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Selecting server based on application requirements

Posted on 2012-08-15
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Last Modified: 2012-11-10
Hello.

We are due to onboard a new application soon for testing, it has 3 components - Component1, Component 2 and Component 3 that need to be on different servers.  We have been working with the vendor and they suggest:

Component 1: Low Disk I/O, low CPU usage, needs about 16GB RAM. Can be virtualised

Component 2: Medium Disk I/O, low CPU usage, needs about 16 GB RAM.

Component 3: High Disk I/O, high amount of storage needed, medium CPU usage.

(I appreciate this is quite vague for the moment, but we are in very early stages).

I was curious - how do people decide what sort of server they need? We are an HP shop really, so would like to standardise on that, but how do you decide whether to go for:

i. Full server v blade
ii. If a full server, there are so many different types (DL, ML etc)
iii. Which model of the above

Or should the vendor be telling us this sort of thing? And how about deciding on RAID etc?
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Question by:richlionel
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David earned 1000 total points
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You need to quantify better.   What is low, medium, and high?    How many I/Os per second?  What is throughput requirement?  

What are ratios of read vs write; random vs. sequential; transactional vs. large-block I/O?

Are we talking GB or TB?  Are you 24x7x365 and downtime costs thousands of dollars an hour, or are you 8x5 M-F?  

Why a blade?   Why not a single server, with virtualization, and a hybrid mix of SSDs and mechanical drives?  

How many clients?  What is it doing?  

Is this app already running somewhere?  If so run perfmon and MEASURE I/O and use it as a baseline?

If the hardware is degraded because of a HDD failure, is it acceptable that a 2nd drive failure will mean catastrophic data loss and down time?   What kind of performance hit can you tolerate if it is degraded?  

Any particular backup issues?    Must it be hot?   How much data needs to be backed up daily?
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 1000 total points
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i. Full server v blade
Over 8 servers required then it may pay in saved space to use blades, if not then use traditional servers.

ii. If a full server, there are so many different types (DL, ML etc)
Not really, just ML and DL, very unlikely you would want SL since near enough blades. Choice between ML and DL is tower/rack.

iii. Which model of the above
Depends on how many physical CPUs how many I/O cards, how many disks and to a lesser extent how much space you have.
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by:richlionel
ID: 38302642
Thanks! I will get back with further answers, but in the meantime I had one question:

"run perfmon and MEASURE I/O and use it as a baseline?"

In your opinion, what is/are the best Perfmon counters to measure I/O?
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by:David
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I/Os per second,  MB/sec, and avg queue depth.

(Then also see memory & cpu utilization to get idea of how many processors you need and amount of RAM)
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by:richlionel
ID: 38302734
Do you mean Split I/O per second?
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by:David
ID: 38302758
That is good, but there are also going to be reads and writes per second.  The more the better.
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by:richlionel
ID: 38379055
Hi, here are some of the answers I have from the vendor:

You need to quantify better.   What is low, medium, and high?    How many I/Os per second?  What is throughput requirement?  

* The vendor isn't able to provide the exact figures yet. Are we able to compare by saying that high I/O is similar to an MS Exchange 2007 mailbox server, medium is the type of behaviour exhibited by the Hub role?

What are ratios of read vs write; random vs. sequential; transactional vs. large-block I/O?

Component 1: Mainly random
Component 2: Mainly sequential
Component 3: Mainly random reads and sequential writes

Are we talking GB or TB?  Are you 24x7x365 and downtime costs thousands of dollars an hour, or are you 8x5 M-F?  

The app should be 24 x 7 x 365

Why a blade?   Why not a single server, with virtualization, and a hybrid mix of SSDs and mechanical drives?

That's possible  

How many clients?  What is it doing?  

Clients is up to about 1000. The different components do different things, Component 3 is more databasey, Component 1 and 2 are more application processing

Is this app already running somewhere?  If so run perfmon and MEASURE I/O and use it as a baseline?

If the hardware is degraded because of a HDD failure, is it acceptable that a 2nd drive failure will mean catastrophic data loss and down time?   What kind of performance hit can you tolerate if it is degraded?  

If we lose a hard drive we should be able to keep going with comparable performance. I assume this means that even RAID 5 is no good and we should go for RAID 10?

Any particular backup issues?    Must it be hot?   How much data needs to be backed up daily?

Component 3 should be backed up hot
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by:andyalder
ID: 38379124
If high I/O is similar to Exchange 2007 mailbox then you can use MS figures below:

type    amount                cache   IOPS  
Light 5 sent/20 received 2MB 0.11
Average 10 sent/40 received 3.5MB 0.18
Heavy 20 sent/80 received 5MB 0.32
Very heavy 30 sent/120 received 5MB 0.48
Extra heavy 40 sent/160 received 5MB 0.64

So for Extra Heavy you are talking 640 IOPS for 1000 users, not all that much. Can't put up with th unreliability of having one disk down and a bad block on a remaining disk? Use RAID 6 or 3-way mirroring.

24x7 implies a cluster though, you'll have to find out from the vendor whether there is inbuilt clustering ability such as you get with MS SQL log shipping or Oracle RAC or whether you need something like VMware or Hyper-V shared storage cluster.
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