Microsoft SQL server is the most virtualized enterprise mission critical application today. In recent years it has become a mainstream effort among VMware customers to virtualize critical databases to allow better agility and scale while increasing availability and operational efficiency.
This guide, now named “Architecting Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere – Best Practices Guide” to reflect its focus on architecture and configurations of vSphere as well as SQL server for maximizing the benefits of virtualizing SQL server, is aimed at providing VMware customers and partners guidance on how to achieve best performance and efficiency with the latest versions of Microsoft SQL server and VMware vSphere.
In this guide there are also references to other VMware and third-party documents which we encourage the reader to consult for better understanding of the topics discussed.
We at VMware have been fielding a lot of inquiries lately from customers who have virtualized (or are considering virtualizing) their Microsoft Lync Server infrastructure on the VMware vSphere platform. The nature of inquiries is centered on certain generalized statements contained in the “Planning a Lync Server 2013 Deployment on Virtual Servers”whitepaper published by the Microsoft Lync Server Product Group. In the referenced document, the writers made the following assertions:
You should disable hyper-threading on all hosts.
Disable non-uniform memory access (NUMA) spanning on the hypervisor, as this can reduce guest performance.
Virtualization also introduces a new layer of configuration and optimization techniques for each guest that must be determined and tested for Lync Server. Many virtualization techniques that can lead to consolidation and optimization for other applications cannot be used with Lync Server. Shared resource techniques, including processor oversubscription, memory over-commitment, and I/O virtualization, cannot be used because of their negative impact on Lync scale and call quality.
Virtual machine portability—the capability to move a virtual machine guest server from one physical host to another—breaks the inherent availability functionality in Lync Server pools. Moving a guest server while operating is not supported in Lync Server 2013. Lync Server 2013 has a rich set of application-specific failover techniques, including data replication within a pool and between pools. Virtual machine-based failover techniques break these application-specific failover capabilities.
VMware has contacted the writers of this document and requested corrections to (or clarification of) the statements because they do not, to our knowledge, convey known facts and they reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of vSphere features and capabilities. While we await further information from the writers of the referenced document, it has become necessary for us at VMware to publicly provide a direct clarification to our customers who have expressed confusion at the statements above. Continue reading →
You cannot afford for business critical applications in your datacenter to go down just to upgrade them. With that in mind, let’s look at which events might provide a good opportunity to virtualize applications in your datacenter. Below are some questions to ask when considering virtualization. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, it might be time to virtualize that app.
Because SharePoint encourages rapid growth and “viral” proliferation, user goals may conflict with the ability of the IT staff to deliver the desired services when needed within budgetary and manpower constraints. Flexibility is extremely valuable during this early period. If rapid growth and evolution can be supported at realistic costs, SharePoint can become an important tool to rapidly increase everyday productivity. vSphere facilitates this capability, allowing organizations to leverage the benefits of SharePoint on a pay-as-you-go basis. Because high availability features are inherent to the vSphere platform, these can be leveraged on demand. By virtualizing SharePoint, the common problems of deploying a complex, high-growth IT service are alleviated, allowing resources to be spent on maximizing the value of the tool in routine business practice.
Unlike some applications that have consistent workload patterns on a per user basis (for example, Exchange or SAP), SharePoint workloads can vary greatly depending on how the application is used within the organization. SharePoint services can be deployed in a wide variety of combinations to accommodate very specific application use cases. Even within a specific application use case, usage patterns can vary greatly depending on frequency of user access, time of day, document reads/writes, and document sizes.
Out of the box, vSphere offers several capabilities that enable you to quickly respond to changing usage patterns. Allocation of processor and memory resources to virtual machines can be easily changed to suit the most current business requirements and, in the case of Hot-Add, without any interruption to the operating system or application. You can use vMotion to migrate heavily used SharePoint virtual machines to another host to alleviate physical resource bottlenecks. Finally, template-based provisioning allows the rapid deployment of new SharePoint virtual machines to satisfy increased load.
vSphere delivers the performance required to run business-critical applications in large-scale environments. vSphere 5 provides 16 times (source Figure 14 in BCA Whitepaper) the performance of VMware Infrastructure 3 while keeping virtualization overhead at a limited 2 to 5 percent. The fact is that the virtualization overhead or “tax” is often greatly exaggerated and many application owners are managing applications that have already been virtualized by the server and virtualization teams, and the applications owners don’t even know it.
Performance is a major factor in business-critical applications. Virtual machines perform the same as their physical equivalents, as witnessed in production by the app owners. The following set of graphs illustrates this performance across several applications.
In the figure below, Confio, a third-party company unaffiliated with VMware, compared virtual and physical servers in a side-by-side test, finding the performance would be the same to the DBA (Source: A Comparison of Oracle Performance on Physical and VMware Servers, 2012. Written by Confio, www.confio.com.)
Hello and welcome to the new VMware Business Critical Applications blog, a source for information, insight, and updates to help you virtualize your business critical applications on the VMware platform.
The blog will cover the following applications/functional areas and we will continue to add more over time:
We intend to use this blog to:
Communicate best practices for deploying on the vSphere platform.
Provide Updates on current solution projects and activities including solution rollouts, new collaterals etc.
Provide Update on various product and solution enablement activities including events, webinars, partner engagements, trainings etc.
Publish results of lab testing in the aforementioned functional areas. Testing and results will include functional and technical use cases, workload characterization study and deployment "how-to". For official performance test results, please refer to the VROOM! Blog at http://blogs.vmware.com/performance/.
Communicate general application design principles that we've discovered through research and work with our customers.
Communicate step-by-step procedures for common application and infrastructure management tasks.
Highlight VMware and partner products or features than can enhance the overall solution.
Provide links to relevant online documentation.
Provide insight on optimizing software licensing costs for virtualization.
We plan on posting regularly so grab the RSS feed or sign up for an e-mail alert to receive notification of new entries as they are posted.
For published whitepapers, including technical whitepapers and customer success stories, please visit our Business Critical Applications website at http://www.vmware.com/solutions/business-critical-apps/. On the right-hand side, you'll find links to the individual application pages.