Virtualizating Microsoft SQL on Cisco UCS, The Usual Suspects of why people don’t virtualize SQL Server
- Maybe its performance
In a recent ESG survey, 25% of respondents reported that performance issues were a leading factor preventing them from using virtualization more pervasively. The main stream hypervisors today have low overhead (between 10-12%) with negligible impact on virtualized SQL database environments. In addition, performance testing has proven the overhead impact. Cisco UCS B-Series and C-Series servers provide a range of performance options for high-end SQL compute and consolidated SQL environments.
- Maybe its scalability
Virtualization gives you more flexibility, than any other implementation option. Easily change the number CPUs, RAM, Disks (either Sizing or Adding Additional) and NICs. The Cisco UCS B250 can have 40 Gbps of redundant I/O throughput to handle concerns about over commitment of switch up-links in blades chassis. The UCS B250 can have two UCS M81KR Virtual Interface Cards with support for the unified fabric with consolidated I/O via 10GB Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). This also allows flexibility concerning storage protocol choices. Scaled performance testing on both VMware and Hyper-V prove virtualized SQL workloads can match physical systems. Don’t let the old, “When in doubt run physical” be your usual suspect. Remember the goal is not to compare performance for virtual systems to physical systems. There will be overhead involved for both compute and management resources. Set the correct expectations and ensure proper testing is completed to validate your workload requirements. Virtualization provides a number of features to your SQL environment that are not possible with traditional physical deployments and this is an implementation decision not a constraint.
- Maybe its supportability
Virtualized SQL implementations are completely supported and have been documented by just about every major vendor.
Understand your licensing options for SQL and how to take advantage for new systems with higher core density and larger memory footprints. Cisco now has B440 M2 with 40 core and 512GB of memory. The current B250 M2 has up to 12 cores and 384 GB of memory. As this systems scale up in sockets and cores, matching the proper virtual machine workload can save on wasted compute cycles and allow for proper database caching with larger memory footprints.
- Maybe its manageability
While the method and process for troubleshooting SQL environments will require additional tools to provide visibility into the hypervisor, these are integrated into the current solution offering from the vendors.
In the case of Hyper-V:
System Center provides in-guest monitoring, physical hardware, hypervisor, operating system, and applications layer visibility with a single console interface
vSphere Client for viewing performance and configuration data of ESX/ESXi
esxtop/resxtop provides interactive, batch, or replay mode and detailed performance data of a single ESX/ESXi host
- Maybe its flexibility
There is no need to change your design requirements for SQL implementations. You may even to be able to add a few by consolidating existing physical environments and taking advantage of virtualization benefits including backup, recovery, availability, automated cloning of both SQL environments and databases for development and testing.
Two areas I would like to point out in this policy are:
Guest Failover Clustering is supported for SQL Server 2005, for SQL Server 2008, and for SQL Server 2008 R2 in a virtual machine for the supported hardware virtualization environments
Any feature or usage that is not stated in this article or in the SQL Server product documentation is assumed to be supported in a virtualization environment by using the same restrictions and support as a “bare metal” hardware environment.
Hopefully this helps put administrators and DBAs at ease when considering their implementation options concerning both clustering and mirroring. Both are support with Hyper-V and VMware. There are a few additional configuration requirements for both, but it is good to see Microsoft supporting the option where availability is a key concern.
The most commonly virtualized application is SQL Server (73%), followed by SharePoint (53%) and Exchange (46%) Source Windows IT Pro & SQL Server Magazine
The two top hypervisors? VMware vSphere and Hyper-V
There are few more links I want to provide that really standout as great resources for successful SQL virtualization.
Last but not least, a good list of SQL bloggers.
If you have the time, please feel free to watch our upcoming webinar on Cisco UCS and Microsoft SQL Server. We’ll cover the topics mentioned here and more such as OLTP and Data Warehouse. It’s happening on Tuesday, June 28th @ 7:00am PDT and 10:00am PDT. Registration is at http://www.cisco.com/go/semreg/urls/44768/1