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Last July, IBM and EMC traded blog postings over SPC-1 benchmark results. Fellow EMC bloggerChuck Hollis wrote his post [Does Anyone Take The SPC Seriously?]. Here is an excerpt:
I think most storage users have figured this out. We've never done an SPC test, and probably will never do one. Anyone is free, however, to download the SPC code, lash it up to their CLARiiON, and have at it.
I responded with [Getting Under EMC Skin], and then followed up with a series explaining IBM SVC and SPC benchmarks here:
So what is the good news?Yesterday, our friends at NetApp took up Chuck's challenge and posted results on their FAS3040 as well as their EMC CLARiiON devices. IBM sells the FAS3040 under the name IBM System Storage N5300 disk system. Knowing that NetApp maintains excellent performance when it is doing point-in-time copies, NetApp ran both with and without on both boxes. I include DS4700 and DS4800 as well for comparison purposes, but only have them without FlashCopy running.
One would expect some performance degradation with a box running point-in-time copies at the same time it is reading and writing data, but NetApp/IBM N5300 does not degrade by much, but EMC's drops a significant amount.
So what is the bad news? Last October, I welcomed HDS USP-V to the [Super High-End Club], but now we need to invite Texas Memory Systems as well.In 2006, I posted [Hybrid, Solid State and the future of RAID], and poked fun at Texas Memory Systems using the slogan "World's Fastest Storage", which at the time that honor belonged to IBM SAN Volume Controller instead.The VP of Texas Memory Systems, Woody Hutsell, explained the only reason their solid-state disk system, RAMSAN-320, didn't have faster results is that they didn't have the fastest IBM server to run against it. It may not surprise you that nearly everyone's SPC benchmarks use IBM servers because IBM has the fastest servers as well. I didn't have a million-dollar System p UNIX server to send Woody for this, but it looks like they have finally gotten one, and a new RAMSAN-400 device, as they have posted their latest results.
EMC doesn't publish numbers for their Symmetrix box, despite their announcement of faster SSD drives. They claim that SSD drives make their overall disk system performance faster, but without SPC benchmarks, we will never know. If you have a Symmetrix, this YouTube video may help you decide where it belongs:
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, Chuck Hollis, SPC, SPC-1, NetApp, FAS3040, N5300, CLARiiON, CX3-40, SnapShot, SnapDrive, FlashCopy, DS4800, DS4700, Texas Memory Systems, RAMSAN-320, RAMSAN-400, SSD, Hybrid, RAID, HDS, USP-V, Symmetrix,[Read More]
Continuing my week in Tokyo, Japan, I was going to title this post "Chunks, Extents and Grains", but decidedinstead to use the fairy tale above.
Fellow blogger BarryB from EMC, on his The Storage Anarchist blog, once again shows off his [PhotoShop talents], in his post [the laurel and hardy of thin provisioning]. This time, BarryB depicts fellow blogger and IBM master inventor, Barry Whyte, as Stan Laurel and fellow blogger Hu Yoshida from HDS as Oliver Hardy.
At stake is the comparison in various implementations of thin provisioning among the major storage vendors.On the "thick end", Hu presents his case for 42MB chunks on his post [When is Thin Provisioning Too Thin]. On the "thin end", IBMer BarryW presents the "fine-grained" details of Space-efficient Volumes (SEV), made available with the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) v4.3, in his series of posts:
BarryB paints both implementations as "extremes" in inefficiency. Some excerpts from his post:
"... Hitachi's "chubby" provisioning is probably more performance efficient with external storage than is the SVC's "thin" approach. But it is still horribly inefficient in context of capacity utilization.
BarryB would like you to think that since EMC has chosen an "extent" size between 257KB and 41MB it must therefore be the optimal setting, not too hot, and not too cold. As I mentioned last January in my post[DoesSize Really Matter for Performance?], EMC engineers had not yet decided what that extent size should be, andBarryB is noticeably vague on the current value.According to this [VMware whitepaper],the thin extent size is currently 768 KBin size. Future versions of the EMC Enginuity operating environment may change the thin extent size. (I am sure theEMC engineers are smarter and more decisive than BarryB would lead us to believe!)
BarryB is correct that any thin provisioning implementation is not "free", even though IBM's implementation is offeredat no additional charge. Some writes may be slowed downwaiting for additional storage to be allocated to satisfy the request, and some amount of storage must be set asideto hold the metadata directory to point to all these chunks, extents or grains. For the convenience of not havingto dynamically expand LUNs manually as more space is needed, you will pay both a performance and capacity "price".
However, as they say, the [proof of the pudding is in the eating], or perhaps I should say porridge in this case.Given that the DMX4 is slower than both HDS USP-V and IBM SVC, you won't see EMC publishing indu So if you are a client waiting for your EMC equipment to be fully depreciated so you can replace it for faster equipment from IBM or HDS, you can at least improveits performance and capacity utilization today by virtualizing it with IBM SAN Volume Controller. technorati tags: Goldilocks, Three Bears, IBM, Tokyo, Japan, EMC, BarryB, PhotoShop, Barry Whyte, HDS, Hu Yoshida, USP-V, SVC, SEV, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Symmetrix, DMX4, metadata, directory, SPC, benchmarks
So if you are a client waiting for your EMC equipment to be fully depreciated so you can replace it for faster equipment from IBM or HDS, you can at least improveits performance and capacity utilization today by virtualizing it with IBM SAN Volume Controller.
technorati tags: Goldilocks, Three Bears, IBM, Tokyo, Japan, EMC, BarryB, PhotoShop, Barry Whyte, HDS, Hu Yoshida, USP-V, SVC, SEV, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Symmetrix, DMX4, metadata, directory, SPC, benchmarks[Read More]
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For those in the US, a comedian named Carlos Mencia has a great TV show, Mind of Menciaand one of my favorite segments is "Why the @#$% is this news!" where he goes about showingblatantly obvious things that were reported in various channels.
So, when I saw that IBM once again, for the third year in a row, has the fastest disk system,the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), based on widely-accepted industry benc
(Last year, I received comments fromWoody Hutsell, VP of Texas Memory Systems,because I pointed out that their "World's Fastest Storage"® cache-only system, was not as fast as IBM's SVC.You can ready my opinions, and the various comments that ensued, hereand here. )
That all changed when EMC uber-blogger Chuck Hollis forgot his own Lessons in Marketingwhen heposted his rantDoes Anyone Take The SPC Seriously?That's like asking "Does anyone take book and movie reviews seriously?" Of course they do!In fact, if a movie doesn't make a big deal of its "Two thumbs up!" rating, you know it did not sitwill with the reviewers. It's even more critical for books. I guess this latest news from SPC reallygot under EMC's skin.
For medium and large size businesses, storage is expensive, and customers want to do as much research as possible ahead of time to make informed decisions. A lot of money is at stake, and often, once you choose a product, you are stuckwith that vendor for many years to come, sometimes paying software renewals after only 90 days, and hardware maintenance renewals after only a year when the warranty runs out.
Customers shopping for storage like the idea of a standardized test that is representative, so they can compare one vendor's claims with another. The Storage Performance Council (SPC), much like the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC-C) for servers, requires full disclosure of the test environment so people can see what was measured and make their own judgement on whether or not it reflects their workloads. Chuck pours scorn on SPC but I think we should point to TPC-C as a great success story and ask why he thinks the same can't happen for storage? Server performance is also a complicatedsubject, but people compare TPC-C and TPC-H benchmarks all the time.
Note: This blog post has been updated. I am retracting comments that were unfair generalizations. The next two paragraphs are different than originally posted.
Chuck states that "Anyone is free, however, to download the SPC code, lash it up to their CLARiiON, and have at it." I encourage every customer to do this with whatever disk systems they already have installed. Judge for yourself how each benchmark compares to your experience with your application workload, and consider publishing the results for the benefit of others, or at least send me the results, so that I can understand better all of these"use cases" that Chuck talks about so often. I agree that real-world performance measurements using real applications and real data are always going to be more accurate and more relevant to that particular customer. Unfortunately, there are little or no such results made public. They are noticeably absent. With thousands of customers running with storage from all the major storage vendors, as well as storage from smaller start-up companies, I would expect more performance comparison data to be readily available.
In my opinion, customers would benefit by seeing the performance results obtained by others. SPC benchmarks help to fill this void, to provide customers who have not yet purchased the equipment, and are looking for guidance of which vendors to work with, and which products to put into their consideration set.
Truth is, benchmarks are just one of the many ways to evaluate storage vendors and their products. There are also customer references, industry awards, and corporate statements of a company's financial health, strategy and vision.Like anything, it is information to weigh against other factors when making expensive decisions. And I am sure the SPC would be glad to hear of any suggestions for a third SPC-3 benchmark, if the first two don't provide you enough guidance.
So, if you are not delighted with the performance you are getting from your storage now, or would benefit by having even faster I/O, consider improving its performance by adding SAN Volume Controller. SVC is like salt or soy sauce, it makes everything taste better. IBM would be glad to help you with a try-and-buy or proof-of-concept approach, and even help you compare the performance, before and after, with whatever gear you have now. You might just be surprised how much better life is with SVC. And if, for some reason, the performance boost you experience for your unique workload is only 10-30% better with SVC, you are free to tell the world about your disappointment.
technorati tags: Carlos Mencia, Mind of Mencia, IBM, system, storage, SVC, SAN Volume Controller, Storage Performance Council,SPC, benchmarks, Texas Memory Systems, Woody Hutsell, EMC, Chuck Hollis, movie, book, reviews, awards, salt, soy sauce
Many people have asked me if there was any logic with the IBM naming convention of IBM Systems branded servers. Here's your quick and easy cheat sheet:
From a storage perspective, we often joked that the "i" stood for "island", as most System i machines used internal disk, or attached externally to only a fewselected models of disk from IBM and EMC that had special support for i5/OS using a special, non-standard 520-byte disk block size. This meant only our popular IBM System Storage DS6000 and DS8000 series disk systems were available. This block size requirement only applies to disk. For tape, i5/OS supports both IBM TS1120 and LTO tape systems. For the most part,System i machines stood separate from the mainframe, and the rest of the Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed serverson the data center floor.
Often, when I am talking to customers, they ask when will product xyz be supported on System z or System i?I explained that IBM's strategy is not to make all storage devices connect via ESCON/FICON or support non-standard block sizes, but rather to get the servers to use standard 512-byte block size, Fibre Channel and other standard protocols.(The old adage applies: If you can't get Mohamed to move to the mountain, get the mountain to move to Mohamed).
On the System z mainframe, we are 60 percent there, allowing three of the five operating systems (z/VM, z/VSE and Linux) to access FCP-based disk and tape devices. (Four out of six if you include [OpenSolaris for the mainframe])But what about System i? As the characters on the popular television show [LOST] would say: It's time to get off the island!
Last week, IBM announced the new [i5/OS V6R1 operating system] with features that will greatly improve the use of external storage on this platform. Check this out:
Now that's exciting!
technorati tags: IBM, System x, System p, System i, System z, island, COMMON, AIX, Linux, POWER, POWER6, Windows, EMC, DS6000, DS8000, TS1120, LTO, ESCON, FICON, 520-byte, z/VM, z/VSE, z/OS, z/TPF, OpenSolaris, mainframe, LOST, CPW, x86, VMware, VMotion, BladeCenter, JS22, i5/OS, V6R1, PowerVM, VIOS, LPAR, DS4700, DS4800, LTO, disk, SAN, tape, storage[Read More]
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Jon W Toigo over at Drunkendata has had a great set of posts on his skepticism of storage vendors touting their "green storage" solutions. My apologies for my"unnecessary" use of quotation marks.
The ones I liked specifically were:
The last of which refers to this ComputerWorld article "EPA: U.S. needs more power plants to support data centers", which claims "from a technology perspective, the systems most responsible for gobbling up power are the relatively low-cost x86 servers ..." The article is based onthe recent EPA report that was just released.
Last month, in my post How manys Watts per Terabyte, I mentioned:
Some people find it surprising that it is often more cost-effective, and power-efficient, to run workloads on mainframe logical partitions (LPARs) than a stack of x86 servers running VMware.
Perhaps they won't be surprised any more. Here is an article in eWeek that explains how IBM isreducing energy costs 80% by consolidating 3,900 rack-optimized servers to 33 IBM System z mainframe servers, running Linux, in its own data centers. Since 1997, IBM has consolidated its 155 strategic worldwide data center locations down to just seven.
I am very pleased that IBM has invested heavily into Linux, with support across servers, storage, software andservices. Linux is allowing IBM to deliver clever, innovative solutions that may not be possible with other operating systems. If you are in storage, you should consider becoming more knowledgeable in Linux.
The older systems won't just end up in a landfill somewhere. Instead, the details are spelled out inthe IBM Press Release:
As part of the effort to protect the environment, IBM Global Asset Recovery Services, the refurbishment and recycling unit of IBM, will process and properly dispose of the 3,900 reclaimed systems. Newer units will be refurbished and resold through IBM's sales force and partner network, while older systems will be harvested for parts or sold for scrap. Prior to disposition, the machines will be scrubbed of all sensitive data. Any unusable e-waste will be properly disposed following environmentally compliant processes perfected over 20 years of leading environmental skill and experience in the area of IT asset disposition.
Whereas other vendors might think that some operational improvements will be enough, such as switching to higher-capacity SATA drives, or virtualizing x86 servers, IBM recognizes that sometimes more fundamental changes are required to effect real changes and real results.