SCI’s latest SPECsfs2008 NFS ops vs. system size – chart of the month

(c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, Inc., All Rights Reserved
(c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, Inc., All Rights Reserved

We return to our periodic discussion of storage system performance, this time on SPECsfs(r)2008 benchmark results for NFS file serving ops per second vs. system reported memory size.  For some obscure reason, I was very intrigued with this chart.

Chart description

We have broken the data out to show those system that only used DRAM in system memory with only hard disk drives and those systems that also included either NAND cache in system memory or SSDs.  Current SPECsfs2008 results show 33 systems with DRAM and disk drives and only 6 using SSDs or NAND cache for NFS results.

The horizontal axis shows system memory size for the systems under test and doesn’t include SSD capacity (considered drive capacity by SPECsfs2008) size but does include NAND cache size (considered system memory by SPECsfs2008).  The vertical axis shows maximum NFS throughput operations per second attained by the storage.  The two lines are Excel generated linear regressions across the two sets of data (DRAM-Disk only systems and SSD or NAND caching systems).

Discussion of results

Given the limited data we probably can’t conclude much from the SSD-NAND linear regression line other than it’s different and somewhat less than what can be gained on average from a system using DRAM and disk only.  Also the regression coefficient (R**2) of either linear regression is not that great (~0.62 for DRAM-Disk only and ~0.69 for SSD or NAND use) which might be stretching any real discussion based on statistical normalcy. Nevertheless, one question that emerges is why would SSD or NAND use not generate an relatively equivalent amount of NFS throughput as systems with DRAM only?

Obviously, NAND-SSDs access times are not as fast as DRAM.  Thus, if I had 800GB of DRAM, I could potentially access data faster than if I had 800GB of NAND cache or SSDs, all things being equal.   However, when talking about access time frames at the sub-msec level one would think it wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but apparently it does.

Also, given the limited data on SSDs vs. NAND cache use, it’s hard to make any distinction between these two types of systems but one can hope that as more data comes in, we can answer this as well.  Another question is whether SSD capacity should be considered system memory or drive capacity for benchmark purposes.  SPECsfs2008 states that SSD size should be considered drive capacity but that’s open to some debate which more data could help resolve.

Finally, missing from SPECsfs2008 reports is any statement of system cost.  As such, it’s impossible to add any measure of relative cost effectiveness factor to this discussion. However, given the current price differential (on $/GB) between DRAM and NAND memory or SSD capacity, one could probably conclude that on a cost effectiveness basis the relative advantages of DRAM only systems might diminish.  But without system cost information that’s difficult to quantify.


The full performance dispatch will be up on our website after month end but if one is interested in seeing it sooner sign up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription widget, above right) or subscribe by email and we will send the current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports.  If you need an even more in-depth analysis of NAS system performance please consider purchasing SCI’s NAS Buying Guide also available from our website.

As always, we welcome any constructive suggestions on how to improve any of our storage performance analysis.


Storage throughput vs. IO response time and why it matters

Fighter Jets at CNE by lifecreation (cc) (from Flickr)
Fighter Jets at CNE by lifecreation (cc) (from Flickr)

Lost in much of the discussions on storage system performance is the need for both throughput and response time measurements.

  • By IO throughput I generally mean data transfer speed in megabytes per second (MB/s or MBPS), however another definition of throughput is IO operations per second (IO/s or IOPS).  I prefer the MB/s designation for storage system throughput because it’s very complementary with respect to response time whereas IO/s can often be confounded with response time.  Nevertheless, both metrics qualify as storage system throughput.
  • By IO response time I mean the time it takes a storage system to perform an IO operation from start to finish, usually measured in milleseconds although lately some subsystems have dropped below the 1msec. threshold.  (See my last year’s post on SPC LRT results for information on some top response time results).

Benchmark measurements of response time and throughput

Both Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation’s SPECsfs2008 and Storage Performance Council’s SPC-1 provide response time measurements although they measure substantially different quantities.  The problem with SPECsfs2008’s measurement of ORT (overall response time) is that it’s calculated as a mean across the whole benchmark run rather than a strict measurement of least response time at low file request rates.  I believe any response time metric should measure the minimum response time achievable from a storage system although I can understand SPECsfs2008’s point of view.

On the other hand SPC-1 measurement of LRT (least response time) is just what I would like to see in a response time measurement.  SPC-1 provides the time it takes to complete an IO operation at very low request rates.

In regards to throughput, once again SPECsfs2008’s measurement of throughput leaves something to be desired as it’s strictly a measurement of NFS or CIFS operations per second.  Of course this includes a number (>40%) of non-data transfer requests as well as data transfers, so confounds any measurement of how much data can be transferred per second.  But, from their perspective a file system needs to do more than just read and write data which is why they mix these other requests in with their measurement of NAS throughput.

Storage Performance Council’s SPC-1 reports throughput results as IOPS and provide no direct measure of MB/s unless one looks to their SPC-2 benchmark results.  SPC-2 reports on a direct measure of MBPS which is an average of three different data intensive workloads including large file access, video-on-demand and a large database query workload.

Why response time and throughput matter

Historically, we used to say that OLTP (online transaction processing) activity performance was entirely dependent on response time – the better storage system response time, the better your OLTP systems performed.  Nowadays it’s a bit more complex, as some of todays database queries can depend as much on sequential database transfers (or throughput) as on individual IO response time.  Nonetheless, I feel that there is still a large component of response time critical workloads out there that perform much better with shorter response times.

On the other hand, high throughput has its growing gaggle of adherents as well.  When it comes to high sequential data transfer workloads such as data warehouse queries, video or audio editing/download or large file data transfers, throughput as measured by MB/s reigns supreme – higher MB/s can lead to much faster workloads.

The only question that remains is who needs higher throughput as measured by IO/s rather than MB/s.  I would contend that mixed workloads which contain components of random as well as sequential IOs and typically smaller data transfers can benefit from high IO/s storage systems.  The only confounding matter is that these workloads obviously benefit from better response times as well.   That’s why throughput as measured by IO/s is a much more difficult number to understand than any pure MB/s numbers.


Now there is a contingent of performance gurus today that believe that IO response times no longer matter.  In fact if one looks at SPC-1 results, it takes some effort to find its LRT measurement.  It’s not included in the summary report.

Also, in the post mentioned above there appears to be a definite bifurcation of storage subsystems with respect to response time, i.e., some subsystems are focused on response time while others are not.  I would have liked to see some more of the top enterprise storage subsystems represented in the top LRT subsystems but alas, they are missing.

1954 French Grand Prix - Those Were The Days by Nigel Smuckatelli (cc) (from Flickr)
1954 French Grand Prix - Those Were The Days by Nigel Smuckatelli (cc) (from Flickr)

Call me old fashioned but I feel that response time represents a very important and orthogonal performance measure with respect to throughput of any storage subsystem and as such, should be much more widely disseminated than it is today.

For example, there is a substantive difference a fighter jet’s or race car’s top speed vs. their maneuverability.  I would compare top speed to storage throughput and its maneuverability to IO response time.  Perhaps this doesn’t matter as much for a jet liner or family car but it can matter a lot in the right domain.

Now do you want your storage subsystem to be a jet fighter or a jet liner – you decide.

Latest SPECsfs2008 results: NFSops vs. #disks – chart of the month

(c) 2010 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
(c) 2010 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

Above one can see a chart from our September SPECsfs2008 Performance Dispatch displaying the scatter plot of NFS Throughput Operations/Second vs. number of disk drives in the solution.  Over the last month or so there has been a lot of Twitter traffic on the theory that benchmark results such as this and Storage Performance Council‘s SPC-1&2 are mostly a measure of the number of disk drives in a system under test and have little relation to the actual effectiveness of a system.  I disagree.

As proof of my disagreement I offer the above chart.  On the chart we have drawn a linear regression line (supplied by Microsoft Excel) and displayed the resultant regression equation.  A couple of items to note on the chart:

  1. Regression Coefficient – Even though there are only 37 submissions which span anywhere from 1K to over 330K NFS throughput operations a second, we do not have a perfect correlation (R**2=~0.8 not 1.0) between #disks and NFS ops.
  2. Superior systems exist – Any of the storage systems above the linear regression line have superior effectiveness or utilization of their disk resources than systems below the line.

As one example, take a look at the two circled points on the chart.

  • The one above the line is from Avere Systems and is a 6-FXT 2500 node tiered NAS storage system which has internal disk cache (8-450GB SAS disks per node) and an external mass storage NFS server (24-1TB SATA disks) for data with each node having a system disk as well, totaling 79 disk drives in the solution.  The Avere system was able to attain ~131.5K NFS throughput ops/sec on SPECsfs2008.
  • The one below the line is from Exanet Ltd., (recently purchased by Dell) and is an 8-ExaStore node clusterd NAS system which has attached storage (576-146GB SAS disks) as well as mirrored boot disks (16-73GB disks) totaling 592 disks drives in the solution.  They were only able to attain ~119.6K NFS throughput ops/sec on the benchmark.

Now the two systems respective architectures were significantly different but if we just count the data drives alone, Avere Systems (with 72 data disks) was able to attain 1.8K NFS throughput ops per second per data disk spindle and Exanet (with 576 data disks) was able to attain only 0.2K NFS throughput ops per second per data disk spindle.  A 9X difference in per drive performance for the same benchmark.

As far as I am concerned this definitively disproves the contention that benchmark results are dictated by the number of disk drives in the solution.  Similar comparisons can be seen looking horizontally at any points with equivalent NFS throughput levels.

Rays reading: NAS system performance is driven by a number of factors and the number of disk drives is not the lone determinant of benchmark results.  Indeed, one can easily see differences in performance of almost 10X on a throughput ops per second per disk spindle for NFS storage without looking very hard.

We would contend that similar results can be seen for block and CIFS storage benchmarks as well which we will cover in future posts.

The full SPECsfs2008 performance report will go up on SCI’s website next month in our dispatches directory.  However, if you are interested in receiving this sooner, just subscribe by email to our free newsletter and we will send you the current issue with download instructions for this and other reports.

As always, we welcome any suggestions on how to improve our analysis of SPECsfs2008 performance information so please comment here or drop us a line.

SPECsfs2008 CIFS ORT performance – chart of the month

(c) 2010 Silverton Consulting Inc., All Rights Reserved
(c) 2010 Silverton Consulting Inc., All Rights Reserved

The above chart on SPECsfs(R) 2008 results was discussed in our latest performance dispatch that went out to SCI’s newsletter subscribers last month.  We have described Apple’s great CIFS ORT performance in previous newsletters but here I would like to talk about NetApp’s CIFS ORT results.

NetApp had three new CIFS submissions published this past quarter, all using the FAS3140 system but with varying drive counts/types and Flash Cache installed.  Recall that Flash Cache used to be known as PAM-II and is an onboard system card which holds 256GB of NAND memory used as an extension of system cache.  This differs substantially from using NAND in a SSD as a separate tier of storage as many other vendors currently do.  The newly benchmarked NetApp systems included:

  • FAS3140 (FCAL disks with Flash Cache) – used 56-15Krpm FC disk drives with 512GB of Flash Cache (2-cards)
  • FAS3140 (SATA disks with Flash Cache) – used 96-7.2Krpm SATA disk drives with 512GB of Flash Cache
  • FAS3140 (FCAL disks) – used 242-15Krpm FC disk drives and had no Flash Cache whatsoever

If I had to guess the point of this exercise was to show that one can offset fast performing hard disk drives by using FlashCache and significantly less (~1/4) fast disk drives or by using Flash Cache and somewhat more SATA drives.  In another chart from our newsletter one could see that all three systems resulted in very similar CIFS throughput results (CIFS Ops/Sec.), but in CIFS ORT (see above), the differences between the 3 systems are much more pronounced.

Why does Flash help CIFS ORT?

As one can see, the best CIFS ORT performance of the three came from the FAS3140 with FCAL disks and Flash Cache which managed a response time of ~1.25 msec.  The next best performer was the FAS3140 with SATA disks and Flash Cache with a CIFS ORT of just under ~1.48 msec.  The relatively worst performer of the bunch was the FAS3140 with only FCAL disks which came in at ~1.84 msec. CIFS ORT.  So why the different ORT performance?

Mostly the better performance is due to the increased cache available in the Flash Cache systems.  If one were to look at the SPECsfs 2008 workload one would find that less than 30% is read and write data activity and the rest is what one might call meta-data requests (query path info @21.5%, query file info @12.9%, create = close @9.7%, etc.).  While read data may not be very cache friendly, most of the meta-data and all the write activity are cache friendly.  Meta-data activity is more cache friendly primarily because it’s relatively small in size and any write data goes to cache before being destaged to disk.  As such, this more cache friendly workload generates on average, better response times when one has larger amounts of cache.

For proof one need look no further than the relative ORT performance of the FAS3140 with SATA and Flash vs. the FAS3140 with just FCAL disks.  The Flash Cache/SATA drive system had ~25% better ORT results than the FCAL only system even with significantly slower and much fewer disk drives.

The full SPECsfs 2008 performance report will go up on SCI’s website later this month in our dispatches directory.  However, if you are interested in receiving this report now and future copies when published, just subscribe by email to our free newsletter and we will email the report to you now.

SPECsfs2008 CIFS vs. NFS results – chart of the month

SPECsfs(R) 2008 CIFS vs. NFS 2010Mar17
SPECsfs(R) 2008 CIFS vs. NFS 2010Mar17

We return now to our ongoing quest to understand the difference between CIFS and NFS performance in the typical data center.  As you may recall from past posts and our newsletters on this subject, we had been convinced that in SPECsfs 2008 CIFS had almost 2X the throughput of NFS in SPECsfs 2008 benchmarks.  Well as you can see from this updated chart this is no longer true.

Thanks to EMC for proving me wrong (again).  Their latest NFS and CIFS result utilized a NS-G8 Celerra gateway server in front of V-Max backend using SSDs and FC disks. The NS-G8 was the first enterprise class storage subsystem to release both a CIFS and NFS SPECsfs 2008 benchmark.

As you can see from the lower left quadrant all of the relatively SMB level systems (under 25K NFS throughput ops/sec) showed a consistent pattern of CIFS throughput being ~2X NFS throughput.  But when we added the Celerra V-Max combination to the analysis it brought the regression line down considerably and now the equation is:

CIFS throughput = 0.9952 X NFS throughput + 10565, with a R**2 of 0.96,

what this means is that CIFS and NFS throughput are roughly the same now.

When I first reported the relative advantage of CIFS over NFS throughput in my newsletter I was told that you cannot compare the two results mainly because NFS was “state-less” and CIFS was “state-full” and a number of other reasons (documented in the earlier post and in the newsletter).  Nonetheless, I felt that it was worthwhile to show the comparison because at the end of the day whether some file happens to be serviced by NFS or CIFS may not matter to the application/user, it should matter significantly to the storage administrator/IT staff.  By showing the relative performance of each we were hoping to help IT personnel to decide between using CIFS or NFS storage.

Given the most recent results, it seems that the difference in throughput is not that substantial irregardless of their respective differences.  Of course more data will help. There seems to be a wide gulf between the highest SMB submission and the EMC enterprise class storage that should be filled out.  As Celerra V-Max is the only enterprise NAS to submit both CIFS and NFS benchmarks there could still be many surprises in store. As always, I would encourage storage vendors to submit both NFS and CIFS benchmarks for the same system so that we can see how this pattern evolves over time.

The full SPECsfs 2008 report should have went out to our newsletter subscribers last month but I had a mistake with the link.  The full report will be delivered with this months newsletter along with a new performance report on Exchange Solution Review Program and storage announcement summaries.  In addation, a copy of the SPECsfs 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 future full reports even earlier, just email us at

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

Latest SPECsfs2008 CIFS performance – chart of the month

Above we reproduce a chart from our latest newsletter StorInttm Dispatch on SPECsfs(R) 2008 benchmark results.  This chart shows the top 10 CIFS throughput benchmark results as of the end of last year.  As observed in the chart Apple’s Xserve running Snow Leopard took top performance with over 40K CIFS throughput operations per second.  My problem with this chart is that there are no enterprise class systems represented in the top 10 or for that matter (not shown in the above) in any CIFS result.

Now some would say it’s still early yet in the life of the 2008 benchmark but it has been out now for 18 months and still has not a single enterprise class system submission reported.  Possibly, CIFS is not considered an enterprise class protocol but I can’t believe that given the proliferation of Windows.  So what’s the problem?

I have to believe it’s part tradition, part not wanting to look bad, and part just lack of awareness on the part of CIFS users.

  • Traditionally, NFS benchmarks were supplied by SPECsfs and CIFS benchmarks were supplied elsewhere, i.e., NetBenc. However, there never was a central repository for NetBench results so comparing system performance was cumbersome at best.  I believe that’s one reason for SPECsfs’s CIFS benchmark.  Seeing the lack of a central repository for a popular protocol, SPECsfs created their own CIFS benchmark.
  • Performance on system benchmarks are always a mixed bag.  No-one wants to look bad and any top performing result is temporary until the next vendor comes along.  So most vendors won’t release a benchmark result unless it shows well for them.  Not clear if Apple’s 40K CIFS ops is a hard number to beat, but it’s been up there for quite awhile now, and has to tell us something.
  • CIFS users seem to be aware and understand NetBench but don’t have similar awareness on SPECsfs CIFS benchmark yet.  So, given today’s economic climate, any vendor wanting to impress CIFS customers would probably choose to ignore SPECsfs and spend their $s on NetBench.  The fact that comparing results was neigh impossible, could be considered an advantage for many vendors.

So SPECsfs CIFS just keeps going on.  One way to change this dynamic is to raise awareness.  So as more IT staff/consultants/vendors discuss SPECsfs CIFS results, its awareness will increase.  I realize some of  my analysis on CIFS and NFS performance results doesn’t always agree with the SPECsfs party line, but we all agree that this benchmark needs wider adoption.  Anything that can be done to facilitate that deserves my (and their) support.

So for all my storage admins, CIOs and other influencers of NAS system purchases friends out there, you need to start asking to about SPECsfs CIFS benchmark results.  All my peers out their in the consultant community, get on the bandwagon.  As for my friends in the vendor community, SPECsfs CIFS benchmark results should be part of any new product introduction.  Whether you want to release results is and always will be, a marketing question but you all should be willing to spend the time and effort to see how well new systems perform on this and other benchmarks.

Now if I could just get somebody to define an iSCSI benchmark, …

Our full report on the latest SPECsfs 2008 results including both NFS and CIFS performance, will be up on our website later this month.  However, you can get this information now and subscribe to future newsletters to receive the full report even earlier, just email us at

Latest SPECsfs2008 results – chart of the month

Top 10 SPEC(R) sfs2008 NFS throughput results as of 25Sep2009
Top 10 SPEC(R) sfs2008 NFS throughput results as of 25Sep2009

The adjacent chart is from our September newsletter and shows the top 10 NFSv3 throughput results from the latest SPEC(R) sfs2008 benchmark runs published as of 25 September 2009.

There have been a number of recent announcements of newer SPECsfs2008 results in the news of late, namely Symantec’s FileStore and Avere Systems releases but these results are not covered here. In this chart, the winner is the NetApp FAS6080 with FCAL disks behind it, clocking in at 120K NFSv3 operations/second. This was accomplished with 324 disk drives using 2-10Gbe links.

PAM comes out

All that’s interesting of course but what is even more interesting is NetApp’s results with their PAM II (Performance Accelerator Module) cards. The number 3, 4 and 5 results were all with the same system (FAS3160) with different configurations of disks and PAM II cards. Specifically,

  • The #3 result had a FAS3160, running 56 FCAL disks with PAM II cards and DRAM cache of 532GBs. The system attained 60.5K NFSv3 operations per second.
  • The #4 result had a FAS3160, running 224 FCAL disks with no PAM II cards but 20GB of DRAM cache. This system attained 60.4K NFSv3 ops/second.
  • The #5 result had a FAS3160, running 96 SATA disks with PAM II cards and DRAM cache of 532GBs. This system also attained 60.4K NFSv3 ops/second.

Similar results can be seen with the FAS3140 systems at #8, 9 and 10. In this case the FAS3140 systems were using PAM I (non-NAND) cards with 41GB of cache for results #9 and 10, while #8 result had no PAM with only 9GB of Cache. The #8 result used 224 FCAL disks, #9 used 112 FCAL disks, and #10 had 112 SATA disks. They were able to achieve 40.1K, 40.1K and 40.0K NFSv3 ops/second respectively.

Don’t know how much PAM II cards cost versus FCAL or SATA disks but there is an obvious trade off here. You can use less FCAL or cheaper SATA disks but attain the same NFSv3 ops/second performance.

As I understand it, the PAM II cards come in 256GB configurations and you can have 1 or 2 cards in a FAS system configuration. PAM cards act as an extension of FAS system cache and all IO workloads can benefit from their performance.

As with all NAND flash, write access is significantly slower than read and NAND chip reliability has to be actively managed through wear leveling and other mechanisms to create a reliable storage environment. We assume either NetApp has implemented the appropriate logic to support reliable NAND storage or has purchased NAND cache with the logic already onboard. In any case, the reliability of NAND is more concerned with write activity than read and by managing the PAM cache to minimize writes, NAND reliability concerns could easily be avoided.

The full report on the latest SPECsfs2008 results will be up on my website later this week but if you want to get this information earlier and receive your own copy of our newsletter – email me at

Full disclosure: I currently have a contract with NetApp on another facet of their storage but it is not on PAM or NFSv3 performance.

Symantec's FileStore

Picture of old filing shelves to hold spare parts
Data Storage Device by BinaryApe (cc) (from flickr)
Earlier this week Symantec GA’ed their Veritas FileStore software. This software was an outgrowth of earlier Symantec Veritas Cluster File System and Storage Foundation software which were combined with new frontend software to create scaleable NAS storage.

FileStore is another scale-out, cluster file system (SO/CFS) implemented as NAS head via software. The software runs on a hardened Linux OS and can run on any commodity x86 hardware. It can be configured with up to 16 nodes. Also, it currently supports any storage supported by Veritas Storage Foundation which includes FC, iSCSI, and JBODs. Symantec claims FileStoreo has the broadest storage hardware compatibility list in the industry for a NAS head.

As a NAS head FileStore supports NFS, CIFS, HTTP, and FTP file services and can be configured to support anywhere from under a TB to over 2PB of file storage. Currently FileStore can support up to 200M files per file system, up to 100K file systems, and over 2PB of file storage.

FileStore nodes work in an Active-Active configuration. This means any node can fail and the other, active nodes will take over providing the failed node’s file services. Theoretically this means that in a 16 node system, 15 nodes could fail and the lone remaining node could continue to service file requests (of course performance would suffer considerably).

As part of cluser file system, FileStore support quick failover of active nodes. This can be accomplished in under 20 seconds. In addition, FileStore supports asynchronous replication to other FileStore clusters to support DR and BC in the event of a data center outage.

One of the things that FileStore brings to the table is that as it’s running standard Linux O/S services. This means other Symantec functionality can also be hosted on FileStore nodes. The first Symantec service to be co-hosted with FileStore functionality is NetBackup Advanced Client services. Such a service can have the FileStore node act as a media server for it’s own backup cutting network traffic required to do a backup considerably.

FileStore also supports storage tiering whereby files can be demoted and promoted between storage tiers in the multi-volume file system. Also, Symantec EndPoint Protection can be hosted on a FileStore node provided anti-virus protection completely onboard. Other Symantec capabilities will soon follow to add to the capabilities already available.

FileStore’s NFS performance

Regarding performance, Symantec has submitted a 12 node FileStore system for SPECsfs2008 NFS performance benchmark. I looked today to see if it was published yet and it’s not available but they claim to currently be the top performer for SPECsfs2008 NFS operations. I asked about CIFS and they said they had yet to submit one. Also they didn’t mention what the backend storage looked like for the benchmark, but one can assume it had lots of drives (look to the SPECsfs2008 report whenever it’s published to find out).

In their presentation they showed a chart depicting FileStore performance scaleability. According to this chart, at 16 nodes, the actual NFS Ops performance was 93% of theoretical NFS Ops performance. In my view, scaleability is great but often as you approach some marginal utility as the number of nodes increases, the net performance improvement decreases. The fact that they were able to hit 93% with 16 nodes of what a linear extrapolation of NFS ops performance was from 2 to 8 nodes is pretty impressive. (I asked to show the chart but hadn’t heard back by post time

Pricing and market space

At the lowend, FileStore is meant to compete with Windows Storage Server and would seem to provide better performance and availability versus Windows. At the high end, I am not sure but the competition would be with HP/PolyServe and standalone NAS heads from EMC and NetApp/IBM and others. List pricing is about US$7K/node and that top performing SPECsfs2008 12-node system would set you back about $84K for the software alone (please note that list pricing <> street pricing). You would need to add node hardware and the storage hardware to provide a true apples-to-apples pricing comparison with other NAS storage.

As far as current customers they range from large from the high end (>1PB) E-retailers to SAAS providers (Symantec SAAS offering), and at the low end (<10TB) universities and hospitals. FileStore with it’s inherent scaleability and ability to host storage applications from Symantec on the storage nodes can offer a viable solution to many hard file system problems.

We have discussed scale-out and cluster file systems (SO/CFS) in a prior post (Why SO/CFS, Why Now) so I won’t elaborate on why they are so popular today. But, suffice it to say Cloud and SAAS will need SO/CFS to be viable solutions and everybody is responding to supply that market as it emerges.

Full disclosure: I currently have no active or pending contracts with Symantec.