Welcome!

Open Source Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Trevor Parsons, Dmitriy Stepanov, Lacey Thoms, Yeshim Deniz

Blog Feed Post

Windows Server 2012 (Windows Server “8″) – Virtual Fibre Channel

This is one of a series of posts discussing the new features in Windows Server 2012, now shipping and previously in public beta as Windows Server 8.  You can find references to other related posts at the end of this article.  This post reviews the new Hyper-V 3.0 feature, Virtual Fibre Channel.

Background

Virtual Fibre Channel (VFC) enables a Hyper-V guest to access the physical storage HBAs (host bus adaptors) installed in the Hyper-V server.  Normally, storage adaptors would be reserved for the use of the Hyper-V guest itself however this new feature acts as a passthrough, enabling any Hyper-V 3.0 guest (at the right O/S level) to access the HBAs and so connect directly to fibre channel storage devices.

VFC is implemented through the use of NPIV, or N_Port ID virtualisation.  This a fibre channel standard that permits a single HBA to act as multiple nodes within a SAN environment.  Normally, a single HBA connects to the SAN and presents a physical ID known as a World Wide Port Name or WWPN.  This deals with the physical connectivity of the fabric.  At the same time, the connecting server or storage device presents a node name ID or WWNN (World Wide Node Name).  A WWNN can be unique per adaptor as is the case with most host-based HBAs or can be a single node representing an entire device such as a storage array.  NPIV allows a single physical adaptor to present multiple node names to the fabric and so effectively “virtualise” the physical device.  Each new node also has to have virtual WWPNs in order to adhere with fibre channel standards.

The benefits of being able to use NPIV to virtualise an HBA is that each guest in a Hyper-V environment can be assigned its own WWNN and so have a direct connection to the SAN.  It may not be immediately obvious how this helps when virtual server infrastructure is supposed to abstract the physical layer but there are a number of distinct advantages in zoning storage devices in this way:

  • Zoning can be done to the individual guest and is therefore more secure (albeit that it still goes through the hypervisor)
  • Tape drives can be supported, so backup software can write directly to devices
  • Storage that requires failover, snapshots and other SCSI based functionality can be directly supported, especially where non-standard SCSI commands are used

Implementation

VFC is configured in Hyper-V Manager using the new Virtual SAN Manager option (see the screenshots).  Only HBAs and firmware that support NPIV can be used for VFC.  This means newer HBAs only, for example Emulex HBAs at speeds of 4Gb/s and above.  Obviously the SAN fabric needs to support NPIV too.  An HBA can only be attributed to one virtual SAN, however a virtual SAN can contain multiple HBAs.  Once the virtual SAN is created, a virtual HBA can be assigned to a guest using the Add Hardware section under Settings.  Fibre channel IDs can be set as any 16-digit hexadecimal number, although it’s not advisable to use values that are already reserved out for vendors.  Microsoft defaults to some standard values, which can be auto-generated to new values through the “Create Addresses” button.  As yet I’ve not worked out why there are two sets of addresses as only the first appears to be visible on the fabric.

As soon as a guest is started, the fabric login process begins, even if no guest O/S has been installed.  As you can see from screenshot 4, the additional node indicates the source Hyper-V server (in this case PH03) but doesn’t pass through the guest name, indicating it only as “Hyper-V VM Port”.  It would be a nice update to be able to see the VM name there.

Using VFC within the Hyper-V guest requires two things; a supported O/S – one of Windows Server 2008, Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012 – plus the installation of the latest Integration Services update that comes with Windows Server 2012.  This means that the virtual fibre channel adaptor is not emulated as a native device and so can’t be used with other operating systems like Linux (more on this later).  The fifth screenshot shows the emulated HBA controller and tape drive I presented to the host.  One question that seems to have been discussed on a number of blogs is the support for tape drives.  I can confirm tape drives do work, but can’t see any documentation from Microsoft to say whether they are officially supported.

Performance

I chose a tape drive as this is a good way of demonstrating performance.  Deploying Backup Exec 2012 onto my Windows 2008 R2 guest, writing to an LTO2 drive, I achieved around 12MB/s, better than I’ve managed with an emulated drive through vSphere 5.0.  This is well under the spec of the drive itself (max 40MB/s) but is certainly usable in small environments.  More testing is needed here I think, as there appeared to be little overhead on the Hyper-V server to manage the data passthrough.

The Architects View

Virtual Fibre Channel is a great feature for providing native SAN device support.  However there are few restrictions on use, most notably on the need to have latest hardware and be using Microsoft platforms.  I haven’t yet seen any best practices for using VFC; for example should HBAs be placed in a single virtual SAN or should multiple ones be configured for failover; these are questions that need to be answered.  VFC could be massively improved on two fronts; firstly drivers could be provided for other platforms, especially Linux installations.  Second, if vendors were able to write code using the virtual device, then virtual SAN appliances (VSA) could use fibre channel rather than be reliant on iSCSI as they are today.

One final comment; Microsoft are doing a poor job of providing detail on these new storage features.  There is precious little to find, other than high-level blog information and as mentioned previously, no best practice documentation that I can locate.  I’d be happy to be pointed in the direction of anything useful and I will link it from this post.

Related Links

Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair.  If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration. Screenshot 5 Screenshot 4 Screenshot 3 Screenshot 2 Screenshot 1

Read the original blog entry...

@ThingsExpo Stories
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
Noted IoT expert and researcher Joseph di Paolantonio (pictured below) has joined the @ThingsExpo faculty. Joseph, who describes himself as an “Independent Thinker” from DataArchon, will speak on the topic of “Smart Grids & Managing Big Utilities.” Over his career, Joseph di Paolantonio has worked in the energy, renewables, aerospace, telecommunications, and information technology industries. His expertise is in data analysis, system engineering, Bayesian statistics, data warehouses, business intelligence, data mining, predictive methods, and very large databases (VLDB). Prior to DataArchon, he served as a VP and Principal Analyst with Constellation Group. He is a member of the Boulder (Colo.) Brain Trust, an organization with a mission “to benefit the Business Intelligence and data management industry by providing pro bono exchange of information between vendors and independent analysts on new trends and technologies and to provide vendors with constructive feedback on their of...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...
Innodisk is a service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies, with a focus on the enterprise, industrial, aerospace, and defense industries. Innodisk is dedicated to serving their customers and business partners. Quality is vitally important when it comes to industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products. That’s why Innodisk manufactures all of their products in their own purpose-built memory production facility. In fact, they designed and built their production center to maximize manufacturing efficiency and guarantee the highest quality of our products.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital business.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.