HP Enterprise DBC Appliance

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Microsoft and HP have gone into partnership to create a Database Consolidation Appliance that is specifically optimized for SQL Server 2008 R2. This consolidation appliance gives you the ability to reduce your SQL Server sprawl and reduce your total cost of ownership for your SQL Server environment.

So What is the Appliance?

The appliance can start out as a 1/2 rack and you can expand to a full rack and add extra racks 9 racks giving you a total of 10 racks for your consolidated environment or private cloud. If you have a full rack it consists of:

  • 8 Blades
    • HP BL465c G7
  • 16 * 12 cores (192 Cores)
  • 2 TB of Ram
  • 54 TB of raw disk (Raid 10)
    • 2 * HP P2000 Storage Array
    • 6 * D2700 SAS drives
  • 2 * HP ProCurve E2910 1G
  • 2 * HP ProCurve E6600 10 G
  • 1 * HP Virtual Connect Flex 10 10 GB ethernet module
  • Windows Server
  • Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft System Center

To see the resiliency of what this appliance can take and show how the appliances high availability can take abuse and still keeping running without dropping a beat have a look at this video by Steve Wort.

To see the IO Capabilities of the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance have a look at this video by Ravi Ramachandran.

What can the Appliance do for you?

If you have a large SQL Server sprawl and you are wanting to consolidate this to allow you reduce your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by reducing:

  • Possible number of Data Centers
  • Number of Racks
  • Number of physical servers
  • Decreasing the power usage
  • Decreasing the Cooling requirements
  • Decreasing the environment support man hours
  • Decreasing the number of SQL Server licenses

The Appliance can allow you to create your own Private Cloud.

The Appliance can help you implement SQL as a Service with or without charge back.

Provide you out of the box High Availability for all of your servers being consolidated.

How can you know if the Appliance is for you?

The first thing you need to do is down load the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Tool 6.5 (MAP). This is a free tool that allows you to investigate your environment so that you can identify all of the servers in your environment, what versions, what editions, what tools exist. To achieve this there are some pre-requisites that you need to meet:

  • Domain Admin account in every Domain, Network Segment as the tool is not able to run across different domains or across different network segments.
  • An account that has Sysadmin permissions in your instances of SQL Server.

These accounts and permissions allow the tool to connect to each of the servers that have been identified to retrieve the appropriate windows information and SQL Server information. Something that you should consider when undertaking the environment investigation is that the MAP tool may not give you all of the servers in your environment. I would suggest that you make use of some other tools available to investigate your environment to get that overview with every server to include into the next steps. Some other tools that you can look at using are:

The investigation phase could take some time depending on the size of your environment.

Now that you have a view of your current environment you need to start the next step which is to collect some performance stats of your environment. This is achieved once again using the MAP 6.5 tool. You can import the server list which you generated from phase 1 – Your Investigation phase. The performance metric data collection is a light weight process that collects performance metrics every 5 minutes for your windows servers (both physical and virtual) and SQL Server instances. This collection phase should be run for a suitable period of time to give you appropriate information for you environments workloads.

Now that we have collected the performance metric information the MAP 6.5 tool gives you the ability to generate reports which give you the breakdown of your environment. There are some preconfigured rules that the MAP tool uses to indicate if the servers are suitable or not to be placed onto the HP Enterprise DBC Appliance. If your server is deemed to be unsuitable the reports do give you reasons as to the unsuitability to allow you to investigate further. For those servers which are identified to be suitable they are broken down into the Small, Medium or Large Virtual Machines.

VM Type CPU Memory Disk Size Disk Utilisation
Small 1 vCPU 1 GB 100 GB 50 IOPS
Medium 2 vCPU 4 GB 200 GB 400 IOPS
Large 4 vCPU 16 GB 400 GB 2000 IOPS

Depending on the number of virtual machine types that you have to migrate either P2V from your physical servers, V2V from your existing virtual servers or creating new VM’s and migrating your instances onto the newly created VM’s will determine the total number of virtual servers that you can host on the DBC Appliance.

When you are analysing the reports generated out of the MAPS tool it will give you a breakdown of where your VM’s will be placed onto the various hosts in the DBC Appliance based on balancing the resource usage, you need to understand your environment and understand the output as from experience when performing this on a client site, the MAP Tool 6.5 recommended that 10 hosts or 2 appliances were needed to house the appropriate number of virtual machines. Upon further investigation into the actual resource utilisation this was not needed and the number of hosts to house the virtual machines allowed for recommending 1 DBC Appliance. So just be careful with the output.

If you are considering creating your own private cloud or in need to consolidating your environment, this DBC Appliance could be for you. Contact your local Microsoft representative to start the discussions.

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I am a Microsoft Data Platform MVP as well as a Microsoft Certified Master working as the Principal Consultant here at SQL Masters Consulting. When I am not working with the SQL Server Stack I like to get away to the Snow and spend time Snowboarding.