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.

The Challenge of IT Cost vs Performance

by Jim D’Arezzo, CEO 19. February 2019 06:26

In over 30 years in the IT business, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard an IT manager say, “The budget is not a problem. Cost is no object.”

It is as true today as it was 30 years ago.  That is, increasing pressure on the IT infrastructure, rising data loads and demands for improved performance are pitted against tight budgets.  Frankly, I’d say it’s gotten worse – it’s kind of a good news/bad news story. 

The good news is there is far more appreciation of the importance of IT management and operations than ever before.  CIOs now report to the CEO in many organizations; IT and automation have become an integral part of business; and of course, everyone is a heavy tech user on the job and in private life as well. 

The bad news is the demand for end-user performance has skyrocketed; the amount of data processed has exploded; and the growing number of uses (read: applications) of data is like a rising tide threatening to swamp even the most well-staffed and richly financed IT organizations.

The balance between keeping IT operations up and continuously serving the end-user community while keeping costs manageable is quite a trick these days.  Capital expenditures on new hardware and infrastructure and Operational expenditures on personnel, subscriptions, cloud-based service or managed service providers can become a real dilemma for IT management. 

An IT executive must be attuned to changes in technology, changes in his/her own business and the changing nature of the existing infrastructure as the manager tries to extend the maximum life of equipment. 

Performance demands keep IT professionals awake at night.  The hard truth is the dreaded 2:00 a.m. call regarding a crashed server or network operation, or the halt of operations during a critical business period (think end of year closing, peak sales season, or inventory cycle) reveals that in many IT organizations, they’re holding on by the skin of their teeth.

Condusiv has been in the business of improving the performance of Windows systems for 30 years.  We’ve seen it all.  One of the biggest mistakes an IT decision-maker can make is to go along with the “common wisdom” (primarily pushed by hardware manufacturers) that the only way to improve system and application performance is to buy new hardware.  Certainly, at some point hardware upgrades are necessary, but the fact is, some 30-40% of performance is being robbed by small, fractured, random I/O being generated due to the Windows operating system (that is, any Windows operating system, including Windows 10 or Windows Server 2019. Also see earlier article Windows is Still Windows).  Don’t get me wrong, Windows is an amazing solution used by some 80% of all systems on the planet.  But as the storage layer has been logically separated from the compute layer and more systems are being virtualized, Windows handles I/O logically rather than physically which means it breaks down reads and writes to their lowest common denominator, creating tiny, fractured, random I/O that creates a “noisy” environment.  Add a growing number of virtualized systems into the mix and you really create overhead (you may have even heard of the “I/O blender effect”).  The bottom line: much of performance degradation is a software problem that can be solved by software.  So, rather than buying a “forklift upgrade” of new hardware, our customers are offloading 30-50% or more of their I/O which dramatically improves performance.  By simply adding our patented software, our customers avoid the disruption of migrating to new systems, rip and replacement, end-user training and the rest of that challenge. 

Yes, the above paragraph could be considered a pitch for our software, but the fact is, we’ve sold over 100 million copies of our products to help IT professionals get some sleep at night.  We’re the world leader in I/O reduction. We improve system performance an average of 30-50% or more (often far more).  Our products are non-disruptive to the point that we even trademarked the term “Set It and Forget It®”.  We’re proud of that, and the help we’re providing to the IT community.

 

 

To try for yourself, download a free, 30-day trial version (no reboot required) at www.condusiv.com/try

Can you relate? 906 IT Pros Talk About I/O Performance, Application Troubles and More

by Dawn Richcreek 8. January 2019 03:44

We just completed our 5th annual I/O Performance Survey that was conducted with 906 IT Professionals. This is the industry’s largest study of its kind and the research highlights the latest trends in applications that are driving performance demands and how IT Professionals are responding.

I/O Growth Continues to Outpace Expectations

The results show that organizations are struggling to get the full lifecycle from their backend storage as the growth of I/O continues to outpace expectations. The research also shows that IT Pros continue to struggle with user complaints related to sluggish performance from their I/O intensive applications, especially citing MS-SQL applications.

Comprehensive Research Data

The survey consists of 27 detailed questions designed to identify the impact of I/O growth in the modern IT environment. In addition to multiple choice questions, the survey included optional open responses, allowing a respondent to provide commentary on why they selected a particular answer.  All the individual responses have been included to help readers dive deeply on any question. The full report is available at https://learn.condusiv.com/2019-IO-Performance-Study.html

Summary of Key Findings 

1.    I/O Performance is important to IT Pros: The vast majority of IT Pros consider I/O Performance an important part of their job responsibilities. Over a third of these note that growth of I/O from applications is outpacing the useful lifecycle they expect from their underlying storage. 

2.    Application performance is suffering: Half of the IT Pros responsible for I/O performance cite they currently have applications that are tough to support from a systems performance standpoint. The toughest applications stated were: SQL, SAP, Custom/Proprietary apps, Oracle, ERP, Exchange, Database, Data Warehouse, Dynamics, SharePoint, and EMR/EHR. See page 20 for a word cloud graphic. 

3.    SQL is the top troublesome application: The survey confirms that SQL databases are the top business critical application platform and is also the environment that generates the most storage I/O traffic. Nearly a third of the IT Pros responsible for I/O performance state that they are currently experiencing staff/customer complaints due to sluggish applications running on SQL. 

4.    Buying hardware has not solved the performance problems: Nearly three-fourths of IT Pros have added new hardware to improve I/O performance. They have purchased new servers with more cores, new all-flash arrays, new hybrid arrays, server-side SSDs, etc. and yet they still have concerns. In fact, a third have performance concerns that are preventing them from scaling their virtualized infrastructures.  

5.    Still planning to buy hardware: About three-fourths of IT Pros are still planning to continue to invest in hardware to improve I/O performance. 

6.    Lack of awareness: Over half of respondents were unaware of the fact that Windows write inefficiencies generate increasingly smaller writes and reads that dampen performance and that this is a software problem that is not solved by adding new hardware. 

7.    Improve performance via software to avoid expensive hardware purchase: The vast majority of respondents felt it would be urgent/important to improve the performance of their applications via an inexpensive I/O reduction software and avoid an expensive forklift upgrade to their compute, network or storage layers. 

Most Difficult to Support Applications

Below is a word cloud representing hundreds of answers to visually show the application environments IT Pros are having the most trouble to support from a performance standpoint. I think you can see the big ones that pop out!

The full report is available at https://learn.condusiv.com/2019-IO-Performance-Study.html

 

The Simple Software Answer

As much as organizations continue to reactively respond to performance challenges by purchasing expensive new server and storage hardware, our V-locity® I/O reduction software offers a far more efficient path by guaranteeing to solve the toughest application performance challenges on I/O intensive systems like MS-SQL. This means organizations are able to offload 50% of I/O traffic from storage that is nothing but mere noise chewing up IOPS and dampening performance. As soon as we open up 50% of that bandwidth to storage, sluggish performance disappears and now there’s far more storage IOPS to be used for other things.

In just 2 minutes, learn more about how V-locity I/O reduction software eliminates the two big I/O inefficiencies in a virtual environment 2-min Video: Condusiv® I/O Reduction Software Overview

Try it for yourself, download our free 30-day trial – no reboot required

 

This is Why a Top Performing School Recommended Condusiv Software and Doubled Performance

by Dawn Richcreek 6. December 2018 05:04

Lawnswood School is one of the top performing educational institutions in the UK. Their IT environment supports a workload that is split between approximately 1200 students and 200 staff.  With 1400 people and various programs and files to support, they were in search of something to help extend the life of their hardware and increase performance. They turned to Condusiv®’s V-locity® and Diskeeper® to extend the life of their storage hardware and maintain performance for their students and staff.

"Condusiv's V-locity software eliminated almost 50% of all storage I/O requests from having to be dealt with by the disk storage (SAN) layer, and that meant that when replacing the old SAN storage with a 'like-for-like' HP MSA 2040, V-locity gave me the confidence to make the purchase without having to over-spend to over-provision the storage in order to cope with all the excess unnecessary storage I/O traffic that V-locity efficiently eliminates,"said Noel Reynolds, IT Manager at Lawnswood School. Before upgrading his SAN, Noel was able to extend the life of the HP MSA 2000 SAN for 8 years “thanks to Condusiv’s I/O reduction software”.

Knowing how well the IT environment was performing at Lawnswood School, another school reached out to Noel for help, as their IT environment was almost identical, but suffering from slow and sluggish performance. They also had three VMware hosts of the same specification, the older HP MSA 2000 SAN storage and workloads that were pretty much identical. Noel Reynolds noted that: "They were almost a 'clone' school."

He continued: "I did the usual checks to discover why it wasn't working well, such as upgrading the firmware, checking the disks for errors and found nothing wrong other than bad storage performance. After comparing the storage latency, I found that Lawnswood School's disk storage was 20 times faster, even though the hardware, software and workload types were pretty much identical."

"We identified six of the 'most hit' servers and installed Condusiv's software on them. Within 24 hours, we saw a 50% boost in performance. Visibly improved performance had been returned to the users, and this really helped the end user experience.

A great example of a real-world solution." Noel concluded

 

Read the full case study                        Download 30-day trial

Tags:

Defrag | Diskeeper | Disruption, Application Performance, IOPS | EHR | General | SAN | Success Stories | virtualization | V-Locity

Finance Company Deploys V-locity I/O Reduction Software for Blazing Fast VDI

by Dawn Richcreek 27. November 2018 05:27

When the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority decided to better support their users by moving away from using physical PCs and migrating to a virtual desktop infrastructure, the challenge was to ensure the fastest possible user experience from their Horizon View VDI implementation.

“Anytime an organization starts talking about VDI, the immediate concern in the IT shop is how well we will be able to support it from a performance standpoint to ensure a pristine end user experience. Although supported by EMC VNXe flash storage with high IOPS, one of our primary concerns had to do with Windows write inefficiencies that chews up a large percentage of flash IOPS unnecessarily. When you’re rolling out a VDI initiative, the one thing you can’t afford to waste is IOPS,” said Joseph Navarrete, CIO, MFA.

After Joseph turned to Condusiv’s “Set-It-and-Forget-It®” V-locity® I/O reduction software and bumped up the memory allocation for his VDI instances, V-locity was able to offload 40% of I/O from storage resulting in a much faster VDI experience to his users. When he demo’d V-locity on his MS-SQL server instances, V-locity eliminated 39% of his read I/O traffic from storage due to DRAM read caching and another 40% of write I/O operations by solving Windows write inefficiencies at the source.

After seeing the performance boost and increased efficiency to his hardware stack, Joseph ensured V-locity was running across all his systems like MS-Exchange, SharePoint, and more.

“With V-locity I/O reduction software running on our VDI instances, users no longer have to wait extra time. The same is now true for our other mission critical applications like MS-SQL. The dashboard within the V-locity UI provides all the necessary analytics about our environment and view into what the software is actually doing for us. The fact that all of this runs quietly in the background with near-zero overhead impact and no longer requires a reboot to install or upgrade makes the software truly “set and forget,” said Navarrete.

 

Read the full case study                        Download 30-day trial

Industry-first FAL Remediation and Improved Performance for MEDITECH

by Gary Quan 6. November 2018 03:19

When someone mentions heavy fragmentation on a Windows NTFS Volume, the first thing that usually comes to mind is performance degradation. While performance degradation is certainly bad, what’s worse is application failure when the application gets this error.

 

Windows Error - "The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation“

 

That is exactly what happens in severely fragmented environments. These are show-stoppers that can stop a business in its tracks until the problem is remediated. We have had users report this issue to us on SQL databases, Exchange server databases, and cases involving MEDITECH EHR systems.

In fact, because of this issue, MEDITECH requires all 5x and 6x customers to address this issue and has endorsed both Condusiv® Technologies’ V-locity® and Diskeeper® I/O reduction software for “...their ability to reduce disk fragmentation and eliminate File Attribute List (FAL) saturation. Because of their design and feature set, we have also observed they accelerate application performance in a measurable way,” said Mike Belkner, Associate VP, Technology, MEDITECH.

Some refer to this extreme fragmentation problem as the “FAL Size Issue” and here is why. In the Windows NTFS file system, as files grow in size and complexity (i.e., more and more fragmented data), they can be assigned additional metadata structures. One of these metadata structures is called the File Attribute List (FAL). The FAL structure can point to different types of file attributes, such as security attributes or standard information such as creation and modification dates and, most importantly, the actual data contained within the file. In the extremely fragmented file case, the FAL will keep track of where all the fragmented data is for the file. The FAL actually contains pointers indicating the location of the file data (fragments) on the volume. As more fragments accumulate in a file, more pointers to the fragmented data are required, which in turn increases the size of the FAL. Herein lies the problem: the FAL size has an upper limitation size of 256KB. When that limit is reached, no more pointers can be added, which means NO more data can be added to the data file. And, if it is a folder file, NO more files can be added under that folder file. Applications using these files stop in their tracks, not what users want, especially in EHR systems.

If a FAL reaches the size limitation, the only resolution was to bring the volume offline, which can mean bringing the system down, then copying the file to a different location (a different volume is recommended), deleting or renaming the original file, making sure there is sufficient contiguous free space on the original volume, rebooting the system to reset the free space cache, then copying the file back. This is not a quick cycle, and if that file is large in size, this process can take hours to complete, which means the system will remain offline for hours while attempting to resolve.

You would think that the logical solution would be – why not just defragment those files? The problem is that traditional defragmentation utilities can cause the FAL size to grow. While it can decrease the number of pointers, it will not decrease the FAL size. In fact, due to limitations within the file system, traditional methods of defragmenting files cause the FAL size to grow even larger, making the problem worse even though you are attempting to remediate it. This is true with all other defragmenters, including the built-in defragmenter that comes with Windows. So what can be done about it?

The Solution

Condusiv Technologies has introduced a new technology to address this FAL size issue that is unique only to the latest V-locity® and Diskeeper® product lineup. This new technology called MediWrite™ contains features to help suppress this issue from occurring in the first place, give sufficient warning if it is or has occurred, plus tools to quickly and efficiently reducing the FAL size offline. It includes the following:

Unique FAL handling: As indicated above, traditional methods of defragmentation can cause the

FAL size to grow even further. MediWrite will detect when files are having FAL size issues and will use an exclusive method of defragmentation that helps stem the FAL growth. An industry first!

It will also automatically determine how often to process these files according to their FAL size severity.

Enhanced Free space consolidation engine: One indirect cause of FAL size growth is the extreme free space fragmentation found in these cases. A new Free Space method has been developed to handle these extreme cases.

Unique FAL growth prevention: Along with MediWrite, V-locity and Diskeeper contain another very important technology called IntelliWrite® which automatically prevents new fragmentation from occurring. By preventing fragmentation from occurring, IntelliWrite minimizes any further

FAL size growth issues.

Unique Offline FAL Consolidation tools: The above technologies help stop the FAL size from growing any larger, but due to File System restrictions, it cannot shrink or reduce the FAL size online. To do this, Condusiv developed proprietary offline tools that will reduce the FAL-IN-USE size in minutes.  This is extremely helpful for companies that already have a file FAL size issue before installing our software. With these tools, the user can reduce the FAL-IN-USE size back down to 100kb, 50kb, or smaller and feel completely safe from the maximum FAL size limits. The reduction process itself takes less than 5 minutes. This means that the system will only need to be taken offline for minutes which is much better than all the hours needed with the current Windows copy method.

FAL size Alerts: MediWrite will dynamically scan the volumes for any FAL sizes that have reached a certain limit (the default is a conservative 50% of the maximum size) and will create an Alert indicating this has occurred. The Alert will also be recorded in the Windows Event log, plus the user has the option to get notified by email when this occurrence happens.

 

For information, case studies, white papers and more, visit  http://www.condusiv.com/solutions/meditech-solutions/

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