Photo credit: [Image Title (if one exists, e.g. images from Creative Commons)] / [Name of creator/designer] / CC
Photo credit: Nuclear Sign / George Hodan / CC CEO Marc Benioff once famously warned customers to “Beware of the False Cloud,” referring to Oracle’s attempts to rebrand hardware appliances and packaged software as “cloud.” It looks like Oracle is up to its old tricks again, this time repackaging and re-branding the legacy Pillar Axiom storage technology as the “FS1 Flash Storage System” with “QoS Plus.” Well, my friends, I must warn you: Beware of the false QoS.


Quality of Service (QoS) is getting a tremendous amount of attention lately from storage buyers as well as storage analysts. IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others have all called QoS a must-have feature for workload consolidation in next generation storage systems. Virtualization, private cloud, VDI and other mixed-workload environments make managing storage performance complex, and are forcing real questions on how to manage performance SLAs and deal with “noisy neighbors.” Given the increasing importance of QoS in storage buying decisions, it’s critical that buyers be able to discern true QoS from false.


But first: What exactly is the FS1 flash storage system? While the marketing site may call it a “purpose-built enterprise flash storage architecture,” the data sheet tells the true story. The FS1 is a hybrid disk/flash system with sub-LUN storage tiering. It lacks any features you would associate with a modern all-flash architecture, including any native compression, de-duplication, flash media optimization (it uses expensive over-provisioned eMLC flash drives) or flash-optimized data protection. Meanwhile, the inclusion of Axiom-specific features like MaxMan and MaxRep reveal the system for what it really is: an updated and repackaged Pillar Axiom storage array, with an architecture dating back over a decade.


So the FS1 is neither purpose-built, nor a true enterprise flash storage architecture. But what about the QoS Plus features? Can they really deliver the consistent, predictable performance required in complex, mixed-workload environments? Buzzwords aside, QoS Plus is based on two well-known and well-established features present in almost all modern disk-based storage arrays: sub-LUN storage tiering, and IO prioritization. Our VP of product management, Adam Carter, looked at the ability of those features to deliver true QoS over a year ago. The same conclusion applies today: prioritization and tiering are nice features, but they certainly don’t deliver anything approaching the predictable performance of SolidFire’s benchmark of guaranteed QoS.


Oracle is not the first company to claim basic performance management features as True QoS, and as the modern data center increases the demands on storage to deliver predictable performance, you can be sure they won’t be the last. That’s why SolidFire established the benchmark for delivering guaranteed Quality of Service, on which the FS1 scores a solid 0 for 6. If a storage architecture doesn’t deliver all six of those core requirements, buyer beware — you are probably being sold false QoS.

Dave Wright

Dave Wright, SolidFire CEO and founder, left Stanford in 1998 to help start GameSpy Industries, a leader in online videogame media, technology, and software. GameSpy merged with IGN Entertainment in 2004 and Dave served as Chief Architect for IGN and led technology integration with FIM / MySpace after IGN was acquired by NewsCorp in 2005. In 2007 Dave founded Jungle Disk, a pioneer and early leader in cloud-based storage and backup solutions for consumers and businesses. Jungle Disk was acquired by leading cloud provider Rackspace in 2008 and Dave worked closely with the Rackspace Cloud division to build a cloud platform supporting tens of thousands of customers. In December 2009 Dave left Rackspace to start SolidFire.

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