Wednesday Feb 04, 2009

The Screaming Fast Sun Modular Storage 6000 Family!

Did you know that both Sun StorageTek 6140 and 6540 disk arrays, which belong to our Modular Storage Line, are still leading the price/performance rankings in their class? Feel free to verify at StoragePerformance.org. The modular approach and the ability to upgrade from the smallest to the biggest system just by exchanging controllers is very unique and our customers love this investment protection!

The Uniqueness of the Sun Storage 6000 Familiy

Today, the 6000 modular storage portfolio looks as follows:
  • 6140-2 (up to 64 Disk Drives mixed FC and SATA)
  • 6140-4 (up to 112 Disk Drivers mixed FC and SATA)
  • 6540 (up to 224 Disk Drives mixed FC and SATA)
  • 6580 (up to 256 Disk Drives mixed FC and SATA)
  • 6780 (up to 256/448\* Disk Drives mixed FC and SATA)
6000_Modular_Family.png


All 6000 series arrays are using an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) to do RAID operations. This results in a very low latency overhead and a guaranteed performance. The publicized cache volume is 100% dedicated to the ASIC and can't be accessed by the management CPU, which for example in case of the 6780 has a separate 2GB RAM. In the complete family, you have upgrade protection.

You can start with a 6140-2 and seamlessly upgrade to a 6780 by just replacing the contollers! No configuration changes or exports are necessary, as the complete RAID configuration is distributed to each single disk in the array. You can also move a complete RAID group to a different array in the family. Certainly you better take care that both are running on the same firmware level. ;-)

Sun StorageTek 6780 Array

As of today, Sun announced its latest and greatest midrange disk array. It is completing the modular line as the high end model of the 6000 series. The connectivity of the Storage Array and its features are very impressive and pretty unique in the midrange segment!
  • Replaceable Host Inteface Cards (two per Controller)
    • Up to 16x 4Gb or 8Gb\* FC Host Channels
    • Up to 8x 10Gb\* Ethernet Host Channels
  • 16x 4Gb FC Drive Channels
  • Up to 16x/28x\* Drive Enclosures
  • Up to 32GB\* dedicated RAID Cache
  • RAID 0,1,3,5,6,10
  • Up to 512 Domains = up to 512 servers with dedicated LUN mapping can be attached to the array
  • Enterprise Features:
    • Snapshot
    • Data Copy
    • Data Replicaton
Bellow are some insights about the architecture of the 6780 Array:

6780_Controller_Architecture.png


The internal flash storage allows longterm power outages without loosing IO that is not yet written on disk. As you can see, each drive chip has access to all disk drives. Everything in the controller and drive enclosure has at least a redundancy factor two. In some cases like the drive chips we have even a higher redundancy factor.

6780_CSM200_Connectivity.png


The expansion trays are SBODs (Switched Bunch Of Disks) and therefore limit the impact of a drive failure. Most other vendors still use looped JBODs. In such a case, a loop is vulnerable if a drive fails. In worst case a complete tray could fail just because of a failing drive. Also looped BODs are slower than switched BODs.

6780_Drive_Channel_Connectivity.png


Due to the high amount of drive channels, the maximum drive count per dual 4Gb FC loop is 64 (with 448 Drives). With 256 Drives, you will only have 32 drives per dual 4Gb FC loop. Due to this fact, and the dedicated ASICs for RAID calculations, the 6780 array can do up to 175'000 IOPS and 6.4GB/s throughput in disk read operations. This is for sure the top rank in the midrange segment!

Summary

Latest by now, you should know that Sun is NOT a me too manufacturer in the storage business. Our modular storage family uses leading edge technology and delivers investment protection by providing an easy upgrade path the the next higher controller level.

\*Will be available after initial release.

Sunday Feb 01, 2009

Traditional Arrays vs "The Open Storage Approach"

Why should I still use a traditional Array?

You may ask yourself why you should use a traditional array, if Sun is pushing towards OpenStorage? Good question! Now, as there isn't a cow that provides, milk, coke and beer, there isn't a storage product that does everything for you ... today. So, while our OpenStorage family is today perfect for IP network oriented access like CIFS, NFS and iSCSI it doesn't cover yet the FC block attached community. And despite all honour that ZFS and OpenSolaris deserve, an ASIC, if you have the money and the skills to build one, will do faster RAID calculations. ASICs do not require an operating system underneat the RAID code, which results in far less latency in calculation.

The Unanswered Question ...

There is one unanswered question that remains in the IT business. How long can companies afford to build ASICs that keep up with the performance increases in the volume business? ASICs, as the name states, are built for a certain purpose and therefore manufactured in a much lower volume. Means, they are simply much more expensive than general purpose built CPUs.

An other question might give you an impression of the future. Who is still programming Assembler? Every programmer knows that if you write perfect Assembler Code, no but really NO C, C++ or Java program will ever run faster than your Assembler program, right? But, programming Assembler gets so complex that you can't manage anymore your code. That's why we use abstraction layers to simplify your business.... Got a hint?

Now, there is also a huge design problem with a dedicated ASIC. You cannot extend its features by just upgrading the software as it is hardware. An ASIC can do what it's built for, and therefore is very limited in extending features! In a manufacturing and design perspective, this can be very limited. One little thing missing or wrong in a ASIC, and you will fail with the complete product without the chance to fix or change it. Uhhh, you better make no mistake ...

Conclusion

So depending on your requirements, you will have to choose the appropriate technology! If you can afford the no compromise way of storage, the best solution is to have both or maybe a combination of each. :-)

In a long term perspective, I only see one solution that survives. The combined approach of commodity hardware and software, provides the key elements that will succeed. This namely are:
  • Great price/performance
  • Possibility to add features (in best case for free) with easy upgrades
If the used software is open sourced, you suddenly have the ability to add features yourself to the subsystem! One example is the project COMSTAR that turns an OpenSolaris host into a SCSI target.

introducingCOMSTAR.png


So, you better keep the OpenStorage Vision of Sun in your mind.

Monday Aug 04, 2008

Sun / Avaloq Banking Platform

About Avaloq

avaloq.pngThe Avaloq Banking System is an innovative and integrated IT platform which embraces modern banking practices. It is an ideal solution for asset managers, plus private, retail and commercial banks, wanting to increase their business efficiency and intending to protect their competitive advantage and long-term profitability. Avaloq's modular and open architecture provides comprehensive functionality, covering a variety of banking products, and enables the optimisation and break down of the value chain. Their flexible design allows financial institutions to adapt swiftly to changing market conditions, including the ability to rapidly launch new products and implement new business models.

Avaloq has a very fast growing customer base and is one of the most innovative banking solutions available today!

Sun's Avaloq Infrastructure

M5000_Front_Bird.pngThe Sun Infrastructure Landscape suits perfectly the Avaloq Banking requirements. We have discovered that the M-Series Servers are the ideal systems for a high scalable Avaloq Platform.

The M5000 System is the most frequently used Sun server for Avaloq implementations.

The major reason for that is it's internal scalability and realiability. No matter if it is for the project phase (implementation, integration, testing) or for production, the M5000 matches most requirements from our customers.

With the latest announcements of the Sparc 64 VII CPUs, the M-Series got a tremendous performance boost. The performance/power efficiency has been increased by 50% while the core density has been doubled! 32x Sparc 64 VII Cores at 2.4 Ghz within one single server! With todays 4GB DIMM's the server scales up to 256GB RAM. Nearly unlimited I/O expandibility delivers high performance connectivity to storage and network. Up to two internal I/O Units can be configured for the M5000, while each I/O Unit delivers:
  • 4 x8 PCI-E Slots
  • 1 64-bit PCI-X Slot
  • 2 SAS Disk Bays
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet Ports
If this is not enough, you can attach up to four external I/O Units, while each external I/O Unit has two houses. Each house can deliver 6 PCI-E Slots or 6 PCI-X Slots. In case of a full expansion of the system, you could for example have up to 32 PCI-E slots ...... Enough? I think so.

Now that we know which system is mostly used for Avaloq implementations, let's figure out why and what the sizing rules are!

Typical Sun Avaloq Sizings

The following figure shows a possible implementation scenario for a medium sized bank:

Typical_Avaloq_Implementation_Medium_Bank.png

A Typical SUN Avaloq Implementation is fragmented into three different areas:
  1. The Production Servers and Integration Servers are preferably identical.
  2. The Project, Development and Test Server needs in 99% of the cases more compute and memory power than the Production and Integration Environment. This is related to the amount of databases being used.
The Avaloq Project Phase is the most demanding phase for a server. During this time multiple Avaloq instances are running, for example to verify the implementation or to test various features and modifications.

In most of the cases such Avaloq instances are running in separate Solaris Zones, a builtin and free Solaris feature. In combination with Jumpstart, a complete Avaloq instance can be brought online from scratch within a few minutes!

High Availability Production System

As banking applications are mostly core for every Bank, you wouldn't like to have any interruptions at all. BUT, as systems, networks, storage and datacenters can fail even when they have the most complete RAS (Reliablility, Availability and Servicability) stack, it is wise to have a good failback scenario.

The figure bellow illustrates a possible HA implementation scenario. Certainly this could ba also expanded.

HA_Avaloq_Implementation.png

Avaloq Sizing Callenge

Depending on what kind of bank you are, the size of your production system may vary. Why? There are two major types of banks on the market:
  • Retail Banks
    A retail bank traditionaly has much more cashier transactions per day than a private bank thus causing a higher system load.

  • Private Banks
    Traditionaly a private bank doesn't have as many cashiers transactions than a retail bank but it has much more STEX (Stock Exchange) transactions.
It is wise to work together with Avaloq and Sun to design the optimal sizing for your specific needs. Avaloq and Sun have done many sizings together, and this is a major reason why our customers are happy!

The performance bottleneck!

6122-babasse-DiskipperLite3D.pngAs most DB oriented applications, also Avaloq implementations are higly dependent on the underlying storage subsystem if it is not capable of storing the transactions fast enough or creating complex reports.

The good message is, that Sun has the right answer in case you have to deal with such kind of problems. Sun does not only deliver the fastest midrange and high end storage subsystems, we also have the right answer when we start talking about Solid State Disks (SSDs)

One of the first operations to increase performance can be that you place the Oracle Redo-Log on Solid State Disks. Also a very Dense Solid State Disk could cover the complete Avaloq implementation. The disks subsystem will no longer be the bottle neck!

Keep in mind that in terms of performance increase, the NAND based solid state disk market is today growing faster than the CPU market. You can find more about the SSD technology here.
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