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.