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VMWare direct path IO - dell cards?

Posted on 2013-01-02
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i am researching options for some new Dell servers which will be virtualized using ESXI 5.1.

the R620 with the PERC H710P Integrated RAID Controller, 1GB NV Cache  was what i was considering, to have 3 of these servers in a fail over / cluster for IIS servers we need to run.


Does the PERC H710P have support for direct path, Vmware compatibility website seems out of date and only lists the Dell R910 server in the vmware direct path IO search options.

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php
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Question by:Mathiau
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 286 total points
ID: 38737553
Do you mean is the Server compatible or the PCIe card with VM Direct Path I/O

Why do you want to use the Storage Controller (which is dangerous) in VM Direct Path I/O Mode for Exclusive use of a Single VM?

Admin's that mistakenly present the storage controller via VM Directr Path I/O, end up with an ESXi server that does not boot!
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by:Mathiau
ID: 38737577
Thank you hanccocka, seems then i miss-understood direct path usage then!

i was planning to set up ESXi with several hosts on it, and i wanted to be sure i had the best performance possible for I/O as the systems will  run 2 drives in raid 1 + hotspare for ESXi installation and 6 to 8 Ent. SSD drives in raid 10 for the VM Hosts to run from.

The servers are not ordered yet and i will be making another question here about my layout to make sure i am not doing something wrong.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 286 total points
ID: 38737649
it's true that the VERY best performance is presenting PCI devices to a VM.

But, using fast disks (15k SAS), RAID 10, Battery Backup Write Cache will also give you a fast datastore subsystem.

but if you know the IOPS required, you can calculate what disks, and how many are required for your RAID solution.
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 114 total points
ID: 38737895
Could make sense in a VSA environment (with a separate SD card to boot from).
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by:Mathiau
ID: 38737931
don't have any true I/O numbers currently but the hardware being looked at is far above what we have now.

i just wanted to make sure i do the proper configuration and had been told alot lately about making sure my raid cards supported direct path IO as if it was the next coming of Christ or something.

So knowing what i know now, if say i had a very heavy I/O server, that would be the more ideal time to use direct path, in order to squeeze out every last bit of performance?

and to keep the ESXi drive say on the onboard raid, or a separate card?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 286 total points
ID: 38737963
just remember if you allocate the storage controller, its a 1 to 1 VM relationship.
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by:Mathiau
ID: 38737971
Ahh, okay so i can not allocate it to multiple VM's!

today is a day of learning!

Another question then..

If a ESXi box dies then and i want to restore the VM to another server i would then need the same raid card in the other system to have it work?

or i could move the VM to a datastore instead with out the raid card?
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 114 total points
ID: 38738005
I will leave you in the good hands of hanccocka, but I think you need some shared external storage if you want it to fail-over.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 286 total points
ID: 38738031
no you cannot allocate to multiple VMs.

No, because ALL VMware virtual hardware is the same.

it makes DR very easy, one of the benefits of VMware virtualisation.
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by:Mathiau
ID: 38738032
ya, that is part of the plan.

the idea in my head so far is

3 identical boxes, each with some running VM's but enough resources to take the load of the other 2 servers if  they go down.

Load balancing / fail over for IIS across all 3.

a back end storage as we also need to redo our MSSQL servers, that is my next step oncei get the IIS side sorted out and load balancers.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 286 total points
ID: 38738049
VMware HA
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by:Mathiau
ID: 38738084
Exactly! a massive plug and play network basically so i can actually go on vacation!
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by:Mathiau
ID: 38768828
very good information all around for scenarios
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