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High-Performance, Highly Available File Share Storage for Server Applications #SMB #WS2012 #Hyperv

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Windows Server 2012 introduces new file server features that helps you store server application data on file shares and obtaining a similar level of reliability, availability, manageability, and high performance that you would expect from a storage area network (SAN). These new file server features include transparent failover, networking improvements for greater bandwidth and resiliency, support for network adapters with RDMA capability, specific performance optimizations, and support for Windows PowerShell commands.

Key benefits

Store application data on inexpensive, easy-to-manage file shares and obtain similar (or better) benefits of continuous availability, high performance, and manageability that you would expect from a SAN.

Technical overview

Windows Server 2012 introduces a set of new file server features that provide important improvements for server applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and Hyper-V, which can store data on file shares.The following improvements have been added to Windows Server 2012:

SMB transparent failover. You can now more easily perform hardware or software maintenance of nodes in a clustered file server by moving file shares between nodes without interrupting server applications that are storing data on these file shares. Also, if a hardware or software failure occurs on a cluster node, Server Message Block (SMB 3.0) 3.0 transparent failover lets file shares failover to another cluster node without interrupting server applications that are storing data on these file shares.

SMB multiple-channel. This improvement allows aggregation of network bandwidth and network fault tolerance if multiple paths are available between the SMB client and the SMB server. Server applications can then take advantage of all available network bandwidth to be more resilient in the event of a network failure.

SMB direct. This improvement uses a special type of network adapter that has remote direct memory access (RDMA) capability and can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU. For server roles or applications such as Hyper-V or SQL Server, this gives a remote file server performance comparable to local storage.

SMB performance counters for server applications. Performance counters provide detailed information about I/O size, I/O latency, IOPS, and so on. This helps SQL Server database administrators or Hyper-V administrators analyze the performance of the SMB file shares where their data is stored. 

SMB performance optimizations.The SMB client and SMB server have been optimized for small, random read/write I/O, which is common in server applications such as SQL Server online transaction processing (OLTP). In addition, a large maximum transmission unit (MTU) is enabled by default, which significantly enhances performance in large sequential transfers, such as with a SQL Server data warehouse, a database backup or restore, or the copying or deployment of virtual hard disks. 

SMB management with Windows PowerShell. Organizations can use command line in Windows PowerShell, you can use the command line to manage SMB on a file server, end to end. 

SMB remote file storage. Hyper-V can now store virtual machine files (including configuration files, virtual hard disk files, and snapshots) in shared folders that use the SMB protocol. Support for storing database files in shared folders that use the SMB protocol was introduced in SQL Server 2008 R2.

The following figure shows an example of a two-node file server cluster that provides storage for Hyper-V and SQL Server.

SMB figure 1

Following are the main advantages of storing server application data on shared folders in Windows Server 2012:

Ease of provisioning and management. You can manage file shares instead of storage fabric and logical unit numbers (LUNs).

Increased flexibility. You can dynamically relocate virtual machines or databases in the datacenter.

Ability to take advantage of existing investment in a converged network. You can use your existing converged network with no specialized storage networking hardware.

Reduced capital expenditures. Capital expenses (acquisition costs) are reduced.

Reduced operating expenditures. You can reduce operating costs because there is virtually no need for specialized storage expertise.

Requirements New SMB 3.0 features :
SMB transparent failover has the following requirements: 

A failover cluster running Windows Server 2012 with at least two nodes. The cluster must pass the cluster validation tests in the validation wizard. 

The “Services For Continuously Available Shares” role service installed on all cluster nodes. This role service provides the persistent store that enables the file server to resume handles after a failover. It also provides a witness service that helps clients more quickly reconnect to a clustered file share after an unplanned failure. 

File shares created with the Continuous Availability property. This is the default setting. 

Computers running Windows 8 (for client computers) or Windows Server 2012. Both computers must include the updated SMB client that supports continuous availability.
Note Down-level client computers can connect to file shares that have the Continuous Availability property, but transparent failover is not supported for these computers.

SMB multichannel has the following requirements:

At least two computers running Windows Server 2012. No extra features need to be installed—the technology is available by default.

 The following network configurations are suggested:

  • Single 10-GbE network adapters. Each computer is configured with a single 10-Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) network interface.
  • Dual 1-GbE network adapters. Each computer must be configured with two 1-GbE network interfaces. Each SMB network adapter on a client computer communicates with an SMB network adapter on a server by using a different subnet.
  • Dual 1-GbE network adapters in a team. Each computer must be configured with two 1-GbE network interfaces configured as a Load Balancing and Failover (LBFO) team. Each SMB network adapter on a client and SMB network adapter on a server communicates by using teamed interfaces. 
  • Dual 10-GbE network adapters. Each computer must be configured with two 10-GbE network interfaces. Each SMB client network adapter communicates with an SMB server network adapter by using a different subnet. 
  • Dual Infiniband network adapters. Each computer must be configured with two Infiniband network interfaces. Each SMB client network adapter communicates with an SMB server network adapter by using a different subnet.

SMB direct has the following requirements:

At least two computers running Windows Server 2012. No extra features need to be installed, and the technology is available by default.

Network adapters with RDMA capability. Currently, these network adapters come in three types: iWARP, Infiniband, and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE).

Hyperv 2012 logo

 

Hyper-V over SMB

Hyper-V over SMB has the following requirements:

 One or more computers running Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V role installed.

 One or more computers running Windows Server 2012 with the File Services role installed.

 A common Active Directory infrastructure. The servers running Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) do not need to run Windows Server 2012.

Note
Although not required, Failover Clustering is supported on the Hyper-V side, the File Services side, or both.
The three most common file server configurations for Hyper-V over SMB are a single-node file server, a dual-node file server, and a multiple-node file server, as shown in the following figure.

SMB figure 2

 

 

sqlLogo

 

SQL Server over SMB

SQL Server over SMB has the following requirements:

 One or more computers running Windows Server 2012 with SQL Server 2008 R2 or SQL Server 2012.

 One or more computers running Windows Server 2012 with the File Services role installed.

 A common Active Directory infrastructure. Servers running Active Directory Domain Services do not need to run Windows Server 2012.

Note Although not required, Failover Clustering is supported on the SQL Server 2012 side, the File Services side, or both.

The three most common configurations for SQL Server over SMB are a single-node file server, a dual-node file server, and a multiple-node file server, as shown in the following figure.

SMB figure 3

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Author: James van den Berg

I'm Microsoft Architect and ICT Specialist and Microsoft MVP System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management

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