New all-NVMe VxRail platforms deliver highest levels of performance
Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:24:55 -0000|
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Two new all-NVMe VxRail platforms deliver highest levels of performance
December 11, 2019
If you have not been tuned into the VxRail announcements at VMworld Barcelona last month, this is news to you. VxRail is adding more performance punch to the family with two new all-NVMe platforms. The VxRail E Series 560N and P Series 580N, with the 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, offer increased performance while enabling customers to take advantage of decreasing NVMe costs.
Balancing workload and budget requirements, the dual-socket E560N provide a cost-effective, space-efficient 1U platform for read-intensive workloads and other complex workloads. Configured with up to 32TB of NVMe capacity, the E560N is the first all-NVMe 1U VxRail platform. Based on the PowerEdge R640, the E560N can run a mix of workloads including data warehouses, ecommerce, databases, and high-performance computing. With support for Nvidia T4 GPUs, the E560N is also equipped to run a wide range of modern cloud-based applications, including machine learning, deep learning, and virtual desktop workloads.
Built for memory-intensive high-compute workloads, the new P580N is the first quad-socket and also the first all-NVMe 2U VxRail platform. Based on the PowerEdge R840, the P580N can be configured with up to 80TB of NVMe capacity. This platform is ideal for in-memory databases and has been certified by SAP for SAP HANA. The P580N provides 2x the CPU compared to the P570/F and offers 25% more processing potential over virtual storage appliance (VSA) based 4-socket HCI platforms that require a dedicated socket to run (VSA).
The completion of the SAP HANA certification for the P580N which coincides with the P580N’s general availability demonstrates the ongoing commitment to position VxRail as the HCI platform of choice for SAP HANA solutions. The P580N provides even more memory and processing power than the SAP HANA certified P570F platform. An updated Validation Guide for SAP HANA on VxRail will be available in early January on the Dell EMC SAP solutions landing page for VxRail.
For more information about VxRail E560N and P580N, please check out the resources below:
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SAP HANA Tiering: The Pressures of Data Growth
Fri, 01 May 2020 14:24:20 -0000|
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“Data growth is accelerating!” Quotes like this appear frequently in studies, papers, and blogs. You will not find more data growth quotes in this blog article, however, because I think it is more interesting to look at this from a data management investment policy perspective. A data management investment policy has similar benefits to a corporate travel investment policy—the goal is to efficiently maximize the bottom line. In most customer accounts, the SAP HANA licensing investment happens early and the business must maximize the benefits in the long term. First cost is not the sole driver because volume, variety, veracity, and velocity are all considerations when a company is looking for a strategy. Evaluating a data management investment policy for the long term can be complex. SAP provides Native Storage Extensions (NSE) to address both cost pressures and the intelligent placement of data over time.
SAP HANA with NSE offers the functionality of tiering data using different storage solutions based on the age of the data. The NSE data management policy categorizes data into three classes: hot, warm, or cold. This blog post focuses on the hot and warm data tiers. Hot data can use both volatile and nonvolatile memory, as follows:
- DRAM: DRAM is the fastest storage media. DRAM is volatile, however, meaning the data must be loaded into memory on restart of the database or server.
- PMEM: Persistent Memory (or PMEM) is faster than SSD storage but not as fast as DRAM. PMEM is also nonvolatile memory, meaning the data does not have to be loaded into memory on restart of the database or server. PMEM is used for the SAP HANA Fast Restart option.
SAP HANA on-premises Native Storage Extension
If you are interested in learning more about maximizing your data management investment strategy, the SAP HANA TDI on Dell EMC PowerEdge Servers Validation Guide provides detailed configurations. The hot data tier both drives the fastest performance and is the most expensive tier (hardware + SAP HANA licensing + annual support). Maximizing the performance-to-cost trade-off of hot data placement requires consideration of two factors:
- Keep actively used data that is critical to the business in the hot data tier
- Migrate less frequently used data out of the hot data tier to sustain costs
The first consideration is a performance guideline for when the responsiveness of the database and applications is at a premium for the business. Data that is less frequently used can be placed in the warm tier to minimize the impact on queries on the hot data tier. Another benefit is related to SAP HANA restarts. For example, planned maintenance events involving Linux operating system or SAP HANA database updates can require a restart. An SAP HANA system with NSE could have less data in the hot tier compared to the same SAP HANA system without NSE, thus improving restart times.
NOTE: SAP HANA also has a Fast Restart Option that uses file storage to speed up restarts. Fast Restart leverages PMEM to accelerate file storage access, significantly reducing the start time of the database. SAP HANA Fast Restart applies to scenarios in which only SAP HANA is restarted and not the operating system.
The second consideration is an avoidance guideline that sustains existing investments while mitigating additional ones. Success could be defined as a strategy in which performance increases with each new server generation while SAP HANA costs remain constant if the size of the hot data tier remains the same. The business impact is a continual increase in performance combined with efficiently maximizing the bottom line.
The warm data tier is for less frequently accessed data that occasionally resides in SAP HANA memory. If kept in memory, warm data accelerates costs, mainly through the additional licensing that is needed to increase the memory size. To mitigate the impact of rapid data growth, maximize the usage of the warm data tier. Keep in mind that the warm data tier is limited to four times the size of the hot data tier. For example, a hot data tier of 1 TB means the warm data tier can be up to 4 TB. The warm data tier also cannot exceed 10 TB in size. The 10 TB maximum is a first-release restriction.
Data in the warm tier is transactionally consistent with the hot data tier. This means that the warm data tier must be protected in conjunction with the hot data tier so that the entire database backup is consistent. While the hot and warm data tiers are transactionally consistent, they differ in how data is loaded into memory. The hot data tier is ”column loadable,” meaning the columnar tables are loaded into memory. In contrast, the warm data tier is “page loadable,” meaning granular portions of data are loaded into memory or partially in memory. The page-loadable design has two key benefits for the warm data tier:
- It does not significantly impact the memory footprint.
- It does not significantly impact the start time of the database.
Use of the warm data tier depends on the SAP HANA NSE buffer cache. This buffer cache is enabled by default and is initially sized as 10 percent of SAP HANA memory (for the sizing reference, see the SAP HANA Administration Guide for SAP HANA Platform 2.0 SPS 04). For example, the NSE buffer size is recommended to be at least 12.5 percent of the total size of the warm data tier. You can modify the NSE buffer cache size by using the ALTER SYSTEM ALTER CONFIGURATION command.
Warm Data Tier
Overall, use of the warm data tier enables customers to balance fast performance with increased data volumes while minimizing cost, thus achieving greater value. Customers have the flexibility to design an amazingly fast warm data tier with storage I/O latencies measured in microseconds, narrowing the difference between the hot and warm data tiers in terms of performance.
Dell Technologies has a team of experienced SAP HANA experts that can assist with accurate sizing and design of an infrastructure solution for your databases. Our goal is to work closely with you to maximize the value of NSE and create an extremely fast warm data tier that narrows the performance gap with the hot data tier. Your Dell Technologies representative can put you in contact with one of our SAP HANA experts.
Building on VxRail HCI System Software: the advantages of multi-cluster active management capabilities
Tue, 29 Sep 2020 19:03:05 -0000|
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The signs of autumn are all around us, from the total takeover of pumpkin-spiced everything to the beautiful fall foliage worthy of Bob Ross’s inspiration. Like the amount of change autumn brings forth, so too does the latest release of VxRail ACE, or should I preface that with ‘formerly known as’? I’ll get to that explanation shortly.
This release introduces multi-cluster update functionality that will further streamline the lifecycle management (LCM) of your VxRail clusters at scale. With this active management feature comes a new licensing structure and role-based access control to enable the active management of your clusters.
Formerly known as VxRail ACE
The colors of the leaves are changing and so is the VxRail ACE name. The brand name VxRail ACE (Analytical Consulting Engine), will no longer be used as of this release. While it had a catchy name and was easy to say, there are two reasons for this change. First, Analytical Consulting Engine no longer describes the full value or how we intend to expand the features in the future. It has grown beyond the analytics and monitoring capabilities of what was originally introduced in VxRail ACE a year ago and now includes several valuable LCM operations that greatly expand its scope. Secondly, VxRail ACE has always been part of the VxRail HCI System Software offering. Describing the functionality as part of the overall value of VxRail HCI System Software, instead of having its own name, simplifies the message of VxRail’s value differentiation.
Going forward, the capability set (that is, analytics, monitoring, and LCM operations) will be referred to as SaaS multi-cluster management -- a more accurate description. The web portal is now referred to as MyVxRail.
Cluster updates is the first active management feature offered by SaaS multi-cluster management. It builds on the existing LCM operational tools for planning cluster updates: on-demand pre-update health checks (LCM pre-check) and update bundle downloads and staging. Now you can initiate updates of your VxRail clusters at scale from MyVxRail. The benefits of cluster updates on MyVxRail tie closely with existing LCM operations. During the planning phase, you can run LCM pre-checks of the clusters you want to update. This informs you if a cluster is ready for an update and pinpoints areas for remediation for clusters that are not ready. From there, you can schedule your maintenance window to perform a cluster update and, from MyVxRail, initiate the download and staging of the VxRail update bundle onto those clusters. With this release, you can now execute cluster updates for those clusters. Now that’s operational efficiency!
When setting a cluster update operation, you have the benefit of two pieces of information – a time estimate for the update and the change data. The update time estimate will help you determine the length of the maintenance window. The estimate is generated by telemetry gathered about the install base to provide more accurate information. The change data is the list of the components that require an update to reach the target VxRail version.
Figure 1 MyVxRail Updates tab
Role-based access control
Active management requires role-based access control so that you can provide permissions to the appropriate individuals to perform configuration changes to your VxRail clusters. You don’t want anyone with access to MyVxRail to perform cluster updates on the clusters. SaaS multi-cluster management leverages vCenter Access Control for role-based access. From MyVxRail, you will be able to register MyVxRail with the vCenter Servers that are managing your VxRail clusters. The registration process will give VxRail privileges to vCenter Server to build roles with specific SaaS multi-cluster management capabilities.
MyVxRail registers the following privileges on vCenter:
- Download software bundle: downloads and stages the VxRail software bundle onto the cluster
- Execute health check: performs an on-demand pre-update health check on the cluster
- Execute cluster update: initiates the cluster update operation on the clusters
- Manage update credentials: modifies the VxRail infrastructure credentials used for active management
Figure 2 VxRail privileges for vCenter access control
VxRail Infrastructure Credentials
We’ve done more to make it easier to perform cluster updates at scale. Typically, when you’re performing a single cluster update, you have to enter the root account credentials for vCenter Server, Platform Services Controller, and VxRail Manager. That’s the same process when performing it from VxRail Manager. But that process can get tedious when you have multiple clusters to update.
VxRail Infrastructure Credentials can store those credentials so you can enter them once, at the initial setup of active management, and not have to do it again as you perform a multi-cluster update. MyVxRail can read the stored credentials that are saved on each individual cluster for security.
Big time saver! But how secure is it? More secure than hiding Halloween candy from children. For a user to perform cluster update, the administrator needs to add the ‘execute cluster update’ privilege to the role assigned to that user. Root credentials can only be managed by users assigned with a role that has the ‘manage update credentials’ privilege.
Figure 3 MyVxRail credentials manager
The last topic is licensing. While all the capabilities you have been using on MyVxRail come with the purchase of the VxRail HCI System Software license, multi-cluster update is different. This feature requires a fee-based add-on software license called ‘SaaS active multi-cluster management for VxRail HCI System Software’. All VxRail nodes come with VxRail HCI System Software and you have access to MyVxRail and SaaS multi-cluster management features, except for cluster update. For you to perform an update of a cluster on MyVxRail, all nodes in the clusters must have the add-on software license.
That is a lot to consume for one release. Hopefully, unlike your Thanksgiving meal, you can stay awake for the ending. While the brand name VxRail ACE is no more, we’re continuing to deliver value-adding capabilities. Multi-cluster update is a great feature to further your use of MyVxRail for LCM of your VxRail clusters. With role-based access and VxRail infrastructure credentials, rest assured you’re benefitting from multi-cluster update without sacrificing security.
Daniel Chiu, VxRail Technical Marketing