Thursday Feb 23, 2012

Oracle Posts SPEC SFS Benchmark and Crushes Netapp Comparables

Oracle posted another shot across the bow of Netapp.  In Oct 2011 Oracle posted impressive SPC-1 benchmarks that were 2x faster and half the cost of netapp.  Now those customers looking for proof of ZFSSA's superior performance and cost have another benchmark to compare.

Why are we posting now?
For a long time the old Sun Engineering regime refused to post spec.org SFS results stating the problems with the benchmark which are true.  However some customers refused to even look at the Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance because of the lack of benchmark postings.  Our competitors like netapp and emc would use it as some sort of proof that we must perform poorly.  

But Netapp and EMC have other much larger configs that are much faster?
I should point out netapp and emc both have much larger benchmark posts to SPEC SFS, but they are ridiculous configurations that almost no customers would run and further more would be willing to pay for.  Most customers that purchase NAS to run NFS purchase many smaller 2 node HA clusters versus a 20 million dollar 24 node nas cluster.  I tried to compare and include EMC in this comparison but soon realized it was worthless in that their closest post used a celerra gateway in front of a 4 engine vmax.  The list price for that would be off the charts so I considered it not valuable for this comparison.  My goal was to get a good view of comparable systems that customers might consider for a performance oriented NAS box using NFS.  

Price Matters!
One of the major downsides of the SPEC SFS results is that they don't force vendors to post prices for customers to easily consider competitors like SPC does.  Obviously every customer wants great performance but price is always a major factor as well.  Therefore I have included the list prices as best I could figure them.  For the Netapp prices I used the following price sheet I easily found on google.  When comparing performance oriented storage customers should be comparing $/ops versus $/GB. 

Lets look at the results at a high level

 Storage System
SPEC SFS Result ops/sec (Higher is Better)
Peak Response Time (Lower is Better)  Overall Response time (Lower is Better)  # of Disks Exported TB  Estimated List Price  $/OPS
Oracle 7320 134140  2.5  1.51  136  36.96 $184,840  $1.38 
Netapp 3270 101183 4.3 1.66 360 110.08 $1,089,785 $10.77
Netapp 3160 60507 3.5 1.58 56 10.34 $258,043 $4.26

Umm, Why is the ZFSSA so much more efficient?
In a nutshell its superior engineering and the use of technologies such as the Hybrid Storage Pool (HSP) in the ZFS Storage Appliance.  The HSP extends flash technology not only to read cache but also write cache.  

The 3160 result includes the use of Netapp PAM Read flash cards.  I am not sure why a year later they didn't include them in the 3270 test if they improve performance so much?  Maybe they will post another netapp result with them now?

What now?
Now Oracle ZFSSA Engineering has posted results that again blow's away Netapp and prove our engineering is outstanding.  It makes sense that we would have an edge, when you consider that the NFS protocol itself was invented at SUN. Netapp has yet to respond with a new SPC-1 benchmark that is comparable.  I know some netapp bloggers were looking for us to post spec sfs results and thought we never would and therefore said our performance must be poor.  Now we have posted impressive results and there will be more to come, stay tuned.  As one famous blogger has said the proof is in the pudding.

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