Wednesday 12 December 2018

Intel Technology Provider for 2019

We just received word of our renewal for the Intel Technology Provider program:


We've been system builders since the company began in 2003 with my building systems for more than a decade before that!

One of the comments that gets made on a somewhat frequent basis is something along the lines of being a "Dinosaur". ;)

Or, this question gets asked quite a lot, "Why?"

There are many reasons for the "Why". Some that come off the top are:

  • We design solutions that meet very specific performance needs such as 150K IOPS, 500K IOPS, 1M IOPS and more
  • Our solutions get tested and thrashed before they ever get sold
    • We have a parts bin with at least five figures worth of broken vendor's promises
  • We have a solid understanding of component and firmware interactions
  • Our systems come with guaranteed longevity and performance
    • How many folks can say that when "building" a solution in a Vendor's "Solution Tool"?
  • We avoid the finger pointing that can happen when things don't live up to muster

The following is one of our lab builds. A two node Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) cluster utilizing 24 Intel SSD DC-4600 or D3-4610 SATA series SSDs flat meaning no cache layer. The upper graphs are built in Grafana while the bottom left is Performance Monitor watching the RoCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet via Mellanox) and the bottom right is the VMFleet WatchCluster PowerShell.


We just augmented the two node setup with 48 more Intel SSD D3-4610 SATA SSDs for the other two nodes and are waiting on a set of Intel SSD 750 series NVMe PCIe AiCs (Add-in-Card) to bring our 750 count up to 3 per node for NVMe cache.

Why the Intel SSD 750 Series? They have Power Loss Protection built-in. Storage Spaces Direct will not allow any cache devices hold any data in the storage's local cache if it is volatile. What becomes readily discoverable is that writing straight through to NAND is a very _slow_ process relative to having that cache power protected!

We're looking to hit 1M IOPS flat SSD and well over that when the NVMe cache setup gets introduced. There's a possibility that we'll be seeing some Intel Optane P4800X PCIe AiCs in the somewhat near future as well. We're geared-up for a 2M+ run there. :D

Here's another test series we were running to saturate the node's CPUs and storage to see what kind of numbers we would get at the guest level:


Again, the graphs in the above shot are Grafana based.

The snip below is our little two node S2D cluster (E3-1270v6, 64GB ECC, Mellanox 10GbE RoCE, 2x Intel DC-4600 SATA SSD Cache, 6x 6TB HGST SATA) pushing 250K IOPS:


We're quite proud of our various accomplishments over the years with our high availability solutions running across North America and elsewhere in the world.

We've not once had a callback asking us to go and pick-up our gear and refund the payment because it did not meet the needs of the customer as promised.

Contrary to the "All in the Cloud" crowd there is indeed a niche for those of us that provide highly available solution sets to on-premises clients. Those solutions allow them to have the uptime they need without the extra costs of running all-in the cloud or hybrid with peak resources in the cloud. Plus, they know where their data is.

Thanks for reading!

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
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