Radek, we are agree on those points. I am not arguing with the idea of using standard parts. This is a case where brute force wins. I doubt that a product could be engineered for a reasonable cost with custom ASICs that would be able to match the throughput that can be provided via the core density and performance on the modern Xeons.
However, the situation where NA can charge about ten times the price of an equivalently specced rackmount x86 server is not likely to be one which can be sustained in the long term. I think it's more of a problem at the low end. There is no sensible reason for the price difference between the 2020 and the 2040 for example. I'd rather get the better hardware and then pay an extra licensing fee to be able to attach more drives or more SAN hosts when I need them, rather than be forced to predict my growth over the next few years.
I completely agree, they are too greedy.
Competition comes not only from Nexenta but also from local storage, SSDs are becoming common and people expect fast access to shared storage. How can you charge over 100k for a storage system that is slower than a local disk drive, even for only one user? Having a fast CPU/Memory is critical, they should have limited the number of cores in my opinion not the single-threaded performance by using three year old CPUs.
I dont understand where this 1990's mentality about storage is coming from.
The game has moved so much further than speeds and feeds, there is so much more to it and how big your processor is how many SSD's you have.
I get in trouble with my sales guys when i tell people if you want dumb cheap storage dont by netapp. Buy and equallogic or an eternus. IMO Netapps value comes from its software and intergration not how big a CPU its got. This is s tactic the local EMC guys had been using around here, the only point of difference they had was SSD (back then) so they tried to turn every sales engagement into a speeds and feeds debate. The netapp value proposition is so much more than that.
The new hardware platforms are an awesome step in the right direction, as is 8.0.1 the FAS6280 is going to be one of (if not THE) fastest array around, They're awesome chunks of hardware with software to boot.
Shane, I agree about NetApp's value being the software. I think the highly orthoganal way the product is together, and the way clustering and mirroring "just work", with high levels of flexibility, is fantastic and I don't think the other vendors can touch it, not today. Then you have the simple nature of the product line, the fact that the same OS and concepts apply across the range, etc.
I also agree that SSDs are a bit of a red herring for all but the most high end cases. I am sympathetic to the NetApp line up until now which is that a high density, array-local cache can meet most performance requirements for people without requiring SSDs.
But you can't argue that the CPU is not an important factor. That's why NA sell three different classes of filer (and several different grades between each) and this is clearly important to the way they market filers to different segments. And obviously, NA are going after the low-cost vendors by providing SATA drives and the basic kit like the FAS20xx. All I am saying is that a business with low-end storage requirements might prefer the opportunity to cherry pick the occasional high-end feature. If the capital cost of the system was loaded further towards the licenses and away from the purchase price of the hardware, that is something that would be more feasible. ie, instead of marketing the FAS2020/2040/2050, why not just market the 2040 and then charge people per terabyte stored, or per SAN host, etc.
At the end of the day though it is for NA to decide how they run their business, and the current setup obviously works well for them, so as a customer you can't really complain much; you pay your money and take your choice. As I said, I think the product is fantastic and I'd recommend NA over the convuluted and conflicted product lines offered by HP/EMC/etc anyday. I'm looking forward to NA eclipsing EMC as #1 storage vendor, hopefully some time within the next 24 months
Its depends on what end of the market you are talking about.
For instance i've never managed to get a filer to be CPU bound, i've had a FAS6080 running 7.3.x doing 1.6GB/s (straight cache reads) with two CPU's idle.
As for "per op/cpu/whatever" licening, i'm not that fond of it.
i like the whole no surprises licensing model. Buying a FAS and then having to license it per CPU/op etc is a scary idea, i think with that you run the risk of becoming one of those "convuluted and conflicted product lines"
All of this talk about implementing commodity hardware with ZFS or otherwise on this forum is crap.
We've taken a look at provisioning our lab environments on ZFS and std hardware at Labshots/Kashpureff Inc and already found that a WAFL/NVRAM architecture beats it out any day.
Wish I could post our performance test, but I can't.
Performance is a broader subject than CPU ratings. What do you do with that CPU power ? How much bandwidth can you drive on the front end and the back end ? ONTAP has always been exceedingly good at doing what it does (serving up storage) using commodity hardware, and it continues to be highly optimized. ( Have you read 'How to Castrate a Bull ) ? Dave first tested this OS on commodity PCs.
It's a software company, not a hardware company. The controllers rock, but WAFL, snapshots and nowadays OnCommand - that's the value proposition here.
I'll invite any of the detractors here to take the time that we have to do implementation performance tests and then go tell their bosses that they should implement a cheap solution from one of the vendors trying to sell $9K jbod storage on ZFS or another solution. Bad news - It will be an RGE - Resume Generating Event.
Just my two bits. ( Sorry for the rampage, but I'm tired of the NetApp bashing on this thread ! )
I hope this response has been helpful to you.
At your service,
(P.S. I appreciate points for helpful or correct answers.)
Eugene Kashpureff wrote:What do you do with that CPU power ?
All the netapp hardware upgrades I did the last 7 years were because of being cpu bound on the filer. And no, they were not low end filers.
But that was also because netapp did a bad job with multi threading back then. Already with ontap 7.3 I see improvements and I am really looking forward to installing ontap 8.0.1.
Shane, I can definitely see the flip side. Once you buy your filer and the licenses, you have the full use of it including upgrades .. and we are seeing some nice bonuses these days too, such as sanitization and OSSV clients becoming free to SV licensors. I agree that this does keep things simple.
I assume it must be possible to get the 6080s to be CPU bound, otherwise NA would have tremendous difficulty getting people to upgrade to the bigger and flasher filers we have today I guess if you have a bunch of SnapMirror transfers going (with compression), especially in synchronous mode, combined with dedupe runs (and now compression runs) it would be possible to max it out with the right amount of storage.
What I am getting at is this. Any time somebody comes on the forum and asks a question about the FAS2020, it inevitably ends up concluding that the system is too slow for what the guy is trying to do. So although he has the right licenses and so on, he can't do what he was probably told was possible by his NA reseller. That's not good business.
Eugene, it's not Netapp-bashing. No company is perfect for everyone and I understand the pros and cons. We bought a filer recently and I would have no hesitation making the same decision again. From that point of view, money talks.
There's really no point in discussing your lab benchmarks if you can't reveal them, or at least reveal the specs you testes against. I'd expect ZFS and so on to be slower than WAFL/ONTAP. That problem is easily solved, as one can easily build a ZFS box with 24 cores and 64GB RAM. That costs about $20,000 which which I guessing is not far away from the list price of a FAS2040 with no disks, a single CPU core and 4GB RAM and some basic block access licensed. Now you might well argue that's not fair, as you're not comparing like with like. But the customer will be looking at the total cost.
I'd still take a NetApp over a ZFS box with that spec any day, because at work we aren't really a UNIX shop and we don't have a large sysadmin team who could babysit a Solaris box. NetApp gives us end-to-end support covering all aspects of the hardware and software, which is fully integrated (I love AutoSupport!), and which more than pays for the price difference, and you still can't do clustered ZFS yet (although they do have RAID-Z2/Z3). But if we were bigger, and had a few Solaris storage-savvy guys to hand, then it would be a lot harder to justify.
My other point here is that WAFL and snapshots are under attack. ZFS's low level snapshot implementation doesn't have WAFL's limitations (255 per flexvol? for example) and as I said earlier, btrfs is in development with Oracle doing another equivalent. I still don't really understand what OnCommand is other than a rebranding of NA's (excellent) management toolset. I'd agree that the management tools are a key differentiator here but it won't take long for competitors to come up with equivalents.
NetApp rocks, that's not the point. My point is that they put a slow CPU in their midrange. Now if 6210 pricing is reasonable it's really not an issue. But if not...
For instance, in a VDI setup, most of the I/O will be served from cache, especially during boot storms, so it will be CPU/Memory bound so you have to go to 62xx series to get good performance for a few thousand users.