SharePoint 2010 RBS on EMC storage

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In an older post, I was sharing key data points from our SharePoint EBS externalization solution based on Metlogix StoragePoint v2 with MOSS 2007 to an EMC Atmos cloud storage, the whitepaper is available on EMC website.

This time around I wanted to share a more recent use case delivered by our Unfied Solutions Engineering group based in RTP, NC. They have put an EMC Unified NS-480 storage to the test with various BLOB storage configurations using StorgePoint v3 with Microsoft SharePoint 2010. The solution used three storage configurations: 1. No externalization 2. RBS on FC disks  3. RBS on SATA. Also used point-in-time snapshots managed by Replication Manager to protect the entire environment (BLOB store, SQL metadata, configuration, search etc.)

The graph below displays the comparison of the three configurations in terms of overall throughput measured in Requests Per Second (RPS).

From the results we conclude that when the baseline configuration was compared with BLOB externalization on FC disks, there was an overall increase in the SharePoint farm throughput by roughly 50% for the three different user profile mix tests. This proves that moving BLOBS from SQL content databases to a dedicated file system created on FC disks increases the I/O performance of the files and the overall throughput of the SharePoint farm.
When the baseline configuration was compared with the BLOB externalization on SATA disks (which are slower than FC disks but of higher capacity), there was ~10% increase in the throughput for 80/10/10 and 70/05/25 profiles and an 8.5 percent decrease in the throughput.

Now I have to admit, mileage may vary, depending on the object count, size and user activity but the general idea is that the larger the BLOB the more reasonable is it to externalize it with a very good chance for performance improvement but no guarantees there!

May I also mention the CPU overhead involved with externalization. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, SharePoint in general really likes CPUs……

The CPU utilization of the Web and Application servers remained relatively constant with or without BLOB externalization. However, SQL server CPU utilization was higher with BLOB externalization enabled.

For more details you can actually download the document directly from EMC website.

Questions, comments are welcomed

Happy holidays,


Same Old Lang Syne: Should old Competitors Be Forgot?

It’s customary for end-of-year articles to look forward, you know the drill, “here’s what I see in my crystal ball for our market”.  But in light of some recent competitor announcements, let’s take a look at the past for a minute.  Not too long ago EMC took a little flack from our competitors when we introduced SourceOne for Email Management.  At the time it was a big decision to move away from the EmailXtender architecture, but we did that with both a firm understanding of how managing mail had evolved as well as a definite idea of where the future was headed.

Looking back at email, few understood that it would evolve from a convenient communication method, into a mission-critical technology platform.  Remember in the early days, when an excuse like “I didn’t get your email, the server was down” was actually acceptable?  Image trying that today!  Early email archiving products were designed to help this problem; Keep the email server light and lean for optimal performance.  Email today is much more than Exchange or Domino server performance.  It is an integral part of the whole information governance strategy, impacting everything from backup & recovery to legal response to intellectual property.

EMC evolved our email archiving product into an information governance platform, because we saw how email use was exploding.  We made a calculated bet that products designed primarily for storage optimization, would have difficulty scaling as email use continued to grow.  In the early days of email the average number of messages sent & received each day was pretty low.  Now according to some of the analyst estimates, that number approaches 110 messages per user per day.  That’s over 40,000 messages per year per employee, which means that companies are now responsible for managing archives with Billions of messages within them, an amount that was inconceivable a few years ago when these original systems were designed.

Most of our competitors have recently released point versions of their email archiving products, (Symantec & CommVault are both up to version 9.0), and while they certainly are improvements over the previous release, the architecture really hasn’t changed much from their original design points.  Most of these products are grounded in the storage optimization model, which sounds great, but that means you are tied to the storage model when you need to scale, i.e.: The solution is to add more servers.  Bought a new company lately and want to include that email with the parent companies? Add a server!  Seeing an uptick in email due to a successful marketing promotion?  Add a server!  Need more indexing power to support the increase in email volume?  Add a server!  This is all a story we know by heart, and once that server is in place (logically or physically), it has to stay there in these older models.  One has to wonder how long our competitors can continue to bolt on features to an aging architecture.

EMC SourceOne broke this model to give you more flexibility in managing your email environments.  In 2010 you saw us deliver other products in the SourceOne family to create a true information governance platform that includes; SharePoint archiving, File System archiving as well as email Archiving.  In 2011 we will continue to refine our system to deliver a powerful information governance platform, and we look forward to working with you in 2011.

Deploying Virtual Desktops with EMC, Microsoft Hyper-V & Citrix XenDesktop

Virtual Desktops (VDI) continue to gain popularity as more and more companies look to find ways to simplify and automate IT operations through virtualization. There are several reasons that companies are considering VDI including the ability to centralize the management of a company's desktop environment making the administration of desktops including upgrades and deployments easier.  Simplifying desktop management also helps to reduce support costs and improve productivity levels within IT and among the end users.

EMC continues to hear from our customers their interest in combining the power of Microsoft's Hyper-V server virtualization technology and System Center management suite along with Citrix XenDesktop, the leading desktop virtualization software on the market. Based on these requests, we recently tested and documented a Virtual Infrastructure Solution for Virtual Desktops enabled by EMC Unified Storage, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, and Citrix XenDesktop 4 Reference Architecture!

The purpose of this solution was to test and understand the performance of the EMC unified storage platform when used with Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenDesktop supporting up to 1000 virtual desktops. This reference architecture guide captures all of the server, storage and network configuration details including a storage building block approach so customers of all sizes can use the sizing details to build a storage infrastructure to support their VDI implementation.

The following diagram shows the overall architecture of the solution including the necessary components to support the environment including Active Directory, System Center, SQL Server and the Citrix services such as the Citrix Desktop Delivery Controllers and the Citrix Provisioning Services. Also included are the Virtual desktops, the EMC Celerra NS-120 and the necessary network components.

Some key components of this solution include:

  • Using Citrix XenDesktop 4 with a Microsoft Hyper-V R2 virtualization platform for best of breed virtualization technologies.
  • Fibre Channel (FC) SAN connectivity between the hosts and the EMC storage for optimal performance.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and virtual local area network (VLAN) connections for maximum performance and to eliminate network bottlenecks.
  • All virtual machine files are stored on the EMC unified storage array.
  • Storage allocation for desktops is based on a 1+1 RAID 1 building block supporting up to 100 virtual desktops per building block.
  • Target of large customer environments with maximum shared storage capacities of 120 disks and 64TB.

The building block concept utilizes two spindles in a 1+1 RAID 1 group. Each building block can support up to 100 virtual desktop users with this test using 10 building blocks to support 1000 virtual desktops. This solution was built with ten 1+1 RAID 1 groups for the virtual desktops (20 disks), two 4+1 RAID 5 groups to store golden images of the virtual desktops, the TFTP boot image and ISO images as well as two hot spare drives for a total of 32 drives as seen in the following diagram.

In summary, this configuration supports 1000 total virtual desktops (with each virtual desktop 3GB in size (thin provisioned)) in a building block size of 100 virtual desktops across 10 building blocks. The configuration utilized just over two disk shelves of 450GB 15k RPM Fibre Channel disks. For the servers, 3 physical hosts were used for SCVMM, Active Directory and supporting services while 16 Cisco UCS B200 M1 blade servers were used to host the 1000 virtual desktops.

While deploying virtual desktops can sound like a challenging task, this Reference Architecture shows that with the right amount of planning and technical guidance including the use of a building block approach, a lot of the guesswork can be removed from the situation. Stay tuned for more details on EMC solutions supporting a Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenDesktop Virtual Desktop solution as we continue to build more solutions and work with our partners to create reference architectures to help our customers.

For a much more detailed document on how to design as well as step by step instructions for building out a similar configuration, be sure to check out the EMC Infrastructure for Virtual Desktops enabled by EMC Unified Storage, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Citrix XenDesktop Proven Solutions Guide.

Happy Holidays!

Deploying Virtual Desktops with EMC, Microsoft Hyper-V & Citrix XenDesktop

From Virtual Winfrastructure

Virtual Desktops (VDI) continue to gain popularity as more and more companies look to find ways to simplify and automate IT operations through virtualization. There are several reasons that companies are considering VDI including the ability to centralize the management of a company’s desktop environment making the administration of desktops including upgrades and deployments easier.  Simplifying desktop management also helps to reduce support costs and improve productivity levels within IT and among the end users. (Click to read more)