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.

Everything You Need to Know about SSDs and Fragmentation in 5 Minutes

by Howard Butler 17. November 2016 05:42

When reading articles, blogs, and forums posted by well-respected (or at least well intentioned people) on the subject of fragmentation and SSDs, many make statements about how (1) SSDs don’t fragment, or (2) there’s no moving parts, so no problem, or (3) an SSD is so fast, why bother? We all know and agree SSDs shouldn’t be “defragmented” since that shortens lifespan, so is there a problem after all?

The truth of the matter is that applications running on Windows do not talk directly to the storage device.  Data is referenced as an abstracted layer of logical clusters rather than physical track/sectors or specific NAND-flash memory cells.  Before a storage unit (HDD or SSD) can be recognized by Windows, a file system must be prepared for the volume.  This takes place when the volume is formatted and in most cases is set with a 4KB cluster size.  The cluster size is the smallest unit of space that can be allocated.  Too large of a cluster size results in wasted space due to over allocation for the actual data needed.  Too small of a cluster size causes many file extents or fragments.  After formatting is complete and when a volume is first written to, most all of the free space is in just one or two very large sections.  Over the course of time as files of various sizes are written, modified, re-written, copied, and deleted, the size of individual sections of free space as seen from the NTFS logical file system point of view becomes smaller and smaller.  I have seen both HDD and SSD storage devices with over 3 million free space extents.  Since Windows lacks file size intelligence when writing a file, it never chooses the best allocation at the logical layer, only the next available – even if the next available is 4KB. That means 128K worth of data could wind up with 32 extents or fragments, each being 4KB in size. Therefore SSDs do fragment at the logical Windows NTFS file system level.  This happens not as a function of the storage media, but of the design of the file system.

Let’s examine how this impacts performance.  Each extent of a file requires its own separate I/O request. In the example above, that means 32 I/O operations for a file that could have taken a single I/O if Windows was smarter about managing free space and finding the best logical clusters instead of the next available. Since I/O takes a measurable amount of time to complete, the issue we’re talking about here related to SSDs has to do with an I/O overhead issue.

Even with no moving parts and multi-channel I/O capability, the more I/O requests needed to complete a given workload, the longer it is going to take your SSD to access the data.  This performance loss occurs on initial file creation and carries forward with each subsequent read of the same data.  But wait… the performance loss doesn’t stop there.  Once data is written to a memory cell on an SSD and later the file space is marked for deletion, it must first be erased before new data can be written to that memory cell.  This is a rather time consuming process and individual memory cells cannot be individually erased, but instead a group of adjacent memory cells (referred to as a page) are processed together.  Unfortunately, some of those memory cells may still contain valuable data and this information must first be copied to a different set of memory cells before the memory cell page (group of memory cells) can be erased and made ready to accept the new data.  This is known as Write Amplification.  This is one of the reasons why writes are so much slower than reads on an SSD.  Another unique problem associated with SSDs is that each memory cell has a limited number of times that a memory cell can be written to before that memory cell is no longer usable.  When too many memory cells are considered invalid the whole unit becomes unusable.  While TRIM, wear leveling technologies, and garbage collection routines have been developed to help with this behavior, they are not able to run in real-time and therefore are only playing catch-up instead of being focused on the kind of preventative measures that are needed the most.  In fact, these advanced technologies offered by SSD manufacturers (and within Windows) do not prevent or reverse the effects of file and free space fragmentation at the NTFS file system level.

The only way to eliminate this surplus of small, tiny writes and reads that (1) chew up performance and (2) shorten lifespan from all the wear and tear is by taking a preventative approach that makes Windows “smarter” about how it writes files and manages free space, so more payload is delivered with every I/O operation. That’s exactly why more users run Condusiv’s Diskeeper® (for physical servers and workstations) or V-locity® (for virtual servers) on systems with SSD storage. For anyone who questions how much value this approach adds to their systems, the easiest way to find out is by downloading a free 30-day trial and watch the “time saved” dashboard for yourself. Since the fastest I/O is the one you don’t have to write, Condusiv software understands exactly how much time is saved by eliminating multiple, fractured writes with fewer, larger contiguous writes. It even has an additional feature to cache reads from idle, available DRAM (15X faster than SSD), which further offloads I/O bandwidth to SSD storage. Especially for businesses with many users accessing a multitude of applications across hundreds or thousands of servers, the time savings are enormous.

 

ATTO Benchmark Results with and without Diskeeper 16 running on a 120GB Samsung SSD Pro 840. The read data caching shows a 10X improvement in read performance.

First-ever “Time Saved” Dashboard = Holy Grail for ROI

by Brian Morin 2. November 2016 10:03

If you’ve ever wondered about the exact business value that Condusiv® I/O reduction software provides to your systems, the latest “time saved” reporting does exactly that.

Prior to V-locity® v6.2 for virtual servers and Diskeeper® 16 for physical servers and endpoints, customers would conduct expansive before/after tests to extract the intrinsic performance value, but struggled to extract the ongoing business benefit over time. This has been especially true during annual maintenance renewal cycles when key stakeholders need to be “re-sold” to allocate budget for ongoing maintenance, or push new licenses to new servers.

The number one request from customers has been to better understand the ongoing business benefit of I/O reduction in terms that are easily relatable to senior management and makes justifying the ROI painless. This “holy grail” search on part of our engineering team has led to the industry’s first-ever “time saved” dashboard for an I/O optimization software platform.

When Condusiv software proactively eliminates the surplus of small, fractured writes and reads and ensures more “payload” with every I/O operation, the net effect is fewer write and read operations for any given workload, which saves time. When Condusiv software caches hot reads within idle, available DRAM, the net effect is fewer reads traversing the full stack down to storage and back, which saves time.

In terms of benefits, the new dashboard shows:

    1. How many write I/Os are eliminated by ensuring large, clean, contiguous writes from Windows

    2. How many read I/Os are cached from idle DRAM

    3. What percentage of write and read traffic is offloaded from underlying SSD or HDD storage

    4. Most importantly – the dashboard relates I/O reduction to the business benefit of … “time saved”

This reporting approach makes the software fully transparent on the type of benefit being delivered to any individual system or groups of systems. Since the software itself sits within the Windows operating system, it is aware of latency to storage and understands just how much time is saved by serving an I/O from DRAM instead of the underlying SSD or HDD. And, most importantly, since the fastest I/O is the one you don’t have to write, Condusiv software understands how much time is saved by eliminating multiple small, fractured writes with fewer, larger contiguous writes.  

Have you ever wondered how much time V-locity will save a VDI deployment? Or an application supported by all-flash? Or a Hyperconverged environment? Rather than wonder, just install a 30-day version of the software and monitor the “time saved” dashboard to find out. Benefits are fully transparent and easily quantified.

Have you ever needed to justify Diskeeper’s endpoint solution across a fleet of corporate laptops with SSDs? Now you can see the “time saved” on individual systems or all systems and quantify the cost of labor against the number of hours that Diskeeper saved in I/O time across any time period. The “no brainer” benefit will be immediately obvious.

Customers will be pleasantly surprised to find out the latest dashboard doesn’t just show granular benefits but also granular performance metrics and other important information to assist with memory tuning. See the avg., min, and max of idle memory used for cache over any time period (even by the hour) to make quick assessments on which systems could use more memory to take better advantage of the caching engine for greater application performance. Customers have found if they can maintain at least 2GB used for cache, that's where they begin to get into the sweet spot of what the product can do. If even more can be maintained to establish a tier-0 cache strategy, performance rises even further. Systems with at least 4GB idle for cache will invariably serve 60% of reads or more. 

 

 

       Lou Goodreau, IT Manager, New England Fishery

      “32% of my write traffic has been eliminated and 64% of my read traffic has been cached within idle memory. This saved over 20 hours in I/O time after 24 days of testing!”

       David Bruce, Managing Partner, David Bruce & Associates

                                    “Over 50% of my reads are now served from DRAM and over 30% of write traffic has

                                   been eliminated by ensuring large, contiguous writes. Now everything is more

                                   responsive!"

 

New! Diskeeper 16 Guarantees “Faster than New” Performance for Physical Servers and PCs

by Brian Morin 26. September 2016 09:56

The world’s most popular defragmentation software for physical servers and PCs makes “defrag” a thing of the past and delivers “faster than new” performance by dynamically caching hot reads with idle DRAM.  As a result, Diskeeper® 16 guarantees to solve the toughest application performance issues on physical servers like MS-SQL and guarantees to fix sluggish PCs with faster than new performance or your money back for 90 days – no questions asked.

The market is still catching up to the fact that Diskeeper’s newest patented engine no longer “defrags” but rather proactively eliminates fragmentation with large, sequential writes from Windows to underlying HDDs, SSDs, and SAN storage systems. This eliminates the “death by a thousand cuts” scenario of small, tiny writes and reads that inflates I/Os per second, robs throughput, and shortens the lifespan of HDDs and SSDs alike. However, the biggest new announcement has to do with the addition of DRAM caching – putting idle DRAM to good use by serving hot reads without memory contention or resource starvation.

“Diskeeper 16 with DRAM caching served over 50% of my reads from DRAM and eliminated over 30% of write traffic by preventing fragmentation. Now everything is more responsive!” - David Bruce, Managing Partner, David Bruce & Associates

“Diskeeper 16 with DRAM caching doubled our throughput, so we could backup in half the time.  Our Dell Rapid Recovery backup server is running smoother than ever.” - Curtis Jackson, Network Admin, School City of Hammond

“WOW! Watch it go! I have 44GB of memory in the physical server and Diskeeper is using around 20GB of it to cache!! I can’t imagine having a server without it! Diskeeper 16 is a vastly improved version of Diskeeper!” - Andy Vabulas, Vabulas Enterprises

“Our Symantec app running on a physical server has been notoriously slow for as long as I can remember, but since adding Diskeeper 16 it has improved significantly.” Josh Currier, Network Infrastructure Manager, Munters Corporation

 “With Diskeeper 16 I can tell my workstation is more responsive with no lag or any type of hesitation. Truly SMART Technology.” - William Krasulak, Systems/Network Admin, Nacci Printing, Inc.

“Our most I/O intensive applications on physical servers needed some help, so we installed Diskeeper 16 with DRAM caching and were amazed by the performance boost!” - Victor Grandmaiter, IT Director, Fort Bend Central Appraisal District

“Diskeeper eliminated 32% of my write traffic by preventing fragmentation and cached 64% of my read traffic within idle memory. This saved my workstation over 20 hours in I/O time after 24 days of testing!” - Lou Goodreau, IT Manager, New England Fishery

“Installed Diskeeper 16 on our worst performing physical servers running ERP with a SQL database and saw an immediate 50% boost!" - Hamid Bouhassoune, Systems Engineer, Global Skincare Company

A top New York clothing brand tried Diskeeper 16 with DRAM caching on their physical servers and saw backup times with Veeam and Backup Exec drop by more than half!

Before Diskeeper Install:

8/7, 10GB, 14MB/s, 1:38

8/8, 11 GB, 13MB/s, 1:54

After Diskeeper Install:

          8/12, 13GB, 21MB/s, 1:30

        8/13, 14GB, 30MB/s, 0:58

        8/14, 13GB, 33MB/s, 0:55

        8/15, 11GB, 36MB/s, 0:44

        8/19, 17GB, 30MB/s, 1:06

 

A Large Illinois Non-Profit tested Diskeeper 16 with DRAM caching on Windows 2012R2 physical servers running CRM and accounting software with a MS-SQL backend. Note – these improvements were almost exclusively from Diskeeper 16’s write optimization engine since idle memory was not available to initiate the new caching engine.

 

See a screenshot of the new dashboard reporting that shows “time saved” from using Diskeeper 16 to eliminate fragmentation and cache reads with idle DRAM.

 

Try Diskeeper 16 with DRAM caching for 30-days -> 

 

 

 

NEW V-locity 4 VM Accelerator Improves VM Performance by up to 50%

by Jeff Medina 10. December 2012 10:00

Today we are very excited to announce the release of V-locity 4 VM Accelerator. With this latest release, V-locity increases VM and application performance by up to 50% and does so without any additional storage hardware.

Let’s face it - in today’s world of virtual environments, we generate a tremendous amount of data and it’s only the beginning. In fact, findings included in a recent study by IDC titled “Extracting Value from Chaos” predict that in the next ten years we will create 50 times more information and 75 times more files.

The impact of this data explosion on server virtualization can often lead to I/O bottlenecks. This is because a physical server running multiple virtual machines (VMs) must often carry out far more I/O operations than one server running a single workload, and typical virtualization environments emulate I/O devices that run less efficiently than native I/O devices.

In essence, virtualization acts like a funnel, combining and mixing many disparate I/O streams, sending out to the disk what becomes a very random I/O pattern. To make matters worse, the more VMs are added, the more the issue is compounded as more I/O is "randomized." All of this has a very negative affect on storage performance, and renders time-honored techniques such as read-ahead buffers and caching algorithms far less effective than in conventional physical environments.

Storage I/O is the most critical issue in a virtualized environment, and can cause organizations to spend a great deal on storage, purchasing more and more disk spindles, but often using only a fraction of their capacity because of performance issues. The outcome is that, due to issues relating to performance bottlenecks in the storage infrastructure, some applications are deemed unable to be virtualized; however, a properly tuned storage environment might have accommodated those applications. So what’s the alternative? The answer is V-locity 4 VM Accelerator. 

V-locity 4 VM Accelerator provides:

  • Increased application performance up to 50%
  • Up to 50% faster access to frequently accessed files
  • Faster I/O performance without the cost of additional storage hardware
  • Increased VM density per physical server up to 50%
  • Extended hardware lifespan by eliminating unnecessary I/Os
  • Automatic and real-time operation for true “Set It and Forget It®” management 

What makes V-locity 4 so effective is its powerful toolkit of proactive technologies, including IntelliWrite,® V-Aware,® CogniSAN,® InvisiTasking® and the new IntelliMemory® RAM caching technology.

New! IntelliMemory™ Caching Technology
IntelliMemory intelligent caching technology boosts active data, improving I/O response time up to 50% or more while also eliminating unnecessary I/O operations from getting into the network or storage.

Improved! IntelliWrite® Technology
IntelliWrite automatically prevents the operating system from breaking files into pieces and writing those pieces in a performance penalized manner. This proactive approach improves performance up to 50% or more while preventing any negative impact to snapshots replication, data deduplication or thin provisioning growth. As this proactive approach happens at the server level, the network and shared storage simply has less I/O operations to transfer and process.

New! Performance Benefit Analyzer
The Performance Benefits Analyzer helps document the performance benefits of V-locity. The benefit analyzer looks at your current system performance, then compares these results to those after using V-locity to provide a detailed report showing specific improvements and benefits to your system.

V-Aware® Technology
V-Aware detects external resource usage from other virtual machines on the virtual platform and eliminates resource contention that might slow performance.

CogniSAN® Technology
CogniSAN detects external resource usage within a shared storage system, such as a SAN, and allows for transparent optimization by not competing for resources utilized by other VMs over the same storage infrastructure. And it does this without intruding in any way into SAN-layer operations.

InvisiTasking® Technology
InvisiTaksing allows all the V-locity 4 "background" operations within the VM to run with zero resource impact on current production.

Set It and Forget It®
Automatic and real-time operation.

For more details and a FREE trial, visit www.condusiv.com/products/v-locity or call a sales representative at 1-800-829-6468.

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.

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