SMB Direct – The State of RDMA for use with SMB 3 traffic (Part III)
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on April 24, 2018

1 - Explicit congestion notification diagram

The RDMA wars in regards to SMB Direct: RoCE versus iWarp.

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SMB Direct – The State of RDMA for use with SMB 3 traffic (Part II)
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on April 17, 2018

1 - RDMA optionsThe Flavors of RDMA & what role DCB plays.

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SMB Direct – The State of RDMA for use with SMB 3 traffic (Part I)
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on April 12, 2018
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SMB Direct – The State of RMDA for use with SMB 3 traffic

What is RDMA and why do we like it.

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Replacing a Veeam Agent for Windows host while preserving existing local or share backups
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on February 14, 2018

starting Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows service - runing a full back up

Imagine you have a server with data source volumes that are backed up to local (or a share) target backup volumes with Veeam Agent for Windows (VAW). You might or might not backup the OS as well. That server is old, has issues or has crashed beyond repair and needs to be replaced. You don’t really care all that much about the server OS potentially but you do care about your data backup history! You don’t want to lose all those restore points. Basically, we try to answer how do you replace the backup server when it’s a local Veeam Agent for Windows 2.1 deployment.

How do you do this?

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Using a VEEAM off-host backup proxy server for backing up Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Hosts
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on December 5, 2017

Many years ago, I wrote a white paper on how to configure a VEEAM Off-host backup proxy server for backing up a Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster that uses a hardware VSS provider with VEEAM Backup & Replication 7.0.  It has aged well and you can still use it as a guide to set it all up. But in this article, I revisit the use of a hardware VSS provider dedicated specifically to some changes in Windows Server 2016 and its use by Veeam Backup & Replication v9.5 or later. The information here is valid for any good hardware VSS provider like the one StarWind Virtual SAN provides (see Do I need StarWind Hardware VSS provider?)

VSS list of events

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Take a look at Storage QoS Policies in Windows Server 2016
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on November 21, 2017


In Windows Server 2016 Microsoft introduced storage Quality of Service (QoS) policies.  Previously in Windows Server 2012 R2, we could set minimum and maximum IOPS individually virtual hard disk but this was limited even if you could automate it with PowerShell. The maximum was enforced but the minimum not. That only logged a warning if it could be delivered and it took automation that went beyond what was practical for many administrators when it needed to be done at scale. While it was helpful and I used it in certain scenarios it needed to mature to deliver real value and offer storage QoS in environments where cost-effective, highly available storage was used that often doesn’t include native QoS capabilities for use with Hyper-V.

status of the flow via PoweShell

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SMB Direct in a Windows Server 2016 Virtual Machine Experiment
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on October 12, 2017


Ever since Windows Server 2012 we have SMB Direct capabilities in the OS and Windows Server 2012 R2 added more use cases such as live migration for example. In Windows Server 2016, even more, workloads leverage SMB Direct, such as S2D and Storage Replication. SMB Direct leverages the RDMA capabilities of a NIC which delivers high throughput at low latency combined with CPU offloading to the NIC. The latter save CPU cycles for the other workloads on the hosts such as virtual machines.

Traditionally, in order for SMB Direct to work, the SMB stack needs direct access to the RDMA NICs. This means that right up to Windows Server 2012 R2 we had SMB Direct on running on physical NICs on the host or the parent partition/management OS. You could not have RDMA exposed on a vNIC or even on a host native NIC team (LBFO). SMB Direct was also not compatible with SR-IOV. That was and still is, for that OS version common knowledge and a design consideration. With Windows Server 2016, things changed. You can now have RDMA exposed on a vSwitch and on management OS vNICs. Even better, the new Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) allows for RDMA to be exposed in the same way on top of a vSwitch. SET is an important technology in this as RDMA is still not exposed on a native Windows team (LBFO).

Mellanox InfiniBand Router

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The importance of IeeePriorityTag with converged RDMA Switch Embedded Teaming
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on September 27, 2017

If you read my blog on Switch Embedded Teaming with RDMA (for SMB Direct) you’ll notice that I set the -IeeePriorityTag to “On” on the vNICs that use DCB for QoS. This requires some explanation.

When you configure a Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) vSwitch and define one or more management OS vNICs on which you enable RDMA you will see that the SMB Direct traffic gets it priority tag set correctly. This always happens no matter what you set the -IeeePriorityTag option to. On or Off, it doesn’t make a difference. It works out of the box.

mapped RDMA vNIC to their respective RDMA pNIC

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Forcing the affinity of a virtual NIC to a physical NIC with a SET vSwitch via Set-VMNetworkAdapterTeamMapping
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on September 20, 2017

Window Server 2016 Hyper-V brought us Switch Embedded teaming (SET). That’s the way forward when it comes to converged networking and Software-Defined Networking with the network controller and network virtualization.  It also allows for the use of RDMA on a management OS virtual NIC (vNIC).

One of the capabilities within SET is affinitizing a vNIC to a particular team member, that is a physical NIC (pNIC). This isn’t a hard requirement for SET to work properly but it helps in certain scenarios. With a vNIC we mean either a management OS vNIC or a virtual machine vNIC actually, affinitizing can be done for both. The main use case and focus here and in real life is in the management OS vNICs we use for SMB Direct traffic.

complete Switch Embedded Teaming configuration

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Why do we always see Responder CQE Errors with RoCE RDMA?
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on June 2, 2017

Why do we always see Responder CQE Errors with RoCE RDMA?

Anyone who has configured and used SMB Direct with RoCE RDMA Mellanox cards appreciates the excellent diagnostic counters Mellanox provides for use with Windows Performance Monitor. They are instrumental when it comes to finding issues and verifying everything is working correctly.

Many have complained about the complexity of DCB configuration but in all earnest, any large network under congestion which needs specialized configurations has challenges due to scale. This is no different for DCB. You need the will to tackle the job at hand and do it right. Doing anything at scale reliable and consistent means automating it.  Lossless Ethernet, mandatory or not, requires DCB to shine. There is little other choice today until networking technology & newer hardware solutions take an evolutionary step forward. I hope to address this in a future article. But, this I not what we are going to discuss here. We’ve moved beyond that challenge. We’ll talk about one of the issues that confuse a lot of people.

Responder CQE errors report after virtual machines migration from Hyper-V cluster

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