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.

Case Study: Non-Profit Eliminates Frustrating Help Desk calls, Boosts Performance and Extends Useful Hardware Lifecycle

by Marissa Newman 9. September 2019 11:47

When PathPoint was faced with user complaints and productivity issues related to slow performance, the non-profit organization turned to Condusiv’s I/O reduction software to not only optimize their physical and virtual infrastructure but to extend their hardware lifecycles, as well. 

As technology became more relevant to PathPoint’s growing organization and mission of providing people with disabilities and young adults the skills and resources to set them up for success, the IT team had to find a solution to make the IT infrastructure as efficient as possible. That’s when the organization looked into Diskeeper® as a solution for their physical servers and desktops.

“Now when we are configuring our workstations and laptops, the first thing we do is install Diskeeper. We have several lab computers that we don’t put the software on and the difference is obvious in day-to-day functionality. Diskeeper has essentially eliminated all helpdesk calls related to sluggish performance.” reported Curt Dennett, PathPoint’s VP of Technology and Infrastructure.

Curt also found that workstations with Diskeeper installed have a 5-year lifecycle versus the lab computers without Diskeeper that only last 3 years and he found similar results on his physical servers that are running full production workloads. Curt observed, “We don’t need to re-format machines running Diskeeper nearly as often. As a result, we gained back valuable time for other important initiatives while securing peak performance and longevity out of our physical hardware assets. With limited budgets, that has truly put us at ease.”

When PathPoint expanded into the virtual realm, Curt looked at V-locity® for their VM’s and, after reviewing the benefits, brought the software into the rest of their environment. The organization found that with the powerful capabilities of Diskeeper and V-locity, they were able to offload 47% of I/O traffic from storage, resulting in a much faster experience for their users.

The use of V-locity and Diskeeper is now the standard for PathPoint. Curt concluded, “The numbers are impressive but what’s more for me, is the gut feeling and the experience of knowing that the machines are actually performing efficiently. I wouldn’t run any environment without these tools.”

 

Read the full case study

 

Try V-locity FREE for yourself – no reboot is needed

Do I Really Need V-locity on All VMs?

by Rick Cadruvi, Chief Architect 15. August 2019 04:12

V-locity® customers may wonder, “How many VMs do I need to install V-locity on for optimal results? What kind of benefits will I see with V-locity on one or two VMs versus all the VMs on a host?” 

As a refresher…

It is true that V-locity will likely provide significant benefit on that one VM.  It may even be extraordinary.  But loading V-locity on just one VM on a host with sometimes dozens of VMs won’t give you the biggest bang for your buck. V-locity includes many technologies that address storage performance issues in an extremely intelligent manner.  Part of the underlying design is to learn about the specific loads your system has and intelligently adapt to each specific environment presented to it.   That’s why we created V-locity especially for virtual environments in the first place. 

As you have experienced, the beauty of V-locity is its ability to deal with the I/O Blender Effect.  When there are multiple VMs on a host, or multiple hosts with VMs that use the same back-end storage system (e.g., a SAN) a “blender” effect occurs when all these VMs are sending I/O requests up and down the stack.  As you can guess, it can create huge performance bottlenecks. In fact, perhaps the most significant issue that virtualized environments face is the fact that there are MANY performance chokepoints in the ecosystem, especially the storage subsystem.  These chokepoints are robbing 30-50% of your throughput.  This is the dark side of virtualized systems. 

Look at it this way.  VM “A” may have different resource requirements than VM “B” and so on.  Besides performing different tasks with different workloads, they may have different peak usage periods.  What happens when those peaks overlap?  Worse yet, what happens if several of your VMs have very similar resource requirements and workloads that constantly overlap? 

 

The answer is that the I/O Blender Effect takes over and now VM “A” is competing directly with VM “B” and VM “C” and so on.  The blender pours all those resource desires into a funnel, creating bottlenecks with unpredictable performance results.  What is predictable is that performance will suffer, and likely a LOT.

V-locity was designed from the ground up to intelligently deal with these core issues.  The guiding question in front of us as it was being designed and engineered, was: 

Given your workload and resources, how can V-locity help you overcome the I/O Blender Effect? 

By making sure that V-locity will adapt to your specific workload and having studied what kinds of I/Os amplify the I/O Blender Effect, we were able to add intelligence to specifically go after those I/Os.  We take a global view.  We aren’t limited to a specific application or workload.  While we do have technologies that shine under certain workloads, such as transactional SQL applications, our goal is to optimize the entire ecosystem.  That’s the only way to overcome the I/O Blender Effect.

So, while we can indeed give you great gains on a single VM, V-locity truly gets to shine and show off its purpose when it can intelligently deal with the chokepoints that create the I/O Blender Effect.  That means you should add V-locity to ALL your VMs.  With our no-reboot installation and a V-locity Management Console, it’s fast and easy to cover and manage your environment.

If you have V-locity on all the VMs on your host(s), let us know how it is going! If you don’t yet, contact your account manager who can get you set up!

For an in-depth refresher,  watch our 10-min whiteboard video

 

For Larger V-locity Deployments: Getting Up and Running Using V-locity Management Console (VMC)

by Spencer Allingham 18. June 2019 05:32

V-locity® I/O Reduction software is designed to solve and prevent application performance degradation at the source, relieving stress and frustration from user complaints and reliability issues. V-locity eliminates the two big I/O inefficiencies in a virtual environment that generates a minimum of 30-40% I/O traffic chewing up storage IOPS and slowing down your system. Installing V-locity 7 is a quick, easy and effective fix, no reboot required. The first step to improving your server performance is downloading V-locity and starting your Proof of Concept.

 

Here are some helpful tips that will set you up to get the very best results

1. Login to your account to access your V-locity software OR download a free 30-day trial of the software.

2. Make sure you are using Windows Server 2008 R2 or later.

3. Ensure there is at least 4 GB of Available Physical Memory on each machine when checking MSINFO32.EXE (System Information Report) at a peak load time. Note: It is necessary to limit the amount of memory that certain applications can take in order to leave at least 4 GB of memory free. Examples are SQL server, Exchange and Oracle on Windows.

4. Plan to install V-locity on as many Windows machines that share the same storage as possible. If V-locity is only installed onto a small number of machines, you will only be optimizing a small percentage of the overall storage I/O traffic, which is likely to limit the results.

5. IMPORTANT: If using V-locity in a firewalled environment, make sure the correct ports are open. The following ports need to be open for incoming and outgoing TCP packets between the V-locity Management Console and the other machines running V-locity: 135, 137, 139, 443, 445, 5985, 13568-13572, 3102

6. Set aside a dedicated VM for the V-Locity Management Console (VMC). This should be running at least Windows Server 2008 R2 and have Internet Explorer 9 or later installed, or Chrome or Firefox.

Video Tutorials

This is a series of video tutorials to make sure your POC goes smoothly.

1. How to install the V-locity 7 Management Consoles: https://youtu.be/IpdI6aU_8wI

2. How to open the V-locity 7 Management Console for the first time: https://youtu.be/0_mtsZlu-YM

3. How to add a license to the V-locity 7 Management Console: https://youtu.be/OZ2sa4Bb8_w

4. How to deploy V-locity 7 from the V-locity Management Console: https://youtu.be/i6ogxKHia9o

5. How to gather V-locity 7 dashboard report data for analysis: https://youtu.be/RusU_rkNX_U

 

Once you have gathered the V-locity 7 dashboard report data, email this to your sales rep or sales@condusiv.com for additional analysis.

 

SysAdmins Discover That Size Really Does Matter

by Spencer Allingham 25. April 2019 03:53

(...to storage transfer speeds...)

 

I was recently asked what could be done to maximize storage transfer speeds in physical and virtual Windows servers. Not the "sexiest" topic for a blog post, I know, but it should be interesting reading for any SysAdmin who wants to get the most performance from their IT environment, or for those IT Administrators who suffer from user or customer complaints about system performance.

 

As it happens, I had just completed some testing on this very subject and thought it would be helpful to share the results publicly in this article.

The crux of the matter comes down to storage I/O size and its effect on data transfer speeds. You can see in this set of results using an NVME-connected SSD (Samsung MZVKW1T0HMLH Model SM961), that the read and write transfer speeds, or put another way, how much data can be transferred each second is MUCH less when the storage I/O sizes are below 64 KB in size:

 

You can see that whilst the transfer rate maxes out at around 1.5 GB per second for writes and around 3.2 GB per second for reads, when the storage I/O sizes are smaller, you don’t see disk transfer speeds at anywhere near that maximum rate. And that’s okay if you’re only saving 4 KB or 8 KB of data, but is definitely NOT okay if you are trying to write a larger amount of data, say 128 KB or a couple of megabytes, and the Windows OS is breaking that down into smaller I/O packets in the background and transferring to and from disk at those much slower transfer rates. This happens way too often and means that the Windows OS is dampening efficiency and transferring your data at a much slower transfer rate than it could, or it should. That can have a very negative impact on the performance of your most important applications, and yes, they are probably the ones that users are accessing the most and are most likely to complain about.

 

The good news of course, is that the V-locity® software from Condusiv® Technologies is designed to prevent these split I/O situations in Windows virtual machines, and Diskeeper® will do the same for physical Windows systems. Installing Condusiv’s software is a quick, easy and effective fix as there is no disruption, no code changes required and no reboots. Just install our software and you are done!

You can even run this test for yourself on your own machine. Download a free copy of ATTO Disk Benchmark from The Web and install it. You can then click its Start button to quickly get a benchmark of how quickly YOUR system processes data transfer speeds at different sizes. I bet you quickly see that when it comes to data transfer speeds, size really does matter!

Out of interest, I enabled our Diskeeper software (I could have used V-locity instead) so that our RAM caching would assist the speed of the read I/O traffic, and the results were pretty amazing. Instead of the reads maxing out at around 3.2 GB per second, they were now maxing out at around a whopping 11 GB per second, more than three times faster. In fact, the ATTO Disk Benchmark software had to change the graph scale for the transfer rate (X-axis) from 4 GB/s to 20 GB/s, just to accommodate the extra GBs per second when the RAM cache was in play. Pretty cool, eh?

 

Of course, it is unrealistic to expect our software’s RAM cache to satisfy ALL of the read I/O traffic in a real live environment as with this lab test, but even if you satisfied only 25% of the reads from RAM in this manner, it certainly wouldn’t hurt performance!!!

If you want to see this for yourself on one of your computers, download the ATTO Disk Benchmark tool from The Web, if you haven’t already, and as mentioned before, run it to get a benchmark for your machine. Then download and install a free trial copy of Diskeeper for physical clients or servers, or V-locity for virtual machines from www.condusiv.com/try and run the ATTO Disk Benchmark tool several times. It will probably take a few runs of the test, but you should easily see the point at which the telemetry in Condusiv’s software identifies the correct data to satisfy from the RAM cache, as the read transfer rates will increase dramatically. They are no longer being confined to the speed of your disk storage, but instead are now happening at the speed of RAM. Much faster, even if that disk storage IS an NVME-connected SSD. And yes, if you’re wondering, this does work with SAN storage and all levels of RAID too!

NOTE: Before testing, make sure you have enough “unused” RAM to cache with. A minimum of 4 GB to 6 GB of Available Physical Memory is perfect.

Whether you have spinning hard drives or SSDs in your storage array, the boost in read data transfer rates can make a real difference. Whatever storage you have serving YOUR Windows computers, it just doesn’t make sense to allow the Windows operating system to continue transferring data at a slower speed than it should. Now with easy to install, “Set It and Forget It®” software from Condusiv Technologiesyou can be sure that you’re getting all of the speed and performance you paid for when you purchased your equipment, through larger, more sequential storage I/O and the benefit of intelligent RAM caching.

If you’re still not sure, run the tests for yourself and see.

Size DOES matter!

Thinking Outside the Box - How to Dramatically Improve SQL Performance, Part 1

by Howard Butler 3. April 2019 04:10

If you are reading this article, then most likely you are about to evaluate V-locity® or Diskeeper® on a SQL Server (or already have our software installed on a few servers) and have some questions about why it is a best practice recommendation to place a memory limit on SQL Servers in order to get the best performance from that server once you’ve installed one of our solutions.

To give our products a fair evaluation, there are certain best practices we recommend you follow.  Now, while it is true most servers already have enough memory and need no adjustments or additions, a select group of high I/O, high performance, or high demand servers, may need a little extra care to run at peak performance.

This article is specifically focused on those servers and the best-practice recommendations below for available memory. They are precisely targeted to those “work-horse” servers.  So, rest assured you don’t need to worry about adding tons of memory to your environment for all your other servers.

One best practice we won’t dive into here, which will be covered in a separate article, is the idea of deploying our software solutions to other servers that share the workload of the SQL Server, such as App Servers or Web Servers that the data flows through.  However, in this article we will shine the spotlight on best practices for SQL Server memory limits.

We’ve sold over 100 million licenses in over 30 years of providing Condusiv® Technologies patented software.  As a result, we take a longer term and more global view of improving performance, especially with the IntelliMemory® caching component that is part of V-locity and Diskeeper. We care about maximizing overall performance knowing that it will ultimately improve application performance.  We have a significant number of different technologies that look for I/Os that we can eliminate out of the stream to the actual storage infrastructure.  Some of them look for inefficiencies caused at the file system level.  Others take a broader look at the disk level to optimize I/O that wouldn’t normally be visible as performance robbing.  We use an analytical approach to look for I/O reduction that gives the most bang for the buck.  This has evolved over the years as technology changes.  What hasn’t changed is our global and long-term view of actual application usage of the storage subsystem and maximizing performance, especially in ways that are not obvious.

Our software solutions eliminate I/Os to the storage subsystem that the database engine is not directly concerned with and as a result we can greatly improve the speed of I/Os sent to the storage infrastructure from the database engine.  Essentially, we dramatically lessen the number of competing I/Os that slow down the transaction log writes, updates, data bucket reads, etc.  If the I/Os that must go to storage anyway aren’t waiting for I/Os from other sources, they complete faster.  And, we do all of this with an exceptionally small amount of idle, free, unused resources, which would be hard pressed for anyone to even detect through our self-learning and dynamic nature of allocating and releasing resources depending on other system needs.

It’s common knowledge that SQL Server has specialized caches for the indexes, transaction logs, etc.  At a basic level the SQL Server cache does a good job, but it is also common knowledge that it’s not very efficient.  It uses up way too much system memory, is limited in scope of what it caches, and due to the incredible size of today’s data stores and indexes it is not possible to cache everything.  In fact, you’ve likely experienced that out of the box, SQL Server will grab onto practically all the available memory allocated to a system.

It is true that if SQL Server memory usage is left uncapped, there typically wouldn’t be enough memory for Condusiv’s software to create a cache with.  Hence, why we recommend you place a maximum memory usage in SQL Server to leave enough memory for IntelliMemory cache to help offload more of the I/O traffic.  For best results, you can easily cap the amount of memory that SQL Server consumes for its own form of caching or buffering.  At the end of this article I have included a link to a Microsoft document on how to set Max Server Memory for SQL as well as a short video to walk you through the steps.

A general rule of thumb for busy SQL database servers would be to limit SQL memory usage to keep at least 16 GB of memory free.  This would allow enough room for the IntelliMemory cache to grow and really make that machine’s performance 'fly' in most cases.  If you can’t spare 16 GB, leave 8 GB.  If you can’t afford 8 GB, leave 4 GB free.  Even that is enough to make a difference.  If you are not comfortable with reducing the SQL Server memory usage, then at least place a maximum value of what it typically uses and add 4-16 GB of additional memory to the system.  

We have intentionally designed our software so that it can’t compete for system resources with anything else that is running.  This means our software should never trigger a memory starvation situation.  IntelliMemory will only use some of the free or idle memory that isn’t being used by anything else, and will dynamically scale our cache up or down, handing memory back to Windows if other processes or applications need it.

Think of our IntelliMemory caching strategy as complementary to what SQL Server caching does, but on a much broader scale.  IntelliMemory caching is designed to eliminate the type of storage I/O traffic that tends to slow the storage down the most.  While that tends to be the smaller, more random read I/O traffic, there are often times many repetitive I/Os, intermixed with larger I/Os, which wreak havoc and cause storage bandwidth issues.  Also keep in mind that I/Os satisfied from memory are 10-15 times faster than going to flash.  

So, what’s the secret sauce?  We use a very lightweight storage filter driver to gather telemetry data.  This allows the software to learn useful things like:

- What are the main applications in use on a machine?
- What type of files are being accessed and what type of storage I/O streams are being generated?
- And, at what times of the day, the week, the month, the quarter? 

IntelliMemory is aware of the 'hot blocks' of data that need to be in the memory cache, and more importantly, when they need to be there.  Since we only load data we know you’ll reference in our cache, IntelliMemory is far more efficient in terms of memory usage versus I/O performance gains.  We can also use that telemetry data to figure out how best to size the storage I/O packets to give the main application the best performance.  If the way you use that machine changes over time, we automatically adapt to those changes, without you having to reconfigure or 'tweak' any settings.


Stayed tuned for the next in the series; Thinking Outside The Box Part 2 – Test vs. Real World Workload Evaluation.

 

Main takeaways:

- Most of the servers in your environment already have enough free and available memory and will need no adjustments of any kind.
- Limit SQL memory so that there is a minimum of 8 GB free for any server with more than 40 GB of memory and a minimum of 6 GB free for any server with 32 GB of memory.  If you have the room, leave 16 GB or more memory free for IntelliMemory to use for caching.
Another best practice is to deploy our software to all Windows servers that interact with the SQL Server.  More on this in a future article.

 

 

Microsoft Document – Server Memory Server Configuration Options

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/database-engine/configure-windows/server-memory-server-configuration-options?view=sql-server-2017

 

Short video – Best Practices for Available Memory for V-locity or Diskeeper

https://youtu.be/vwi7BRE58Io

At around the 3:00 minute mark, capping SQL Memory is demonstrated.

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