Latest ESRP 1K-5K mailbox DB xfers/sec/disk results – chart-of-the-month

(SCIESRP120429-001) 2012 (c) Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

The above chart is from our April newsletter on Microsoft Exchange 2010 Solution Reviewed Program (ESRP) results for the 1,000 (actually 1001) to 5,000 mailbox category.  We have taken the database transfers per second, normalized them for the number of disk spindles used in the run and plotted the top 10 in the chart above.

A couple of caveats first, we chart disk-only systems in this and similar charts  on disk spindle performance. Although, it probably doesn’t matter as much at this mid-range level, for other categories SSD or Flash Cache can be used to support much higher performance on a per spindle performance measure like the above.  As such, submissions with SSDs or flash cache are strictly eliminated from these spindle level performance analysis.

Another caveat, specific to this chart is that ESRP database transaction rates are somewhat driven by Jetstress parameters (specifically simulated IO rate) used during the run.  For this mid-level category, this parameter can range from a low of 0.10 to a high of 0.60 simulated IO operations per second with a median of ~0.19.  But what I find very interesting is that in the plot above we have both the lowest rate (0.10 in #6, Dell PowerEdge R510 1.5Kmbox) and the highest (0.60 for #9, HP P2000 G3 10GbE iSCSI MSA 3.2Kmbx).  So that doesn’t seem to matter much on this per spindle metric.

That being said, I always find it interesting that the database transactions per second per disk spindle varies so widely in ESRP results.  To me this says that storage subsystem technology, firmware and other characteristics can still make a significant difference in storage performance, at least in Exchange 2010 solutions.

Often we see spindle count and storage performance as highly correlated. This is definitely not the fact for mid-range ESRP (although that’s a different chart than the one above).

Next, we see disk speed (RPM) can have a high impact on storage performance especially for OLTP type workloads that look somewhat like Exchange.  However, in the above chart the middle 4 and last one (#4-7 & 10) used 10Krpm (#4,5) or slower disks.  It’s clear that disk speed doesn’t seem to impact Exchange database transactions per second per spindle either.

Thus, I am left with my original thesis that storage subsystem design and functionality can make a big difference in storage performance, especially for ESRP in this mid-level category.  The range in the top 10 contenders spanning from ~35 (Dell PowerEdge R510) to ~110 (Dell EqualLogic PS Server) speaks volumes on this issue or a multiple of over 3X from top to bottom performance on this measure.  In fact, the overall range (not shown in the chart above spans from ~3 to ~110 which is a factor of almost 37 times from worst to best performer.

Comments?

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The full ESRP 1K-5Kmailbox performance report went out in SCI’s April newsletter.  But a copy of the full report will be posted on our dispatches page sometime next month (if all goes well). However, you can get the full SPC 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 SAN or block storage performance covering SPC-1 (top 30)SPC-2 (top 30) and all three levels of ESRP (top 20) results please see SCI’s SAN Storage Buying Guide available on our website.

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


Latest Microsoft ESRP v3 (Exchange 2010) 1K to 5K mailbox performance results – chart of the month

SCIESRP110726-004 (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
SCIESRP110726-004 (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

Microsoft specifies two different metrics on sequential read rates for database backup activity in their Exchange Solution Reviewed Program (ESRP) reports

  • MB read/sec per database
  • MB read/sec total per server

Our problem with these metrics is that they don’t say much about the storage systems performance.  Some ESRP submissions could have a single database while others can have 100s of databases.  And the same thing applies to servers, although 20 servers seems to be about the max we have seen.  So as one can see the MB/s/DB or MB/s/server can vary all over the place depending on the Exchange configuration that one uses, even for the same exact storage system.

In the above chart, we  have attempted to move beyond some of these problems and use the information supplied in the ESRP reports to aggregate DB backups across all databases.  As such, we have derived a new metric called “total database backup”.  (Pretty simple actually just multiply the MB/s/DB times the number of databases in the Exchange configuration).

A couple of problems with our approach.

  • Current ESRP reports typically utilize a shadow storage system and shadow Exchange servers which host 50% of the databases and email activity. So what I am showing for those ESRP reports is what two storage systems can accomplish not one.
  • Another potential way to get the same result would be to use the number of servers times the MB/sec/server metric. (But try as I might these two approaches didn’t work to get the same answer so I am using the computation above – must be the way I am recording the number of [shadow] servers).
  • Although ESRP reports the average MB/sec/database to backup a single database it’s not clear that these measurements were taken while backing up all active databases at the same time, especially for those submissions with 100s of databases.

Probably the last is the most problematic critique to our new measure but may not be that harmful for smaller configurations. Nonetheless, we produced the above chart and published it in our last months review of ESRP results for the 1001 to 5000 mailbox category.

One item we discussed in our report was that numbers of disk drives didn’t seem to correlate well with high positions on this chart.  The number ten position (Fujitsu ETERNUS JX40) used over 140 disks, the number two position (Dell PowerEdge R510) had only 12 disk drives, and the number one solution (HP E5700) consisted of 56 drives, close to the average for this category.

One striking finding using this measure is that performance varies considerably from the top providing over 1600 MB/sec of database backup to the lowest of the group providing only ~800 MB/sec of backup performance. What with Exchange 2010 and lagged DAGs, some people feel that backup activity is no longer needed but we would disagree. We continue to believe that taking backups of Exchange data still makes a whole lot of sense and shouldn’t go away, ever.

It’s our hope that this or some similar follow-on metric will remove some of the Exchange configuration parameters from confounding ESRP reported storage system performance results.  We realize that this quixotic quest may never be entirely successful nevertheless we perform this duty in the hope that it will benefit today and future storage performance analysts everywhere.

Comments?

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The full ESRP report went out to our newsletter subscribers last month.  A copy of the full report will be up on the dispatches page of our website later next month. However, you can get this information now and subscribe to future newsletters to receive these reports even earlier by just emailing us at SubscribeNews@SilvertonConsulting.com?Subject=Subscribe_to_NewsletterR or using the signup form above and to the right.

As always, we welcome any suggestions on how to improve our analysis of ESRP or any of our other storage system performance discussions.