Performance Perspectives - “A look behind the curtains at NetApp Performance”

Hello, my name is Dan Chilton, and I am a Solutions Performance Engineer here in the Workload Engineering team at NetApp. You might have run into me on the Flying Through Clouds blog series. We recently wrapped that project up and the technical report is published. 


The Workload Engineering team is starting a new technical blog series to discuss storage performance at NetApp called “Performance Perspectives”.  It will include findings from the Performance Engineering groups at NetApp and give you a look behind the curtains at NetApp performance.   The Performance Engineering teams are certainly focused on developing and testing their respective products. Throughout the entire release cycle, they are regularly evaluating performance through a series of benchmark testing. My team, the Workload Engineering team focus is primarily on solution performance testing.

Our focus includes:


  1. Generating and publishing performance benchmark results for all NetApp products and solutions.  For example, last year’s SPECsfs_2008 publication in which the FAS8020 achieved over 110,000 peak SPECsfs_2008 NFS ops.  These exercises accomplish several goals.  Using an industry standard benchmark to drive a huge workload helped us to introduce the FAS8XXX platform and prove that it could perform for NAS workloads.  Behind the scenes the testing takes weeks and weeks of time during which performance bugs are sometimes identified and fixed.  This drives ONTAP and platform performance improvement which pays dividends to our customers by providing a refined, resilient, and most importantly, a well-performing system.
  2. Driving customer-centric application workloads to prove solutions performance. One example is this new report on Oracle database performance using NetApp Private Storage for Amazon Web Services (AWS).  While Oracle and NetApp Clustered ONTAP have been blue chip enterprise solutions for database and storage for decades, technology is always advancing.  This solution allows customers to adapt cutting-edge cloud technology solutions from AWS for the server (compute) resources while preserving the data ownership and security required by many industries for compliance.  In this solution, we ran a heavy OLTP workload against local server and storage in a hosted location and compared performance with AWS hosted server connected via a high speed link to the storage at the same hosted location.  The hybrid cloud solution performed surprisingly well and customers are finding this solution very compelling.
  3. Assisting systems engineers and partners to size new storage configurations.  This can be behind the scenes or front and center as in this published paper on Citrix XenDesktop with All Flash FAS storage solution.  Let’s face it, sizing enterprise applications in large shared storage environments can be a complicated exercise.  Thankfully we have a whole team at NetApp to help.  This team analyzes application workflows, tests solutions performance and models the data.  This provides you with confidence that your storage purchase is sized to perform for current workloads and also allow for growth.  Every IT dollar spent counts, so we want you to have an accurately sized solution in both storage and performance capacity at purchase time.  Then spend the next several years being fully satisfied with the solution.
  4. Helping customers manage performance. I like to think about performance management like this, “A customer’s favorite performance problem is the one never experienced. . .”  Shameless plug, do see the Flying Through Clouds report and check out our award-winning OnCommand Insight and OnCommand Performance Managers software solutions.  We want to empower you to move from reactive to proactive solutions performance management.

As you can see we stay busy.  The goal of this blog is to teach by sharing our experiences found by measuring and optimizing solutions performance.  It will also showcase some of the performance peaks achieved in benchmark testing and performance proof-points obtained for NetApp solutions.  We hope that you, our customers and partners, can rely on us as a trusted partner evidenced by our passion about performance.  If you like, leave us a comment with your “performance perspective”.




the report about running Oracle on AWS and Netapp Private Storage is really very interesting, the performance results are amazing, but what about Oracle licensing costs for running the DB on 2 i2.8xlarge instances? How do they compare with on-premises "per physical core" licenses? 

Best Regards,



dchilton Netapp Alumni

Hi Francesco,


I talked to the authors about the report to find out the answers to your questions.  


"We did not use AWS RDS in our testing. RDS is tied to Amazon Storage and can’t be used with NPS storage.  We deployed a RHEL AWS instance and then installed Oracle on it.  If a customer wanted to run Oracle with NetApp Private Storage a customer would have to provide their own Oracle license."