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.

Diskeeper Administrator Quick Start Guide

by Tim Warner, Microsoft MVP in Cloud and Datacenter Management 4. August 2017 06:31

Here's the situation: Sluggish application performance on one or more of your Windows servers had become so bad as to require intervention. You purchased a license for Condusiv® Diskeeper Server and observed such an amazing performance improvement that you want to deploy Diskeeper® on all your physical servers.

"But how can I centrally manage the application?" you wonder. And then you see that Condusiv Makes Diskeeper Administrator. Bingo!

Diskeeper Administrator gives you centralized control over all your managed servers. The solution enables you to deploy, configure and manage Diskeeper Server, Diskeeper Professional for desktop workstations, and some very early versions of V-locity for virtual machines (VMs). Condusiv plans to integrate SSDkeeper into Diskeeper Administrator sometime in the future.
Note: (V-locity and V-locity Management Console should be used for virtual servers)

For now, though, let's learn how to deploy and configure Diskeeper Administrator.

Deployment Prerequisites

In addition to purchasing a Diskeeper Administrator license, you should consider a volume-license purchase of Diskeeper Server to save money.
Diskeeper Administrator runs as a Windows service and is a client/server application that uses Microsoft SQL Server for back-end data storage. For a smooth installation experience, I suggest, but not required, having a SQL Server database engine instance already available on the network. Diskeeper Administrator supports the following database versions:

   - SQL Server 2005
   - SQL Server 2008
   - SQL Server 2012

You can use the free Express Edition if you want; in fact, the Diskeeper Administrator installer can automatically install SQL Server 2012 Express Edition. Notably, more recent SQL Server versions are not yet supported.

Like any client/server application, you need to keep firewall rules in mind. Diskeeper Administrator uses the following Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) ports:

   - 1434 (for SQL Server)
   - 31029
   - 31036
   - 30137
   - 31056
   - 31096
   - 31116
   - 31176
   - 31196
   - 31216

All your managed servers should have file and printer sharing enabled, which opens TCP ports 139 and 445, and exposes the ADMIN$ administrative share that is used for Diskeeper push installation. In addition, you should open ports 31038 or 31058 to facilitate management traffic. More details on port use is available in the DK Administrator’s online help.

Diskeeper Administrator Install and Setup

The Diskeeper Administrator installer is basically an InstallShield wizard "click-click-next" routine. The real work begins after you lay down the application binaries and start Diskeeper Administrator for the first time.

Speaking of Windows Server, you can install Diskeeper Administrator on any version from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2016, as well as Windows Client versions from Windows 7 to Windows 10. My environment runs Windows Server 2016 exclusively, and Diskeeper products all run just fine.

On first launch of the Diskeeper Administrator console (it's an honest-to-goodness Windows desktop application and not a browser portal), you'll see the following requirements dialog:

Continue reading the full Diskeeper Administrator Quick Start Guide »


Top 5 Questions from V-locity and Diskeeper Customers

by Brian Morin 20. April 2016 05:00

After having chatted with 50+ customers the last three months, I’ve heard the same five questions enough times to turn it into a blog entry, and a lot of it has to do with flash:


1. Do Condusiv products still “defrag” like in the old days of Diskeeper?

No. Although users can use Diskeeper to manually defrag if they so choose, the core engines in Diskeeper and V-locity have nothing to do with defragmentation or physical disk management. The patented IntelliWrite® engine inside Diskeeper and V-locity adds a layer of intelligence into the Windows operating system enabling it improve the sequential nature of I/O traffic with large contiguous writes and subsequent reads, which improves performance benefit to both SSDs and HDDs. Since I/O is being streamlined at the point of origin, fragmentation is proactively eliminated from ever becoming an issue in the first place. Although SSDs should never be “defragged,” fragmentation prevention has enormous benefits. This means processing a single I/O to read or write a 64KB file instead of needing several I/O. This alleviates IOPS inflation of workloads to SSDs and cuts down on the number of erase cycles required to write any given file, improving write performance and extending flash reliability.


2. Why is it more important to solve Windows write inefficiencies in virtual environments regardless of flash or spindles on the backend? 

Windows write inefficiencies are a problem in physical environments but an even bigger problem in virtual environments due to the fact that multiple instances of the OS are sitting on the same host, creating a bottleneck or choke point that all I/O must funnel through. It’s bad enough if one virtual server is being taxed by Windows write inefficiencies and sending down twice as many I/O requests as it should to process any given workload…now amplify that same problem happening across all the VMs on the same host and there ends up being a tsunami of unnecessary I/O overwhelming the host and underlying storage subsystem. The performance penalty of all of this unnecessary I/O ends up getting further exacerbated by the “I/O Blender” that mixes and randomizes the I/O streams from all the VMs at the point of the hypervisor before sending out to storage a very random pattern, the exact type of pattern that chokes flash performance the most - random writes. V-locity’s IntelliWrite® engine writes files in a contiguous manner which significantly reduces the amount of I/O required to write/read any given file. In addition, IntelliMemory® caches reads from available DRAM. With both engines reducing I/O to storage, that means the usual requirement from storage to process 1GB via 80K I/O drops to 60K I/O at a minimum, but often down to 50K I/O or 40K I/O. This is why the typical V-locity customer sees anywhere from 50-100% more throughput regardless of flash or spindles on the backend because all the optimization is occurring where I/O originates.

VMware’s own “vSphere Monitoring and Performance Guide” calls for “defragmentation of the file system on all guests” as its top performance best practice tip behind adding more memory. When it comes to V-locity, nothing ever has to be “defragged” since fragmentation is proactively eliminated from ever becoming a problem in the first place.


3. How Does V-locity help with flash storage? 

One of the most common misnomers is that V-locity is the perfect complement to spindles, but not for flash. That misnomer couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, most V-locity customers run V-locity on top of a hybrid (flash & spindles) array or all-flash array. And this is because without V-locity, the underlying storage subsystem has to process at least 35% more I/O than necessary to process any given workload.

As much as virtualization has been great for server efficiency, the one downside is the complexity introduced to the data path, resulting in I/O characteristics that are much smaller, more fractured, and more random than it needs to be. This means flash storage systems are processing workloads 30-50% slower than they should because performance is suffering death-by-a-thousand cuts from all this small, tiny, random I/O that inflates IOPS and chews up throughput. V-locity streamlines I/O to be much more efficient, so twice as much data can be carried with each I/O operation. This significantly improves flash write performance and extends flash reliability with reduced erase cycles. In addition, V-locity establishes a tier-0 caching strategy using idle, available DRAM to cache reads. As little as 3GB of available memory drives an average of 40% reduction in response time (see source). By optimizing writes and reads, that means V-locity drives down the amount of I/O required to process any given workload. Instead of needing 80K I/O to process a GB of data, users typically only need 50K I/O or sometimes even less.

For more on how V-locity complements hybrid storage or all-flash storage, listen to the following OnDemand Webinar I did with a flash storage vendor (Nimble) and a mutual customer who uses hybrid storage + V-locity for a best-of-breed approach for I/O performance.


4. Is V-locity’s DRAM caching engine starving my applications of precious memory by caching? 

No. V-locity dynamically uses what Windows sees as available and throttles back if an application requires more memory, ensuring there is never an issue of resource contention or memory starvation. V-locity even keeps a buffer so there is never a latency issue in serving back memory. ESG Labs examined the last 3,500 VMs that tested V-locity and noted a 40% average reduction in response time (see source). This technology has been battle-tested over 5 years across millions of licenses with some of largest OEMs in the industry.


5. What is the difference between V-locity and Diskeeper? 

Diskeeper is for physical servers while V-locity is for virtual servers. Diskeeper is priced per OS instance while V-locity is now priced per host, meaning V-locity can be installed on any number of virtual servers on that host. Diskeeper Professional is for physical clients. The main feature difference is whereas Diskeeper keeps physical servers or clients running like new, V-locity accelerates applications by 50-300%. While both Diskeeper and V-locity solve Windows write inefficiencies at the point of origin where I/O is created, V-locity goes a step beyond by caching reads via idle, available DRAM for 50-300% faster application performance. Diskeeper customers who have virtualized can opt to convert their Diskeeper licenses to V-locity licenses to drive value to their virtualized infrastructure.


Stay tuned on the next major release of Diskeeper coming soon that may inherit similar functionality from V-locity.

Is Fragmentation Robbing SAN Performance?

by Brian Morin 16. March 2015 09:39

This month Condusiv® announced the most significant development in the Diskeeper® product line to date – expanding our patented fragmentation prevention capabilities beyond server local storage or direct-attached storage (DAS) to now include Storage Area Networks, making it the industry's first real-time fragmentation solution for SAN storage.

Typically, as soon as we mention "fragmentation" and "SAN" in the same sentence, an 800 pound gorilla walks into the room and we’re met with some resistance as there is an assumption that RAID controllers and technologies within the SAN mitigate the problem of fragmentation at the physical layer.

As much as SAN technologies do a good job of managing blocks at the physical layer, the real problem why SAN performance degrades over time has nothing to do with the physical disk layer but rather fragmentation that is inherent to the Windows file system at the logical disk software layer.

In a SAN environment, the physical layer is abstracted from the Windows OS, so Windows doesn't even see the physical layer at all – that’s the SAN's job. Windows references the logical disk layer at the file system level.

Fragmentation is inherent to the fabric of Windows. When Windows writes a file, it is not aware of the size of the file or file extension, so it will break that file apart into multiple pieces with each piece allocated to its own address at the logical disk layer. Therefore, the logical disk becomes fragmented BEFORE the SAN even receives the data.

How does a fragmented logical disk create performance problems? Unnecessary IOPS (input/output operations per sec). If Windows sees a file existing as 20 separate pieces at the logical disk level, it will execute 20 separate I/O commands to process the whole file. That’s a lot of unnecessary I/O overhead to the server and, particularly, a lot of unnecessary IOPS to the underlying SAN for every write and subsequent read.

Diskeeper 15 Server prevents fragmentation from occurring in the first place at the file system layer. That means Windows will write files in a more contiguous or sequential fashion to the logical disk. Instead of breaking a file into 20 pieces that needs 20 separate I/O operations for every write and subsequent read, it will write that file in a more contiguous fashion so only minimal I/O is required.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is with a traffic analogy. Bottlenecks occur where freeways intersect. You could say the problem is not enough lanes (throughput) or the cars are too slow (IOPS), but we’re saying the easiest problem to solve is the fact of only one person per car!

By eliminating the Windows I/O "tax" at the source, organizations achieve greater I/O density, improved throughput, and less I/O required for any given workload – by simply filling the “car” with more people. Fragmentation prevention at the top of the technology stack ultimately means systems can process more data in less time.

When openBench Labs tested Diskeeper Server, they found throughput increased 1.3X. That is, from 75.1 MB/sec to 100 MB/sec. A manufacturing company saw their I/O density increase from 24KB to 45KB. This eliminated 400,000 I/Os per server per day, and the IT Director said it "eliminated any lag during peak operation."

Many administrators are led to believe they need to buy more IOPS to improve storage performance when in fact, the Windows I/O tax has made them more IOP dependent than they need to be because much of their workload is fractured I/O. By writing files in a more sequential fashion, the number of I/Os required to process a GB of data drops significantly so more data can be processed in less time.

Keep in mind, this is not just true for SANs with HDDs but SSDs as well. In a SAN environment, the Windows OS isn’t aware of the physical layer or storage media being used. The I/O overhead from splitting files apart at the logical disk means just as many unnecessary IOPS to SSD as HDD. SSD is only processing that inefficient I/O more quickly than a hard disk drive.

Diskeeper 15 Server is not a "defrag" utility. It doesn’t compete with the SAN for management of the physical layer by instructing the RAID controllers on the how to manage the data. Diskeeper’s patented proactive approach is the perfect complement to a SAN by ensuring only productive I/O is processed from server to storage to keep physical servers and SAN storage running like new.

With organizations spending tens of thousands of dollars on server and storage hardware and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on large SSD deployments, why give 25% or more performance over to fragmentation when it can be prevented altogether for a mere $400 per physical server at our lowest volume tier?

Try Diskeeper 15 Server for 30 Days ->

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.

SSDs and Defrag

by Alex Klein 3. August 2012 06:32

We recently responded to a forum post on our YouTube channel regarding SSDs and Defragmentation - you can view the video here:

Below are some "before and after" graphs that provide proof that fragmentation affects SSDs:


Tags: , , ,

Defrag | Diskeeper | SSD, Solid State, Flash | Windows 7

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