Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Been told that you don’t need to defragment when adding a SAN environment into your network estate?

With massive electronic data growth occurring today, there is now a much greater need for storage. SAN is at the forefront for most storage solutions and providers such as HP, IBM and NetApp, to name a few, are providing the necessary platforms to cater to this. Virtualisation and cloud solutions are promising less hardware in this respect, but data storage if held locally, will inevitably mean acquiring more hardware. This additional hardware is where the problem will lie in terms of cost for many companies today.

Diagram of Disk I/O as it travels from Operating System to SAN LUN

It stands to reason then that making full use of your SAN potential is vital. A common misconception related to SAN storage environments is that they don’t suffer from fragmentation related issues. This is the “party line” being handed out by many of the storage providers. There are plausibly a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, that each SAN provider will have their own propriety logic when it comes to arranging blocks within the SAN environment, and secondly, which is more likely, is that they get to sell more hardware to their customers.

To understand this a little better, every file system is a "virtual" disk, stacking one virtual component over another (i.e. one file system on top of another). What the vendor of a SAN file system does at their SAN file system level is irrelevant to what the Windows file system does underneath ― all Windows file systems fragment, regardless.

SANs typically employ a clustered/SAN file system to pool disk arrays into a virtualized storage volume. This is not Windows NTFS, but rather the proprietary software, provided by a SAN hardware or software vendor. Claims that "you do not need to defragment" may be misunderstood and incorrectly implied to mean "Windows NTFS"― NTFS always needs to be defragmented. It is very possible that you do not need to defragment the "SAN file system". Tips, best practices and SAN I/O optimization methodologies should always be gotten from the respective SAN vendor.

SANs are only ever block-level storage, they do not know what I/Os relate to what files. Therefore they cannot intelligently spread the fragments of a file across multiple disks. A whole mass of separate I/Os writes/reads for fragmented files (which will most certainly be interspersed with other simultaneous data writes/reads) will non-optimally be spread across the disks in the SAN storage pool.

As for NTFS, it still fragments and causes the Windows OS to "split" I/O requests for files sent into the SAN, creating a performance penalty. You can measure this using the Window's built-in PerfMon tool and watch the split I/O counter. You can also use the Average Queued Disk I/O, given that you account for the number of physical spindles.

The only solution offered by SAN vendors to address the split I/O problem is adding more spindles. This solution would mask the problem by dispersing the I/Os across the additional disks. This would mean you will need to add more disks as the I/O bottle neck increases, which would, over a period of time.
The actual problem lies at the NTFS level, for every fragment of a file is a separate I/O that has to be generated to access it. The less fragmented a file is, the less I/Os are required to access the file, compared to when it is heavily fragmented.

For more information see Windows IT Pro whitepaper entitled “Maximize the Performance of your Windows SAN Infrastructure”.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Secret to Maintaining SSD Performance

HyperFast SSD Optimizer

Why your Solid State Drive is not as fast as it used to be

By: Mandeep Birdi, Technical Consultant

SSD hard drives are becoming increasingly more popular. Many portable devices such as laptops, PDA's, Tablet PC's and Netbooks are being used with SSDs. Although prices are still astronomically high - a 1TB SSD setting you back a mere £3000 - sooner or later the prices will fall into a more accessible range and they will become far more widely used.

Of course solid state drives have several distinctive advantages. Faster access times, lower power usage and rather pleasingly, run completely silent. The main disadvantage, although possibly undetectable at first, is over time you'll probably start to notice the write speed slowing down - even slower than those of conventional hard drives.

Solid state drives can access any location on the drive in the same amount of time. This is one of the key features over hard drives. So there is no fragmentation problem with SDDs regard to "reading" files.

There is however still a problem with the fragmentation of the free space that will seriously affect the performance of SSDs. These drives have actually been designed to write data evenly in all sectors of the drive which the industry is calling "Wear Leveling". Each sector of a solid state drive has a limited number of writes before it cannot be overwritten anymore.

Unlike a magnetic storage device which can record new data directly on top of old data, an SSD must first erase the contents of a previously used memory cell to zero out its contents before the new data can be written. This slows down the speed and is what prompted both Microsoft and SSD manufactures to create the solutions known as TRIM and Garbage Collection. These functions can perform these types of clean up tasks in the background when certain conditions are met.

Unfortunately, TRIM and Garbage Collection doesn't have anything to do with addressing how the free space is allocated by the NTFS file system and most SSDs suffer from free space fragmentation due to inherent NAND flash limitations. This is where you need a method to optimize the SSD. By ensuring that the small sections of free space are better managed, you can cause files to be written in their optimum condition requiring the least number of I/O operations. This also benefits subsequent reads of these files and improves the overall access times across the board. SSD are without question extremely fast, but you will never get the full potential of the speed over time as promised unless you keep it optimized.

Optimizing your SSD - HyperFast Technology

HyperFast® technology only concerns itself with the fragmentation of files and free space caused by the NTFS file system and not that of the physical placement of data on the SSD. HyperFast reduces the amount of writing and as a result improves the write times and the life span of SSDs - therefore quite complimentary to the purpose behind wear-leveling strategies.

The HyperFast product (an add-on to Diskeeper) is designed to consolidate free space when it is needed, without "over" doing it. HyperFast is unique as you do not ever need to manually analyze or manually run, or even schedule it. It is smart enough to automatically know what to do and when. More information at

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Jive Aces at London's World-Renowned 100 Club

The "Bring Me Sunshine" video and interview with Ian Clarkson to hopefully appear in a forthcoming episode of On the Mike with Mike Sherman.

While The Jive Aces were setting up for their gig at London's famous 100 Club on 25 Apr 2011 (part of the band's never-ending world tour), trumpeter and lead singer of the band, Ian, was interviewed by Adam Hoffman for the prime-time Miami-based TV show "On the Mike with Mike Sherman" about the runaway success their new single "Bring Me Sunshine" which has had over half a million views in a little over a month, about their forthcoming album "King of the Swingers", and about their longterm involvement with the "Say No To Drugs, Say Yes To Life" campaign, supported by the Church of Scientology.

A poster by the front door of the club

Down to the auditorium (if you can call it that)

Setting up

The famous 100 Club stage

John Fordham and his 1952 saxophone

Getting ready for the interview

Ian Clarkson with co-host Adam Hoffman

The interviewee's POV

The interview for real

Here are a few photos of some of the many acts who have performed at the 100 Club. I can just make out Lemmy of Motorhead, top right. The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash, Buzzcocks, Stranglers, The Damned and even The Rolling Stones are a few of the many other acts which have performed here.

More photos here:

Bring Me Sunshine:
On the Mike with Mike Sherman promo video:
Film crew: Stafford Wheaton, Nitsan Simantov, Serg Abramenkov

On The Mike with Mike Sherman” is produced by On The Mike Productions Inc, a leading provider in celebrity/music driven content for TV, Smartphones and the world wide web. The “On The Mike” TV show is syndicated nationwide on Direct TV and internationally all over the world on selected television networks. The show brings Miami, Las Vegas, NY and Los Angeles markets closer to exclusive interviews, VIP events, music, red carpets, concerts, and A-list celebrities to a worldwide audience. Creator/producer: Mike Sherman. Executive producer: Matthew Brenowitz

Monday, 2 May 2011

Styled and Frocked Fashion Show in aid of the Tree of Hope

Amazon Eve with Doran Scotson

On 28th April 2011, a fashion show with a difference was held at JuJu in the Kings Road, London to raise funds for specialist medical treatment and therapy for sick UK children.

The Tree of Hope Children’s Charity joined forces with JuJu and Models of Diversity to create a unique experience for all who attended.

Hosted by Sally Farmiloe-Neville, the guest list included:
The Fashion Show featured creations by:
Najlaa Jabri was the stylist for the evening and make up was by BellViso Global

Entertainment included:

Leee John with Jeremy Marris of the Tree of Hope charity (photo © Mark Gibson)

Cerrie Burnell (photo © Mark Gibson)

One of Tony Pickles' corsets, modeled by Candice (photo © Mark Gibson)

Leee John with Linda Scotson (photo © Mark Gibson)

Linda Scotson with Angel Sinclair, founder of Models of Diversity (photo © Mark Gibson)

John Wood of being pleasantly 'squashed' by Amazon Eve!

One of the models (photo © Mark Gibson)

One of the Tree of Hope hostesses (photo © Mark Gibson)

Leee John with John Wood

Doran Scotson, the model (photo © Mark Gibson)

More photos by Mark Gibson:

Make a Donation here:

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Porsche and the Legacy of Genius by Laurence Meredith

When Ferdinand Porsche was born, Europe was peaceful, developing, capitalist and largely feudal. Britain was the world's only true 'superpower', and America would not emerge as an economic giant for at least forty-five years. Motor cars, aircraft, television, computers, ballpoint pens and other modern conveniences didn't exist.

Ninety-five years after Porsche's arrival in the world, cars bearing his name were in action at Le Mans, their 4.5-litre 12-cylinder air-cooled engines propelling them to speeds of 240mph.

Conventional wisdom dictated that air-cooling was unsuited to high-speeds. Under the inspired leadership of three generations of the family, Porsche proved, and continues to prove, that traditional rules are there to be broken.

With more than a score of books to his credit on the great German marques, Laurence Meredith brings a unique authority to this, his eighth Porsche-related work, and the first to examine the prime movers and master engineers behind this most hallowed of motoring icons.

Porsche and the Legacy of Genius is written by Laurence Meredith and published by Bank House Books.

Price: £ 20.00