Planning W2008 R2 Hyper-V on HP ProLiant Blade Servers

I’ve not been keeping up with my reading as of late.  I missed that this document from HP came out – I was distracted with actually deploying a Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V cluster on HP ProLiant Blade Servers and HP EVA SAN storage instead of reading about it 🙂

This document appears to be essential reading for any engineer or consultant who is sizing, planning or deploying Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V onto HP Blade servers and HP EVA, MSA or LeftHand storage.

It starts off with a sizing tool.  That’s probably the trickiest bit of the whole process.  Disk used to be easy because we normally would have used Fixed VHDs in production.  But now we can use Dynamic VHDs knowing that the performance is almost indistinguishable. The best process for disk sizing now is base it on data, not the traditional approach of how many disks do you need.  Allow some budget for purchasing more disk.  You can quickly expand a LUN, then the CSV and then the VHD/file system.  Next comes the memory.  Basically each GB of VM ram costs a few MB in overhead charges.  You need to also allow 2GB for the host or parent partition.  What that means is that a host with 32GB of RAM realistically has about 29GB available for VM’s. The HP tool is pretty cool because it will pull in information from Microsoft’s MAP.  The free Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit for Hyper-V will scan your servers and identify potential virtualisation candidates.  This gives you a very structured approach to planning.

The document talks about the blade components and blade servers.  There’s 3 types of blade from HP.

  • Full height: These are expensive but powerful.  You can get 8 of them in an enclosure.  Their size means you can get more into them.
  • Half height: You can get 16 of these into an enclosure, the same kind used by the full heights.  16 is coincidentally the maximum number of nodes you can put in a Windows cluster.  These are the ones we use at work.  Using Mezzanine cards you can add enough HBA’s and NIC’s to build a best practice W2008 R2 Hyper-V cluster.
  • Quarter height or Shorties: These machines are smaller and thus can have less components.  Using some of the clever 10Gig Ethernet stuff you can oversubscribe their NIC’s to create virtual NIC’s for iSCSI and Virtual Switches.  I’d say these are OK for limited requirements deployments.  Their custom enclosure can be a nice all-in-one featuring storage and tape drives (note you can also do this with the other blades but you’ll never get the capacities to match the server numbers).

What is really cool is that HP then gives you reference architectures:

  • Small: A single C3000 enclosure with internalised storage.  MSA or JBOD (un-clustered hosts) storage is something I would also consider
  • Medium: A single C7000 enclosure with LeftHand storage.  I’d also consider MSA or EVA storage here.  LeftHand is incredibly flexible and scalable but it is expensive.
  • Large: I’m drooling while looking at this.  Multiple (you can get 4 in a 42U rack, with 64 half height blades) C7000 enclosures and 2 racks of EVA 8400 storage.  Oooh Mama!

There’s even a bill of materials for all this!  It’s a great starting point.  Every environment is going to be different so make sure you don’t just order from the menu.

It’s not too long of a document.  The only thing really missing is a setup guide.  But hey, that’s all the more reason to read my blog 😉