Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by Nutanix Software

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1 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by Nutanix Software Dell EMC Engineering January 2017 A Dell EMC Technical White Paper

2 Revisions Date November 2016 January 2017 Description Initial release Branding update The information in this publication is provided as is. Dell Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the information in this publication, 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 2017 Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved. Dell, EMC, and other trademarks are trademarks of Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. Other trademarks may be the property of their respective owners. Published in the USA. [2/6/2017] [A Dell Technical White Paper] [1078-BP] Dell EMC believes the information in this document is accurate as of its publication date. The information is subject to change without notice. 2 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

3 Table of contents Revisions... 2 Acknowledgements... 5 Feedback... 5 Executive summary Introduction Objectives Audience Terminology Product Overview Dell EMC XC Series Overview Benchmark Factory Overview Solution infrastructure Physical system test configuration Dell EMC XC storage and cluster configuration VM layout Database layout Network configuration Test methodology Test criteria Measurement and monitoring Test approach Baseline configuration Four-node configuration Five-node configuration Six-node configuration Test results Baseline performance Performance scalability Four-node test Five-node test Six-node test Summary Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

4 6 Conclusion A Configuration details B Additional resources Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

5 Acknowledgements Feedback This white paper was produced by the following members of the Dell Storage team: Engineering: Chuck Armstrong and Doug Bernhardt We encourage readers of this publication to provide feedback on the quality and usefulness of this information by sending an to Executive summary Online transaction processing (OLTP) applications range from web-based e-commerce sites, to accounting systems, to customer support programs and are at the heart of every business function. As the foundation for a wide range of mission-critical applications, OLTP operations (particularly those utilizing Microsoft SQL Server database platforms) depend on exceptional performance and reliability. SQL Server is the most widely deployed database in the world. Moreover, data generated by SQL Server applications can grow exponentially over time. Therefore, designing and managing a storage and compute environment that can effectively accommodate performance, capacity and future growth requirements is a key challenge for customers today. The architecture of the Dell EMC XC Series appliances provides an outstanding way for customers to meet performance and growth requirements. This white paper demonstrates the linear scalability of converged Dell EMC XC powered by Nutanix for critical SQL Server workloads. Adding nodes to an existing Dell EMC XC Nutanix cluster without system downtime, enables growth to existing compute and storage resources in a linear fashion. This allows you to provide the right size for existing applications and rely on proven linear scale for future needs. 5 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

6 1 Introduction Different types of database applications have varying performance and capacity needs. Understanding the models for common database application workloads can be useful in predicting the possible application behavior in a given infrastructure environment. The most common database-application workload models are OLTP and Data Warehousing (DW). This paper focuses on OLTP database workloads. Storage and compute infrastructure supporting OLTP platforms like SQL Server needs to not only nondisruptively scale in both performance and capacity, but also deliver the required high performance in an optimal, cost-effective way. The Dell EMC XC Series platform makes it possible to run SQL alongside other virtual machine (VM) workloads without compromising performance. OLTP database applications are optimal for managing rapidly changing data. These applications typically have many users who are performing transactions simultaneously. Although individual data requests by users usually reference few records, many of these requests are being made at the same time. This whitepaper describes various executed tests that were based on the above factors and key guidelines and best practices based on the test results. These best practices facilitate achieving optimal performance of Microsoft SQL Server OLTP database applications using Dell EMC XC Series clusters. 1.1 Objectives The testing presented in this paper: Establishes baseline I/O performance characteristics of a SQL Server OLTP database by simulating a TPC-E like workload on a three-node Dell EMC XC cluster Characterizes performance using Benchmark Factory for Databases, simulating Microsoft SQL Server OLTP transactions on the three-node Dell EMC XC cluster by simulating TPC-E like workload Validates that the SQL Server database deployment can scale linearly by adding additional nodes to the XC cluster Audience This paper is intended for system administrators, database administrators and storage architects interested in deploying MS SQL Server OLTP database solutions using Dell EMC XC series appliance. It is assumed that the readers of this document have familiarity with Dell EMC XC Nutanix administration and Microsoft SQL Server database installation and administration tasks. 6 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

7 1.2 Terminology The following terms are used throughout this document. Benchmark Factory: A Dell database performance tool that can simulate actual database transactions such as TPC-C and TPC-E using the TPC specifications. More details on this tool and the download location can be found at TPC Benchmark E (TPC-E): A benchmark developed by TPC to simulate OLTP database workloads. The TPC-E benchmark simulates the OLTP workload of a brokerage firm. Although the underlying business model of TPC-E is a brokerage firm, the database schema, data population, transaction mix and implementation rules broadly represent a modern OLTP database system. More information on TPC-E can be found at Dell EMC XC Series: The Dell XC Web-scale Converged Appliance integrates the proven Dell x86 server platform and Nutanix web-scale software to provide an enterprise-class converged appliance for virtualized environments. Backed by the Dell Global Service and Support organization, the XC appliance consolidates compute and storage into a single platform. This platform enables application and virtualization teams to quickly deploy new workloads to their private cloud. Appliance details and configuration information are at Virtual Machine (VM): A software computer that runs an operating system and applications. For the purposes of this paper, it is run within the two supported hypervisors, either VMware ESX or Microsoft Hyper- V. 7 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

8 2 Product Overview 2.1 Dell EMC XC Series Overview The Dell EMC XC Web-Scale Hyper-converged infrastructure is a hyper-converged solution that combines storage, compute, networking, and virtualization into an industry-proven x86 Dell PowerEdge Server running Nutanix web-scale software. By combing the hardware resources from each server node into a sharedeverything model for simplified operations, improved agility and greater flexibility, Dell EMC and Nutanix can deliver simple, cost-effective solutions for virtualized enterprise workloads. The Dell EMC Web-Scale Hyper-converged infrastructure is a scale-out cluster of high-performance nodes, or servers, each running a standard hypervisor and containing processors, memory, and local storage (consisting of SSD Flash and high-capacity SATA disk drives). Each node runs virtual machines just like a standard hypervisor host. Nutanix node architecture In addition, the Nutanix Distributed Storage Fabric (NDSF) virtualizes local storage from all nodes into a unified pool. In effect, NDSF acts like an advanced NAS that uses local SSDs and disks from all nodes to store virtual machine data. Virtual machines running on the cluster write data to NDSF as if they were writing to shared storage. 8 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

9 Nutanix platform architecture NDSF is VM-centric and provides advanced data management features. It brings data closer to virtual machines by storing the data locally on the system, resulting in higher performance at a lower cost. The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform has a horizontal minimum scale of three nodes and has no maximum technical limit, enabling organizations to scale their infrastructure as needs grow. NDSF delivers a unified pool of storage from all nodes across the cluster that leverages techniques including striping, replication, auto-tiering, error detection, failover, and automatic recovery. This pool appears as shared storage resources to VMs, enabling seamless support of features like vmotion, high availability (HA), and distributed resource scheduler (DRS), along with industry-leading data management features. This highperformance, scale-out architecture allows plug-and-play nodes on demand for building a cluster that easily grows along with the enterprise. 2.2 Benchmark Factory Overview Benchmark Factory for Databases is a Dell database performance-testing tool that enables database workload replay, industry-standard benchmark testing, and scalability testing. Using the incorporated load testing tools, you can make changes to the database environment, while mitigating the risks of unavoidable database changes such as patches and upgrades, operating system migrations, and adjustments to virtual machine configurations. In addition, its proprietary workload capture and replay supports Oracle and SQL Server databases. This workload replay and scheduling software helps you eliminate slow SQL database performance and dramatically simplifies high performance database management. More information on Benchmark Factory can be found at 9 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

10 3 Solution infrastructure The test configuration and other solution components used as part of this solution are described in this section. 3.1 Physical system test configuration The physical test configuration diagram for this environment starts with the basic three-node Dell EMC XC Series cluster as shown in Figure 3. Three-node Dell EMC XC Series cluster representation Each subsequent run of testing included an additional Dell EMC XC Series cluster node and an additional Microsoft SQL workload VM. The final run of testing included six Dell EMC XC Series cluster nodes and six Microsoft SQL workload VMs, as shown in Figure 4. Six-node Dell EMC XC Series cluster representation 10 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

11 3.2 Dell EMC XC storage and cluster configuration Each Dell EMC XC 630 Series node used for this testing is comprised of the following hardware components: Two, 400GB SATA SSDs Eight, 1TB 7.2K RPM SATA Disks Two, 16-Core Intel E v GHz CPUs 16, 32GB DDR-4 QR 2133MHz RAM Modules (512GB Total) NDSF simplifies the storage layout of Dell EMC XC architecture. The following diagram illustrates the simplified standard storage layout in a Dell EMC XC environment. The local storage controller on each host ensures that storage performance as well as storage capacity increases when additional nodes are added to the Dell EMC XC. Each Controller VM is directly connected to the local storage controller and its associated disks. By using local storage controllers on each ESXi host, access to data through NDSF is localized. It does not require data to be transferred over the network, thereby improving latency. NDSF ensures that writes are replicated, distributing data within the platform for resiliency. The minimum number of Dell EMC XC Series nodes in a cluster is three. When clustered together, create a single storage pool and a single storage container within it. The storage container is presented to all nodes within the cluster and is spread across all of the node disks. The cluster, populated with all six nodes used for testing scalability, is shown from a hardware resource perspective in Figure 5. The cluster provides resources required by VM workloads and arranges those workloads in the most effective manner: placing VM workloads on nodes with available CPU and RAM resources, as well as the best fit for local disk resources. 11 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

12 Figure 5 Six-node XC 630 Series cluster resources The XC 630 Series Nutanix-powered cluster used for this testing was designed and configured using best practices from Nutanix available at Every attempt is made by the cluster to keep virtual machines and their associated storage on the same cluster node for performance consistency. However, each cluster node is connected to, and communicates with, the other nodes on a 10Gb network. This communication allows virtual machines and their associated storage to reside on different cluster nodes. In such a case, the cluster will begin to move the data on that virtual machine to the local cluster node using the same 10Gb network. 3.3 VM layout The baseline for this scaling study was executed using three XC 630 series cluster nodes (Minimum number of nodes in XC cluster). The workload applied to the cluster was in the form of three virtual machines running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft SQL Server 2014; one virtual machine per node. Each virtual machine consisted of 24 virtual CPUs, 64 GB RAM, and thin-provisioned disks in the layout described in Table 1. Microsoft SQL Server Disk Layout 12 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

13 100GB Drive C: Windows OS Disk 80 GB Drive D: Windows Pagefile Disk 50 GB Drive E: Database Disk 50 GB Drive F: Database Disk 50 GB Drive G: Database Disk 50 GB Drive H: Database Disk 25 GB Drive T: TempDB Disk 33 GB Drive L: SQL Logs VM settings followed the Nutanix best practices found at Scaling the test environment consisted of adding one XC 630 series cluster node and one Microsoft Windows and Microsoft SQL Server virtual machine workload at a time. The same tests were executed following each addition to the cluster. 3.4 Database layout The database used for this testing was created by Benchmark Factory for a TPCE-like workload. For this workload, the size of the database is based on the benchmark scale specified for the test. A benchmark scale of 10 was used for this test and resulted in approximately a 100GB database. The database consisted of four 40GB physical data files and a single 25GB log file. The files were sized with adequate free space to accommodate the data generated during the test. Each data file was placed on a separate volume. The log file was placed on its own volume as well. An additional drive was allocated for TempDB as a best practice even though TempDB utilization was virtually irrelevant during the test. 3.5 Network configuration For this study of scale, the use of VM to VM communication was not required. Therefore, this environment did not utilize the network configuration. However, networking best practices can be found in the Nutanix best practices guide found at: 13 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

14 4 Test methodology A series of tests were conducted using Benchmark Factory to simulate a TPC-E like workload to understand the performance and scalability characteristics of SQL server databases deployed on Dell EMC XC Nutanix clusters. The test was run with a user load of 30, the default transaction mix and no delay in the transaction latency. Typically, in TPC-E like tests there is a certain amount of latency included in the transactions to simulate actual users. However, this test was not run to simulate actual users but rather to generate an acceptable workload on the system. The duration of an entire test run was one hour. The first 15 minutes of that hour were used as ramp-up time for the test to achieve a steady state. Once a steady state was achieved, statistics were calculated based on the performance of the final 45 minutes of the run. 4.1 Test criteria The test study presented in this paper was executed to develop best practices for: Maintaining the database server CPU utilization below a 70% average Maintaining application response times below two seconds (the industry standard acceptable latency for MS SQL server OLTP database applications) Eliminating bottlenecks (such as database locking, user and system I/O wait, or others) while executing the peak I/O load Ensuring that workload performance scales in a linear fashion as additional cluster nodes and application workload is added 4.2 Measurement and monitoring Detailed performance metrics were captured from various layers within the XC cluster. Benchmark Factory The following metrics were captured from Benchmark Factory while executing TPC-E database transactions: - TPS: Transactions per second, based on the simulated load - Average Response time: The time from when SQL is sent until a response is received - Average Transaction Time: The time from when a query is submitted until the result is returned Windows Performance Monitor The following metrics were captured from Windows Performance Monitor (perfmon) within the guest during the tests: - Disk Transfers/sec: Rate of read and write operations to disk - % Processor Time: Percentage of elapsed time the processor spends on execution XC Prism 14 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

15 Prism, the GUI management utility, was used to monitor cluster activity and health during test runs. Real time data during test runs indicated that the cluster remained healthy during the significant workload testing. 4.3 Test approach A TPC-E like workload was simulated on SQL Server databases running on a three-node XC Nutanix cluster to establish a performance baseline. After establishing the baseline, the number of nodes in the cluster was incrementally increased to six to validate the linear scalability. The details of the different tests and the configuration are described in the following section Baseline configuration The baseline performance characterization was performed on a three-node XC cluster, running three VMs, each containing a SQL Server instance, a single database and an instance of Benchmark Factory. Base test configuration Four-node configuration Once baseline performance metrics were captured for three nodes, an additional XC node was added and the tests were performed for a four-node configuration. The additional XC node contained the same hardware configuration as the original three. The additional VM contained the same workload, software components and configuration. 15 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

16 Test 2: Four-node, four VM configuration Five-node configuration After performance metrics were captured for four nodes, another XC node was added and the tests were performed for a five-node configuration. Following the same test methodology, the additional XC node contained the same hardware configuration as the original three. The additional VM contained the same workload, software components and configuration. Test 3: five-node, five VM configuration Six-node configuration The final scalability test was performed with six nodes using the same test methodology as the previous tests. 16 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

17 Test 4: six-node, six VM configuration 17 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

18 5 Test results The TPC-E-like tests were run on four separate configurations. First, a three-node configuration was tested to establish a performance baseline. Then, a test was run with an additional Dell EMC XC630 node for the cluster and an additional VM to test a four- node configuration. This process was repeated for the five-node and six-node configurations. The results from these two tests are described in Section Baseline performance To establish the performance baseline, the OLTP workload was run on a three-node XC cluster with three VMs. Each VM contained a single instance of SQL Server, a single database, and Benchmark Factory. The number of users was adjusted within Benchmark Factory to produce a realistic production workload in terms of CPU and I/O. The performance in terms of Transactions per Second, CPU, and I/O are shown below. In addition, all instances reported an application response time of 15ms. (Note All performance measurements are from the workload VM / application perspective) Trans Per Sec Trans Time (ms) SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 Transactions per second and transaction time per VM for baseline (three-node) test 18 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

19 % 64% 63% IOPS % CPU Time SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 CPU utilization and disk requests/sec (IOPS) per VM on baseline (three-node) test As you can see from the results, consistent performance was observed on all three VMs hosting SQL Server databases with very low latency when a realistic TPC-E like production database workload was simulated on a three-node XC cluster. 5.2 Performance scalability Four-node test This test was performed by adding a Dell EMC XC630 node to the cluster and a VM to the three-node XC cluster configuration Trans Per Sec Trans Time (ms) SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 SQL04 Transactions per second and transaction time per VM on a four-node test 19 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

20 % 64% 65% 62% IOPS % CPU Time SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 SQL04 CPU utilization and disk requests/sec (IOPS) per VM on a four-node test When the fourth node was added, linear scalability in performance was observed. The average latency remained very low on all VMs Five-node test Trans Per Sec Trans Time (ms) SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 SQL04 SQL05 Transactions per second and transaction time per VM on a five-node test 20 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

21 % 64% 65% 62% 62% IOPS % CPU Time SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 SQL04 SQL05 CPU utilization and disk requests/sec (IOPS) per VM on a five-node run When the fifth node was added, linear scalability was observed Six-node test Trans Per Sec Trans Time (ms) SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 SQL04 SQL05 SQL06 Transactions per second and transaction time per VM on a six-node test 21 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

22 % 61% 62% 61% 61% 62% IOPS % CPU Time SQL01 SQL02 SQL03 SQL04 SQL05 SQL06 CPU utilization and disk requests/sec (IOPS) per VM on a six-node run Adding a sixth node further improved the performance in a linear fashion without increasing latency. This test clearly demonstrates the fact that as nodes are added, Dell EMC XC appliances are able to provide linear scalability in performance without compromising latency. 5.3 Summary The tests results in Sections 5.1 and 5.2 clearly show the linear scalability of MS SQL Server database deployed on Dell EMC XC Nutanix clusters. In all tests, throughput and system performance was linear when scaling from a base configuration of three-nodes up to six-nodes. The following chart shows the scale of this test environment. The blue line indicates the average TPS for all SQL Server VMs included in the test run. The colored points on the chart show the TPS for each SQL Server VM in the test run as a percentage above or below the average. As shown in the chart, the linear scalability of the Dell EMC XC Nutanix cluster was exceptional. The individual throughput measured in TPS for all virtual machines only varied 4% from the average. 22 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

23 TPS Scale: Average and differentials for each test run Additionally, the CPU and Disk I/O utilization from Prism, the Nutanix graphical user interface, for the whole cluster during the final round of testing (the six-node test), can be seen in Figure 18. XC cluster real time performance data during the six-node test Figure 19 shows CPU utilization of each of the VM workload SQL servers during the final round of testing. 23 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

24 XC cluster real time performance data during the six-node test 24 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

25 6 Conclusion The Dell EMC XC Nutanix platform is well equipped to handle the throughput and transaction requirements of a demanding Microsoft SQL (MSSQL) server, given NDSF localized I/O and server-attached flash. Nutanix offers platforms with a range of form factors and performance characteristics that enable you to match the workload with the most effective platform. This modular approach enables easy scaling for MSSQL deployments. Start with a small environment and linearly scale up as demands increase, adding both compute and storage at the same time. A Nutanix powered data center provides scalable, high performance MSSQL servers while also providing the ability to run many types of virtual workloads. The test results in this paper have illustrated the linear scale capability of the Dell EMC XC Nutanix platform for SQL Server workloads. Both database throughput and system resource utilization were proven to scale in a linear fashion by simply adding nodes to the cluster as required. To achieve optimal database performance, adhere to the applicable best practices presented in this paper. It must be ensured that the entire ecosystem, including server resources and network switches, are sized and configured appropriately to meet the workload performance requirements. Also ensure that the operating system and databases are configured with the optimal settings and design recommendations mentioned in this paper. 25 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

26 A Configuration details This section contains an overview of the configurations used for the testing described in this document. Test configuration - Hardware components Solution Configuration - Hardware Components: Description XC Series Nodes (Compute and Storage) Nutanix Operating System version (NOS) Management server Network XC 630 Series Web-scale Converged Appliance (2) 16-Core Intel E v GHz CPUs (16) 32GB DDR-4 QR 2133MHz RAM (512GB Total) (2) 400GB SATA SSDs (8) 1TB 7.2K SATA Disks (2) Intel I350 Gigabit NICs (1) Intel Port 10 Gigabit NIC (1) Intel X520 2-Port 10 Gigabit NIC Nutanix Control Virtual Machine (CVM) (8) vcpus (32) GB RAM Dell Force10 S4810 switch Firmware: Testing utilized 3 nodes for the baseline. Node count was incremented up by one for each successive test run. Intel I350 NICs are used for Hypervisor management. Intel NIC ports are used for Cluster operations between cluster nodes and CVMs. Intel X520 NIC ports are used for Production network traffic, Not used for this testing. The cluster is managed via a CVM on each cluster node. This 10Gb switch was used for Cluster operations; connecting all Cluster nodes and all CVMs. 26 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

27 Test configuration - Software components Test configuration - Software components Database Server SQL Server 2014 SP1 Enterprise Edition Build Testing Application Dell Software Benchmark Factory for Databases Version 7.2 Operating System Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition 27 Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

28 B Additional resources Support.dell.com is focused on meeting your needs with proven services and support. DellTechCenter.com is an IT Community where you can connect with Dell Customers and Dell employees for the purpose of sharing knowledge, best practices, and information about Dell products and your installations. Referenced or recommended publications: Dell EMC XC Series Appliances powered by Nutanix - Documentation: Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Converged Appliance: Virtualized SQL Server Performance and Scaling on Dell EMC XC Series Web-Scale Hyper-converged Appliances Powered by

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