In my previous post I wrote about troubleshooting APD and finding the root cause. At that time the root cause turned out to be a IP address conflict which bound 2 different NFS networks to 1 vmkernel interface, causing random APD events on all hosts connected to either of the NFS networks.
Besides these random APD events the same customer also had APD events that appeared to be a set times, mainly around the time backups where running (Netapp backups).
So for these APD events it looked like the NAS head becomes overloaded when it has to run a backup task on top of the normal load. When talking to the storage admin's, they wanted to see if any other background process (like deduplication) could trigger the same issue.
When looking into this we found that indeed deduplication could trigger APD events on vSphere and write "NFS slow" events in the Netapp logs. Not sure why this happened, a support case was opened with Netapp. Within this case all known performance where looked at and from the perfstat captures they could tell there were misaligned VM's. There is only one way to measure the effect of misaligned IO on your Netapp is by looking at the pw.over_limit counter. This counter is only available in priv set advanced command line mode.
So we ran the Scan Manager from the Netapp plugin for vCenter to see how many VM's where misaligned and we found there where a lot, due to the vCloud environment which has a lot of misaligned base VM's with multiple linked clones (which are automatically also misaligned).
During the search one of the storage admin's found a relation between a deduplication task on NAS head "A" in Datacenter A causing not only load on NAS head "A" in Datacenter A but also on NAS head "B" in Datacenter B. This was caused by a feature called "alternated write" this combined with the used storage design had a negative effect on the load.
All these factors turned a more then capable storage system into a stressed out, overloaded storage system. Like they say "The devil is in the details"
The vSphere environment suffered from these storage performance issues, in a massive way as you can imagine. This specific customer had Enterprise+ licenses and had SIOC (Storage I/O Control) enabled on all datastores, but even with SIOC they still experienced unresponsive and crashing VM's.