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Guest Post from EMC: Microsoft SQL Server 2012 & EMC VMAXe; A Perfect Match
by SQL Server Team
Successful companies do their best to stand out, to provide offerings of value and to balance quality, functionality and cost. Of course, as individual consumers, we understand that “new and improved” is no guarantee of practical, useful, simple…

EMC ItemPoint: Build in Item Level Recovery for your EMC Snaps, Clones and Bookmarks… Oh My!

by Sam Marraccini (@EMCMSFT)

Introducing EMC ItemPoint: Built in Item Level Recovery for individual Exchange Message Recovery!   ItemPoint integrates with your existing EMC infrastructure to provide message level recovery from your EMC Snaps, Clones and Bookmarks.

High availability for Microsoft Exchange has long been a leading topic of conversation as I visit EMC Customers.  Since the early days of Exchange 2003, I really can’t recall a customer conversation that hasn’t revolved around it.

In the days of Exchange 2003, a MS Cluster configuration was the design of choice, with Exchange 2007 it would be a combination of CCR and SCR.  Of course with Exchange 2010 it is all about the DAG.  The Database Availability Group (DAG) being the integrated high availability solution for Exchange 2010 mailbox servers.

The conversation inevitably leads to a review of Exchange recovery types and service levels.   What exactly does an Exchange mailbox service level mean?  Is it based on “Server” availability, end user outlook up-time?  What if an Executive is looking for a message that has been “Shift-Deleted”?  

Enter EMC ItemPoint:  Item Level recovery for Exchange Messages, fully integrated with EMCs Replication Manager and RecoverPoint.

As you design your Exchange (or any messaging) environment, it’s a good idea to create a simple service level chart like the one below:


RTO (Recovery Time Objective)

RPO (Recovery Point Objective)







Database (Storage Group)






Site (DR)



Your answers will very, as will your design.  Just remember that the Exchange 2010 DAG will protect you from a mailbox server outage, not the other areas. 

Maybe a long term legal compliant archive is the right solution for message and mailbox recovery.   VSS, Hardware or software, is a must for protecting against a corrupted or damaged database.  Site extension of a DAG will greatly benefit with EMCs Replication Enabler for Exchange (REE).

EMCs full suite of Microsoft Exchange based solutions provides the appropriate level of protection for the specifics of you exchange service levels.  To learn more about the EMC Microsoft Exchange Recovery Solutions contact your EMC account team or your EMC mSpecialist. or here EMC ItemPoint on

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Help – I need that email I deleted!


Anyone who knows me wouldn't be surprised to hear that I delete just about everything in my Inbox. I don't like clutter. I have been known to put dishes away when my guests are still using them even though they only walked away for a minute. I carry this with me to work and I don't know why but seeing an inbox full of emails drives me nuts so I just delete 'em while they come in…and I get a lot of emails (don't get me wrong co-workers and friends, I actually read the emails but why do I need to save them?! I either send a response, file in a folder for reference, or I nuke it)!

Well as you can imagine, this gets me into hot water every now and then. There are times when I try to find an email I remember receiving or someone has referenced and I can't find it anywhere. Sure, I can use the "Recover Deleted Items" option in Exchange (best feature in Exchange\Outlook if you ask me) but if your company is like ours, this only goes so far back because it is costly to store and protect employee's deleted items.

So what do I do when I need to retrieve a long lost email? Well, previously I didn't have many options outside of asking someone to resend it or fumbling my way through the issue. Luckily, I've never been in a situation where my job or an important deal depended on it. Well, now I have another reason why I can continue to wear out my delete button!

Introducing EMC ItemPoint! ItemPoint is software that when used with EMC Replication Manager, it allows you to quickly search and recover Microsoft Exchange mailboxes, attachments, contacts and even tasks! If you are an existing EMC customer and you are using EMC snaps, clones or RecoverPoint continuous data protection (CDP) than you already have easy access to array based replicas of your Exchange data. To recover an individual item, simply right-click on your backup from within Replication Manager and choose Restore – Item Level as seen in the screen shot below.


Then select the backup or replica that you want to recover an item from, specify the source Exchange files and find the email or item you are looking for from within the backup. What's great is that you can choose to connect to the target mailbox that you want to restore the email or item to and simply drag and drop the recovered item back to the live Exchange system. By the time you pick up the phone and tell the user to look in their inbox for the recovered item it will already be there!!

ItemPoint includes an advanced search function so if you forget the subject of the email you can look for additional details such as dates, who the email was sent to or from and even perform searches within attachments!! Additional features include ItemPoint ExtractWizards to recover items from a backup server including support for backup products such as Windows NT Backup, Symantec Backup Exec and EMC Networker as well the ability to assist with migrations including automating the process to copy legacy email to a new server.

Interested to learn more?...check out Sam's Inside the Partnership video on YouTube where he explains the Exchange recovery process and provides a demo of ItemPoint recovering a much needed email. 

If email is as critical in your environment as it is in ours, than ItemPoint is something you should be using to ensure you can provide easy item level recovery for end users or to assist with data retrieval as part of your company regulations!

SQL Server Logical Disk Layout

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a meetup of SQL Server folks here in the Hartford area about storage and SQL Server. We were going through the ideal storage layout of SQL server, and someone in the group summarized it as "so I need a minimum of five disks (LUNs) for a SQL Server?" I'd never really thought of it in those terms, so let's get down to the thinking:

First, this has mostly to do with logical layout of data. Aside from separating logs and databases on different physical media, it has nothing to do with physical layout of data. Even if you have only a couple of disks to allocate to the server, you can still logically partition it so that it's easy to evaluate performance later on.

As with almost everything else related to SQL Server, it's going to depend on the workload. The key aspects are:

  • Performance sensitivity - This is not necessarily a performance intensive workload – it could be nearly idle. The key question is "if performance of this application suffers, which business processes will suffer, and how many users will suffer?" If there's a chance that someone important is going to call you up and ask you to fix a performance problem with this SQL server, it's performance sensitive. Even if you're resource constrained, it would help to have things laid out so you can evaluate performance without reconfiguring the database (which in reality includes nearly as much effort as migrating to entirely new storage).
  • Recoverability – This would be dictated by whether you'll need to be able to perform up to the minute recovery of the database. If you do, you'll need to consider the physical layout of the data so that the failure of a physical disk or RAID group doesn't take out the database and its transaction logs at the same time.

Here's a quick version of the rules:

  1. If your database is neither performance sensitive and you do not need the ability to recover data up to the last transaction, then you only need one or two:
    1. OS/Apps
    2. Databases and transaction logs
  2. If the data in your database is critical enough that you'll want to be able to recover up to the latest transaction, you'll need three.
    1. OS
    2. Databases
    3. Transaction logs (you also need to make sure that these are physically separated from the databases, so that you don't lose data from both of them at the same time).
  3. If your data is performance sensitive (regardless of whether the data is sensitive), you need a minimum of five, and possibly more:
    1. OS
    2. System databases (other than tempdb)
    3. User databases
    4. User database transaction logs
    5. One for tempdb and its logs

The principle behind this separation is the performance evaluation of these components independently of each other. If I have my user databases mixed with tempdb, and I'm having performance issues, I have no real way of telling which database is presenting the IO, and which database is starving. All I know is that performance stinks equally on both databases. More importantly for transaction logs, you want to both avoid contention between the IO that log flushes create and normal user IO, and you also want to make sure that transaction log disks get a write response time of well less than 10 milliseconds.

These five LUNs are a starting point – I often see systems with a dozen or even a couple dozen LUNs. What's the reason for adding LUNs above this five?

  • Additional segregation of the unrelated workloads. I can put two different databases on two different LUNs.
  • Segregation of related, but different workloads. For example, I could put my non-clustered indexes on different disk than my data files.
  • Simply adding queues – each disk gets an additional queue
  • Increase the granularity of restore options if you're using hardware-based snapshots, clones, or CDP. In this case, the management boundary is the LUN itself, so if you want to do rapid restore of a failed or corrupt data file using this method, then you would restore all the databases on that LUN together (whether they are corrupt or not). There are ways to do selective restore in this case, but it can take longer to perform the restore.

Remember that multiple LUNs can actually share the same physical disks, so your workloads can still step on each other if that's the case. However, it makes the troubleshooting process much easier. And if you're using the right technology, fixing the problems can be completely seamless.

Lightning Strikes!

Earlier this week EMC announced a new server Flash caching solution called VFCache, a hardware and software solution that leverages PCIe Flash technology to extend performance based caching from the storage array to the server. VFCache (codenamed "Project Lightning") increases throughput and reduces latency with a focus towards read intensive workloads including Microsoft SQL Server.

When used with an EMC Flash enabled array, VFCache can actually increase throughput up to 3x which means customers can extend the benefits they are seeing on the EMC array since the use of an embedded SSD on the PCIe card helps to bridge the performance gap between the server and storage. VFCache reduces the need to access data across the network from the storage array which is what helps to decrease the response times and increase the performance of the application. VFCache automatically determines which data is being frequently accessed and promotes this to the server Flash cache so reads are being serviced by VFCache while writes are being directed to the storage array.

(for an excellent and highly detailed overview on VFCache, I strongly recommend you read VirtualGeek's blog post on this subject)

In a recent white paper entitled EMC VFCache Accelerates Microsoft SQL Server, we tested an online transaction processing (OLTP) database on SQL Server 2008 using a 90% reads to 10% writes workload. After establishing a baseline, the VFCache was enabled and testing proved an increase of transactions per second (TPS) from 1.0 TPS to 3.6 TPS – an increase of 260%!!!


The test results also displayed a reduction in latency from 1.0 read latencies to 0.13! 

So what's next? Well EMC has already indicated that another announcement called Project Thunder will be out in Q2 of 2012 and you know what they say…when you see Lightning, Thunder is close by! Stay tuned!