Effectively Leverage CPU, DRAM and Flash Cache in Enterprise Storage Array Performance, Part II

Providing high levels of capacity is only relevant if a storage array can also deliver high levels of performance. The number of CPU cores, the amount of DRAM and the size of the flash cache are the key hardware components that most heavily influence the performance of a hybrid storage array. In this second blog entry in my series examining the Oracle ZS3 Series storage arrays, I examine how its performance compares to that other leading enterprise storage arrays using published performance benchmarks.
The Oracle ZS3 Series ZS3-2 and ZS3-4 storage controllers scale to support substantially more of these three key performance engines than any of their competitors offer as illustrated in the first table below. However, superior hardware by itself does not guarantee superior performance—a sophisticated operating system and caching algorithms are necessary to extract maximum performance from the hardware.
Cores DRAM Flash Cache
Oracle ZS3 Series storage leverages a multi-threaded, SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) operating system and Hybrid Storage Pools intelligent data caching architecture and algorithm to ensure that up to 90% of “hot” IO is processed in DRAM – up to 2TB per system. Frequently accessed data is cached in flash – up to 22TB per system – and less frequently accessed data is read from disk when needed. The efficacy of the ZFS Appliance’s hardware/software combination is that it delivers performance that far exceeds its traditional competitors as demonstrated in industry benchmarks.
As shown in the next table, both Oracle ZS3 Series storage systems beat the NetApp FAS3250 filer (the only other comparable two-node system) in performance. In contrast, the EMC VNX 8000 is a seven node system and the Isilon 200 is a 56-node system cost significantly more and, even in those two cases, the ZS3-4 delivers lower latency than they do.
The EMC VNX5400 is probably the most ill-equipped of these arrays to meet enterprise performance demands short and long term. It combines the DART operating system from CLARiiON and the FLARE operating system from Celerra in one physical storage array. In it, each one remains a separate, distinct operating system that is converged under a virtual hypervisor. This architectural approach adds latency to storage processing and complexity to storage management.
Taken together these SPC-2 and SPECsfs results show that the ZS3 Series storage excels at a range of workloads from high-throughput streaming performance applications, such as data warehousing and business intelligence to latency sensitive applications such as databases.
However, this level of performance that the Oracle ZS3 Series can deliver is relevant only if enterprises need it.  In Oracle’s case, Oracle Database users have always sought higher I/O and throughput to drive their applications.
In Oracle’s customer base the ZS3 Series storage will prove meaningful as it removes existing throughput and I/O bottlenecks and accelerates the performance of Oracle Database and applications. In addition, through Oracle’s hardware and software co-engineering development, there are a number of unique integration points between the Oracle ZS3 Series storage and Oracle Database (covered below) that further drive performance, efficiency, and lower TCO. The Oracle ZS3 Series storage also helps resolve other data center performance issues, especially highly virtualized environments.

In Part I in this series, I examine how the Oracle ZS3 Series provides the levels of storage capacity and support that enterprise organizations expect.
In Part III in this series, I examine how the Oracle ZS3 Series differentiates itself in virtualized environments and what specialized features it offers to overcome the emerging storage network bottleneck.
To read the entire DCIG Special Report that examines the competitive advantage that the Oracle ZS3 Storage Series offers for enterprise hybrid storage arrays, please follow this link.

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