Data Center Tech Blog

Today we announced major enhancements to our FlashSoft® software product line. We’ve upgraded FlashSoft software for Windows Server and Linux to version 3.8. This new version significantly increases application performance, especially for database applications in which performance is constrained by I/O latency.

What’s New?

Anyone running Microsoft SQL Server or other databases on Hyper-V, will see improvements that optimize the cache operation for their use cases. For Linux users, we’ve extended coverage of Linux operating systems to include Ubuntu 14.04, SLES 12 and RHEL/CentOS 7.1.

Recently, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about our caching software on VMware vSphere, especially the integration of our FlashSoft 4.0 software with VMware vSphere 6, through the VMware vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO). But one of the things that sets FlashSoft apart is our broad support for server operating systems and hypervisors, including Microsoft Windows Server, Linux (including RHEL/CentOS, SUSE and Ubuntu), as well as Windows Server Hyper-V as well as VMware vSphere.

Benefits for Databases on Hyper-V Virtual Machines

This new release enhances our ability to support database workloads in Hyper-V through a capability called “file-level policy-based caching.” In FlashSoft 3.8 for Windows Server, the administrator can set a policy to exclude certain files on an accelerated volume from the cache. This is especially useful in Hyper-V environments where all the virtual hard disk files (VHDs) are stored on the same accelerated volume, and caching some files may have an adverse effect on the cache’s ability to improve performance. For example, in a virtualized SQL Server environment, excluding the VHD files that store the database log can be useful, depending on the configuration. Using the new file exclusion policy can deliver maximum benefits of caching without modifying VM configurations.

In our testing, caching an entire volume improved a SQL Server workload’s performance by 2.8 times in a Windows Server Hyper-V environment, and that performance gain was increased to 5.93x when the file-exclusion feature was used to cache only the most critical data.

File Exclusion Performance Increase with FlashSoft Software

File Exclusion Performance Increase with FlashSoft Software

FlashSoft already has a unique capability to support Hyper-V cluster functions like Live Migration through its support for Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs). This enables write-through caching with support for complete virtual machine mobility throughout the cluster, as any node can access the VHD files on the shared volume.

Benefits for SQL Server AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instances

This support for CSVs also has benefits for SQL Server AlwaysOn Failover Cluster instances that leverage Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) functionality to provide local high availability through redundancy at the server-instance level—a failover cluster instance (FCI). An FCI is a single instance of SQL Server that is installed across WSFC nodes. An FCI appears to be an instance of SQL Server running on a single computer, but the FCI provides failover from one WSFC node to another if the current node becomes unavailable.

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Because FlashSoft 3.8 supports the use of Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs), when the cache is used in write-through mode, it supports acceleration of Windows Server nodes when used with SQL Server AlwaysOn Clusters.

Solid-State Caching Combines Performance And Value

Like the previous versions of FlashSoft, the primary benefits of this new version of FlashSoft software include:

  • Improved application performance, especially for applications constrained by storage IO.
  • Non-disruptive to existing storage infrastructure. FlashSoft software reduces the storage latency to your applications, without any changes to the storage infrastructure itself.
  • Economical way to deploy flash. FlashSoft software can be deployed on a server-by-server basis, and only uses flash for “hot data” (data most frequently used by the applications).
  • Can significantly extend the useful life of existing storage assets, by providing “SAN relief” – the offloading of storage IO to the server-based cache.

Most typical line-of-business applications, including Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and applications based on databases, including Microsoft SQL Server MySQL, and Oracle, will see significant performance increases when an enterprise SSD is enabled as a storage cache in the server through the use of the FlashSoft software.

FlashSoft 3.8 at PASS Summit – Booth #222

If you are attending PASS Summit in Seattle this week, we’re demonstrating the benefits of FlashSoft 3.8 and showing performance test results using industry-standard benchmarks. In our performance testing with a standard OLTP workload (HammerDB on SQL Server) we observed the transactions per minute (TPM) were 4.4 times greater with a FlashSoft-enabled solid-state cache, versus the same server and storage configuration without caching.

FlashSoft software is “Certified for Windows Server” (sometimes referred to as WHQL certification), and is a digitally signed driver. So you can install it in your Windows Server with confidence of complete compatibility.

You can learn more about all of our PASS Summit activities and various SQL Server demos here on our blog or follow us live on Twitter at @FlashSoftTeam.

Improve Performance in Almost Any Environment

FlashSoft software is a great solution for improving performance of applications based on SQL Server, regardless of whether the environment is a “bare metal” Windows Server, a VM running on VMware vSphere, or a virtualized environment based on Windows Server Hyper-V. Wherever you’re running business-critical databases, FlashSoft can improve their performance with a solid-state cache in the server.

Feel free to reach out with questions in the comments below. You can learn more about FlashSoft software here.


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