Delivering Extreme Analytics for Database Applications

While researching background for this Blog I came across an excellent new Technical Whitepaper discussing the very topic I was intending to cover. But before I introduce it  let me just take the opportunity to briefly discuss the issues faced by Database infrastructure engineers & designers, and the new technologies and solutions that help solve some of the more extreme challenges.


Many organisations run Databases that are mission critical to the operation of the business, and are essential to efficient, reliable servicing of customers queries and orders. In many cases the Database Application “is” the business. Without it, there is no business.


The speed of response and availability are often proportional to customer’s perception of service and can have a direct correlation with customer relationship and retention They are often required to be available non-stop, achieving extreme levels of availability. A good example of this is the demand for 99.9999% availability in Revlon’s business model (See link to the Revlon Epic Story below)


The consequence of these extreme requirements for performance and availability are that the supporting Infrastructure needs careful consideration and planning. Many, many papers have been written on the ‘Art’ of Database Infrastructure, layout and design over the years. This ‘Art’ remains, and the understanding of the impact of terms such as 'Locality of Reference', 'Read to write ratios' and 'Cache Hit/Miss profiling' are still key to successful production deployment.


In the past the most extreme designs required lots of hard disk spindles (aka Short Stroking) in order to present the performance to meet the requirements of peak traffic profiles. The upshot of this is that, while the desired performance can be achieved, the storage capacity utilisation is often poor.


Today the landscape has changed. Flash Technologies have surged into the mainstream Enterprise Storage category in recent years and present a new and exciting infrastructure option for extreme performance. Flash delivers unprecedented levels of I/O performance when compared to legacy technologies. It has a highly efficient footprint and offers a viable solution for delivering predictable, consistent performance and service - Ideal for customer facing database workloads.


Business critical database assets and applications also require rock solid data protection offering database recovery consistency and coherency. This is an essential area for business and technical design consideration, and one where recovery time and point objectives, govern the businesses ability to achieve near continuous availability. Tight integration with Storage and Database vendor protection features is highly desirable and essential for simplifying backup and recovery procedures.


Finally, tools that aid metrics driven management and decision making are also mandatory for accurate capacity and performance trending & forecasting, Policy definition & execution, including the visibility & control of multi-vendor environments.


So to the whitepaper, my recommendation for those of you those of you who are in the process of engineering extreme database solutions is that this is a must read:


NetApp Extreme Analytics Solution for Oracle™, by Bobby Oommen, Jeff Steiner


The whitepaper references Oracle™, but will undoubtedly give you clear ideas on the smart rules for architecting other extreme environments.  It discusses how the integration of three NetApp™ technologies, EF540 All-Flash Array, NetApp FAS Array and OnCommand Insight combine to deliver a cost effective engineered solution that meets customer needs for extreme performance. It also covers the integration and use of SnapShot features to protect assets and the importance of management tools. Another useful point in the paper is the disclosure of the performance metrics of various workload characteristics which provide a real world view of performance you can expect to experience.


For those of you that would like to know more here are a few useful links, the last of which is to the whitepaper:


The EF540 All Flash Array:

NetApp FAS2200 Products:

NetApp FAS3200 Products:

NetApp FAS6200 Products:

The Revlon Epic Story:

Extreme Analytics for Oracle - Technical Report:


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