Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices

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Best PracticesDell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows ServerBest PracticesAbstractThis document provides best practices for configuring Microsoft WindowsServer to perform optimally with Dell EMC SC Series storage.June 2019680-042-007

RevisionsRevisionsDateDescriptionOctober 2016Initial release for Windows Server 2016November 2016Update to include BitLocker contentFebruary 2017Update MPIO best practicesNovember 2017Update guidance on support for Nano Server with Windows Server 2016June 2019Update for Windows Server 2019 and SCOS 7.4; template updateAcknowledgementsAuthor: Marty GlaserThe information in this publication is provided “as is.” Dell Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the information in thispublication, and specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.Use, copying, and distribution of any software described in this publication requires an applicable software license.Copyright 2016–2019 Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved. Dell, EMC, Dell EMC and other trademarks are trademarks of Dell Inc. or itssubsidiaries. Other trademarks may be trademarks of their respective owners. [5/29/2019] [Best Practices] [680-042-007]2Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

Table of contentsTable of contentsRevisions.2Acknowledgements .2Table of contents .3Executive summary.5Audience .5123Introduction .61.1SC Series overview .61.2Windows Server 2019 overview .71.3SC Series support for previous Windows Server versions .71.4Advantages of using SC Series storage with Windows Server .81.5Best practices overview .81.6General best practices for Windows Server .9Design best practices .102.1Right-size the storage array and fabric .102.2Determine optimal transport and front-end configuration .112.3Transport options .112.4Mixed transports .112.5Multipath I/O .132.6Boot-from-SAN .132.7Adjust timeout settings for single path and multipath I/O .142.8Queue depth and timeouts .14Administration best practices .163.1Present SC Series storage to Windows Server .163.2SC Series storage profiles .163.3Data Progression .173.4Data reduction (compression and deduplication) .173.5Overprovisioning .173.6Guest VMs with in-guest iSCSI and virtual Fibre Channel .183.7SC Series and server clustering .183.8Optimize format-disk wait time for large volumes .193.9Placement of page files .203.10 SC Series snapshots with Windows Server .203.11 TRIM/Unmap .233.12 Volume maintenance .243Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

Table of contents3.13 Offloaded data transfer .263.14 Resilient file system .264ABest practices for specific roles, features, and integrations .284.1Failover Clustering .284.2Microsoft Hyper-V .304.3Cluster shared volumes .304.4SMI-S .314.5Disaster recovery with Live Volume .314.6Storage Spaces .314.7SC Series Replay Manager .314.8Using BitLocker with SC Series volumes .324.9SC Series and PowerShell SDK .34Technical support and additional resources .35A.14Related resources.35Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

Executive summaryExecutive summaryThis document provides best practice guidance for deploying Microsoft Windows Server with Dell EMC SC Series storage systems.The documentation found at Dell.com/support for your specific SC Series array serves as the primaryreference material for optimal configuration of SC Series for Windows Server. Available resources (which mayvary by SC Series model) include owner’s manuals, administrator’s guides, installation guides, and releasenotes.This document contains supplemental information to optimize your SC Series configuration for WindowsServer.AudienceThis document is intended for Dell EMC customers, partners, and employees who desire to learn more aboutbest practices when configuring Windows Server with SC Series storage systems. It is assumed the readerhas working knowledge of SC Series storage and Windows Server.We welcome your feedback along with any recommendations for improving this document. Send commentsto StorageSolutionsFeedback@dell.com.5Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

Introduction1IntroductionMicrosoft Windows Server and Dell EMC SC Series storage are feature-rich solutions that together presentadministrators with a diverse range of configuration options to solve key business objectives such as storagecapacity, performance, resiliency, and security. This section provides an overview of SC Series storage,Windows Server, and general best practices.1.1SC Series overviewThe SC Series storage array is well suited to provide a solid, proven, high-performance storage solution forWindows Server environments. SC Series storage is designed from the ground up with features andredundancies to optimize performance, maximize storage efficiency, and avoid downtime due to componentfailures, maintenance, upgrades, and expansion.SC7020F all-flash storage arraySC Series storage solutions offer enterprise-grade features at mid-range prices including: Hybrid and all-flash configurationsThin provisioningAutomated sub-LUN tieringIntelligent block-level data placement, migration, and optimization between disk tiersData encryption with self-encrypting drivesIntelligent data reduction (compression and deduplication)Sub-disk RAID levels and distributed sparingSynchronous and asynchronous replicationLive Volume with automatic failover for disaster recovery protectionFederation with Live Migrate and Volume AdvisorCluster server supportMPIO support for DAS and SAN configurations with SAS, Fibre Channel, and iSCSIData-consistent snapshots (Replays) of Microsoft workloads with Replay ManagerEasy-to-use management tools for configuration, monitoring, and reportingPowerShell integrationLDAP/AD user authenticationCloudIQ web-based analytics and monitoringSC Series arrays provide a robust platform for the ultimate experience in performance, adaptability, andefficiency.Note: Not all features are supported with all SC Series models. To learn more about a specific SC Seriesarray and available features, visit the SC Series product page.6Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

Introduction1.2Windows Server 2019 overviewMicrosoft Windows Server 2019 is the latest release of the Windows Server operating system. WindowsServer 2019 is designed to be the operating system of choice for the modern data center and the cloud. Ifoffers many improvements and enhancements to features that were introduced in previous Windows Serverversions, along with many new features. To learn more about specific Windows Server features, visit theMicrosoft Windows IT Pro Center.Windows Server 2019 is supported with SC Series SAN and DAS configurations with the release of SCOS7.4.1.2.1Long-term servicing channel and semi-annual channelAfter the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft adopted a new model for future Windows Serverreleases that uses two separate but parallel tracks. Windows Server 2019 is the next-generation release ofthe long-term servicing channel (LTSC) track which offers five years of mainstream plus five years ofextended support for ten years of total support. Windows Server 2019 certification testing with SC Seriesstorage was completed with the October 2018 generally available (GA) LTSC release.In parallel with the LTSC track is the new semi-annual channel (SAC) track, which offers a core-only releaseof Windows Server every six months. SAC versions are supported by Microsoft for only 18 months. Theyallow Microsoft to release new features to customers without a two to three year wait cycle for the next LTSCrelease. New features in SAC versions roll up for inclusion in the next LTSC release. SAC versions ofWindows Server are primarily intended for virtualized test and development environments as opposed to longterm production deployments. SC Series certification testing is conducted with LTSC versions of WindowsServer.1.2.2Windows Admin CenterIn 2018, Microsoft released Windows Admin Center (WAC) as a new locally-installed, browser-accessibleHTML5-based tool for consolidated and simplified management of Windows Server environments. Itconsolidates the most commonly used in-box and remote management tools for core and With Desktopinstalls of Windows Server to one location. Because WAC is an extensible platform, third parties have theoption to develop integrations for their own products or solutions.Administration and monitoring of SC Series storage from WAC is not currently supported. For moreinformation on WAC, visit the Microsoft Windows IP Pro Center.1.3SC Series support for previous Windows Server versionsSeveral LTSC Windows Server versions that are supported with SC Series are in various phases ofmainstream or extended Microsoft support: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, WindowsServer 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019. Microsoft extended support for WindowsServer 2008 R2 is scheduled to end in January 2020.SCOS 7.4 supports Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019. To verifyWindows Server version compatibility with your version of SCOS, consult the applicable SC Seriesdocumentation for your array.The best practice guidance in this document applies to versions of Windows Server currently in mainstreamor extended supported by Microsoft (Windows Server 2008 R2 through Windows Server 2019) unlessotherwise noted.7Dell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

IntroductionNote: Nano Server was originally released as an additional installation option (in addition to Core and WithDesktop) for Windows Server 2016. Microsoft support for Nano Server as a physical host or virtual machine(VM) OS was discontinued about a year after its initial release by Microsoft. As of the 1709 (September 2017)semi-annual channel release of Windows Server, Nano Server is supported by Microsoft as a container OSonly.Generally, when a Windows Server OS approaches end of life (end of support), hardware vendors includingDell EMC will also discontinue support for the OS with new product releases. Reasons include the following: 1.4Testing and certification resources are limited.It is much more difficult to obtain hardware specific patches and bug fixes from Microsoft as aWindows Server OS enters extended support phase and approaches end of life.It encourages customers to modernize.Advantages of using SC Series storage with Windows ServerWhile Microsoft has continued to make improvements to Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), Storage Replica, andhyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) offerings, the rich feature set and management tools offered with amature SAN or DAS product such as SC Series storage makes it a compelling choice when architecting thestorage component of any Windows Server solution. Microsoft often showcases the IOPS performance of anoptimally-configured S2D or HCI configuration. However, raw IOPS potential is only part of the equation whenarchitecting a solution, just as raw horsepower is only part of the equation when deciding what sportscar topurchase.SAN and DAS features and management tools including intelligent snapshots, managed replication,monitoring, alerting, and DR can be equally or even more important to server and storage administrators thanraw IOPS potential. While native S2D or HCI Microsoft solutions may offer similar basic features as a SAN orDAS solution, the rich set of SC features and management tools listed in section 1.1 presents administratorswith a much more powerful and complete solution for managing, monitoring, reporting, replicating, andprotecting their storage investment and data.1.5Best practices overviewBest practices are typically based on and developed from the collective wisdom and experience of manyusers over time, and this learning is built into the design of next-generation products. With maturetechnologies such as Windows Server and SC Series storage arrays, best practices are already factored in tothe default configurations, settings, and recommendations.Because default settings typically incorporate best practices, tuning is often unnecessary (and discouraged)unless a specific design, situation, or workload is known to benefit from a different configuration. One of thepurposes of this best-practices documents is to call attention to situations where using a default setting orconfiguration may not be optimal.Some common goals of best practices include: 8Minimize complexity and administrative overheadOptimize the performance of a workloadMaximize securityEnsure resiliency and recoverabilityMaximize return on investment over the life of the hardwareDell EMC SC Series: Microsoft Windows Server Best Practices 680-042-007

IntroductionIt is important to remember that best practices are baselines that may not be ideal for every environment.Some notable exceptions include the following: A legacy system that is performing well that has not reached its life expectancy may not adhere tocurrent best practices. Often the best course of action is to run legacy configurations until they reachtheir life expectancy because it is too disruptive or costly to make changes outside of a normalhardware progression or upgrade cycle. Dell EMC recommends upgrading to the latest technologiesand incorporating current best practices at key opportunities such as upgrading or replacinginfrastructure.A common best practices tradeoff is to implement a less-resilient design on lower-tier hardware (tosave cost and reduce complexity) in a test or development environment that is not business critical.Note: While following the best practices in this document is strongly recommended by Dell EMC, somerecommendations may not apply to all environments. For questions about the applicability of these guidelin

Several LTSC Windows Server versions that are supported with SC Series are in various phases of mainstream or extended Microsoft support: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019. Microsoft extended support for Windows Server 2008 R2 is scheduled to end in January 2020.

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