of critical problems or an imminent disk failure, generates by email.

-          System MonitoringNew

o   System Monitoring collects system environment activity and provides reporting on key elements. This includes statistical data about system I/O usage, disk state, and Diskeeper effectiveness. The option to send data for analysis at Condusiv Technologies also exists, providing a summary of the statistical data gathered for system performance monitoring purposes.

-          Space Reclamation engineNew

o   Allows the user to manually or automatically zero out unused space from thin provisioned volumes on SAN and disk array storage.

-          Enhanced HyperFast® with TRIM

o   A solid state drive optimizer is a proven optimizing technology for Solid State Drives (SSDs), providing faster performance and longer lifespan.

-          Titan Defrag Engine™ technology

o   The most powerful defrag engine ever built. Designed to meet ever growing storage demands on servers, Titan defragments volumes with massive amounts of data rapidly and thoroughly. Titan is included in the Server edition.

-          Terabyte Volume Engine® technology

o   Rapidly defragments multi-terabyte volumes. This engine, included in the Diskeeper 12 Professional edition, addresses the need to keep these systems running at top speed as the storage capacity of desktop systems increases.

 

Figure 1 A glimpse of the new look and feel in Diskeeper.

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Evaluating IntelliWrite In Your Environment

by Damian 1. March 2012 10:18

IntelliWrite technology has been around for about two years now, optimizing literally millions of systems worldwide. It seamlessly integrates with Windows, delivering optimized writes upon initial I/O (no need for additional, after-the-fact file movement). What does that translate to? Actual fragmentation prevention.

Interestingly, we do occasionally get asked how it bears up against modern storage technologies:

“Don’t the latest SANs optimize themselves?”

“Do I really need this on my VMs? They aren’t physical hard drives, you realize…”

Or even…

“I don’t need to defragment my SAN-hosted VMs.”

Now, there are some factors which must be considered when you’re looking at optimizing I/O in your infrastructure:

  • I/O from Windows is just abstracted Reads and Writes from a higher layer, even directly over a bare metal disk.
  • Due to the way current Windows file systems are structured, I/O can be greatly constrained by file fragmentation—no matter what storage lies underneath it.
  • Fragmentation in Windows means more I/O requests from Windows—even if files are stored perfectly contiguously at the SAN level, Windows still has to send X amount of requests because of the fragmentation that it sees within its top level.
  • File fragmentation is not the same as block-level (read: SAN-level) fragmentation. Many SAN utilities resolve issues of block-level fragmentation admirably; these do not address file fragmentation.
  • Finally, and as noted above, IntelliWrite prevents fragmentation in real time by improving Windows “Best Fit” file write logic. This means solving file fragmentation issues with no additional writes which could create issues with SAN de-dup or various copy-on-write data redundancy measures.

We performed testing with a customer recently in order to validate the benefits of IntelliWrite over cutting-edge storage. This customer’s SAN array is less than a year old, and while we don’t want to go into specifics in order to avoid seeming partial, it’s from one of today’s leading SAN vendors.

Testing involved apples to apples comparison on a production VM hosted over the SAN. A non-random workload was generated 3 times, recording Windows-level file fragmentation, several PerfMon metrics, and time to complete the workload. The test was then repeated 3 times, now with IntelliWrite enabled on the same VM’s test volume.

Here were the results:

 

 

The breakdown:

Fragmentation reduction with IntelliWrite: 89%

Split IO/sec reduction with IntelliWrite: 81%

Avg. Disk Queue Length reduction with IntelliWrite: 71%

…and with the improvement to these disk performance metrics, the overall time to complete the same actual file operations was reduced by: 48%

The conclusion? If you were asking the same sorts of questions posed earlier, evaluate IntelliWrite for yourself. Remember, the graphs above are on contemporary storage hardware—the older your storage equipment, the greater the improvement in application performance you can expect from investing in optimization. Can you afford to not be seeing maximum performance numbers out of your infrastructure and application investments?

The evaluation is quick and fully transparent. Call today to speak with a representative about evaluating Diskeeper or V-locity in your environment.

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Diskeeper | IntelliWrite | SAN | V-Locity

Best Practices for CSV defrag in Hyper-V (Windows Server 2008R2)

by Michael 28. March 2011 04:33

One of the most significant features in Windows 2008R2 (for Hyper-V) is Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) for virtual disks (vhd). This allows NTFS to behave similar to a clustered file system, addressing many limitations found in Hyper-V storage with the original release (Windows 2008).  

There are three online modes/states for CSV:
  • Direct Access: In this state, the CSV is available to all nodes in the cluster (i.e. all your VMs) for direct high performance storage access. This is the state you want in production.  
  • Redirected Access: In this state, the CSV is still available to all nodes in the cluster, but all I/O is redirected through a single "coordinator" node. Redirected access is used in planned situations where you need to perform certain disk actions that can't have multiple nodes accessing and locking files concurrently, such as a VSS backup or defrag. Channeling all I/O through a coordinator slows I/O and is more likely to cause bottlenecks for production demands.
  • Maintenance mode: enabling this mode is a safe means to get to a state where processes that require exclusive access to a volume can be used, such as a maintenance routine like chkdsk.

Best Practice: 

  • On the Hyper-V system volume,  pass-through volumes and any other non-CSV volumes, leave Automatic Defragmentation on at all times.
  • Given the performance benefits of Direct Access for cluster shared volumes, leave IntelliWrite on and run an occasional scheduled defrag. This is because of the requirement to use the coordinator node and place the volume into a Redirect Access state. Automatically changing from direct to redirect and back is all part of the file system control (kernel code we co-wrote with MS in the mid 90’s – as a Windows source code licensee), and the mechanism all defragmenters use today - you do not need to do anything special.
  • Correction (June 30, 2011): In the process of testing for the V-locity 3.0 release, we discovered that defagmentation does NOT cause a state change to Redirected Access. This is true for any defragmenter. So, defragment CSVs as you would any other volume. [Apologies on making this statement without validation - we should know better :-)] 

Diskeeper and V-locity are fully compatible with CSVs as confirmed by Windows IT Pro here. The file system control built into Windows is used to defrag, but not used for prevention in the design of IntelliWrite, which is a CSV-compatible file system filter driver (it's very important for drivers to be CSV-compatible) residing at a low altitude, expect on XP (where its altitude is much higher). You can view all file system minifilters and their allocated altitudes here.

IntelliWrite is “DKRtWrt” (its code names in development stages was WriteRight and then later RightWrite -hence "RtWrt"). To see or load/unload filter drivers, use the Filter Manager Control Program (fltmc):

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Defrag | Hyper-V | IntelliWrite | V-Locity

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