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Best recommendations for SQL server 2008 on a VMWare ESXi Box.

Posted on 2011-10-06
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I know there is a lot of info out there regarding this topic, but a lot of it is very generalized and I wanted to give you specific hardware specs that we have and what we are trying to accomplish.

I currently have a sql server 2008 on a VM via an iSCSI SAN. the Disk I/O is average at best.  So we are deciding to put that VM on its own ESXi Server. The server is a dual quad core processor with 8-10k SAS drives in a Raid 10 array.

My question is, should I do anything in particular to squeeze out the best performance from the Raid-10? Should I create a different size array? How should I set up the partitions? Thanks for the advice...
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Question by:jhuntin
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1336 total points
ID: 36925727
No, do not create a different sized array, use all the disks you have in one SINGLE RAID 10 ARRAY.

More disk = more spindles = more performance.

If using an Array Controller, e.g. Smart Array which can be configured for cache, change the cache to 75% Write, 25% Read at least, and if you do not have the BBWC - Battery Backup Write Cache module, purchase one for the best performance.
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by:coolsport00
coolsport00 earned 664 total points
ID: 36925729
RAID10 is your best performance array, but if you can get higher speed disks (15K?), that would help. Otherwise, not much else you can do. Also, not sure there is a need to put your SQL VM on a whole separate host, unless of course the SQL VM is sharing datastore storage with other VMs, which of course will potentially lead to I/O contention, albeit minimal IMO (but mainly depends on the read/writes happening). One other thing I would do is, if you have the disks, place a Log volume on a separate RAID than your Database volume. That'll help a little bit with performance is well. Just spec out the VM as you would if it was a phys box. (vCPU, RAM)

Hope that helps.

~coolsport00
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ID: 36925736
How you setup the disks, partitions is up to you, as long as they all sit on the same fast datastore. You could still keep the OS, Database and Logs on separate disks, as they will all be on the same fast datastore (RAID 10 array!)
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36925818
Found this MS KB on disk config best practices for SQL:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc966412.aspx#EEAA, which also references a 'Top 10 Storage Best Practice' link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc966534.aspx. Good stuff! :)
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36925825
In the 'Top 10' link, especially reference #'s 5 & 6...
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by:jhuntin
ID: 36927082
I guess what I'm realizing I should be asking is I should set up a Raid 10 and then just create 2 seperate datastores for the DB and Logs on the VM. The OS will reside on 1 VM instance on the Physical Box and sit with the DB, where the Logs will sit on another datastore. The OS will recognize them as two different drive partitions, correct?

I just want to make sure that I shouldnt be creating 2 raid arrays, and putting the vm with the os and DB on one and the logs on the other?
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36927113
If you have enough disks to do so, I would create 2 RAID10s for DB & Logs. So yes...my recommendation is 2 RAIDs. I separate my DB & Logs myself...2 separate Datastores, 2 separate RAIDs. If you don't have the slots to add more disks, or if you do, but not enough for another RAID10, according to MS Best Practices, a RAID1 for the Logs will suffice, then you can have the RAID10 for the OS/DB volumes. If you create 2 logical volumes on your RAID in the BIOS, such that you can create 2 Datastores for your VM, both the DB and Log volumes will still be on the same disks. More than likely, you won't notice too much of a performance difference...if at all. But..that being said, if you wanna follow best practices, and gain as much performance as possible, place DB & Logs on separate disks.
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by:jhuntin
ID: 36927134
so if at all possible split them up into seperate arrays, but if not then at least seperate datastores is what you are saying on a single array?
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36927139
Correct.
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Personally, I would say NO.

If you remove disks from your Array set, you will reduce the IOPS of the Total Array.

and your smaller Array with have less IOPS.

The combination of both will be less performance overall.

You can do the maths, and work it out.

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Have a look at this recent Question about storage, for some IOPS calculations.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Misc/Q_27375008.html
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36927189
I wasn't meaning to remove disks from current array set...I believe I mentioned "add" disks ("if you have slots to add more disks"). My recommendation is to add...not take away. Not sure if that was entirely clear, but I did say "add" in my post above. My recommendation is to create a 2nd array with ADDITIONAL disks...not split the current ones into 2.
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I would still add MORE disks to the Current ARRAY.

More IOPS per datastore.
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by:jhuntin
ID: 36927211
no more room. 8 is all this 2U can handle. The DB is only about 4-5GB mind you.
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36927226
Ok, then what you can do, if you suspect minimal DB growth over the next 2-3yrs is just keep everything on the same RAID10. My assumption is there is minimal Read/Writes happening on a DB so small? Just create separate virtual disks for OS, DB, & Logs.
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ID: 36927256
He is a VMware Communities

Best Practices for SQL Server
http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8964

If you've got the time it's worth a long read, with a cup of tea!
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1336 total points
ID: 36927260
that should have been here is a VMware Communities Best Practices for SQL Server

have a read...

Best Practices for SQL Server
http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8964
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by:coolsport00
ID: 36927321
What did you call me??? :P hhaha j/k
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