|By Chris Evans||
|October 5, 2012 11:51 AM EDT||
This is one of a series of posts discussing the new features in Windows Server 2012, now shipping and previously in public beta as Windows Server 8. You can find references to other related posts at the end of this article. This post reviews the new Hyper-V 3.0 feature, Virtual Fibre Channel.
Virtual Fibre Channel (VFC) enables a Hyper-V guest to access the physical storage HBAs (host bus adaptors) installed in the Hyper-V server. Normally, storage adaptors would be reserved for the use of the Hyper-V guest itself however this new feature acts as a passthrough, enabling any Hyper-V 3.0 guest (at the right O/S level) to access the HBAs and so connect directly to fibre channel storage devices.
VFC is implemented through the use of NPIV, or N_Port ID virtualisation. This a fibre channel standard that permits a single HBA to act as multiple nodes within a SAN environment. Normally, a single HBA connects to the SAN and presents a physical ID known as a World Wide Port Name or WWPN. This deals with the physical connectivity of the fabric. At the same time, the connecting server or storage device presents a node name ID or WWNN (World Wide Node Name). A WWNN can be unique per adaptor as is the case with most host-based HBAs or can be a single node representing an entire device such as a storage array. NPIV allows a single physical adaptor to present multiple node names to the fabric and so effectively “virtualise” the physical device. Each new node also has to have virtual WWPNs in order to adhere with fibre channel standards.
The benefits of being able to use NPIV to virtualise an HBA is that each guest in a Hyper-V environment can be assigned its own WWNN and so have a direct connection to the SAN. It may not be immediately obvious how this helps when virtual server infrastructure is supposed to abstract the physical layer but there are a number of distinct advantages in zoning storage devices in this way:
- Zoning can be done to the individual guest and is therefore more secure (albeit that it still goes through the hypervisor)
- Tape drives can be supported, so backup software can write directly to devices
- Storage that requires failover, snapshots and other SCSI based functionality can be directly supported, especially where non-standard SCSI commands are used
VFC is configured in Hyper-V Manager using the new Virtual SAN Manager option (see the screenshots). Only HBAs and firmware that support NPIV can be used for VFC. This means newer HBAs only, for example Emulex HBAs at speeds of 4Gb/s and above. Obviously the SAN fabric needs to support NPIV too. An HBA can only be attributed to one virtual SAN, however a virtual SAN can contain multiple HBAs. Once the virtual SAN is created, a virtual HBA can be assigned to a guest using the Add Hardware section under Settings. Fibre channel IDs can be set as any 16-digit hexadecimal number, although it’s not advisable to use values that are already reserved out for vendors. Microsoft defaults to some standard values, which can be auto-generated to new values through the “Create Addresses” button. As yet I’ve not worked out why there are two sets of addresses as only the first appears to be visible on the fabric.
As soon as a guest is started, the fabric login process begins, even if no guest O/S has been installed. As you can see from screenshot 4, the additional node indicates the source Hyper-V server (in this case PH03) but doesn’t pass through the guest name, indicating it only as “Hyper-V VM Port”. It would be a nice update to be able to see the VM name there.
Using VFC within the Hyper-V guest requires two things; a supported O/S – one of Windows Server 2008, Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012 – plus the installation of the latest Integration Services update that comes with Windows Server 2012. This means that the virtual fibre channel adaptor is not emulated as a native device and so can’t be used with other operating systems like Linux (more on this later). The fifth screenshot shows the emulated HBA controller and tape drive I presented to the host. One question that seems to have been discussed on a number of blogs is the support for tape drives. I can confirm tape drives do work, but can’t see any documentation from Microsoft to say whether they are officially supported.
I chose a tape drive as this is a good way of demonstrating performance. Deploying Backup Exec 2012 onto my Windows 2008 R2 guest, writing to an LTO2 drive, I achieved around 12MB/s, better than I’ve managed with an emulated drive through vSphere 5.0. This is well under the spec of the drive itself (max 40MB/s) but is certainly usable in small environments. More testing is needed here I think, as there appeared to be little overhead on the Hyper-V server to manage the data passthrough.
The Architects View
Virtual Fibre Channel is a great feature for providing native SAN device support. However there are few restrictions on use, most notably on the need to have latest hardware and be using Microsoft platforms. I haven’t yet seen any best practices for using VFC; for example should HBAs be placed in a single virtual SAN or should multiple ones be configured for failover; these are questions that need to be answered. VFC could be massively improved on two fronts; firstly drivers could be provided for other platforms, especially Linux installations. Second, if vendors were able to write code using the virtual device, then virtual SAN appliances (VSA) could use fibre channel rather than be reliant on iSCSI as they are today.
One final comment; Microsoft are doing a poor job of providing detail on these new storage features. There is precious little to find, other than high-level blog information and as mentioned previously, no best practice documentation that I can locate. I’d be happy to be pointed in the direction of anything useful and I will link it from this post.
- Windows Server 2012 (Windows Server “8″) – Storage Spaces
- Windows Server 2012 (Windows Server “8″) – Resilient File System
- Hyper-V Virtual Fibre Channel Overview (technet.microsoft.com)
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Apr. 1, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,668
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Apr. 1, 2015 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 702
SYS-CON Events announced today that Litmus Automation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Litmus Automation’s vision is to provide a solution for companies that are in a rush to embrace the disruptive Internet of Things technology and leverage it for real business challenges. Litmus Automation simplifies the complexity of connected devices applications with Loop, a secure and scalable cloud platform.
Apr. 1, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 845
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
Apr. 1, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 784
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, will provide some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacenter.
Apr. 1, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 729
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Apr. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,143
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, will discuss how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust I...
Apr. 1, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 912
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Apr. 1, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,643
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
Apr. 1, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,092
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Apr. 1, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,672
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Apr. 1, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,299
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
Apr. 1, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,340
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Apr. 1, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,781
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
Apr. 1, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,150
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
Mar. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,235
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
Mar. 30, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,606
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
Mar. 30, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,571
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 29, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,925
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Mar. 29, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,341
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,926