VxRail extends flexibility in Healthcare with new EHR best practices
Mon, 01 Jun 2020 13:39:38 -0000|
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The Healthcare industry is pressured to deliver not only as health providers, but making the infrastructure that operates the healthcare system, secure, scalable, and simple to use. This allows healthcare providers to focus on patients. VxRail has had a great deal of success in the healthcare vertical because its core values align so closely with those demanded by the industry. With early successes in VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), healthcare IT departments expanded to more business and even life critical IT use cases with VxRail, because it proved that it can be highly scalable, simple to use, and has security built into everything it does.
“Best Practices for VMware vSAN with Epic on Dell EMC VxRail” created in collaboration with our peers at VMware highlights the considerations around a small to medium size environment, specifically for Epic. It uses a 6 node VxRail configuration to provide predictable and consistent performance, as well as Life Cycle Management (LCM) for the VxRail. The VxRail node used in this best practice is an E560N – an all NVMe solution. Balancing workload and budget requirements, the dual-socket E560N provides a cost-effective, space-efficient 1U platform. Available with up to 32TB of NVMe capacity, the E560N is the first all-NVMe 1U VxRail platform. The all-NVMe capability provides a higher performance at low queue depths making it much easier to reliably deliver very high real-world performance for a SQL Server database management system (DBMS). Being able to run multiple healthcare applications including EHR, while successfully maintaining the secure, scalable, and simplified use of VxRail is possible. Enabling healthcare IT departments to scale and expanded infrastructure to meet the ever-growing demands of the health providers and the healthcare industry.
VxRail has had a great deal of success in the healthcare vertical because its core values align so closely to those demanded by the industry
- Secure - Security is a core part of VxRail design, this starts at the supply chain and the components used to build it, continues into the features and software designed into it, and evolves with every lifecycle management that updates the VxRail HCI (hyperconverged infrastructure) system software. The most recent feature added supports 2-factor authentication (2FA), to provide an additional layer of security. VxRail has FIPS 140-2 validated encryption based on vSAN architecture. There is a detailed whitepaper for the VxRail security that covers in detail security features and certifications here.
- Scalable - What makes VxRail an effective solution for healthcare is its ability to scale, not just for EHR applications, but for any application sharing the solution. With VxRail, you can size based on the known or expected workloads for the initial deployment and provide a solution that meets that workload requirement. This allows for the healthcare infrastructure to buy for the requirements of today, not the estimated requirements of three to five years down the road, as VxRail will scale easily into the future. Scaling the VxRail is easy... need more compute, just add an additional node; need more storage space, just add additional capacity drives.
- Simplicity - Why is simplicity important when it comes to not just healthcare solutions, but all workloads? It is about IT teams being able to focus on their business and less on the continuous effort to maintain environments. VxRail simplifies operations with software-driven automation and lifecycle management. VxRail is continuously tested and updated as a solution from the BIOS, firmware, and HCI to the VMware software
VxRail is flexible enough to support hospital systems, alongside other applications for business and even education. A great example of this this flexibility can be seen in this Mercy Ships case study. The new best practices for Epic EHR combined with the proven successes that VxRail has with VDI in the Healthcare vertical are a testament to VxRail’s versatility.
Author: Vic Dery, Senior Principal Engineer, VxRail Technical Marketing
Best Practices for VMware vSAN with Epic on Dell EMC VxRail - Here
Dell EMC VxRail Comprehensive Security Design - Here
See more solutions from Dell for healthcare and life sciences - Here
Customer profile Mercy Ships - Here
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Built to Scale with VCF on VxRail and Oracle 19C RAC
Fri, 17 Apr 2020 05:21:03 -0000|
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Built to Scale with VCF on VxRail and Oracle 19C RAC
The newly released Oracle RAC on Dell EMC VxRail with VMware Cloud Foundations (VCF) Reference Architecture (RA) guides customers to building an efficient and high performing hyperconverged infrastructure to run their OLTP workloads. Scalability was the primary goal of this RA, and performance was highlighted as the numbers were generated. As Oracle RAC scaled, TPM increased to over 1 million TPM, while read IOPs showed sub-milli-second (0.64-0.70 ms) performance. The performance achieved with VxRail is a great added benefit to the core design points for Oracle RAC environments of which the primary focus is the availability and resiliency of the solution. Links to a reference architecture (“Oracle RAC on VMware Cloud Foundation on Dell EMC VxRail”) and a solution brief (“Deploying Oracle RAC on Dell EMC VxRail “) are available here and at the end of this post.
The RAC solution with VxRail scaled-out easily — you simply add a new node to join an existing VxRail cluster. The VxRail Manager provides a simple path that automatically discovers and non-disruptively adds each new node. VMware vSphere and vSAN can then rebalance resources and workloads across the cluster, creating a single resource pool for compute and storage.
The VxRail clusters were built with eight P570F nodes; four for the VCF Management Domain and four for the Oracle RAC Workload Domain.
Specifics on the build, including the hardware and software used, are detailed within the reference architecture. It also provides information on the testing, tools used, and results.
This graph shows the performance of TPM and Response Time when increasing the RAC node count from one to four. Notice that the average TPM increased with near-linear trendline (shown by the dotted line) as additional RAC nodes were added, while total application response time was maintained at 20 milliseconds or less.
Note: TPM near-linear trendline is shown in the above graph (blue dotted line), As additional RAC nodes are added, an increase in performance is seen as well as an increase in RAC high availability. TPM linear performance (scale equal performance per each note) growth is not achieved due to RAC nodes’ dependency on concurrency of access, instance, network, or other factors. See the RA for additional performance related information.
Summary of performance
Different-sized databases kept the TPM at the same level (about one million transactions) while keeping the application response time at 20ms or below. When increasing the database size, the physical read and write IOPS increased near-linearly, as reported from the Oracle AWR. This indicated that more read and write I/O requests were served by the backend storage, under the same configuration. Overall, when the peak client IOPS was up to 100,000, vSAN still provided excellent storage performance at sub-milliseconds at read and single-digit milliseconds latency at write.
Sidebar about Oracle licensing: While not mentioned in the RA; the VxRail offers several facilities to both control Oracle licenses and in some cases eliminates the need for costly licensed options. These include a broad choice of CPU core configurations, some with fewer cores and higher processing power per core, to maximize the customer’s Oracle workload performance while minimizing the license requirements. Costly add on options such as encryption and compression can be provided via vSAN and are handled by VxRail. Further, and the vSphere hypervisor features, like DRS, allow Oracle VMs to be contained to only licensed nodes.
You can speak to a Dell Technologies’ Oracle specialist for more details on how to control Oracle licensing costs for VMware environments.
Oracle Database 19c on VxRail offers customers performance, scalability, reliability, and security for all their operational and analytical workloads. The Oracle RAC on VxRail test environment was first created to highlight the architecture. It also had the added benefit of showcasing the great performance VxRail delivers. If you need more performance, it is simple to adjust the configuration by adding more VxRail nodes to the cluster. If you need more storage, add more drives to meet the scale required of the database. Dell Technologies has Oracle specialists to ensure the VxRail cluster will meet the scale and performance outcomes desired for Oracle environments.
Reference Architecture - Oracle RAC on VMware Cloud Foundation on Dell EMC VxRail
Solution Brief - Deploying Oracle RAC on Dell EMC VxRail
Author: Vic Dery, Senior Principal Engineer, VxRail Technical Marketing
Special thank you to David Glynn for assisting with the reviews
Extending Dell Technologies Cloud Platform Availability for Mission Critical Applications
Mon, 29 Jun 2020 14:48:57 -0000|
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Reference Architecture Validation Whitepaper Now Available!
Many of us here at Dell Technologies regularly have conversations with customers and talk about what we refer to as the “Power of the Portfolio.” What does this mean exactly? It is essentially a reference to the fact that, as Dell Technologies, we have a robust and broad portfolio of modern IT infrastructure products and solutions across storage, networking, compute, virtualization, data protection, security, and more! At first glance, it can seem overwhelming to many. Some even say it could be considered complex to sort through. But we, as Dell Technologies, on the other hand, see it as an advantage. It allows us to solve a vast majority of our customers’ technical needs and support them as a strategic technology partner.
It is one thing to have the quality and quantity of products and tools to get the job done -- it’s another to leverage this portfolio of products to deliver on what customers want most: business outcomes.
As Dell Technologies continues to innovate, we are making the best use of the technologies we have and are developing ways to use them together seamlessly in order to deliver better business outcomes for our customers. The conversations we have are not about this product OR that product but instead they are about bringing together this set of products AND that set of products to deliver a SOLUTION giving our customers the best of everything Dell Technologies has to offer without compromise and with reduced risk.
Figure 1: Cloud Foundation on VxRail Platform Components
The Dell Technologies Cloud Platform is an example of one of these solutions. And there is no better example that illustrateshow to take advantage of the “Power of the Portfolio” than one that appears in a newly published reference architecture white paper that focuses on validating the use of the Dell EMC PowerMax system with SRDF/Metro in a Dell Technologies Cloud Platform (VMware Cloud Foundation on a Dell EMC VxRail) multi-site stretched-cluster deployment configuration (Extending Dell Technologies Cloud Platform Availability for Mission Critical Applications).This configuration provides the highest levels of application availability for customers who are running mission-critical workloads in their Cloud Foundation on VxRail private cloud that would otherwise not be possible with core DTCP alone.
Let’s briefly review some of the components used in the reference architecture and how they were configured and tested.
Using external storage with VCF on VxRail
Customers commonly ask whether they can use external storage in Cloud Foundation on VxRail deployments. The answer is yes! This helps customers ease into the transition to a software-defined architecture from an operational perspective. It also helps customers leverage the investments in their existing infrastructure for the many different workloads that might still require external storage services.
External storage and Cloud Foundation have two important use cases: principal storage and supplemental storage.
- Principal storage - SDDC Manager provisions a workload domain that uses vSAN, NFS, or Fiber Channel (FC) storage for a workload domain cluster’s principal storage (the initial shared storage that is used to create a cluster). By default, VCF uses vSAN storage as the principal storage for a cluster. The option to use NFS and FC-connected external storage is also available. This option enables administrators to create a workload domain cluster whose principal storage can be a previously provisioned NFS datastore or an FC-based VMFS datastore instead of vSAN. External storage as principal storage is only supported on VI Workload Domains as vSAN is the required principal storage for the management domain in VCF.
- Supplemental storage - This involves mounting previously provisioned external NFS, iSCSI, vVols, or FC storage to a Cloud Foundation workload domain cluster that is using vSAN as the principal storage. Supporting external storage for these workload domain clusters is comparable to the experience of administrators using standard vSphere clusters who want to attach secondary datastores to those clusters.
At the time of writing, Cloud Foundation on VxRail supports supplemental storage use cases only. This is how external storage was used in the reference architecture solution configuration.
The Dell EMC PowerMax is the first Dell EMC hardware platform that uses an end-to-end Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) architecture for customer data. NVMe is a set of standards that define a PCI Express (PCIe) interface used to efficiently access data storage volumes based on Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) media, which includes modern NAND-based flash along with higher-performing Storage Class Memory (SCM) media technologies. The NVMe-based PowerMax array fully unlocks the bandwidth, IOPS, and latency performance benefits that NVM media and multi-core CPUs offer to host-based applications—benefits that are unattainable using the previous generation of all-flash storage arrays. For a more detailed technical overview of the PowerMax Family, please check out the whitepaper Dell EMC PowerMax: Family Overview.
The following figure shows the PowerMax 2000 and PowerMax 8000 models.
Figure 2: PowerMax product family
The Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) maintains real-time (or near real-time) copies of data on a PowerMax production storage array at one or more remote PowerMax storage arrays. SRDF has three primary applications:
- Disaster recovery
- High availability
- Data migration
In the case of this reference architecture, SRDF/Metro was used to provide enhanced levels of high availability across two availability zone sites. For a complete technical overview of SRDF, please check out this great SRDF whitepaper: Dell EMC SRDF.
Now that we are familiar with the components used in the solution, let’s discuss the details of the solution architecture that was used.
This overall solution design provides enhanced levels of flexibility and availability that extend the core capabilities of the VCF on VxRail cloud platform. The VCF on VxRail solution natively supports a stretched-cluster configuration for the management domain and a VI workload domain between two availability zones by using vSAN stretched clusters. A PowerMax SRDF/Metro with Metro Stretched Cluster (vMSC) configuration is added to protect VI workload domain workloads by using supplementary storage for the workloads that are running on them.
Two types of vMSC configurations are verified with stretched Cloud Foundation on VxRail: uniform and non-uniform.
- Uniform host access configuration - vSphere hosts from both sites are all connected to a storage node in the storage cluster across all sites. Paths presented to vSphere hosts are stretched across a distance.
- Non-uniform host access configuration - vSphere hosts at each site are connected only to storage nodes at the same site. Paths presented to vSphere hosts from storage nodes are limited to the local site.
The following figure shows the topology used in the reference architecture of the Cloud Foundation uniform stretched-cluster configuration with PowerMax SRDF/Metro.
Figure 3: Cloud Foundation on VxRail uniform stretched-cluster config with PowerMax SRDF/Metro
The following figure shows the topology used in the reference architecture of the Cloud Foundation on VxRail non-uniform stretched cluster configuration with PowerMax SRDF/Metro.
Figure 4: Cloud Foundation on VxRail non-uniform stretched-cluster config with PowerMax SRDF/Metro
Solution Validation Testing Methodology
We completed solution validation testing across the following major categories for both iSCSI and FC connected devices:
- Functional Verification Tests - This testing addresses the basic operations that are performed when PowerMax is used as supplementary storage with VMware VCF on VxRail.
- High Availability Tests - HA testing helps validate the capability of the solution to avoid a single point of failure, from the hardware component port level up to the IDC site level.
- Reliability Tests - In general, reliability testing validates whether the components and the whole system are reliable enough with a certain level of stress running on them.
For complete details on all of the individual validation test scenarios that were performed, and the pass/fail results, check out the whitepaper.
To summarize, this white paper describes how Dell EMC engineers integrated VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail with PowerMax SRDF/Metro and provides the design configuration steps that they took to automatically provision PowerMax storage by using the PowerMax vRO plug-in. The paper validates that the Cloud Foundation on VxRail solution functions as expected in both a PowerMax uniform vMSC configuration and a non-uniform vMSC configuration by passing all the designed test cases. This reference architecture validation demonstrates the power of the Dell Technologies portfolio to provide customers with modern cloud infrastructure technologies that deliver the highest levels of application availability for business-critical and mission-critical applications running in their private clouds.
Find the link to the white paper below along with other VCF on VxRail resources and see how you can leverage the “Power of the Portfolio” to support your business!
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