Recommended Reading : Best Practices for Virtualizing and Managing SQL Server 2012

Microsoft has released a new whitepaper that should be of interest to those that virtualize SQL Server using Microsoft’s virtualization technologies.  This guide provides high level best practices and considerations for deploying and managing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 on Microsoft virtualization infrastructure.


If you missed it there is a nice best practices technical paper (you need to sign up to download it) on how to accelerate Microsoft SQL Server on an all-flash Violin Memory array.  You can see the accelerated performance of running on SQL Server on Violin here.

Modernizing versus Revolutionizing the Storage in the Datacenter

Matt Henderson, a database and systems architect at Violin Memory, has published a great article on the difference in modernizing versus revolutionizing storage in your data center.  In the article he discusses a number of aspects – change in storage in the datacenter – comparing SSDs and flash arrays.  Good read for those confused about what does and doesn’t happen when shifting to SSDs or flash arrays.


Recommended Reading : Fast NoSQL Databases on Flash

The arrival of Big Data frameworks has brought with it NoSQL databases.  With those databases are questions about scalability and performance.  Increasingly, it is becoming clear that both can be seriously answered with flash.  Not simply SSDs, but enterprise flash which vastly outperforms them.  Two excellent technical papers on running NoSQL databases on flash are on my recommended reading list.  In the first, the topic is running Cassandra on top of Violin Memory’s flash arrays and in the second the topic is around HBase.





Technical Paper : Best Practices for Oracle RAC and Linux on Violin Memory Flash Products

The alternative to buying an expensive Exadata solution is to use Violin Memory Arrays to quite simply provide a high performing Oracle database software/server/storage combination.  Which is after-all what Exadata does.  However, in order to do that – it is important to follow some best practices.  To help facilitate that – Violin Memory has released a nice best practices technical paper aimed at showing how best to deliver high performance to your Oracle solutions by running them on Violin Memory flash products.


Recommended Reading : OLTP Performance of Exadata versus SSDs versus Violin Memory 6616 (flash) Array

Often, the question comes up how solutions built around SSDs or Violin Memory arrays compare with Exadata.  A short time ago there was a nice benchmark that provided that some answers.  Ashminder Ubhi provided some nice numbers for us to look at. A quick snapshot showing the big picture :

Figure 1 : Comparing three different approaches in a basic benchmark.

Figure 1 : Comparing three different approaches in a basic benchmark (SLOB OLTP)

Using the SLOB benchmark – the different configurations in questions were run and the results might be surprising to some people.  Recommended reading for those interested in understanding performance differences under different workloads.


Reference Architecture : All-Silicon Microsoft Fast Track Data Warehouse

If you are working with the Microsoft enterprise offerings – this may be of interest. The Microsoft Fast Track Data Warehouse guide are reference architectures which are a combination of Microsoft SQL Server software running on prescribed hardware configurations that have been tested and approved for data warehouse workloads by Microsoft.  More information can be found here.



A Simple Explanation Of Why Flash Matters.

Let’s start by saying that the title is a little deceptive.  I think that traditional hard disk is over.  You can start by seeing it in PC and Apple computer sales.  Look at the Apple’s laptops which offer SSDs as replacements for hard disks.  Or Sony which offers SSDs or at worst they offer traditional hard disks with a  flash-based cache SSD.  These are the consumer side of the flash revolution. Violin Memory provides extreme performance for the opposite end of the spectrum – the enterprise.  One of the key benefactors of enterprise flash is the database.  Figure 1 has a six reasons that only begin to scratch the surface.

Figure 1 : Flash Matters. Here are six reasons that only begin to scratch the surface.

Figure 1 : Flash Matters. Here are six reasons that only begin to scratch the surface.

Lower Latency. The first point is that it takes less time to accomplish the same work on flash. It lowers latency. When you lower the IO time-cost per transaction – you can provide more transaction in a given amount of time compared to hard disk technology.
Improve CPU Efficiency. As processes wait much less time for IO operations, CPU process “wait states”  dramatically decline, making for a more efficient CPU.
Increased Throughput. The combination of the improving latency and CPU efficiency make for higher throughput. Higher throughput.  More transactions in a given set of time are pushed through compared to traditional hard disk technology.
Reduce Licenses, Servers, Floor space, power & cooling costs.  Along the way, if large we are dealing with substantials numbers of servers –  the more efficient CPUs in those servers are doing much more work (because of the improved throughput, lower latencies and pushing through more transactions) and this reduces the need for more servers and database licenses. The result is less servers and less datacenter floor space are needed.
Improves Predictability.  With enterprise flash arrays, such as Violin Memory‘s 6000 Series a lot of effort has gone into developing algorithms that aim for improved predictability – avoiding the infamous SSD Write-Cliff issues.
Redundant and Highly Available. It’s important that everything in the array hardware is redundant and provides enterprise grade high availability.

This only scratches the surface.