Debunking the myths of why Vmware is better than Hyper-V – Clustered File System…

Today I’m gonna write about something called Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) and as usual, the stories that are told by Vmware.

When I talk to Vmware customers these days, one of the stories I hear (out of many) is that Hyper-V does not have a clustered file system that makes it possible to share storage between cluster nodes.
Looking at Vmware’s web site, I can see where this story originates from as they claim Hyper-V has no clustered file system.

Well, that is simply not true. Hyper-V has for many years now (since the release of Windows 2008 R2) had a feature called Cluster Shared Volumes which makes it possible to share the same storage across multiple cluster nodes and thereby also making live migration possible.

But how does CSV work then?

Well, as said CSV makes the same storage available to all nodes in the cluster, as shown in the picture below.

CSV

It does this by using Failover Clustering in Windows Server to make the storage accesible to all nodes. It does this by using something called a CSV coordinator node, which coordinates some types of transactions to the storage to ensure data consistency.
This coordinator role is completely interchangeable within the cluster and can be transitioned from one node to another as you please.

But CSV does offer more than sharing the same storage between nodes, it also offers fault tolerance. Let’s say that in the above scenario, the link to the storage dies for one of the hosts (for example, someone unplugs a fibre cable, the SAN admins makes an error in zoning or so on). Normally, one would assume that this would cause the virtual machines on that hosts to die as well and be failed over to other hosts causing a loss of service (which would be the case in Vmware for example).
Well, if you’re using CSV then it is a bit different as the node will just begin to ship disk I/O over the network to the CSV coordinator node as shown in the picture below.

Failed CSV

This would make it possible for Hyper-V admins to live migrate these machines to other fully working nodes without causing a loss of service the the end users.

Another cool feature of CSV is the ability to allocate a portion of the physical memory on the cluster node to read cache, thereby saving frequently accessed data in RAM (which off course is way way faster than disk) and thereby increasing performance for both the server requesting the data as well as the other servers by sparing the disk subsystem for the many read I/O’s.

For more reading, see this technet article: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612868.aspx

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