NetApp updates their StorageGRID Webscale solution

grid001NetApp announced a new version of their object storage solution, the StorageGRID WebScale 10.3.

At a former employer, I first talked with StorageGRID (Bycast at the time) a decade or so ago. At that time, they were focused on medical and healthcare verticals and had a RAIN (redundant array of independent nodes) storage solution.  It has come a long way.

StorageGRID Business is booming

On the call, NetApp announced they sold 50PB of StorageGRID in FY’16 with 20PB of that in the last quarter and also reported 270% Y/Y revenue growth, which means they are starting to gain some traction in the marketplace. Are we seeing an acceleration of object storage adoption?

As you may recall, StorageGRID comes in a software only solution that runs on just about any white box server with DAS or as two hardware appliances: the SG5612 (12 drive); and the SG5660 (60 drive) nodes. You can mix and match any appliance with any white box software only solution, they don’t have to have the same capacity or performance. But all nodes need network and controller/admin node(s) access.

StorageGRID past

grid002Somewhere during Bycast’s journey they developed support for tape archives and information lifecycle management (ILM) for objects. The previous generation, StorageGrid 10.2 had a number of features, including:

  • S3 cloud archive support that allowed objects to be migrated to AWS S3 as they were no longer actively accessed
  • NAS bridge support that allowed CIFS/SMB or NFS access to StorageGRID objects, which could also be read as S3 objects for easier migration to/from object storage;
  • Hierarchical erasure coding option that was optimized for efficiently storing large objects;
  • Node level erasure coding support that can be used to rebuild data for node drive failures, without having to go outside the node data retrieval;
  • Object byte-granular range read support that allowed users to read an object at any byte offset without requiring rebuild;
  • Support for OpenStack Swift API that made StorageGRID objects natively available to any OpenStack service; and
  • Software support for running as Docker containers or as a VM under VMware ESX, or OpenStack KVM that allowed StorageGRID software to run just about anywhere.

StorageGRID present and future

grid003But customers complained StorageGRID was too complex to install and update which required too much hand holding by NetApp professional services. StorageGRID Webscale 10.3 was targeted to address these deficiencies. Some of the features in StorageGrid 10.3, include:

  • Radically simplified, more modern UI, new dashboard and policy wizard/editor, so that it’s a lot easier to manage the StorageGRID. All features of the UI are also available via RESTfull API access and the UI is the same for white box, software only implementations as well as appliance configurations.
  • Simplified automated installation scripts, so that installations that used to take multiple steps, separate software installs and required professional services support, now use a full-solution software stack install, take only minutes and can be done by the customers alone;
  • S3 object versioning support, so that objects can have multiple versions, limited via the UI, if needed, but provide a snapshot-like capability for S3 data that protects against object accidental deletion.
  • grid004ILM policy change predictions/modeling, so that admins can now see how changes to ILM policies will impact StorageGRID.
  • Even more flexibility in DAS storage, so that future StorageGRID configurations can support 10TB drives and 6TB FIPS-140 drive encryption support, which adds to the current drive capacity and data security options already available in StorageGRID.

To top it all off, StorageGRID 10.3 improves performance for both small (30KB) and large (300MB) object get/puts.

  • Small S3 Load Data Router (LDR, 1-thread) object performance has improved ~4X for both PUTs and GETs; and
  • Large S3 LDR (1-thread) object performance has improved ~2X for PUTs and ~4X for GETs.

Object storage market heating up

grid005Apparently, service providers are adopting object storage to  provide competition to AWS, Azure and Google cloud storage for backup and storage archives as well as for DR as a service. Also, many media and other customers managing massive data repositories are turning to object storage to support their multi-site, very large file libraries.  And as more solution vendors support S3 object protocols for data access and archive, something like StorageGRID can become their onsite-offsite storage alternative.

And Amazon, Azure and Google are starting to realize that most enterprise customers are not going to leap to the cloud for everything they do. So, some sort of hybrid solution is needed for the long term. Having an on premises and off premises object storage solution that can also archive/migrate data to the cloud is a great hybrid alternative that takes enterprises one step closer to the cloud.


New SPECsfs2008 CIFS/SMB vs. NFS (again) – chart of the month

SPECsfs2008 benchmark results for CIFS/SMB vs. NFS protocol performance
SCISFS140326-001 (c) 2014 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

The above chart represents another in a long line of charts on the relative performance of CIFS[/SMB] versus NFS file interface protocols. The information on the chart are taken from vendor submissions that used the same exact hardware configurations for both NFS and CIFS/SMB protocol SPECsfs2008 benchmark submissions.

There are generally two charts I show in our CIFS/SMB vs. NFS analysis, the one above and another that shows a ops/sec per spindle count analysis for all NFS and CIFS/SMB submissions.  Both have historically indicated that CIFS/SMB had an advantage. The one above shows the total number of NFS or CIFS/SMB operations per second on the two separate axes and provides a linear regression across the data. The above shows that, on average, the CIFS/SMB protocol provides about 40% more (~36.9%) operations per second than NFS protocol does with the same hardware configuration.

However, there are a few caveats about this and my other CIFS/SMB vs. NFS comparison charts:

  • The SPECsfs2008 organization has informed me (and posted on their website) that  CIFS[/SMB] and NFS are not comparable.  CIFS/SMB is a stateful protocol and NFS is stateless and the corresponding commands act accordingly. My response to them and my readers is that they both provide file access, to a comparable set of file data (we assume, see my previous post on What’s wrong with SPECsfs2008) and in many cases today, can provide access to the exact same file, using both protocols on the same storage system.
  • The SPECsfs2008 CIFS/SMB benchmark does slightly more read and slightly less write data operations than their corresponding NFS workloads. Specifically, their CIFS/SMB workload does 20.5% and 8.6% READ_ANDX and WRITE_ANDX respectively CIFS commands vs. 18% and 9% READ and WRITE respectively NFS commands.
  • There are fewer CIFS/SMB benchmark submissions than NFS and even fewer with the same exact hardware (only 13). So the statistics comparing the two in this way must be considered preliminary, even though the above linear regression is very good (R**2 at ~0.98).
  • Many of the submissions on the above chart are for smaller systems. In fact 5 of the 13 submissions were for storage systems that delivered less than 20K NFS ops/sec which may be skewing the results and most of which can be seen above bunched up around the origin of the graph.

And all of this would all be wonderfully consistent if not for a recent benchmark submission by NetApp on their FAS8020 storage subsystem.  For once NetApp submitted the exact same hardware for both a NFS and a CIFS/SMB submission and lo and behold they performed better on NFS (110.3K NFS ops/sec) than they did on CIFS/SMB (105.1K CIFS ops/sec) or just under ~5% better on NFS.

Luckily for the chart above this was a rare event and most others that submitted both did better on CIFS/SMB. But I have been proven wrong before and will no doubt be proven wrong again. So I plan to update this chart whenever we get more submissions for both CIFS/SMB and NFS with the exact same hardware so we can see a truer picture over time.

For those with an eagle eye, you can see NetApp’s FAS8020 submission as the one below the line in the first box above the origin which indicates they did better on NFS than CIFS/SMB.



The complete SPECsfs2008  performance report went out in SCI’s March 2014 newsletter.  But a copy of the report will be posted on our dispatches page sometime next quarter (if all goes well).  However, you can get the latest storage performance analysis now and subscribe to future free newsletters by just using the signup form above right.

Even more performance information on NFS and CIFS/SMB protocols, including our ChampionCharts™ for file storage can be found in  SCI’s recently (March 2014) updated NAS Buying Guide, on sale from our website.

As always, we welcome any suggestions or comments on how to improve our SPECsfs2008 performance reports or any of our other storage performance analyses.

Has latency become the key metric? SPC-1 LRT results – chart of the month

I was at EMCworld a couple of months back and they were showing off a preview of the next version VNX storage, which was trying to achieve a million IOPS with under a millisecond latency.  Then I attended NetApp’s analyst summit and the discussion at their Flash seminar was how latency was changing the landscape of data storage and how flash latencies were going to enable totally new applications.

One executive at NetApp mentioned that IOPS was never the real problem. As an example, he mentioned one large oil & gas firm that had a peak IOPS of 35K.

Also, there was some discussion at NetApp of trying to come up with a way of segmenting customer applications by latency requirements.  Aside from high frequency trading applications, online payment processing and a few other high-performance database activities, there wasn’t a lot that could easily be identified/quantified today.

IO latencies have been coming down for years now. Sophisticated disk only storage systems have been lowering latencies for over a decade or more.   But since the introduction of SSDs it’s been a whole new ballgame.  For proof all one has to do is examine the top 10 SPC-1 LRT (least response time, measured with workloads@10% of peak activity) results.

Top 10 SPC-1 LRT results, SSD system response times


In looking over the top 10 SPC-1 LRT benchmarks (see Figure above) one can see a general pattern.  These systems mostly use SSD or flash storage except for TMS-400, TMS 320 (IBM FlashSystems) and Kaminario’s K2-D which primarily use DRAM storage and backup storage.

Hybrid disk-flash systems seem to start with an LRT of around 0.9 msec (not on the chart above).  These can be found with DotHill, NetApp, and IBM.

Similarly, you almost have to get to as “slow” as 0.93 msec. before you can find any disk only storage systems. But most disk only storage comes with a latency at 1msec or more. Between 1 and 2msec. LRT we see storage from EMC, HDS, HP, Fujitsu, IBM NetApp and others.

There was a time when the storage world was convinced that to get really good response times you had to have a purpose built storage system like TMS or Kaminario or stripped down functionality like IBM’s Power 595.  But it seems that the general purpose HDS HUS, IBM Storwize, and even Huawei OceanStore are all capable of providing excellent latencies with all SSD storage behind them. And all seem to do at least in the same ballpark as the purpose built, TMS RAMSAN-620 SSD storage system.  These general purpose storage systems have just about every advanced feature imaginable with the exception of mainframe attach.

It seems nowadays that there is a trifurcation of latency results going on, based on underlying storage:

  • DRAM only systems at 0.4 msec to ~0.1 msec.
  • SSD/flash only storage at 0.7 down to 0.2msec
  • Disk only storage at 0.93msec and above.

The hybrid storage systems are attempting to mix the economics of disk with the speed of flash storage and seem to be contending with all these single technology, storage solutions. 

It’s a new IO latency world today.  SSD only storage systems are now available from every major storage vendor and many of them are showing pretty impressive latencies.  Now with fully functional storage latency below 0.5msec., what’s the next hurdle for IT.


Image: EAB 2006 by TMWolf


Enhanced by Zemanta

Peak server, the cloud & NetApp storage for AWS

I was at a conference a month or so ago and one speaker mentioned that the number of x86 servers being sold has peaked and is dropping. I can imagine a number of reasons for this and the main one being server virtualization. But this speaker had a different view and it seemed to be the cloud.

Peak server is here.

He said that three companies were purchasing over 1/2 the x86 servers these days. I feel that there should be at least four Google, Facebook, Amazon & Microsoft and maybe five, if you add in Apple.

Something has happened over the past year or so. Enterprise IT has continued along its merry way but the adoption of cloud services is starting to take off.

I have seen this before, with mainframes, then mini-computers, and now client-server. Minicomputers came out and were so easy to use and develop/deploy applications on, that people stopped creating new apps on the mainframe. Mainframes never died out, and probably have never really stopped shipping increasing MIPS every year. But the share of WW MIP installations for mainframes has been shrinking for decades and have never got going again.

Ultimately, the proprietary minicomputer was just a passing fad and only lasted about 25 years or so. It was wounded by the PC, and then killed off by proprietary Unix workstations.

Then it happened again, the new upstart this time was Windows Server and Linux. Once again it was just easier to build apps on these new and cheaper servers, than any of the older Unix servers. Of course there’s still plenty of business in proprietary Unix servers, but again I would venture to say that their share of WW installed MIPS has been shrinking for a long time.

Nowadays, the cloud is mortally wounding the server market. Server virtualization is helping a lot but it’s also enabling the cloud to eliminate many physical server sales. This is because new applications, new IT environments are being ported/moved/deployed onto the cloud.

Peak server means less enterprise networking, storage and server hardware

In this new, cloud world, customers need less servers, less networking and less enterprise class storage. Yes not every application is suitable to cloud deployment but that’s why there’s still mainframes, still Unix servers, and a continuing need for standalone, physical or virtual x86 servers in the enterprise. But their share of MIPs will start shrinking soon if it hasn’t already.

Ok, so enterprise data center share of MIPs will start shrinking vis a vis cloud data centers. But what happens to networking and storage. My view is that networking becomes software defined and there’s a component of that which operates on special purpose hardware. This will increase in shipments but the more complex, enterprise class networking equipment will flatline and never see any more substantial growth.

And up until yesterday I felt much the same about enterprise class storage. Software defined storage in my future, DAS and SSDs for the capacity and the smarts exist in software if at all. Today, most of the cloud and many service providers have been moving off enterprise class storage and onto DAS.

NetApp’s new enterprise storage in AWS

But yesterday I heard about NetApp private storage for the cloud. This is a configuration of NetApp storage installed in a CoLo facility with a “direct connection” to Amazon compute cloud. In this way, enterprise customers can maintain data stewardship/ownership/governance over their data while at the same time deploying applications onto AWS compute cloud.

This seems to be one of the sticking points to enterprise customers adopting the cloud. By having (data) storage owned lock/stock&barrel by the enterprise it seems much easier and less risky to deploy new and old applications to the cloud.

Whether this pans out and can provide enough value to cover the added expense of the enterprise class storage, only the market can decide. But this is the first time I can remember, where any vendor has articulated a role for enterprise class storage in the cloud. Let’s hope it works.

Image: PDP8/s by ajmexico

Enterprise file synch

Strange Clouds by michaelroper (cc) (from Flickr)
Strange Clouds by michaelroper (cc) (from Flickr)

Last fall at SNW in San Jose there were a few vendors touting enterprise file synchronization services each having a slightly different version of the requirements.   The one that comes most readily to mind was Egnyte which supported file synchronization across a hybrid cloud (public cloud and network storage) which we discussed in our Fall SNWUSA wrap up post last year.

The problem with BYOD

With bring your own devices (BYOD) corporate end users are quickly abandoning any pretense of IT control and turning consumer class file synchronization services to help  synch files across desktop, laptop and all mobile devices they haul around.   But the problem with these solutions such as DropBoxBoxOxygenCloud and others are that they are really outside of IT’s control.

Which is why there’s a real need today for enterprise class file synchronization solutions that exhibit the ease of use and set up available from consumer file synch systems but  offer IT security, compliance and control over the data that’s being moved into the cloud and across corporate and end user devices.

EMC Syncplicity and EMC on premises storage

Last week EMC announced an enterprise version of their recently acquired Syncplicity software that supports on-premises Isilon or Atmos storage, EMC’s own cloud storage offering.

In previous versions of Syncplicity storage was based in the cloud and used Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud orchestration and AWS S3 for cloud storage. With the latest release, EMC adds on premises storage to host user file synchronization services that can span mobile devices, laptops and end user desktops.

New Syncplicity users must download desktop client software to support file synchronization or mobile apps for mobile device synchronization.  After that it’s a simple matter of identifying which if any directories and/or files are to be synchronized with the cloud and/or shared with others.

However, with the Business (read enterprise) edition one also gets the Security and Compliance console which supports access control to define users and devices that can synchronize or share data, enforce data retention policies, remote wipe corporate data,  and native support for single sign services. In addition, one also gets centralized user and group management services to grant, change, revoke user and group access to data.  Also, one now obtains enterprise security with AES-256 data-at-rest encryption, separate key manager data centers and data storage data centers, quadruple replication of data for high disaster fault tolerance and SAS70 Type II compliant data centers.

If the client wants to use on premises storage, they would also need to deploy a VM virtual appliance somewhere in the data center to act as the gateway to file synchronization service requests. The file synch server would also presumably need access to the on premises storage and it’s unclear if the virtual appliance is in-band or out-of-band (see discussion on Egnyte’s solution options below).

Egnyte’s solution

Egnyte comes as a software only solution building a file server in the cloud for end user  storage. It also includes an Egnyte app for mobile hardware and the ever present web file browser.  Desktop file access is provided via mapped drives which access the Egnyte cloud file server gateway running as a virtual appliance.

One major difference between Syncplicity and Egnyte is that Egnyte offers a combination of both cloud and on premises storage but you cannot have just on premises storage. Syncplicity only offers one or the other storage for file data, i.e., file synchronization data can only be in the cloud or on local on premises storage but cannot be in both locations.

The other major difference is that Egnyte operates with just about anybody’s NAS storage such as EMC, IBM, and HDS for the on premises file storage.  It operates as an in-band, software appliance solution that traps file activity going to your on premises storage. In this case, one would need to start using a new location or directory for data to be synchronized or shared.

But for NetApp storage only (today), they utilize ONTAP APIs to offer out-of-band file synchronization solutions.  This means that you can keep NetApp data where it resides and just enable synchronization/shareability services for the NetApp file data in current directory locations.

Egnyte promises enterprise class data security with AD, LDAP and/or SSO user authentication, AES-256 data encryption and their own secure data centers.  No mention of separate key security in their literature.

As for cloud backend storage, Egnyte has it’s own public cloud or supports other cloud storage providers such as AWS S3, Microsoft Azure, NetApp Storage Grid and HP Public Cloud.

There’s more to Egnyte’s solution than just file synchronization and sharing but that’s the subject of today’s post. Perhaps we can cover them at more length in a future post if their interest.

File synchronization, cloud storage’s killer app?

The nice thing about these capabilities is that now IT staff can re-gain control over what is and isn’t synched and shared across multiple devices.  Up until now all this was happening outside the data center and external to IT control.

From Egnyte’s perspective, they are seeing more and more enterprises wanting data both on premises for performance and compliance as well as in the cloud storage for ubiquitous access.  They feel its both a sharability demand between an enterprise’s far flung team members and potentially client/customer personnel as well as a need to access, edit and propagate silo’d corporate information using new mobile devices that everyone has these days.

In any event, Enterprise file synchronization and sharing is emerging as one of the killer apps for cloud storage.  Up to this point cloud gateways made sense for SME backup or disaster recovery solutions but IMO, didn’t really take off beyond that space.  But if you can package a robust and secure file sharing and synchronization solution around cloud storage then you just might have something that enterprise customers are clamoring for.



NFS ChampionsChart™ – chart-of-the-month

SCISFS120926-001, Q4-2012 NFS ChampionsChart(tm) (c) 2012 Silverton Consulting, Inc., All Rights Reserved
SCISFS120926-001, Q4-2012 NFS ChampionsChart(tm) (c) 2012 Silverton Consulting, Inc., All Rights Reserved

We had no new performance data to report on in our September StorInt™ newsletter so we decided to publish our NAS Buying Guide ChampionsCharts™.   The chart above is our Q4-2102 NFS ChampionsChart which shows the top performing NFS storage systems from published SPECsfs2008 benchmark results available at the time.

We split up all of our NAS and SAN ChampionsCharts into four quadrants: Champions, Sprinters, Marathoners and Slowpokes.  We feel that storage Champions represent the best overall performers,  Sprinters have great response time but lack in transaction throughput as compared to storage Champions, Marathoners have good transaction throughput but are defficient in responsiveness and Slowpokes need to go back to the drawing board because they suffer both poor transaction throughput and responsiveness.

You may notice that there are two categories of systems identified in the NFS Champions Quadrant above.  These represent the more “normal” NAS systems (numbered 1-7) such as integrated systems and NAS gateways with SAN storage behind them vs. the more caching oriented, NAS systems (denoted with letters A-E) which have standalone NAS systems behind them.

In our Dispatch we discuss the top 3 NAS Champions in the integrated and gateway category which include:

  1. NetApp FAS6080 – although a couple of generations back, the FAS6080 did remarkably well for its complement of hardware.
  2. Huawei Symantec Oceanspace N8500 Clustered NAS – this product did especially well for its assortment of hardware in response time and not necessarily that great in NFS throughput but still respectable.
  3. EMC Celerra VG8, 2 DM and VMAX hardware – similar to number one above, a relatively modest amount of cache and disks but seemed to perform relatively well.

One negative to all our ChampionsCharts is that they depend on audited, published performance data which typically lag behind recent product introductions.  As evidence of this the FAS6080 and Celerra VG8 listed above are at least a generation or two behind current selling systems.  I am not as familiar with the Huawei systems but it may very well be a generation or two behind current selling products.

As for our rankings, this is purely subjective but our feeling is that transaction performance comes first with responsiveness a close second. For example in the above ranking Huawei’s system had the best overall responsiveness but relatively poorer transaction performance than any of the other Champions.  Nonetheless as the best in responsiveness, we felt it deserved a number two in our Champions list.

The full Champions quadrants for the NFS and CIFS/SMB ChampionsCharts are detailed in our NAS Buying Guide available for purchase on our website (please see NAS buying guide page).  The dispatch that went out with our September newsletter also detailed the top 3 CIFS/SMB Champions.


The complete SPECsfs2008 performance report with both NFS and CIFS/SMB ChampionsCharts went out in SCI’s September newsletter.  But a copy of the report will be posted on our dispatches page sometime this month (if all goes well).  However, you can get the latest storage performance analysis now and subscribe to future free newsletters by just using the signup form above right.

As always, we welcome any suggestions or comments on how to improve our SPECsfs2008 performance analysis or any of our other storage performance analyses.

NetApp Analyst Summit Customer Panel – how to survive a category 5 tornado

NetApp had three of their customer innovation winners come up on stage for a panel discussion with Dave Hitz moderating the discussion. All three had interesting deployments of NetApp storage systems:

  • Andrew Henderson from ING DIRECT talked about their need to deploy copies of the banks IT environment for test, development, optimization and security testing. This process took 12 weeks to accomplish the first time they tried and only created a single copy. They wanted to speed this up and be able to deploy 10 or more copies if necessary. Andrew looked at Microsoft Hyper-V, System Center and NetApp FlexClones and transformed this process to now generate a copy of the entire banks IT services in under 10 minutes. And since the new capabilities have been in place they have created over 400 copies of the bank (he called these bank-in-a-box) for various purposes.
  • Teresa Wahlert from Iowa Workforce Development Agency was up next and talked about their VDI implementation. Iowa cut their budget which forced them to shut down a number of physical offices. But with VDI, VMware and NetApp storage Workforce were able to disperse their services to over 3000 locations now in prisons, libraries, and other venues where they had no presence before. They put out a general call for all the tired, dying PCs in Iowa government and used these to host VDI services. Now Workforce services are up 7X24 locations, pretty amazing for government work. Apparently they had tried VDI before and their previous storage couldn’t handle it. They moved to NetApp with FlashCache and it worked just fine. That’s when they rolled it VDI services to their customers and businesses. With NetApp they were able to implement VDI, reduce storage costs (via deduplication and other storage efficiency features) and increase department services.
  • Jeff Bell at Mercy Healthcare talked about the difficulties of rolling out electronic health records (EHR) and their challenges of integrating ~30 hospitals and ~400 medical clinics. They started with EHR fairly early 2006-2007 well before the latest governmental push. He mentioned Joplin MO and last years category 5 tornado which about wiped out their hospital there. He said within 2 hours after the disaster, Mercy Healthcare was printing out the EHR for the 183 patients present in the hospital at the time that had to be moved to other care facilities. The promise of EHR is that the information travels with the patient, can be recovered in the event of a disaster and is immediately available.  It seems that at least at Mercy Healthcare, EHR is living up to its promise. In addition, they just built a new data center as they were running out of space, power and cooling at the old one. They installed new NetApp storage there and for the first few months had to run heaters to keep the data center live-able because the new power/cooling load was so far below what they were experienced previously. Looking back on what they had accomplished Jeff was not so sure they would build a new data center again. With new cloud offerings coming out and the reduced power/cooling and increased density of NetApp storage they could almost get by without another data center at all.

That’s about it from the customer session.

NetApp execs spent the rest of the day on innovation, mostly at NetApp but also in the IT industry in general.

There was lots of discussion on the new release of Data ONTAP 8.1.1 with its latest cluster mode features.  NetApp positioned it as fulfilling out the transition to  data/storage as an infrastructure that IT has been pushing for the last decade or so.  Following in the grand tradition of what IBM did for computing infrastructure with the 360 and what Cisco and others did for networking infrastructure in the mid 80’s.


Analyzing SPECsfs2008 flash use in NFS performance – chart-of-the-month

(SCISFS120316-002) (c) 2012 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
(SCISFS120316-002) (c) 2012 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

For some time now I have been using OPS/drive to measure storage system disk drive efficiency but have so far failed to come up with anything similar for flash or SSD use.  The problem with flash in storage is that it can be used as a cache or as a storage device.  Even when used as a storage device under automated storage tiering, SSD advantages can be difficult to pin down.

In my March newsletter as a first attempt to measure storage system flash efficiency I supplied a new chart shown above, which plots the top 10 NFS throughput ops/second/GB of NAND used in the SPECsfs2008 results.

What’s with Avere?

Something different has occurred with the (#1) Avere FXT 3500 44-node system in the chart.   The 44-node Avere system only used ~800GB of flash as a ZIL (ZFS intent log from the SPECsfs report).   However, the 44-node system also had ~7TB of DRAM across their 44-node system, most of which was used for file IO caching.  If we incorporated storage system memory size with flash GB in the above chart it would have dropped the Avere numbers by a factor of 9 while only dropping the others by a factor of ~2X which would still give the Avere a significant advantage but not quite so stunning.  Also, the Avere system frontends other NAS systems, (this one running ZFS) so it’s not quite the same as being a direct NAS storage system like the others on this chart.

The remainder of the chart (#2-10) belongs to NetApp and their FlashCache (or PAM) cards.  Even Oracles Sun ZFS Storage 7320 appliance did not come close to either the Avere FXT 3500 system or the NetApp storage on this chart.  But there were at least 10 other SPECsfs2008 NFS results using some form of flash but were not fast enough to rank on this chart.

Other measures of flash effectiveness

This metric still doesn’t quite capture flash efficiency.  I was discussing flash performance with another startup the other day and they suggested that SSD drive count might be a better  alternative.  With such a measure, it would take into consideration that each SSD has a only a certain performance level it can sustain, not unlike disk drives.

In that case Avere’s 44-node system had 4 drives, and each NetApp system had two FlashCache cards, representing 2-SSDs per NetApp node.  I try that next time to see if it’s  a better fit.


The complete SPECsfs2008 performance report went out in SCI’s March newsletter.  But a copy of the report will be posted on our dispatches page sometime next month (if all goes well). However, you can get the SPECsfs performance analysis now and subscribe to future free newsletters by just sending us an email or using the signup form above right.

For a more extensive discussion of current NAS or file system storage performance covering SPECsfs2008 (Top 20) results and our new ChampionChart™ for NFS and CIFS storage systems, please see SCI’s NAS Buying Guide available from our website.

As always, we welcome any suggestions or comments on how to improve our analysis of SPECsfs2008 results or any of our other storage performance analyses.