RaviramI am Ravi Ramachandran from the SQL Server Appliance Engineering team and would like to show how to measure the IO capabilities of the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance which is optimized for SQL Server.

The Engineering teams from HP and Microsoft collaborated closely for many years to design the DBC Appliance from the ground-up. Many database implementations and customer workloads were analyzed in-depth in addition to collaborating with the SQLCAT (SQL Customer Advisory Team) and select TAP (Technology Assurance Program) partners to arrive at a very robust, scalable and fault-tolerant Private Cloud Appliance, which is operational right out of the factory. The Appliance is the best in breed capable of handling a variety of demanding SQL and customer workloads.

The Appliance ships as half rack, full rack and multi rack. The full rack configuration has 192 Processor Cores, 2 TB RAM, 396 Disk Drives, 57TB Raw disk space, 24TB formatted disk space, and can produce 60,000 Random 8K IOPS at 60% Read, 40% Write. The half rack, which is exactly half of the full rack configuration, can produce 30,000 Random 8KB IOPS at 60% Read, 40% Write. The Appliance can scale up to 10 full racks in half rack increments yielding the multi rack configuration.

The Appliance has a System Center management stack that facilitates P2V and V2V migrations, new VM provisioning, monitoring and alerting, besides providing other management capabilities. Each System Center component, SCVMM, SCOM, SSP, etc., is installed in its own VM and is resident on the Appliance. This management stack overhead is very minimal thereby providing all the compute power and storage capacity available to customer workload VMs.

In our internal testing, we have driven many complex workloads on the Appliance. In addition to evaluating the IO capabilities, around 865 virtual machines running concurrent SQL Server 2008 R2 workloads were pushed on to the full rack to stress test the sustained IO and performance capabilities. This exercise was repeated with SQL 2012 (pre-release bits) as well, to ensure that the performance of the Appliance was in-line with the design expectations.

As part of measuring the IO capability, many publicly available tools to drive those workloads were evaluated. One such tool is IOMeter, which provides the ability to drive mixed Read/Write workloads and is freely available for download from the web. Anyone can point the IOMeter to a functional Appliance (half, full, or multi rack) and run a few basic tests to prove to themselves the Appliance’s real IO capabilities. The step-by-step procedure for set up and how to benchmark the IO performance of all rack configurations is documented and available.

The Appliance IO capabilities are built into the hardware from the ground up, and performance numbers mentioned previously can be obtained with all the System Center management VMs operational. The video is a practical demonstration of running IOMeter against a stood up full rack. You can see the actual IOPS produced by the full rack as well as the IOPS data shown for the half rack.

More information on the HP Enterprise Consolidation Appliance can be found here.

Ravi Ramachandran
Senior Software Design Engineer in Test
SQL Server Appliance Engineering Team