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  • Lab Validation Report EMC PowerPath/VE

    Automated Path Optimization for VMware Virtual Environments

    By Vinny Choinski, Senior ESG Lab Analyst, and Mike Leone, ESG Lab Engineer

    April 2012 2012, The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Lab Validation: EMC PowerPath/VE 2

    2012, The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Contents

    Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3 Background ............................................................................................................................................................ 3 EMC PowerPath/VE ................................................................................................................................................ 4

    ESG Lab Validation ........................................................................................................................................ 6 Getting Started ....................................................................................................................................................... 6 Performance Advantage ......................................................................................................................................... 9 Availability with Visibility ...................................................................................................................................... 11

    ESG Lab Validation Highlights ..................................................................................................................... 14

    Issues to Consider ....................................................................................................................................... 14

    The Bigger Truth ......................................................................................................................................... 15

    Appendix ..................................................................................................................................................... 16

    All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at 508.482.0188.

    ESG Lab Reports

    The goal of ESG Lab reports is to educate IT professionals about data center technology products for companies of all types and sizes. ESG Lab reports are not meant to replace the evaluation process that should be conducted before making purchasing decisions, but rather to provide insight into these emerging technologies. Our objective is to go over some of the more valuable feature/functions of products, show how they can be used to solve real customer problems and identify any areas needing improvement. ESG Lab's expert third-party perspective is based on our own hands-on testing as well as on interviews with customers who use these products in production environments. This ESG Lab report was sponsored by EMC.

  • Lab Validation: EMC PowerPath/VE 3

    2012, The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Introduction

    This ESG Lab report documents the hands-on testing of EMC PowerPath/VE for VMware virtual environments and validates the business and performance benefits of PowerPath/VE load balancing and path management when compared with VMware native path management. The report focuses on the performance, ease of management, and failover and recovery capabilities of PowerPath/VE.

    These tests were designed to simulate the real-world SAN conditions that organizations encounter every day, and they were conducted using common tools to highlight the potential impact on application, SAN, and storage performance. While these test results represent what a user might experience, actual results will vary depending on the data center configuration.

    Background

    Server virtualization is on the rise, driven by the positive results that organizations are achieving, the increasing benefits as virtual deployments expand, and the growing popularity of cloud computing. As ESG research discovered, early on in their virtual machine (VM) experience, organizations benefit primarily from data center cost reduction. But as virtual deployments expand, they gain higher-level benefits such as improved provisioning, data protection, application availability, and IT automation. It makes sense that organizations plan to increase their virtual deployments given these experiences. When IT managers were asked recently what their organizations most important IT priorities would be over the next 12 to 18 months, 30% indicated that they planned to increase their use of server virtualization (see Figure 1).1 Often, this includes extending virtualization to production and business-critical workloadsnot just IT-focused applications.

    Figure 1. Top-Ten IT Priorities for 2012 and Beyond

    Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2012.

    1 Source: ESG Research Report, 2012 IT Spending Intentions Survey, January 2012.

    22%

    22%

    23%

    24%

    25%

    27%

    27%

    29%

    30%

    30%

    0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%

    Deploying a "private cloud" infrastructure

    Mobile workforce enablement

    Desktop virtualization

    Data center consolidation

    Business continuity/disaster recovery programs

    Information security initiatives

    Manage data growth

    Major application deployments or upgrades

    Improve data backup and recovery

    Increased use of server virtualization

    Which of the following would you consider to be your organization's most important IT priorities over the next 12-18 months? (Percent of respondents, N=614, ten responses

    accepted)

    http://www.enterprisestrategygroup.com/2012/01/2012-it-spending-intentions-survey/

  • Lab Validation: EMC PowerPath/VE 4

    2012, The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    However, virtualizing more applications and increasing consolidation ratios can create contention for data paths, which can then affect application performance and availability. Manually mapping data paths across the environment becomes extremely difficult in these expansive, hyper-consolidated environments. The dynamic nature of virtual implementations, the move to virtualize more production applications, and the increasing service-level expectations of users conspire to make I/O bottlenecks even more problematic.

    EMC PowerPath/VE

    In the same way that server virtualization creates a sharable pool of computing resources, and networked storage creates a sharable storage pool, EMC PowerPath/VE delivers dynamic multipathing capabilities that form a pool of data paths. Built on the gold-standard PowerPath application for physical hosts, PowerPath/VE provides automated data path management and failover and recovery for VMware vSphere (and Microsoft Hyper-V) environments to produce predictable, scalable, consistent information access across Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and FCoE environments. (Note: Though PowerPath/VE supports Hyper-V, the focus of this report is on PowerPath/VE for VMware vSphere.)

    Because PowerPath/VE resides in the hypervisor (below applications/guest operating systems and above the HBAs and storage), it can support heterogeneous servers, guest operating systems, networks, and storage environments. PowerPath/VE for vSphere is integrated with VMware vCenter Server and Update Manager as well as vSphere auto-deploy and stateless licensing capabilities, and operates effectively with any raw storage devices, volume managers, file systems, and applications.

    EMC PowerPath/VE is available standalone and as a key component in VCE Vblock Infrastructure Platforms: preconfigured virtualization solutions combining best-of-breed technologies from VMware, Cisco, and EMC. Vblock Infrastructure Platforms make it easier for organizations of all sizes to implement cloud strategies.

    Automated failover and recovery. PowerPath/VE automates data path failover and recovery to eliminate business interruption from failures or errors, without manual mapping. If a path error occurs, data is redirected to the next best path and the load is rebalanced across all paths (see Figure 2). When the failure is resolved, that path is returned to the available pool. Intelligent, dynamic testing of inactive paths enables faults to be preemptively discovered and paths automatically removed from service; upon resolution of the fault condition, the failed path is automatically returned to the

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