Thin provisioned space reclamation for 3PAR SANs has never been easier, even when using Windows 2003 and 2008 in a thin-on-thin environment.
“On the first initial run, PerfectStorage reclaimed 3.1TB, with zero downtime, zero impact and it was all automated. It even ran at some points during production hours with zero impact due to StealthPatrol. The 3.1TB of space reclaimed on the 3PAR SAN equates to a 7% reduction of overall consumed space, and we currently only have PerfectStorage installed on 14% of the fleet. Overall I think it’s a great product.”
Clinton Prentice, Senior Systems Engineer, Infrastructure Solutions and Design, UnitingCare NSW.ACT
The NTFS Silent Treatment
In a Windows environment, there is a disconnect between what the NTFS file system sees and what the hypervisor and/or storage controller see when it comes to free space that is available to be reclaimed. NTFS will see a deleted file as free space that is no longer in use but NTFS fails to communicate this information to the hypervisor and/or storage controller, which still sees that space as being in use.
Correcting this has required time-consuming manual intervention for storage admins like Clinton Prentice, Senior Systems Engineer at UnitingCare, one of Australia’s largest non-government providers of community services for children, young people and families, people with disabilities, and older Australians in urban, rural and remote communities:
“Our environment consists of dual 3PAR P10000 SANs and all storage at the controller level is thin provisioned. All 3PAR volumes are configured for Zero Detect. We run approximately 40 physical servers and 450 VMs on ESXi 5.1 U1 hosts. All storage at the VM layer is thin provisioned also, thus we have Thin-On-Thin provisioning. We have scheduled CompactCPG tasks that run weekly.
“Most of the fleet is Windows 2008 R2 SP1, with some legacy 2003 servers in the mix.”
Prentice was reclaiming space from his thin-provisioned environment manually with SDelete, fsutil and vmkfstools but these methods proved too time-consuming, even with scripts he wrote for partial automation.
“This process worked fine, but it’s manual and painful on a large environment, and I would rather be spending my time on more important things…”
He was looking for an automated solution and he found it with PerfectStorage, which uses Smart Zero Fill and SCSI UNMAP to reclaim free space.
Easy, Automated Thin-on-Thin Provisioned Space Reclamation
Prentice easily deployed and configured PerfectStorage to monitor, analyze and reclaim space on 5 physical servers and 59 VMs. Installed on just 14% of his entire fleet, PerfectStorage reclaimed 3.1TB on the initial test run – 7% of entire consumed space – with zero downtime and zero impact, even during production hours.
Prentice’s favorite features of PerfectStorage include StealthPatrol, which provides smart automation:
“StealthPatrol allows the reclamation to take place at any time the server is idle (can set exclusion periods) and allows you to set CPU/Memory and Disk I/O thresholds which kick in and pause the reclaim process on the server should they elevate above a set level. You can also specify application/s, that if running will pause the reclamation process.”
…and Virtualization Awareness, which allows PerfectStorage to monitor resource usage in the virtualized environment:
“Virtual Awareness gives PerfectStorage the ability to monitor individual ESXi Host or vCenter. This allows PerfectStorage to see the utilisation of the underlying host that the VM resides on and can dynamically adjust reclaim activity based on host resource usage.”
Prentice plans to deploy and run PerfectStorage on the remaining VMs and physical servers. Learn more about PerfectStorage and try a test run yourself.