Today’s IT organizations are under pressure to achieve cloud-like elasticity, scalability, and ease of provisioning while lowering the total cost of ownership—a challenging goal, particularly with the complexity of databases. To achieve the anticipated business outcomes requires a clear statement of associated success metrics that often must be negotiated with the executive sponsor. After the success metrics have been defined, the next challenge for the IT organization becomes selecting the technologies that will meet or exceed the success metrics.

Traditionally, selecting a database infrastructure was a long, exhaustive process with a wide variety of complexities that took months to resolve. What if there was a solution where all the components were validated and tested together using real SQL Server workloads? Prevalidation engineering means that the database solution is a proven platform, thus removing most of the complexity and time that is associated with manual integration work. Testing such a solution is more complex. A simple online transaction processing (OLTP) workload test only shows how the system performs if it is solely dedicated to one database. This approach is great for showcasing strong performance but falls short when you want to measure the performance of a multiple-database ecosystem.

A better test is to show how the database solution scales while supporting several SQL Server databases. Scalability is the capability of the database solution to support existing workloads with the potential to accommodate more databases for future growth. The traditional challenge with servers and storage has been growth of the database ecosystem, which has among the most resource-demanding and latency-sensitive applications. For example, as more databases are added to existing infrastructure, processor and storage contention can affect performance. Scalability in the cloud era means greater growth potential while performance remains consistent. Tradeoffs, such as sacrificing application responsiveness due to the growth of the database ecosystem, affect performance and cost of ownership. Today’s IT organizations are looking for database solutions that offer far greater scalability and performance to meet their success metrics.

The new Ready Solutions for Microsoft SQL Server reference architecture has been validated with Dell EMC PowerEdge servers and Dell EMC XtremIO X2 all-flash storage. In addition to validating the solution with SQL Server, the Dell EMC labs pushed the boundaries of scalability testing by running 16 virtualized databases in parallel—8 on Windows Server 2016 VMs and 8 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) VMs. Key test findings include:

The PowerEdge R840 servers demonstrated strong scalability. The database load on each of the two PowerEdge servers meant oversubscription of CPUs to the virtual machines. Each server had significant unused processor resources while delivering on performance.

The XtremIO X2 array delivered sub-500-microsecond latencies while supporting 275,000-plus IOPS with 72 flash drives. The achievable IOPS per the XtremIO X2 specification sheet is 220,000 IOPS. We found no tradeoff between IOPS and latency during our tests on the XtremIO X2 array.

Microsoft SQL Server 2017

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2017 is no longer just a solution for IT — it delivers 360-degree business intelligence on any device and provides the ability to manage data both on-premises and in the Microsoft Azure® cloud. SQL Server 2017 represents a major step towards making SQL Server a platform that gives you choices of development languages, data types, and operating systems by bringing the power of SQL Server to Linux, Linux-based Docker containers, and Windows. When you embrace Microsoft SQL Server 2017, you’ll be able to gain deeper insights from all your data. With capabilities that go beyond business intelligence, SQL Server 2017 performs advanced analytics within your database and presents rich visualizations for business insights. In addition, SQL Server 2017 delivers a database platform for hybrid cloud, enabling you to easily build, deploy and manage solutions that span on-premises and in the cloud.

And even if all that SQL Server 2017 provides is not enough to drive you towards making a change, the priorities outlined by CIO’s for 2019 (seen here) and the upcoming end of support for SQL server 2005, 2008 and 2008 R2 should be cause for consideration…

IDG: A Guide to the CIO’s 2019 Tech Priorities (Dec 2018)

A Guide to the CIO’s 2019 Tech Priorities

  • About two-thirds (67%) of IT leaders expect their cloud computing spending to increase in 2019, which shows that organizations are either investing in new cloud tools or upgrading their current solutions. When asked what their single most important IT project is currently, 10% of IT executives said cloud computing.

Gartner: Insights From the 2019 CIO Agenda Report; 2019 CIO Agenda: Secure the Foundation for Digital Business (October 2018)

  • According to Gartner – Digital at scale demands new ways of doing business including:
    • Better consumer engagement
    • Faster delivery of digital ‘products’
    • AND A sound, secure information and technology foundation
  • CIOs are also increasing their investment in off-premises capabilities while decreasing investment in on-premises capabilities. In many cases, prior capabilities such as ERP are still required but the means of delivery have evolved. More than half of organizations surveyed have moved at least one function to the cloud, and 1/5 of top performers are running completely cloud-based ERP.

  • The announcement of end of support for SQL Server 2005 and 2008/2008 R2 is also creating a compelling need to transition. End of extended support for 2005 was in April 2016 and 2008/2008R2 is coming fast – July 9, 2019. This means Microsoft will no longer deliver security updates for these releases and as a result customers who have not upgraded to SQL Server 2012 or higher are putting their valuable data and business services at risk. Businesses will be opening up potential weaknesses to hackers/malware and run the risk of not meeting compliance standards and industry regulations, both of which can result in costly fines, loss of business and damage to their reputation.

XtremIO X2 inline data reduction technology reduced the size of a 1 TB SQL Server database to 239 GB, for a data reduction ratio of 3.52 to 1.

The reference architecture delivered substantial consolidation savings:

One PowerEdge R840 server supported eight virtualized SQL Server databases.

XtremIO X2 inline data reduction savings enabled greater consolidation on allflash storage.

This guide provides a detailed overview of the test findings, including a review of performance differences between SQL Server running on Windows Server and RHEL.

This reference architecture offers a great degree of sizing flexibility to meet business requirements. You can start with a minimal configuration that can grow incrementally or with larger configurations to support hundreds of databases. Having been validated with SQL Server, the architecture enables accurate sizing and faster time-to-value.

The eight Windows VMs generated a total of 164,166 IOPS and the Linux VMs generated an additional 111,704 IOPS, for a grand total of 275,870 IOPS on XtremIO X2. The following figure shows the amount of IOPS for each operating system as part of the whole. Per the XtremIO X2 specifications, a fully populated X-Brick module with 72 flash drives supports a maximum of 220,000 IOPS. In our testing of the Ready Architecture for SQL Server, the IOPS load exceeded the maximum by 55,870 IOPS.

You can download the white paper by clicking the screenshot below

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