Veeam Backup & Replication leverages SMB Multichannel

Introduction

Is it true that Veeam Backup & Replication leverages SMB Multichannel? That is a question that I was asked recently. The answer is yes, when you have a backup design and configuration that allows for this. If that’s the case it will even happen automatically when possible. That’s how SMB 3 works. That means it’s a good idea to pay attention to the network design so that you’re not surprised by the route your backup traffic flows. Mind you that this could be a good surprise, but you might want to plan for it.

I’ll share a quick lab setup where SMB 3 Multichannel kicks in. Please don’t consider this a reference guide for your backup architectural design but as a demo of how SMB multichannel can be leveraged to your advantage.

Proving Veeam Backup & Replication leverages SMB Multichannel

Here’s a figure of a quick lab setup I threw together.

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There are a couple of significant things to note here when it comes to the automatic selection of the best possible network path.

SMB 3 Multichannel picks the best solution based on its logic. You can read more about that here. I’ve included the figure with the overview below.

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The figure nicely show the capabilities of the NIC situation. To select the best possible network path SMB 3 uses the following logic:

1. RDMA capable NICs (rNICs) are preferred and chosen first. rNICs combine the highest throughput, the lowest latency and bring CPU offloading. on the processor when pushing through large amounts of data.

2. RSS capable NICs: NIcs with Receive Side Scaling (RSS) improve scalability by not being limited to core zero on the server. Configured correctly RSS offers the second-best capabilities.

3. The speed of the NICs is the 3rd evaluation criteria: a 10 Gbps NIC offers way more throughput than a 1 Gbps NIC.

Following this logic it is clear that Multichannel will select our 2 RDMA capable 10Gbps NICs over the management LBFO interface which does not support RDMA and while supporting RSS can only deliver 2Gbps throughput at best. That’s exactly what you see in the screenshot below.

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Conclusion

So yes, Veeam Backup & Replication leverages SMB Multichannel! Please note that this did not require us to set SMB 3 Multichannel constraints or a preferred network for backups in Veeam Backup & Replication. It’s possible to do so when needed but ideally you design your solution to have no need for this and let automatic detection chose the best network path correctly. This is the case in our little lab setup. The backup traffic flows over 10.1.0.0/16 network even when our Veeam Backup & Replication VM, the Hyper-V host and the backup target have 10.10.0.0/16 as their management subnet. That’s the one they exist on the Active Directory domain they belong to for standard functionality. But as both the source and the target can be reached via 2*10Gbps RDMA capable NICs on the 10.1.0.0/16 subnet SMB3 will select those according to its selection criteria. No intervention needed.

SMB Direct Support

Now that we have shown that Veeam Backup & Replication backups in certain configurations can and will leverage SMB Multichannel to your benefit another question pops up. Can and does Veeam Backup & Replication leverage SMB Direct? The answer to that is also, yes. If SMB Direct is correctly configured on all the hosts and switches their networks paths in between it will. Multichannel is the mechanism used to detect SMB Direct capabilities, so if multichannel works and sees SMB Direct is possible it will leverage that. That’s why when SMB Direct or RDMA is enabled on your NICs it’s important that it is configured correctly throughout the entire network path used. Badly configured SMB Direct leads to very bad experiences.

Now think about that. High throughput, low latency and CPU offloading, minimizing the CPU impact on your Hyper-V hosts, SOFS nodes, S2D nodes and backup targets. Not bad at all, especially not since you’re probably already implementing SMB Direct in many of these deployments. It’s certainly something that could and should be considered when design solutions or optimizing existing ones.

More SMB3 and Windows Server 2016 Goodness

When you put your SMB3 file share continuously available on a Windows 2012 (R2) or Windows Server 2016 cluster (it doesn’t need to be on a CSV disk) you’ll gain high availability trough transparent failover with SMB3 and except for a short pause your backups will keep running even when the backup target node reboots or crashes after the File Server role has failed over. Now, start combing that with ReFSv3 in Windows Server 2016 and the Veeam Backup & Replication v9.5 support of this and you can see a lot of potential here to optimize many aspects of your backup design delivering effective and efficient solutions.

Things to investigate further

One question that pops up in my mind is what happens if we configure a preferred back-up network in Veeam Backup & Replication. Will this affect the operation of SMB multichannel at all? By that I means would enabling a preferred network in Veeam prevent multichannel from using more than one NIC?

I my opinion it should allow for multiple scenarios actually. When you have equally capable NICs that are on different subnets you might want to make sure it uses only one. After all, Veeam uses the subnet to configure a preferred path, or multiple subnets for that matter. Now multichannel will kick in with multiple equally capable NICs whether they are on the same subnet or not and if they are on the same subnet you might want them both to be leveraged even when setting a preferred path in Veeam. Remember that 1 IP / NIC is used to set up an SMB session and then it detects capabilities available, i.e. multiple paths, SMB Direct, RSS, speed, within 1 or across multiple subnets.

I’ll leave the combination of Veeam Backup & Replication and SMB multichannel for a future blog post.

Warning on Windows Server 2016 Deduplication Corruption

UPDATE 2 – 2017/02/06

DO NOT INSTALL KB3216755 if you don’t need it.  Huge memory leak reported to associated with this. If you need it I’d consider all my options.

UPDATE – GET KB3216755

As you can read it the comments, Microsoft reached out and confirms the issues are fixed as part of KB3216755 => https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4011347/windows-10-update-kb3216755 . I commend them for responding so quickly and getting it sorted. Do not that at the time of writing this (late on January 30th CET) the Windows Sever 2016 update isn’t in the Windows Catalog yet, only the Windows 10 ones. But Microsoft confirms you should install the update  on their blog

Windows Server 2016 Data Deduplication users: please install KB3216755!

The issue

Good morning. A quick blog post to give a heads up to my readers who might not be subscribed to Anton Gostev (Veeam) his “The Word Form Gostev”. It concerns a warning on Windows Server 2016 Deduplication corruption.

Warning on Windows Server 2016 Deduplication Corruption

There are multiple reports of data corruption with Windows Server 2016 deduplication. One is related to file sizes over 2TB. The other with the loss of checksum values. Microsoft is aware these issues and a fix is coming for these issues.

I quote Gostev

I’ve already received the official confirmation from Microsoft that this is the know issue (ID 10165851) which is scheduled to be addressed in the next Windows Server 2016 servicing update. There are actually two separate issues, both leading to file corruption when using deduplication on very large files. One issue occurs when files grow to 2.2TB or larger, and another one causes loss of checksums for files with “smaller sizes” – this is the actual wording of the official note, so I have no idea how small

What to do?

If you use Windows Server 2016 deduplication for backups, create new full backups regularly. Also make sure you do backup integrity testing and restore tests. Follow up on the update when it arrives.

If you use the for production data make sure you have frequent and validated backups! Design & operate under the mantra of “Trust but verify”.

Also, we’ve heard reports and noticed that Windows Server 2016 Deduplication resource configuration isn’t always respected. I.e. it can take all resources away despite limitations being set. We hope a fix for this is also under way.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 12–ReFS v3.1 and Backup

In this Episode Carsten and I look at a single host deployment with Storage Spaces on Windows Server 2016. We create a “Hybrid” disk just like in Storage Spaces Direct by combining SSD & HDD in a storage Tier. We were very happy to discover that ReFSv3.1 does real time tiering.

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We’re very excited about this because we want to leverage the benefits if Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 brings by leveraging ReFSv3.1 (Block Cloning) in regards to backup transformation actions and Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) spaces savings. To do so we’re looking at our options to get these benefits and capabilities leveraging affordable yet performant storage for our backup targets. S2D is one such option but might be cost prohibitive or overkill in certain environments.

ReFS v3.1 on non-clustered Windows Server 2016 hosts bring us integrity streaming, file corruption repair with instant recovery as protection against bit rot, the performance of tiered storage and SMB3 as a backup target at a great price point.

We encourage you to watch the video and see for yourself. As always, we had fun and hope your can learn something together with us, the Hyper-V Amigos Smile

VeeamOn 2017 Call for Presentations

Veeam will be holding its annual conference VeeamOn 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 16th – 18th. You can actually already pre-register for the conference today. Just follow this link. This qualifies you for a 200$ discount.

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But don’t stop there. When you work with Veeam products you might have some interesting solutions and experiences to share. Maybe you got creative and designed a smart solution to you needs. That’s something that can inspire people to think about how they use the products. So please, don’t be shy. Consider submitting your proposal for a presentation at VeeamOn 2017. Help your peers to achieve their needed availability in an always-on world. Go to https://www.veeam.com/veeamon/call-for-presentations and share your experience, knowledge and insights.

I hope to see you there to learn form and be inspired by you, my peers and colleagues from all over the world!