Having recently completed the SE and Implement certifications for EMC VNXe, I am more impressed than ever with EMC. I have heard the marketing message about five 9's of reliability, but now I can see how reliability is a fundamental consideration behind every engineering detail. One example is found in the single processor model of the VNXe 3100. The storage system cache is mirrored to battery-backed flash disk, protecting against catastrophic loss if the single processor fails. This is such an innocuous detail, that you won't see it in the advertising, but the attention to this detail is representative of EMC's commitment to doing everything the right way.
Speaking of doing things the right way, EMC's VNX/e Application Protection Suite is an incredible software solution for ensuring the integrity of snapshot backups. Lots of storage solutions offer snapshot backup, but not all of them ensure that those snapshots are application consistent. For example, snapshots are typically scheduled to occur at regular intervals. Without the ability to quiesce an application, snapshot backup will occur while elements of a complete transaction are still in volatile cache memory. This snapshot will be about as reliable as though the system had crashed unexpectedly. The last transactions are likely incomplete, therefore corrupt, impacting ability to recover with absolutely no data loss. EMC has a tightly integrated software solution to quiesce the database, completing all transactions and committing all volatile cache to non-volatile disk so each snapshot backup is completely application consistent for full recovery. Snapshot backup is the single most important feature for everyday up time, and EMC has invested in the technology to integrate with the underlying database application to make sure you can count on your snapshot backup.
We now have two EMC Certified VNX/e Velocity Systems Engineers on staff, each fully qualified for installation services. We invite you to post your questions and comments about unified storage. If we don't know the answer, we know the experts who do and we will run it down and respond online with clear, accurate information to make your job easier. We are kicking off our VNX Info Exchange with some of the questions that have come up for us in the past. Knowledge is power, so please help us to make this a useful storage resource!
7 June 2011
Since my last posting about planning for IOPS in storage, we
have developed a tool to help our clients make this an easy and painless
process. Our Storage Planning Calculator
estimates storage array requirements and configures an EMC VNXe model to do the
job! Try it out now. Just click here and let our wizard walk you
through the entire process in just a couple of minutes.
All you need to get started is some very basic information
about your servers, users and storage – nine questions in all. We will ask you to categorize your servers by
the jobs they do: Database, Mail and
File Servers. This gives us the
information we need to consider performance requirements as well as capacity. More often than not, the IOPS performance
requirement has more impact than capacity on the number of disk drives you will
need in your storage array.
Understand, this is an estimator and is built on
assumptions. If your requirements are
atypical, or if you just want a precise report, we recommend our custom Storage
Pro Service that will collect statistics from your servers and report data from
your own operations. If you want a very educated estimation of your storage
needs, this calculator will do just that.
Check it out!
It only takes a couple of minutes to estimate your storage
requirements and configure the right VNXe solution for you.
Click here to get
Estimating storage performance requirements can be tricky business. If you under-estimate, you could be saddled with a storage investment that can't keep up with the performance demands of your organization. If you over-estimate, you could essentially misappropriate budget funds that would be better used elsewhere. In a perfect world, we could all go with SSD and never think about performance calculations. So far, the world has not proven to be quite so perfect, so let's look at the variables.
We have to consider the number of spindles, or independent spinning disk drives, in the storage array. Since the cost per GB of 15K SAS disk is about 3.5 times the cost per GB of 7.2K NL SAS, this is not insignificant to the overall cost of the solution. This table illustrates the average IOPS of each rotating disk type:
IOPS Per Drive "Spindle"
Using this rule of thumb, we can apply this to an Exchange Server with 500 users. Without actual assessment data, we would estimate conservatively, assuming 1.5 IOPS per user, for a 750 IOPS requirement. We would need at least four 15K SAS drives or nine 7.2K NL SAS drives to meet this IOPS requirement. This has absolutely nothing to do with capacity -- this is strictly based on the number of spindles needed to reach a performance goal. So, even if you only need 1TB of capacity, you would end up buying a minimum of 4.5TB of 7.2K capacity just to get to the performance required.
Read to Write Ratio
We use RAID for two primary reasons: 1) Improved performance by striping across a disk set, and 2) Protection against single drive failures through redundancy. Every RAID level other than RAID 0 has protection, and incurs performance and capacity trade-offs to pay for that protection. This is where the plot thickens -- the specific performance trade-off depends in part on the ratio of reads to writes transacted during actual operations. This table illustrates factors we use to calculate the impact of RAID on performance and capacity, in the context of your transaction mix:
IOPS - Read
IOPS Penalty - Write
RAID 1 + 0
It is important to consider the use case for the different RAID levels. RAID 5 is recommended for high speed SAS drives. Here, the drives are fast and have a relatively low capacity per disk, so the risk of a second drive failure during RAID 5 rebuild is mitigated by the small window for that rebuild to complete. RAID 6 is recommended for high capacity NL SAS drives because it protects against a catastrophic second drive failure during that long rebuild window.
Block Sizes and Bandwidth
The IOPS calculations discussed up to this point are critical for random access of small-sized blocks, because these randomly accessed, small block transactions are typically limited by spindle speed. When working with large blocks and sequential IO, we have to look more closely at storage bandwidth, and in particular, the array ports. Without significant latency overhead, the ports on the array will best determine how quickly data is pushed to and from servers. We need to make sure the array has enough of the right kinds of ports to sustain your throughput goals. This table illustrates bandwidth factors we use for each drive, and each transport when making these calculations:
15,000 RPM SAS
10,000 RPM SAS
7,200 RPM NL SAS
Getting it Right
The storage novice may not realize that performance planning will likely have more impact on disk choices for a storage array than capacity planning. That is where Minntek comes in. We are a storage solution provider, and we have the experience and knowledge to architect the right product for you. We know that your storage is essential to your business, and that it can literally make or break a company. When consolidating storage resources, we can gather detailed information for each server and each application in the environment so we can make sure the storage array will handle the overall combined performance needs. Minntek can provide you with the storage assessment resources you need to make fully informed decisions. We can also offer professional, on-site consulting services for a thorough analysis of your resource strengths and weaknesses. If you are considering adding storage for growth, or planning to consolidate and virtualize, call me or send me an email. I am always happy to help!
I’ve been in storage and backup sales for over twenty years, so I have some
great insight about the challenges facing storage customers, and the products
available to face those challenges. That is why I am so excited about
joining Minntek, where I can offer my customers the absolute best-in-class
solutions. I am particularly enthusiastic about EMC’s VNX family of
unified storage solutions. VNX epitomizes the ultimate wish list for
everyone who relies on data to make business work.
Reliable – Number one with a bullet for live storage has to be reliability.
It is as important to me as it is to my customer that his data is always
available. EMC is the “Cadillac” of storage, famous for five 9’s of up
time. I feel absolute confidence in placing VNX.
Proven - The out-of-the-box experience is so important because resources are
just too tight for a customer to have to spend days or weeks trying to get the
storage up and stable. EMC VNX delivers solutions that are proven
compatible with the important applications that are critical to business.
Affordable – Honestly, prior to VNX, the EMC line was largely out of reach
for a huge portion of the storage market. The VNX family has a wide range
of solutions, starting at less than $10K for VNXe models. The software
features have been streamlined into product suites to keep cost and complexity
Simple –No rocket scientists required! VNX has intelligent wizards and an
informative, user-friendly interface. VNXe was designed to install in
sites without a dedicated storage specialist. All important usage and
status information is displayed in an intuitive format.
Efficient – Unified storage consolidates resources for all file and block
level requirements into one device. VNX models can cover both SAN and NAS
environments in one single system, so there are no expensive add-ons, and no
piecemeal schemes to get both.
Powerful – The VNX family has the power to run virtualized applications, like
SQL-based databases, three times faster than previous models. The
optimization of cache and flash disk give VNX the performance boost needed for
the most demanding environments.
Scalable – No one wants to buy a storage solution only to find it has become
obsolete within a couple of years because the manufacturer did not plan for
growth options. The VNX family scales for better longevity.
I love to solve storage and backup problems, so please contact me to talk
about your requirements and objectives. The peace of mind of the absolute
best is now within reach, and I can help you achieve that.
EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC), the
world leader in information infrastructure solutions, today further extended its
lead in all major storage markets with the announcement of a record-breaking
number of new systems and capabilities designed to make it simpler than ever for
businesses and organizations of all sizes to harness and exploit the massive
amounts of information they generate each day.
EMC today introduced multiple new storage systems and software features –
more than 40 new technologies and products in all – including new arrays for
small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), new unified systems for the midrange,
new software for its high-end systems and new disk-based backup and recovery and
archiving systems. The technologies are part of a multi-billion-dollar
investment in storage that positions EMC at the intersection of all the major
trends that are driving massive information growth, including cloud
computing and Big Data applications.
New Hardware and Software Highlights:
- The world’s most simple, efficient and affordable unified storage array
is the new EMC
VNXe storage system, which is designed specifically for SMBs and offered
through EMC partners. With a starting price of under $10,000 (USD), the
VNXe can be configured in minutes by IT generalists to support virtual
servers and hundreds of email users. This simple, efficient and affordable
system offers advanced storage technologies with an intuitive, easy-to-use
interface for set-up, management and serviceability.
- The new EMC VNX family of unified storage systems converge EMC's market
leading CLARiiON storage area network (SAN) systems and number one Celerra
network attached storage (NAS) systems into a single, easily managed and
powerful family of unified storage arrays that are 3 times simpler, more
efficient and faster and have the full suite of functionality of its
separate press release).
- Innovative new EMC
Symmetrix VMAX software technologies that make it the most powerful,
trusted and smartest storage array in the world and capable of supporting
petabytes of information and up to 5 million virtual machines. Among the
multiple new features are an advanced version of FAST (fully
automated storage tiering) software that automatically optimizes the array
based on data usage; new server virtualization, security and federation
capabilities; and new operating software that doubles system performance
with no hardware upgrade required(see
separate press release).
- New Data
Domain backup and archiving capabilities including new systems that are
7 times faster than the competition, providing the industry’s fastest
backups and new Data Domain Archiver systems, the industry’s first
deduplication system designed exclusively for long-term disk-based retention
of backups (see
separate press release).
Customer and Partner Quotes
“2010 was a record-breaking year for Audi and just as our business has grown,
so has the amount of data we generate in the development of new products and
technologies like electric and hybrid drive systems. We’ve worked closely
with EMC for many years to deploy the latest storage technologies to improve
efficiencies, performance and to automate IT processes so that our technical
staff can focus more of their time on business initiatives. As a global
company and brand, it is important for us to work with industry leaders like EMC
to support our virtual infrastructure. These new EMC storage features and
systems will play a key role in the IT environment as we introduce new models
and expand in markets around the world.”
-Mr. Klaus Straub, Chief Information Officer, Audi
“Advancing the capabilities of storage systems is critical to meeting the
challenges brought by the staggering growth of traffic across the internet and
new complexities facing data centers today. The scalable architecture delivered
by the Intel® Xeon®processor family with advanced storage technologies has
enabled EMC to offer innovative solutions across their product line,
top-to-bottom, from small businesses to the largest enterprises."
-Kirk Skaugen, Vice President, General Manager, Data Center Group,
“VMware and EMC share a vision of helping customers transform their IT
infrastructures through cloud computing, and virtualization is at the foundation
of this shift affecting customers of all sizes. Our technologies are tightly
integrated and together provide a key enabler for the enterprise hybrid cloud,
simplifying information management and increasing the efficiency and agility of
the entire infrastructure.”
-Paul Maritz, President and CEO, VMware
Industry Analyst Quote
“EMC already had about the deepest product portfolio in the industry, and it
just got even deeper. The company continues to innovate in some of the
areas that matter most to customers across a spectrum of use cases and a
spectrum of markets.”
- Steve Duplessie, Senior Analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group
“What you’re seeing today is EMC ‘doubling down’ on its core franchise:
storage. The technologies are changing, the use cases are changing and the
consumption models are changing. These new products and capabilities put
us in an excellent position to capitalize on the major trends in the IT industry
and place us squarely at the intersection the biggest ones: cloud computing and
-Joe Tucci, EMC Chairman and CEO
“Our customers and partners see the future of IT coming and EMC is again
preparing them for change. These new products are part of the largest launch
ever and reflect the best-of-the-best in the storage industry spanning virtually
the entire spectrum. For 13 years EMC has been number one in storage and
we have been at the forefront of all the major trends and have helped our
customers prepare for information growth that was first measured in gigabtyes,
moved to terabytes and then petabytes and will soon be measured in zettabytes.”-Pat
Gelsinger, EMC President, Information Infrastructure Products
More EMC Blogs
Chuck Hollis' EMC Blog