Fusion-IO ioTurbine for VMWare ESX Experiences

Posted on 2011-10-28
Last Modified: 2012-10-12
I have been doing some research on Fusion-IO's ioTurbine product to speed up our environment (VM latency and disk throughput) and would like some advice from experts.

Current environment:
NetApp FAS2020 NAS (12 x 500GB SATA) using NFS and iSCSI for VM's
2 x Dell R610 ESX 4.1 U1 hosts
12 Virtual Machines
(5 x 2008 R2 (heavy hitters are: MS Exchange 2007, MS SCE 2010, vCenter Server)
2 x Win 7 VDI
3 x XP VDI
2 x Linux appliances)
Gigabit connections between hosts and storage

 - Does anyone have any experience with implementing ioTurbine and can provide some performance comparison against conventional SAN storage?
 - Has anyone implemented ioTurbine on non-Fusion-IO storage devices (OCZ, Intel, Samsung, etc..)?  What were your experiences?  Are there any reliability concerns with choosing a 3rd party storage (non-Fusion-IO)?
 - What performance differences would I see going with Fusion-IO vs adding a shelf of 14x 15k FC disks to the NetApp?

Links to Fusion-IO products:


Dell OEM of ioDrive

Thanks in advance.
Question by:TycoBrad
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    We've been using Fusion-IO products for a while, and also OCZ Revo product lines for ESXi, we use these extensively for VMware View VDI deployments, for High IOPS systems, this saves expensive SAN solutions, Air Con, Electricity, and far faster IOPS than what conventional FC and iSCSI solutions can offer.

    Power usage recorded is just 26 watts per server per Fuision IO-Drive - saving thousands in power costs compared with a SAN solution.

    We used these because of the heavy loading of users logging on and off, using VMware View, with Windows 7 VDI virtual machines.

    To create the same IOPS required with a conventional SAN solution,  would have required many shelves of disks, this would have higher manintence costs, electrical costs, and cooling costs. We found in testing that a single IO-Drive card, would out perform, an entire large SAN array, with over 200,000 IOPS.

    Fusion-IO were one of the first to produce these cards, recently now used by HP and Dell as options. We've also recently started testing OCZ Revo drive cards, as alternatives, but at present we are experiencing high failure rate.
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    We've used FusionIO IO-DriveDuo 640GB.

    These were deployed in all servers, for a large VDI deployment of 400 users, across 8 vSphere 4.1 Servers.

    Author Comment

    Which specific OCZ Revo drive cards were you using with ioTurbine?  Do you have any experience with their enterprise class VeloDrive cards?
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    IO-Turbine is a new Fusion Product, we've not used this yet.

    We used FusionIO IO-DriveDuo 640GB, and OCZ VeloDrive PCI-Express SSD, and OCZ RevoDrive X2 PCI-Express SSD.

    OCZ are cheap and cheerful, we would always use supported FusionIO IO-DriveDuo in Production. OCZ products have been failing.
    LVL 1

    Accepted Solution

    We've been testing IOturbine using 320 GB IOdrives. These IOdrives are the Mono version OEM'ed by Dell. Our environment is not that different from yours, NetApp V-series backed by NetApp disks as well as a couple of HP EVA arrays. Our goal in testing was to determine whether IOturbine would enable us to successfully virtualize our Exchange 2010 environment and still provide world class performance. Our longer term goal is to further consolidate and virtualize more of our tier 1 applications including a Dynamics AX based ERP system backed by Ms Sql.  Since we're participating in the beta testing program of IOturbine I'm under NDA, but I'm sure FusionIO won't mind my stating that our preliminary results are quite convincing :-)  We've specifically tested Exchange 2010 SP1 in a 4 node DAG cluster running on 3 hosts (Dell PE710 servers nicely spec'ed) . What we've observed is a substantial increase in the IOPS delivered to the guests coupled with an even more substantial decrease in the load placed on our NetApp gateway. All in all we're convinced that this is the way to go for us. As to your question about using commodity SSD we considered trying that route but decided against it. Partially because of reliability concerns, partly because of concerns about future support for this when FusionIO bought IOturbine. Besides, one of the strong points of the solution is the ability to lower latency on disk IO, and the IOdrive excels in latency compared to standard SSD, usually by several orders of magnitude. Whether you can get away with not buying extra spindles largely depends on your specific workload and whether a good portion of your applications working sets fit in the cache. You have to remember that IOturbine is just that, a caching solution, so any IO needs to come from disk at least once. But again, in our environment we're convinced that it will be well worth it.

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