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Category: Virtualization

Recommendations for SQL Server on VMware

Anthony Nocentino has some recommendations for us:

The intent of this post is a quick reference guide based on the recommendation made in “Architecting Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere” April 2019 version. The target audience for this blog post is for SQL Server DBAs introducing them to the most impactful configurations and settings for running SQL Server in VMware.

For the explanations for each of these settings and how to configure the base VMware infrastructure, please read the “Architecting Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere” guide and consult with your VMware administrators and experts.

Click through for Anthony’s summary.

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Hyperconvergence and SQL Server

Robert Sheldon gives us a primer on hyperconverged infrastructure:

A growing number of organizations have deployed hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) systems in an effort to simplify IT operations, better utilize resources, and lower costs. They might house the systems in their own data centers, colocation facilities, edge environments, or office closets. Regardless of the location, many of the organizations are running SQL Server on their HCI systems, often alongside other applications. Although it means deploying SQL Server to a virtualized environment, such a practice has become fairly common, especially with the advent of the cloud. This article covers hyperconvergence, another option for SQL Server.

Despite how common hyperconvergence has become, some IT teams might still not be familiar with HCI or are familiar with HCI but have not deployed SQL Server to an HCI platform. In either case, they might now be considering HCI for SQL Server and need to better understand what this looks like before deciding on new infrastructure. Although HCI can make it easier to provide a platform for SQL Server, decision-makers should know what they’re getting into before going down this route.

Click through to learn more about hyperconverged infrastructure and where it can help (or hurt).

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Aligning Kubernetes Nodes to Physical Infrastructure

Frank Denneman has some advice for us:

With the new VM service and the customizable VM classes, you can help the developer align their nodes to the infrastructure. Infrastructure details are not always visible at the Kubernetes layers, and maybe not all developers are keen to learn about the intricacies of your environment. The VM service allows you to publish only the VM classes you see fit for that particular application project. One of the reasons could be the avoidance of monster-VM deployment. Before this update, developers could have deployed a six worker node Kubernetes cluster using the guaranteed 8XLarge class (each worker node equipped with 32 vCPUs, 128Gi all reserved), granted if your hosts config is sufficient. But the restriction is only one angle to this situation. Long-lived relationships are typically symbiotic of nature, and powerplays typically don’t help build relationships between developers and the InfraOps team. What would be better is to align it with the NUMA configuration of the ESXi hosts within the cluster.

Click through for more detail. This is aimed particularly at operations people running Kubernetes clusters over VMware.

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VMware In-Guest Time Synchronization

David Klee reviews a product update:

I just found out that VMware has updated their in-guest time synchronization with the 7.0 Update 1 release. Previously, we had to manually disable some of the advanced time synchronization ‘features’ that didn’t adhere to the front-end GUI option that said to not synchronize the guest time with the host. For most VMs, it is not that big of a deal, but for SQL Servers running in a highly available configuration, this act could break your availability solution.

Click through to see what has changed in the product.

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Cost versus Performance Optimization for SQL Server on VMs in Azure

Pam Lahoud takes a look at multi-constraint optimization:

So how do you get the best price-performance possible when configuring your SQL Server on Azure VM? In this blog, we’re going to cover three key aspects to right-sizing (and right-configuring) your Azure VM for SQL Server that are based on some common pitfalls customers face when migrating their on-premises workloads to Azure VM:

– Choosing the best VM series and size for your workload
– Configuring storage for maximum throughput and lower cost
– Leveraging unique to Azure features such as host caching to boost performance at no additional cost

One key point of the article is that there are several factors which can make a big difference in price and performance, but which you might not think about on-premises. It’s definitely worth taking the time to research this. It’s also a great example of how administrators are still important in a cloud-based world—having an admin who understands these settings and can get the most out of a given server can save a lot of money very quickly.

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Early Thoughts on Dremio

Meagan Longoria gives us a review of Dremio:

I’ve been working on a project for the last few months with a client who has chosen to implement Dremio in Azure. Dremio is a data lake engine that creates a semantic layer and supports interactive queries.

It uses Apache Arrow, Gandiva, and Parquet files under the hood. It runs on either Linux VMs or Kubernetes containers. Like most big data systems, there is at least one coordinator node and one or more executor nodes. These nodes communicate and are managed using Apache Zookeeper. Client applications connect to Dremio via ODBC, JDBC, REST APIs, or Arrow Flight. Dremio can read from storage accounts, external databases, and a few other sources.

Read on for good and bad aspects of the product.

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Preparing an Availability Group for VM-Level Replication

David Klee takes us through an interesting scenario:

If you have a SQL Server Availability Group (AG) and the VMs are being replicated to a disaster recovery site (cloud or on-prem), chances are the networking topology is not the same at the second site. These replication technologies can include VM replication, SAN LUN replication, or replicating server-level backups to the second site. It is quite complex to have the same network subnet existing at both sites, so usually, the secondary site contains a different networking subnet structure. It means that the servers being brought up at the secondary site are going to receive different IP addresses.

The Availability Group architecture, especially with its dependency on the Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) layer, are quite intolerant of having these IP addresses changed. The utilities performing the failover might not even be aware of the WSFC-specific components that need to be adjusted.

Click through to see what you can do.

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Launching Linux VMs with Firecracker

Julia Evans gives us an introduction to Firecracker:

Firecracker says this about performance in their specification:

It takes <= 125 ms to go from receiving the Firecracker InstanceStart API call to the start of the Linux guest user-space /sbin/init process.

So far I’ve been using Firecracker to start relatively large VMs – Ubuntu VMs running systemd as an init system – and it takes maybe 2-3 seconds for them to boot. I haven’t been measuring that closely because honestly 5 seconds is fast enough and I don’t mind too much about an extra 200ms either way.

That’s pretty fast. Click through for more info on installation and configuration.

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Recommendations for Hosting SQL Server on VMware

Michelle Gutzait walks us through recommendations on hosting SQL Server in Windows on VMware:

VMware has created a very detailed best-practice document for us, specifically for SQL Server. You may find the latest one here.

In case the link doesn’t work for you, or you have a different version of VMware, you can search for the proper SQL Server best practices on the VMware site.

Here are the main best practices VMware recommends, and the most important based on Pythian’s experience (SQL Server on Windows):

Click through for a detailed checklist.

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The Problem with VM Backups of SQL Server

Sean Gallardy turns a problem on its head:

Now let’s get to the main point, which is how long the VM stays paused or stunned – remember, this is a “small” or “short” amount of time, one might even say “trivial”. When it is kept this short to where it’s “trivial” as in less than a second then all is good and you most likely won’t notice it except in very high workloads… but we should be running with VSS integration and not VM level so it’s still incorrect, but hey. When this time is not short of trivial then GOOD things start to happen, most notably that high availability kicks in.

I appreciate the framing of this post, as the failover wasn’t a problem; it merely exposes the actual problem.

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