Insight 2014 – NetApp Reduces Enterprise Application Anxiety

There are many sessions this week at NetApp Insight 2014 that deal with enterprise applications. I attended several of these sessions with our partners and customer that covered areas where NetApp integrates with apps such as Oracle RAC, Microsoft SQL, and SAP HANA. One thing that surprised me during these sessions was the discussion about things other than application speed. Although performance remains a high priority, as one person put it “anyone can build a fast box, that’s just a function of spindles, SSDs, and Cache.” Instead, much of the talk was focused on enterprise app management. Based on the notes I took, here is a short list of items that keep enterprise app administrators awake at night:

 

Fixing Data Corruption

Snapshots have been a pillar of NetApp since day one, but I must admit I never really appreciated their full value to enterprise business operations until recently. The examples I heard this week were eye-opening. For instance, in the world of DBA’s, database corruption is the bane of their existence. When a corruption event occurs, rather than being catastrophic, it is more likely to be a database problem that prevents access to a certain table within the database. The first step is usually to apply the database vendor’s consistency checker, which I am told will correct the problem about 60% of the time, but often with some data loss within the table.

 

If the checker cannot fix the corruption, or the fix resulted in data loss, the next step for the DBA is to identify when the corruption occurred. DBA’s do this by rolling back to earlier snapshot copies until they find a clean (non-corrupt) copy. If they were fortunate enough to have stored the data on a NetApp system, they can spin off a clone of the earlier database version and apply redo logs to bring that DB up to date. Once they have this copy, they can compare the preserved database with the production version and determine which rows and columns are missing, and copy the missing data to the production database. The final step is to remove the clone copy and breathe a sigh of relief.

 

Excessive Downtime

Enterprise applications are the backbone of operations. Therefore, in most cases, excessive downtime is defined as any downtime. NetApp reduces, or eliminates, downtime in many ways. In one seminar I attended, it was stated that NetApp EF-Series all-flash storage systems have demonstrated six nines reliability (roughly 30 seconds per year) based on data collected in the field. In another session, a deep dive explained how NetApp FAS systems have nondisruptive operations (NDO) built into their core architecture. With NetApp NDO, data migration and component upgrades can be done on-the-fly, eliminating the need for planned maintenance.

 

Backups Take Too Long

Enterprise app admins hate backups. The reason: backups consume large amounts of bandwidth while they are streaming, degrading application performance to users. To make matters worse, many enterprise apps are so large that backups most be staged throughout the week in order to get just one backup copy. The number I heard this week for Oracle backups were simply remarkable: our studies have shown that typical Oracle hot database backup using NetApp SnapMirror or SnapVault average 2-10 seconds. 2-10 seconds! One person stated that the longest NetApp daily backup he ever observed was 120 seconds for a 996.5TB Oracle database! If you hate backups, you’ll love NetApp.

 

Inconsistent Performance During Peak Loads

For enterprise applications, faster is always better. NetApp’s triumvirate of flash products deliver peak IO performance across a wide variety of enterprise application environments.

  • NetApp all-flash systems deliver consistently high IOPS and low latency for critical applications that have a need for extreme speed and an application small enough to fit inside an entire flash array.
  • NetApp Flash Pool are a good compromise for larger enterprise applications that have a small percentage of hot data but much larger volumes of warm and cold data.
  • NetApp Flash Cache is a good option for multi-purpose workloads that need overall acceleration.

Enterprise app owners are extremely risk averse. Who can blame them, the entire company rests on their shoulders. Of course they’d all like their applications to run faster, but they are not willing to take one iota of risk in order get there. NetApp’s flash portfolio leverages our proven platform architectures to provide high performance without high risk.

 

NetApp insight provided me with a great deal of, well, insight, into NetApp’s best practices for enterprise applications. For more information, refer to the links below:

 

Best Practices for Oracle Databases on NetApp Storage

Best Practice Guide for Microsoft SQL Server with NetApp EF-Series

NetApp Extreme Performance Solution for Oracle Database