If you were at MMS 2008 and heard Bob Muglia’s Keynote, you already know that MSDN.microsoft.com (MSDN) and TechNet.microsoft.com (TechNet) have been successfully running on Hyper-V. Specifically, we migrated MSDN March 31 2008, and then followed up with TechNet April 18 2008.
Hyper-V Beta Deployment
Our production testing began in early February 2008, when we installed the Hyper-V role on two physical servers, with each hosting three VMs running MSDN. Production load on these six VMs progressed from a cautious 1 percent to 20 percent very quickly and smoothly. During the next six weeks, we tested various amounts of load and VM combinations to better understand the performance characteristics and scalability of the product and the site. MSDN was also deployed directly onto matching physical servers to compare VMs against physical performance, scale, and stability with the same load characteristics.
In an effort to push the site and Hyper-V to their performance limits, we replayed production IIS logs by using the Web Capacity Analysis Tool (WCAT) to understand the upper range performance and scale characteristics.
We tested and compared one, two, and finally three VMs per physical server. The data gathered is in line with those discussed in the "MSDN and TechNet Virtualization Results" section later in this article. The performance and stability of MSDN on the Hyper-V Beta release were so encouraging that, with RC0 nearing release, we began making preparations to move to the next phase of implementation.
Hyper-V RC0 Deployment
With the release of RC0, we moved forward with the full virtualization of the MSDN front-end Web servers. Testing to date provided the physical and virtualized server capacity targets for peak load and data center redundancy. Although testing indicated two VMs per physical server were optimal for MSDN on these particular physical servers, we maintained the three VM per server architecture. This allowed us to continue evaluating CPU and disk oversubscription.
The deployment is described in Table 1:
Dual socket Quad-Core Intel processors 32GB RAM 4x146GB disk drives
4 Virtual processors 10GB RAM 250GB dynamic VHD
Operating system – Parent
Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V RC0 Reserved 2GB RAM from 32GB total
Operating system – VMs
Windows Server 2008 Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0
We placed the first two servers built on Hyper-V RC0 into production to validate that the stability and performance was still in line with that of the beta release. We performed the same load and performance testing for RC0 as we did for the beta deployment while we built out the remaining VMs required for the full deployment.
The VMs in each data center were configured behind a hardware load balancing (HLB) cluster along with the existing physical servers. This allowed us to transfer traffic to the VMs while having the physical servers in place in the event that something unexpected occurred.
Deployment Items of Note
The MSDN VMs were deployed as dynamic virtual hard disks (VHDs), mainly because we were unsure whether we would ultimately deploy two or three VMs on the available physical drive space. Although dynamic disks do not perform quite as well as fixed or physical disk options, this allowed us flexibility at a time when we were deploying VMs manually. In the next stage of our Hyper-V adoption, we plan to implement a storage area network (SAN) infrastructure with the storage resources available to allow testing of all disk options.
We deployed TechNet on the MSDN VMs after our testing proved the VMs were stable and performed well. This is in line with our MSDN and TechNet build and deployment processes, and therefore, dovetails nicely into our future automation goals.
Virtualization Environment for MSDN and TechNet
Figure 1 provides a high-level view of the physical and virtual architecture MSDN and TechNet. It illustrates how Hyper-V fits into the MSDN and TechNet architecture, with each physical server hosting three virtual machines with full data center redundancy.
MSDN and TechNet Virtualization Results
The results of our implementation MSDN and TechNet on Hyper-V RC0 are summarized in the following sections: Stability, Performance, and Lessons Learned.
Note: Requests per 1 percent CPU was a primary performance benchmark for our MSDN deployment because it distilled Hyper-V's effects down to a simple, but meaningful, number for these Web sites.
Figure 2 illustrates a detailed breakout of virtual machine, Hyper-V, and guest CPU utilization.
Figure 2. 5-6% CPU Hyper-V Cost on Physical Blade with Reasonably Linear Progression as Number of Requests Increase
Figure 3 illustrates how we used two blade servers to compare high utilization physical to virtual scalability. Lower CPU utilization is better.
Figure 3. Reasonably Linear CPU Utilization Progression Using MSDN Production Load
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