Greetings from Istanbul!

Hello from Turkey!  This is my first trip here and I am probably spoiled forever.  I presented at an EMC Banking Summit, held at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul.  This is a five-star hotel that was once the home of Ottoman sultans.  It is situated on the shores of the Bosphorus, which is a major waterway that connects the Black Sea ultimately to the Mediterranean.  It also separates two continents – Asian Turkey from European Turkey.  In my research, I learned that this is a strategic waterway used for international shipping, including oil coming from Russian and western Asia.   If you want to learn more and see a map of this area, check out this link:

There are two suspension bridges to cross the Bosphorus.  From the hotel, I could see the Bosphorus Bridge.  Istanbul sits on both sides of the Bosphorus .  The hotel preserves its history both outside and in.

With this historical and beautiful backdrop, about 60 senior executives from financial institutions from across the Middle East met to learn about EMC’s strategy, explore different IT challenges, and network with other attendees.   I had the opportunity to present on Information Governance to the group.

It’s not hard to understand why Information Governance makes sense for financial services.  The two year anniversary of Lehman Brothers, the recent sentencing of the French trade from Societe Generale… there are numerous global examples that are driving increased scrutiny into financial services firms.   Information is both a liability and an asset for this industry, necessitating good information management policies.

But while I’m living Information Governance every day, these executives had lots of things that keep them up at night.  For example, security is a top concern to protect themselves and their customers from fraudulent activities.   For others, the infrastructure is paramount to eliminate latency and ensure zero downtime.   This is an incredibly competitive environment where the CIO has a lot of priorities to balance costs, risk and productivity.

My objective in all of presentations is to talk about how and why Information Governance is a must have, and not a nice to have.  Sure it is important to make sure that you have an infrastructure that can scale to meet the business needs.  It is equally as important to have a rock-solid security strategy to protect from all of the maliciousness of today’s world.   But at the heart of the business is information.  What information is retained for what period of time is critical in a regulated industry.  Other factors, such as where the information is stored and how information is accessed are also important considerations.   And hitting the delete button at the end of the lifecycle needs to happen according to defined policies.

So in practical terms, I shared the following story with the executives during the event.  I was talking to an IT director recently and she was talking about a leaked spreadsheet and the damage it caused.  The “leak” was internal to this particular organization.  And the leaked information wasn’t anything that gave away intellectual property.  Rather, this spreadsheet had employee salaries.  The spreadsheet was stored on an unsecured file share.  How did IT find out?  IT found out because everyone was grumbling about how much so-and-so got paid.   I use this story because it transcends industries, size of organization and geography.  Improper management of your information –of your unstructured content that can be stored in unsecured file shares – can do damage to your business.  In this case, there wasn’t necessarily any direct outcome other than some very unhappy employees.

So long for now!  I’ll write again soon.

Large Exchange mailboxes, Low cost disks – IX12 makes it happen

The idea of large mailboxes with low costs disks is something Microsoft loves to promote with Exchange 2010. We are all well aware of the I/O improvements with ESE in Exchange 2010 and the use of large SATA disks has made the large mailboxes a reality for customer who prefer SATA over FC or SAS disks for their cost efficiency and growing capacity.

In May of this year, EMC’s Iomega division released the StorCenter IX12-300r Network Storage Array which is aimed at small to medium business customers. The base configuration starts at 4TB and can be expanded up to 24TB in a single array in either a file or block level (iSCSI) configuration.

Due to the low cost, but large capacity of the IX12 we decided that these would be a great platform to show how well Exchange 2010 can work with low cost storage enabling large mailboxes that customers want. The initial result was our Exchange Solutions Reviewed Program (ESRP) submission for 260 users on the IX12 where we showed a building block for 260 users with 10GB mailboxes in a 3 HA copy Database Avaliability Group. Yes, even small to medium customers can have large mailboxes and HA/DR!

The ESRP for the IX12 was a great start, but we wanted to take it further into a more capable configuration up to 1000 users and show how we could push the IX12 farther and showcase how several IX12′s could be put together in a Site Resilient configuration with large 4GB mailboxes and in an Exchange Native Data Protection scenario (i.e. backupless) with Lagged copies for point in time protection. Oh yeah, we also wanted to show how Exchange 2010 would be virtualized in a low cost Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V environment for customers who have made the decision to virtualize Exchange with Hyper-V.

The result is contained in a new whitepaper that we just released called “EMC Business Continuity for Exchange 2010 Enabled by EMC Iomega IX12-300r and Microsoft Database Avaliability Groups” 

The physical environment that we designed in this Solution looks like this:

Some of the key proof points contained in this whitepaper are how both HA and Lagged copies can be distributed across mailbox roles and how the Site Resiliency process works with DAC enabled.


 This is something that is commonly misunderstood and we show you how we did the testing to simulate a site failure. The other thing we captured is what we saw with DAG seeding performance and this testing from both and local and remote scenario.

For instance, we saw in a local failure scenario that a user was back online after a single server failure in 21 seconds. Jetstress performance for this array was also very good as achieved transactional IOPS/sec were around the 76-80 per server mark with read and write latency between 15-17ms.

Overall, we were very pleased with the results from this Solution and the findings show that even with a low cost array like the StorCenter IX12 with a powerful hypervisor like Microsoft Hyper-V, it can be a very cost effective and powerful solution for Exchange 2010 to enable a large mailbox experience with HA and DR capability, even for the small to medium sized customer. The StorCenter comes in about 4-5k retail, so check with your favorite reseller on these.

If you want to read more, please see the detailed whitepaper at:

Until next time,


‘Tis the Season

It's the holiday season so EMC is delivering presents early this year with not one, not two but three new documented solutions for Hyper-V! As seen through these papers below, EMC continues to invest in testing and documenting Hyper-V solutions as well as work with third-party industry leaders to showcase EMC solutions for Hyper-V. And this is just the start of some more surprises that will continue throughout the holiday season!

Let's take a look at some of these new technical documented solutions:

EMC Business Continuity for Microsoft Hyper-V Enabled by EMC Symmetrix VMAX and SRDF/CE

This technical white paper shows how to setup and perform Microsoft Hyper-V R2 Live Migration across physical locations using EMC SRDF Cluster Enabler and EMC Symmetrix VMAX storage arrays. Cluster Enabler is EMC technology that extends a cluster across geographic locations and provides automated failover and failback of Microsoft clusters. This whitepaper documents how to set up clustering, Cluster Enabler and perform Live Migrations between sites including instructions on modifying specific settings as well as screen shots throughout the process. Also included is the use of EMC's Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) for viewing the virtual machine to physical storage relationship.


Windows IT Pro: Essentials Guide to Microsoft Virtualization

The Essentials Guide to Microsoft Virtualization takes a look at how virtualization of physical servers onto a single host can introduce new challenges specifically with reliability, server growth and performance problems. This white paper looks at how EMC technologies address each of these problems including products such as:

  • EMC Powerpath Virtual Edition (VE) for improved availability with multi-pathing and load balancing as well as improved security through encryption.
  • EMC Networker and Replication Manager for VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) backups of Hyper-V virtual machines.
  • EMC VPLEX which provides storage federation or access to a single LUN across physical locations and is complimentary to Hyper-V Live Migration for highly available VMs.
  • EMC Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) and Powershell cmdlets for improved management of Hyper-V VMs when using EMC storage.
  • EMC Replication technologies including Mirrorview, RecoverPoint and SRDF for array based replication remote protection of VMs.

While it isn't a detailed technical paper, it is an excellent overview of EMC's technology to assist you when managing a Microsoft virtual infrastructure.


Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Lab Validation Report: EMC Symmetrix VMAX and Microsoft Server Virtualization

ESG's Lab Validation Report is a third party's perspective on the large scale highly-available Hyper-V configuration EMC has been testing with EMC's Symmetrix VMAX. I wrote about this solution on a previous blog post and on a guest blog post on the Microsoft Windows Virtualization blog site. In summary, EMC has been building and testing one of the largest Hyper-V environments in the world by creating a 16 node cluster configuration with Hyper-V containing over 1000 virtual machines. The goal of this test has been to understand the scalability limits of Hyper-V and to develop best practices for large scale deployments of Hyper-V for EMC's customers. What we found is that Hyper-V continues to meet all performance expectations as we added additional workloads showing that it can meet the performance requirements of very large virtual implementations. We also developed best practices for similar deployments including the use of clones to help improve deployment times when creating new virtual machines using templates over the LAN. By using EMC's TimeFinder software and replicas for creating new VMs, we were able to deploy virtual machines 27 times faster than creating new VMs using templates over the LAN! Below is a diagram of EMC's test configuration:

The configuration included:


  • 16 multi-core servers with 8 processor cores and 96GB of memory each
  • Windows 2008 R2 with Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs)
  • 6 engine EMC Symmetrix VMAX array
  • 702 450GB 15k RPM drives
  • EMC TimeFinder and Powerpath software

 As you can see, EMC continues to invest in Hyper-V solutions and this is the start to many more exciting things to come! If you have any feedback on these solutions or suggestions for what you'd like to see from us, leave me a comment as I'd love to hear from you!

Virtualizing Exchange Part II

A few weeks ago I wrote about a virtualized Microsoft Exchange solution that EMC published under Microsoft's Tested Exchange Solutions Program (ETS) in which we tested and documented a completely virtualized Exchange 2010 configuration for 30,000 mailboxes on EMC Unified Storage.

Recently we released our second Tested Exchange Solution for Exchange 2010 and this time we teamed up with Brocade and Dell to document how we virtualized Exchange using Microsoft Hyper-V. The paper entitled Zero Data Loss Disaster Recovery for Exchange 2010, includes EMC's implementation of a Microsoft Third Party Replication API called EMC Replication Enabler for Exchange (REE) using EMC's Mirrorview for array based synchronous replication.

Side note: As an alternative to Exchange's native DAG replication, EMC developed REE as a free software utility. REE uses block-level synchronous replication over Fibre Channel (opposed to Exchange DAG which is network based asynchronous). REE integrates with the Microsoft DAG third-party replication API to enable local storage as well as synchronously replicated storage.

Some highlights of this published white paper include:

  • Exchange Server 2010 on Microsoft Hyper-V R2 with 10,000 users per site across two sites.
  • 20,000 total users with 500MB mailboxes, 150 messages per day and two Exchange DAGs utilizing EMC's REE 3rd party replication API.
  • Two EMC CLARiiON CX4-480's (1 per site) with 80 15k rpm drives per location.
  • 8 Exchange mailbox VMs with 2500 users per server and 10 disks per VM.
  • EMC Replication Manager w/Snapview for VSS based application consistent replicas for local protection.
  • Brocade ServerIron ADX application load balancing.
  • Brocade SAN and IP switching.
  • Dell PowerEdge R910 servers.
  • Testing was completed in the Microsoft EEC labs in Redmond, WA.

 Key findings from the tests include:

  • Exceeded performance expectations using Microsoft Jetstress test tool for 20,000 users with read and write latencies below Microsoft's recommended threshold for Exchange including with and without synchronization of data.
  • Validated the virtualized Exchange environment could run under normal operating condition during a peak load. During peak loads the average CPU utilization of the mailbox VMs was approximately 26%.
  • Demonstrated the ability to failover to a stand-by site and failback without any impact to the performance of the Exchange mail environment.
  • EMC's synchronous based REE enabled the ability to achieve zero data loss with the lowest possible RPO.
  • Brocade's ServerIron ADX provided affinity and load balancing for the Exchange traffic between servers.
  • Achieved 3:1 consolidation using Hyper-V virtualization by consolidating 20,000 users onto four Dell PowerEdge 910 servers between two datacenters. In a physical environment this would have required 32 servers.

In the end, performance achieved was much better than the designed targeted baseline. A single CX4-480 achieved 8,120 Exchange 2010 transactional IOPS across eight Exchange virtual machines (or 2,288 IOPS over the designed solution). This additional headroom provides additional buffer in the event of an increase in mail activity or as the environment grows over time. Below are the published Jetstress results for Exchange 2010 on the CX4-480:

Like the previous virtualized Exchange solution, this continues to reinforce that Microsoft Exchange 2010 is a good candidate for virtualization and that Hyper-V easily supports enterprise workloads like this one.

For more information on this solution as well as EMC's Replication Enabler for Exchange (REE), I encourage you to check out Dustin Smith's excellent blog and write-up on this solution.  

Virtualizing Exchange Part II

From Virtual Winfrastructure

A few weeks ago I wrote about a virtualized Microsoft Exchange solution that EMC published under Microsoft’s Tested Exchange Solutions Program (ETS) in which we tested and documented a completely virtualized Exchange 2010 configuration for 30,000 mailboxes on EMC Unified Storage.

Recently we released our second Tested Exchange Solution for Exchange 2010 and this time we teamed up with Brocade and Dell to document how we virtualized Exchange using Microsoft Hyper-V. The paper entitled Zero Data Loss Disaster Recovery for Exchange 2010, includes EMC’s implementation of a Microsoft Third Party Replication API called EMC Replication Enabler for Exchange (REE) using EMC’s Mirrorview for array based synchronous replication. (Read the entire post)