By Rip Wilson and Philip Trautman, NetApp
All-flash storage is having a tremendous impact on business applications because of its excellent performance and consistent low latency. Improving application responsiveness can deliver results more quickly, increase productivity, provide more timely access to data, and improve the end-user experience.
By eliminating I/O bottlenecks, all-flash storage helps you to unleash the full power of the latest Intel Haswell server chipsets and drive up utilization. The right storage can reduce the number of servers you need and-even more important-reduce the number of expensive software licenses necessary.
Addressing the needs of a diverse set of application workloads requires careful consideration. For certain applications, storage that delivers the highest performance and lowest possible latency is paramount. Other applications benefit from storage with submillisecond latency plus the kind of comprehensive data management, storage efficiency, and data reduction technologies that NetApp pioneered in its Data ONTAP® operating system.
NetApp offers a portfolio of enterprise all-flash storage solutions to address these diverse needs. The new EF560 flash array excels at providing extreme low latency and massive bandwidth, while All-Flash FAS offers a unique combination of high performance and industry-leading data management.
It Starts with Performance
The all-flash conversation almost always begins with performance. Many of you are looking to speed up unresponsive applications beyond what can be achieved by overprovisioning hard disks. Others are trying to better leverage existing server resources or consolidate database applications onto new servers with more and faster cores. All-flash storage can provide an order-of-magnitude boost to database performance and responsiveness while reducing the amount of overall infrastructure required.
Many all-flash vendors talk about I/O performance only in terms of small-block read performance. This provides a big “brochure number,” but it doesn’t reflect latency nor does it give you a feel for what the storage can do for your application. Fortunately, there’s a better way to test how high-performance business-critical applications stress storage: the SPC-1 benchmark.
SPC-1 is an industry-standard, audited SAN benchmark from the Storage Performance Council. It is designed to test the capability of a storage system to process large numbers of simultaneous I/O requests while maintaining acceptable response time as well as providing minimum response times for thousands of synchronous I/O requests. As you might guess, the SPC-1 benchmark is far more demanding than the usual small-block read workload. In fact, about 60% of the workload is writes, making the benchmark very challenging-even for flash storage.
We recently published SPC-1 reports for our EF560 and All-Flash FAS platforms. As of April 27, 2015, each product claims a spot in one of the SPC “Top Ten” lists. The results highlight the unique advantages of these two approaches to flash storage.
The EF560: Raw Performance at a Great Price
NetApp® EF560 flash arrays are designed for I/O-intensive workloads for which the focus is on performance, latency, density, and price. The EF560 is equally adept at providing hundreds of thousands of IOPS with microsecond response times for transactional workloads (OLTP) and massive bandwidth for analytics (OLAP).
The EF560 SPC-1 results are summarized in the table below, and also available online at StoragePerformance.org.
The EF560 delivered 245,011.76 SPC-1 IOPS with extremely low latency (0.93ms) in just 2U of rack space. At $0.54 per SPC-1 IOPS, the EF560 ranks #3 on the SPC “Top Ten” List for SPC-1 Price-Performance. Looking only at results with average response time under 1 millisecond, the EF560 ranks the highest on the SPC-1 Price-Performance list.
The EF560 also offers the lowest SPC-1 LRT™ of any configuration on the SPC-1 “Top Ten” lists. The SPC-1 LRT demonstrates the capability of a storage system to provide ultra-fast I/O for business-critical applications for which success depends on minimizing wall clock completion time. The lower (smaller) the SPC-1 LRT, the quicker, or more responsive, a system is.
A streamlined and highly efficient data path enables the EF560 to deliver extremely low-and extremely consistent-response times. With an SPC-1 LRT of just 0.18ms (180 microseconds), the EF560 is an ideal choice for time-critical applications ranging from high-frequency trading to real-time risk management.
To net that out, the EF560 demonstrates great performance, extremely low latency, and outstanding value in an enterprise-class all-flash array. For a deep-dive on EF560 SPC-1 performance, check out this blog. You can also view the press release for the EF560 for more information.
All-Flash FAS: Unified, Scale-Out Performance and Industry-Leading Data Management
NetApp All-Flash FAS storage delivers high performance for shared, virtualized environments, with support for SAN and NAS workloads as well as built-in data reduction and storage efficiency, integrated data protection, data mobility, and scale-out.
We tested an 8-node FAS8080 EX all-flash configuration to demonstrate the scale-out performance of All-Flash FAS. See the full All-Flash FAS SPC-1 results here.
Delivering a total of 685,281.71 SPC-1 IOPS, the All-Flash FAS ranks fifth on the SPC-1 “Top Ten” List by Performance and delivers extremely competitive response times. It ranks fourth in average response time and third in SPC-1 LRT on the same list. (Note that the two entries in the number-seven position are identical hardware and therefore were counted only once.) These results demonstrate that All-Flash FAS delivers great scale-out performance with consistently low latency.
NetApp applied the SPC-1 benchmark in a very rigorous fashion-with a large working set (greater than available memory) and a run time of 18 hours at full load (twice what was required). Additionally, this is the only SPC-1 result in either SPC-1 “Top Ten” list to be performed with parity-based RAID instead of full mirroring. This translates to more usable capacity for write-intensive workloads and better return on your flash investment.
For a deep-dive on All-Flash FAS SPC-1 performance, check out this podcast.
Which All-Flash Array Meets Your Needs?
Based on these benchmark results, the EF560 is the ideal choice for performance-driven database applications seeking extremely low latencies. The EF560 focuses its CPU resources on delivering raw performance to accelerate your database, enabling it to deliver exceptional price/performance.
With its mix of scalable performance and extensive data management capabilities, All-Flash FAS is an ideal flash solution for virtualized database environments or those that benefit from advanced data protection, storage efficiency, and data reduction. The scale-out design of All-Flash FAS grows with your operation, while its nondisruptive architecture eliminates the need for planned downtime and painful forklift upgrades.
Note on SPC-1 Results
All SPC-1 results and references to SPC-1 “Top Ten” lists are current as of April 27, 2015. See the “Top-Ten” SPC-1 Results page for the latest information.