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  • EMC CLARiiON CX Disk Offset Configuration

    Posted on March 17th, 2010 ashinn No comments

    I’ll be updating this with various OS method of setting the disk offset. This is mostly for me to consolidate my notes. It should be noted this is valid for MOST current EMC disk technologies, but you should always consult the documentation to make sure.

    If anyone has an OS to add, or sees an error let me know.

    Microsoft Windows Server 2003: 

    1. Start -> Run -> cmd.exe
    2. diskpart.exe
    3. List disk and find the new LUN you’re wanting to offset by number
    4. select disk #, where # = the LUN you wanted in step 3.
    5. create partition primary align=X, where X = 32, 64 or 128 (in my case, 64).
    6. format the disk in disk manager/assign a letter/use a mount point.

    Microsoft Windows Server 2008:

    Technically this is no longer required. This is because Server 2008 automatically sets the offset to 1MB on partition creation.

    Linux / older (2.x) ESX / etc:

    1. On service console, execute “fdisk /dev/sdX” (or “fdisk /dev/emcpowerX” for clariion systems), where X is the device on which you would like to create the new partition (a, b, c, etc).
    2. Type “n” to create a new partition
    3. Type “p” to create a primary partition
    4. Type “1” to create partition #1
    5. Select the defaults to use the full disk.
    6. Type “t” to change partition type
    7. Type “1” to select partition #1
    8. Depending on your Linux environment and need: type “83” to set type to Linux partition, or type “82” to set type to Linux swap, or type “8e” to set type to Linux LVM, or type “fb” to set type to VMFS (vmware file system). For other partition types, type “L” to display the list of codes.
    9. Type “x” to get into the expert mode
    10. Type “b” to specify the starting block of partitions
    11. Type “1” to select partition #1
    12. Type “128” to make partition to align on 64KB boundary (block No. 128)
    13. Type “w” to write new partition information to disk.
    14. Exit fdisk and format the partition with your favorie filesystem.

    Solaris:

    To be added.

  • Making Exchange 2007 perform on ESX.

    Posted on March 11th, 2010 ashinn No comments

    For a couple years we’ve maintained a full lab environment of our production hosted Microsoft Exchange 2007 CCR cluster. I have to be honest, and the Exchange administrator would agree, its never really performed that well. Finally the Exchange admin pretty much got ticked at the performance the other day and while he was out on vacation I thought I’d see what I could do. Its now performing about 100x the speed it ever did, and when he comes back Monday I hope he’s happy. More than anything we’ve just not had the time to really dig into the issue(s).

    Needless to say over these couple years we’ve all learned quite a bit about how to eek more performance out of ESX, and in particular Exchange on ESX. I thought I’d share a bunch of the concepts and tidbits in one spot I used to arrive at better performance. The old tricks of throwing RAM and vCPU’s at the problem just didn’t cut it.

    Its worth noting that people these days might not choose to use CCR on a virtualized environment (or never did), however I feel these concepts bleed over into stand-alone or maybe even FT/vLockStep implementations going forward.

    First and foremost, I invite you to read this article on Exchange 2007’s memory managment strategy:

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2008/08/06/449484.aspx

    Okay, now that you’ve read that lets continue. Suffice it to say Exchange literally grabs every piece of memory and page it can…. if you let it (which most people do for cache/performance reasons).

    As most of you reading know, ESX has quite a few tricks up its sleeve in the memory management department itself and I invite you to read about those concepts in the vSphere/ESX manuals. Obviously the VM’s have access to physical RAM, shares RAM pages when possible, begs/borrows/steals from other VM’s (balloon) and when necessary swaps to disk as a last resort. After careful examination of the performance logs of the Exchange VM’s, it became very obvious ESX was swapping.

    Now, we happen to have an entire lab cluster and nobody really cares about performance … well nobody except the persnickity Exchange admin anyway. After doing some research I came to the conclusion I didn’t want the Exchange servers to swap memory … period. I then set a reservation on the VM to the exact same size as the RAM I’d granted. In this case 3GB. This effectivly disables the vswap since the host has no choice but to ante up.  Doing  just this provided an incredible performance boost to the Exchange cluster, but I scratched a little deeper.

    Within the VM itself I observed that it was paging quite a bit, and as the above referenced article shows… it always will. So to extract maximum paging performance I decided to create a couple LUN’s and mapped them raw (RDM) to the Exchange servers. I then did some research and came to the conclusion 4kb was the optimal block size for a raw paging volume and if anyone has differing opinions on that PLEASE post them. I then created page files equal to granted memory +20MB. After doing all of that and rebooting, I could tell we’re really cooking with gas now.

    Going forward I would like to talk to the Exchange adminstrator about migrating his VMDK based message stores to RDM as well.

    So, in closing … hopefully some of these ideas will help you come up with your own Exchange performance issue resolution. I’m sure there are more tricks I need to find, but right now I’m pretty happy with the results.

    Till next time…