Monday I received an email from a friend in the VMware community, “Did you see the Register, it’s unreal, EMC arrays crushed the SPEC benchmarks!” As you’d assume, this news got my attention. I mean, EMC hasn’t published a SPEC benchmark in years.
(The last EMC SPEC submission was published in November of 2007)
Crushed? My buddy said EMC crushed the results! I couldn’t stop my mind from racing, had EMC unleashed some new technology which could revolutionize the storage industry? I mean, I thought NetApp had the coolest tech. I mean we are the only ones to offer production dedupe, intelligent caching, and the most integrated vCenter plug-ins. What could EMC have created?
I’m man enough to admit, I began to panic. Maybe it was time to freshen up the old resume and beg Chad for enlistment in his Army. That wouldn’t be such a bad place for me to land. I mean Chad is a great guy, heck I know and respect many of the guys on his team, so I know we’d kick butt together. Now I realize I’d have to take a few lumps from Zilla, but privately we’re friendly, so I think he’ll hold back on a few of his punches; however, I’m sure, I mean I’m positive Chuck would beat me with a pillowcase full of oranges. That would be a pretty rough outing, but bruises heal right? I’d get over it.
It was time to get a grip and calm down. I fired up the MacBook, and as Chrome launched I braced myself for the worst.
I Needed to Know More, How Was This Possible?
I clicked on the link to read the EMC test bed configuration…
- 1 Symmetrix V-Max Array (4 engines) with 256GBs of Cache
- 3 Celerra NS-G8 Datamovers (aka NAS gateways) with 8GBs of cache (two active one passive)
- 96 400GB EFD flash drives (for the test data) in two disk RAID-1 pairs
- 4 450 GB Seagate FC drives (required to operate the Symmetrix)
- 1 24-port FC switch (to connect the Clariions to the Symmetrix)
This configuration is clearly, a best in class configuration. I mean, it’s the VMax with EFD; there is no wonder that EMC was able to obtain 110,621 and 118,463 IOPs respectively in the NFS and CIFS benchmarks.
Feeling Like a Kicked Dog…
At this point I’m feeling pretty low. I get up from my desk and head into the kitchen. I steal a few pieces of Ghirardelli chocolate from my wife’s stash (the peanut butter and chocolate squares are a nice pick me up when you’re feeling blue).
Knowing I will have to face the music, I mean everyone is gonna know about the EMC results, I muster up the courage to peak at the posted NetApp SPEC submission. And there it was, NetApp had published meager results of 60,507 IOPs. Ugh, does it get any worse? 60k? 60k? 60k stinks compared to 110k!
I Needed to Know More, Why Such Low Results?
I clicked on the link to read the NetApp test bed configuration…
- 1 NetApp FAS3160 Array with 16Gbs of cache
- 2 256GB Performance Acceleration Modules
- 56 300GB FC drives
I nearly fell out of my chair!
Where’s all of the hardware?
I mean, sure the NetApp results were a bit more than half of the EMC results, but the hardware in the test bed fits in 18u of rack space. Heck, the FAS3160 is the middle model in NetApp’s mid-tier platform.
Are the EMC numbers outstanding? Yes they are.
Relative to the hardware used to obtain the performance results are the EMC numbers impressive? Absolutely not.
Who would purchase EMC’s largest SAN array, three NAS gateways, and EFD drives, which run approximately tens times the cost per GB of a 15k FC drive to obtain results less than what is available with two NetApp mid-tier arrays?
I am begging anyone out there who can ballpark the price of the EMC configuration to please post their information in the comments section of this post. I assure you; the cost to purchase the EMC configuration is easily double (if not triple) the cost to acquire two mid-tier FAS3160 arrays.
Obviously, I’m having Some Fun at the Expense of EMC
Chuck, Chad, Mark (aka Zilla), guys what your company put out serves no one’s interest but the sales force at EMC. Test results like this one accomplish nothing but to set a false expectation as to what a customer should expect to receive when purchasing this technology.
Take for example, the EMC performance team used the most expensive type of drives (EFD), and threw away half of the storage capacity by enabling RAID-1 purely for the sake of ensuring high performance.
By contrast, two mid-tier NetApp arrays, would not only provide greater performance at a lower acquisition price, the two combined would provide more storage capacity with 300GB FC drives versus the 400GB EFD drives used in your config (21.8 as opposed to 18.8), and this would be possible with less file systems to mount (4 versus 8).
If you want to promote high performance results based on a large amount of hardware, I’d suggest you take a look at the NetApp SPEC submission of 120,011 IOPs. These results were obtained with a single FAS6080 and a fair amount of hardware, primarily 324 15k FC drives and no PAM. This large config beats both of EMC submissions while providing 64.6 TBs of storage (or 344% more) with smaller (300GB) drives. I’ll also wager this test bed costs less than the EMC config.
Shenanigans seems to be the word Chuck uses for discrediting other storage vendors and their enhancements over technologies offered by EMC.
On multiple occasions Chuck has claimed that NetApp technology is “unobtainable” and to meet said claims we would be “breaking the laws of physics”.
Maybe it’s tough being the big dog for so long. I mean, how hard is it to admit that you just don’t have the storage get up and go you once had? Sorry, there’s no little blue pill for what ails you.
Chuck, EFD drives push 6,000 IOPs @ 20 ms latency. 15k FC drive push 220 IOPs @ 20 ms. How can two NetApp mid-tier arrays with 112 slow, 15k drives out-perform the VMax, Celerra, 96 EFD combo? Did we break the laws of physics? Did we trick out the array by configuring it in a non real-world manner?
Give EMC Credit
It was very smart of EMC to diversify their portfolio and invest in becoming a software company. Eventually we’re gonna have to become friends and business partners. It is inevitable. I foresee us as long time technology partners, EMC with your VMware subsidiary and NetApp as the storage which VMware runs on!