An Oracle blog about ZFS Storage

  • October 7, 2015

This Is Our Time

Storage is at a moment of discontinuity. To put it mildly.

The market-leading vendors build reliable storage machines that work really well when attached to one or even several applications.  But they do not, will not and cannot solve the coming challenges.  They are like Richard Gere standing in front a row of EMC Symmetrix boxes.

Still handsome? Yes.  Even venerable. But getting old and gray.

So, what's happened since Richard Gere first carried Debra Winger out of the factory in Officer and a Gentleman*?

VIRTUALIZATION (especially VMware)!!  And its even less predictable cousin CLOUD!!

They break the relationship between applications and storage.  Anything
that relies on conventional spindles for performance is already dead in the water. In the aftermath, vendors and users alike are scrambling for machines that marry the speed of flash with the affordability of conventional drives.  They want machines that automate data location -- in real time -- because tuning has become a fool's errand. 

Lucky for us: We have the EXACT RIGHT MACHINE.  So I'm throwing down the gauntlet:

If you are building out a large storage infrastructure in 2015, and aren't at least kicking the tires on our Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance, you are making a fundamental mistake that might take a half-decade to recover from.

Yes, my job involves convincing people to implement Oracle ZFS Storage Appliances in virtualization and cloud environments.  I get paid to make you believe what I just said. But I believe it. Because I've seen eyes light up time and time and time again when people try our systems for the first time.

We're living in the era of hybrid storage, and we have the best Hybrid Storage Array you can buy.

This Is Our Time.

For the past few several years EMC and NetApp in particular have been doing a fine job defending current technology. In the past year or so the dam has started bursting -- spectacularly in some areas.

Virtualization and cloud workloads break NetApp FAS systems. 

And they break EMC VNX.

And they break EMC VMAX.

And yep, they break EMC Isilon. 

And HP 3Par.

(etc., etc., for most everything you have.)

Anything built to provide IOPS by bundling conventional spindles is NOT designed to live underneath a hypervisor.  There's too much risk that too many virtual machines will try to get to the same 150-350 IOPS device at the same time.

So what's showing up to replace them?

Hybrid Storage and well-designed all flash systems (and sure, you can put all flash drives in your EMCs and NetApps, but that feels like a bit of a kludge, doesn't it?)

But all-flash is the next thing.  It will have its time soon enough. The simple fact that flash vendors today justify their TCO by saying they dedupe better...  Hmmm.  So a flash drive costs less than a SAS drive because they make the data so much smaller?  Maybe I'm missing something, but couldn't you just dedupe the SAS drives, and won't they still be cheaper per gigabyte?  So, let's put silliness aside and simply acknowledge that all-flash has a place today, and may be the default tomorrow, but for now, it remains a very, very expensive place to keep cold data.

And my linked clones will reduce data better than your dedupe anyways.

And sure, if you shop around a bit you can find an all-flash array that's price competitive with a smallish Oracle ZFS Storage device. But before you buy it, find out how much the same system would cost with 300 TB+ raw.  Or a petabyte.  If you only have 30 TB of raw data,  I'd say take the discount and buy the artificially priced all-flash system. 

Just don't grow, and you'll be fine...

My point is: Until the cost per gigabyte of flash gets closer to the cost per gigabyte of good ol' spinning rust, this is the era of hybrid storage.  It automates the all of hardest parts of managing storage in a public or private cloud.

Seriously, wouldn't either EMC and NetApp kill for a system that:

1.  Eliminates bottlenecks instantly by caching to DRAM everything that gets accessed.  It's precisely the sort of automation that compute clouds require.  Not after action analysis that caches yesterday's hot data. Cache what's hot, and cache it NOW. And if the data's cold, just leave it on SAS drives.  Better AND cheaper!!

2.  Has an embedded OS that knows how to deploy workloads efficiently across ALL of the available processor cores.  Imagine the consolidation you could achieve if you can keep your systems from getting processor bound! (Ponder this: Our little box can handle several thousand typical VMs without breaking sweat).

3.  Finds the noisy neighbor more effectively than any other device that's ever been built (using our storage analytics).  This makes the consolidation safe, and helps keep the systems up.  Absolutely critical for the sort of hyperconsolidation that the other attributes enable.

Boom! Boom. And BOOM!

So far we've sold a ton, and we're growing at a time when others are declining, and we've formed the backbone of the world's most successful SaaS cloud

It's the right box at the right moment. We can try to explain it, but almost every time we sell a system in a non-Oracle use case it's because the customer tested their workload -- and then felt their jaw drop to the floor. No need to trust us.  We'll be happy to show you.

* Symmetrix came out 8 years later, but I stand by my point.

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Comments ( 3 )
  • guest Thursday, October 8, 2015

    "I get paid to make you believe what I just said. But I believe it. Because I've seen eyes light up time and time and time again when people try our systems for the first time.

    We're living in the era of hybrid storage, and we have the best Hybrid Storage Array you can buy."

    Here is the problem though: technical people read these blogs, however, the middle and upper managers, who are the ones making technical decisions, do not read these blogs. You have to go directly to the management and convince them. You do not have to go to us computer science professionals and convince us; we already know, and those who work in IT and do not know, they are powerless to decide the technological direction anyway.

    Please understand that the classic IT, as you appear to understand it, is gone. It has been completely, utterly destroyed by non-technical management making technical decisions. We the engineers get informed after the fact that some deal or other has been concluded between some vendor or other and the business, then we are tasked to make the product work within the existing infrastructure.

    Compile a list of all the companies that have been Sun / Oracle customers and are running redhat and EMC in the meanwhile, and go there. For instance, I come from a very large company that was for decades a Sun customer and is now completely on RHEL / EMC because Oracle made the non-technical management really angry with their exorbitant pricing. That is the battle ahead of you, not convincing the engineers that you have a technically solid, dare I write, even the best product in the industry; we already know.

  • guest Thursday, October 8, 2015

    You're right, but we think that the implementers influence begins to return when stuff starts to break. What we try to do is arm implementers with good information so they are ready when the boss asks.

    Also, we're seeing more and more instances of separate but growing environments being set up for the servers that break the storage. We want to be that second option even when we're not the first in a particular shop.

  • guest Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    Good luck reviving Solaris and ZFS after you've destroyed the community around it. You should instead help the community around OpenZFS and evolve that instead of keeping your version closed, and frankly it has more bugs than the community one.

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