Hyper-V Shared Nothing Live Migration In Windows Server 2012– VM Mobility Rules


I see and hear some people shrug at the idea of Shared Nothing Live Migration, dismissing it as marginally useful. Some do state they’ll have it as well but that it’s not that valuable. Well I disagree totally. A lot of the time these remarks are due to a lack of understanding about how several technologies in the Microsoft stack work together. Combine this with tunnel vision and the fear of some vendors and you get a lot of FUD.

I advise you to look beyond the virtualization stack, to the issues that people who are building infrastructure for dynamic, flexible and * cloud  data centers are dealing with.

Look, as “architects” we have to design & build for failure. We all know that it’s just a matter of time before things go BOINK.  So we build in redundancy, some of this within a silo, some of this is between silos. The two approaches compliment each other. What this gives you is options and everybody who knows me, especially those who work  with me has heard my mantras: “Assumptions are the mother of all F* Ups” and “Options, options, options”. Make sure you design & build in options. This way you can maneuver your self out of a bad situation. Don’t ever assume you’re out of options, especially not when you put some in the design on purpose Winking smile. It’s also very useful beyond that because a lot of you might agree with me that silos and fork lift, down time inducing upgrades, migrations, transitions or replacements are expensive and bad. This is where Share Nothing Live Migrations comes into play. You gain mobility over silos. That silo might be a server, a cluster, storage or mixtures of them all.

With Shared Nothing Live Migration we can migrate virtual machines between those silos with nothing more than a network cable.This is huge people. You are no longer trapped in that silo. In this context it provides you with all the options & flexibility mobility gives you. even it the technology itself is not about high availability.

Some very useful scenarios

Migrate virtual machines from an old cluster to a new cluster with out any down time

  1. Migrate virtual machines from stand alone hyper-V hosts to a fail over cluster with out any down time
  2. Migrate virtual machines from one stand alone host to another one for maintenance, again, without any down time
  3. Choose different types if storage & Hyper-V deployment depending in IOPS, redundancy, availability, manageability needs. With Shared Nothing Live Migration you can be confident  that  you can move your virtual machine from one environment to the other when needs change. This is breaking the storage silo boundaries open people! This is huge … think about it.

How it works

The details are for another post but basically is made possible by the combination of Live Storage Migration and Live Migration.

First the Storage is Live Migrated

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After the Live Storage Migration is done the state of the virtual machines is copied and synchronized.

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This Is Mobility

I hear the competition shrug.  It isn’t high availability. Well indeed no one who understands the feature ever said it was. It’s virtual machine mobility. Look at the scenarios above and you’ll see that this ability could very well be game changer in how we look at storage & design solutions.

Speed & Performance

What did we hear on this front: “it will be too slow to be really useful”. Really? Well let’s see:

  1. The world is converging to 10Gbps and after that 40Gbps and up will come
  2. NIC Teaming in box With Windows 2012 which can provide more bandwidth.
  3. SMB 3.0 Multichannel. This provides multiple channels per connection spreading the load over multiple CPUs
  4. SMB Direct, have you seen the speeds this achieves?

Before you state that this doesn’t work on Live Migration … as confirmed at TechEd 2012 Europe with Jose Baretto this does work when both the source AND the target is an SMB 3.0 share. This means yet another reason to use SMB 3.0 share for your Hyper-V storage needs! So unlike what Tad at vLimited keeps saying, unhindered by any knowledge, it is a very valuable feature and it can be extremely fast given the right connectivity and storage that can handle the IOPS. And no, the fact that it’s unbuffered doesn’t impact this to much. Test this by using xcopy/robocopy /J with a VHD over your infrastructure.

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Even if you’re on a budget and cannot go for the RDMA NICs & SMB 3.0 you have several options to get very decent virtual machine mobility and not be stuck in a silo. And for those who want to leverage this feature to create and agile & mobile virtual environment you have some very nice technologies available to optimize to your needs & budgets.

Conclusion

Virtual Machine mobility and storage mobility are very interesting features that provide for a previously unknown flexibility. Windows Server 2012 makes us rethink our storage approaches (I sure am) and I’m very interested in seeing how this will evolve.