Posts Tagged ‘Capacity Calculator’

EMC didn’t invent Unified Storage; They Perfected it

June 29th, 2010

Hi Guys! Remember me! I’m apparently the one who upset some of you, enlightened others; and the rest of you.. well, you drove a lot of traffic here to get my blog to even beat out EMC’s main website as the primary source for information on "Unified Storage" (And for that, I appreciate it :))

In case any of you forgot some of those "target" posts, here they are for your reference! but I’m not here to start a fight! I’m here to educate and to direct my focus on not what this previously OVERLY discussed Unified Storage Guarantee was or is, but instead to drive down in to what Unified Storage will really bring to bear.   So, without further adieu!

What is Unified Storage?

I’ve seen a lot of definitions of what it is, quite frankly a lot of stupid definitions too. (My GOD I hate stupid definitions!)  But what does it mean when you Unify to you and me?   I could go on and on about the various ‘definitions’ of what it really is (and I even started WRITING that portion of it!) but instead I’m going to scrap all of that so I do not end up on my own list of ‘stupid definitions’ and instead will define Unified Storage at it’s simplest terms.

A unified storage system merges NAS and SAN. Optimized for performance and interoperability, the system simultaneously stores both file data and blocks of application data in virtually any operating environment

You can put your own take and spin on it, but at it’s guts that is seemingly what the basics of a "Unified Storage" system are; nothing special about it, NAS and SAN (hey, lots of people do that right?!)  You bet they do!   And this is by no way the definitive definition on what “Unified Storage” is, and frankly that is not my concern either.   So taking things to the next level; now that we have a baseline of what it takes to ‘get the job done’, now it’s time to evaluate the Cost of Living in a Unified Storage environment.

Unified Storage Architecture Cost of Living

I get it.  No really I do.   And I’m sure by now you’re tired of the conversation of ‘uniqueness’ focused on the following core areas:

    • Support for Mixed Clients
    • Support for multiple types (tiers) of disk
    • Simplified Provisioning
    • Thin Provisioning
    • Improving Utilization

All of these items are simply a FACT and an expectation when it comes to a Unified Platform.  (Forget unified, a platform in general)   Lack of support of multiple tiers, locking down to a single client, complicated provisioning which can only be done fat which makes you lose out on utilization and likely is a waste of time – That my friend is the cost of living.    You’re not going to introduce a wasteful fat obsolete system and frankly, I’m not sure of any (many) vendors who are actually delivering services which don’t meet on multiple of these criteria; So the question I’m asking is… Why do we continue to discuss these points?   I do not go to a car dealership and say “You know, I’m expecting a transmission in this car, you have a transmission right?”  And feel free to replace transmission with tires and other things you just flat out EXPECT.    It’s time to take the conversation to the next level though; because if you’ve ever talked to me you know how I feel about storage. “There is no inherent value of storage in and of itself without context or application.”   Thus… You don’t want spinning rust just for the sake to have it spin, no you want it to store something for you, and it is with that you need to invest in Perfection.

Unified Storage Perfection

What exactly is the idea of Unified Storage Perfection?   It is an epic nirvana whereby we shift from traditional thinking and takes NAS and SAN out of the business of merely rusty spindles and enable and engage the business to earn its keep.

Enterprise Flash Disks

Still storage, yet sexy in it’s own right.  Why?  First of all, it’s FAST OMFG FLASH IS SO FAST! And second of all, it’s not spinning, so it’s not annoying like the latest and greatest SAS, ATA or FC disk!    But what makes this particular implementation of EFD far sexier than simple consumer grade SSD’s is the fact that these things will guarantee you a consistent speed and latency through and through.   I mean, sure it’s nice that these things can take the sheer number of FC disks you’d need to run an aggressive SQL server configuration and optimize the system to perform, but it goes beyond that.   

Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST)

Think back to that high performance SQL workload you had a moment ago, there might come a time in the life of the business where your performance needs change; Nirvana comes a knocking and with the power of FAST enables you to dynamically, non-disruptively move from one tier of Storage (EFD, FC, SATA) to another, so you are guaranteed not only investment protection but scalability which grows and shrinks as your business does.    Gone are the days of ‘buy for what we might use one day’ and welcome are the days of Dynamic and Scalable business.

FAST Cache

Wow, is this the triple whammy or what?  Building upon the previous two points, this realm of Perfection is able to take the performance and speed of Enterprise Flash Disks and the concept of tiering your disks to let you use those same existing EFD disks to extend your READ and WRITE cache on your array!    FAST Cache accelerates performance to address unexpected workload spikes. FAST and FAST Cache are a powerful combination, unmatched in the industry, that provides optimal performance at the lowest possible cost.  (Yes I copied that from a marketing thingie, but it’s true and is soooooo cool!) 

FAST + FAST Cache = Unified Storage Performance Nirvana

So, let’s put some common sense on this then, because this is no joke, nor is it marketing BS.    You assign EFD’s to a specific workload you want to guarantee a certain speed and a certain response time (Win).    You have unpredictable workloads who may need to be fast some times, but may be slow other times on quarterly of yearly basis’s, so you leverage FAST to move that data around, but that’s your friend when you can PREDICT what is going to happen.    What about when it is slow most of the time, but then on June 29th you make a major announcement that you were not expecting to hit as hard as it did, and BAM! Your system goes in the tank because data sitting on FC or SATA couldn’t handle the load.   Hello FAST Cache, how I love you so.     Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE EFD’s and I wish all of my data could sit on them (At home a lot of it does ;)) and I have massive desire for FAST because I CAN move my workload around based upon predictable or planned patterns (Marry me!)  But FAST Cache is my superman, because he is there to save the day when I least expected it, he caches my reads when BOOM I didn’t know it was coming, but more importantly he holds my massive load of WRITES which come in JUST as unexpectedly.   So for you naysayers or just confused ones who wonder why you’d have one vs the other (vs) the other; Hopefully this example use-case is valuable.   Think about it in terms of your business, you could get away with one or the other, or all three… Either way, you’re a winner.

Block Data Compression

EMC is further advancing its storage efficiency innovation as the first storage provider to introduce block data compression, by allowing customers to compress inactive data and reclaiming valuable storage capacity— data footprints can be reduced by up to 50 percent. A common use case would be compressing inactive data once EMC FAST software has moved that data to the most cost-effective storage tier. Block data compression joins EMC’s existing capabilities, including thin provisioning and data deduplication, to automatically and transparently maximize storage utilization.

Yea, I DID copy that verbatim from a Press Release – And do you know why? Because it’s right! Even addresses a pretty compelling use-case too!   So think about it a moment.  Does this apply to you?  I’d never compress ALL of my data (reminisces back to the days of DoubleSpace where let’s just say, for any of us who lived it… those were interesting times ;)) But think about the volume of data which you have sitting on Primary Storage which is inactive and otherwise wasting space when it continues sitting un-accessed and consuming maximum capacity!  But this is more than just about that data type, unlike some solutions this it not an all or nothing.

Think if you could choose to compress on demand! Compress say… your virtual machine right out of vCenter! But wait there’s more!   And there’s so much more to say on this, let alone the things which are coming.. I don’t want to reveal what is coming, so I’ll let Mark Twomey do it where he did it here:  Storage Services for Clariion Storage Pool LUNs

What does all of this mean for me and Unified Storage?!

Whoa, hey now! What do you mean what does all of this mean?! Are you cutting me short?  Yes.  Yes I am. :)   There are some cool things coming, which I cannot talk about yet… and not to mention some of all of the new stuff coming in Q3 – But things I was talking about… that’s stuff I can talk about –TODAY- there’s only even better things and cake coming tomorrow :)

I can fill this with videos, decks, resources, references, Unisphere and every thing under the sun (You let me know if you really want that.. I’ve done that in the past as well)  But ideally, I want you to make your own decision, come to your own conclusions..  What does this mean for you?   Stop asking “What is Unified Storage” and start asking “What value can my business derive from technologies in order to save money, save time, save waste!”    I’ll try to avoid writing yet another article on this subject unless you so demand it! I look forward to all of your comments and feedback! :)

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Posted in Celerra, CLARiiON, Deduplication, Efficiency, emc, FAST, Hyper-V, Microsoft, NAS, Oracle, SATA, SQL, SSD, Storage, Technology, Unified Storage, vmware, vSphere | Comments (4)

EMC 20% Unified Storage Guarantee !EXPOSED!

May 20th, 2010

The latest update to this is included here in the Final Reprise! EMC 20% Unified Storage Guarantee: Final Reprise

For those of you who know me (and those who don’t, hi! Pleased to meet you!) I spent a lot of time at NetApp battling the storage efficiency game, always trying to justify where all of the storage space went in a capacity bound situation.   However since joining EMC, all I would ever hear from the competition is how ‘space inefficient’ we were and frankly, I’m glad to see the release of the EMC Capacity Calculator to let you decide for yourself where your efficiency goes.   Recently we announced this whole "Unified Storage Guarantee" and to be honest with you, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. So I decided to take the marketing hype, set it on fire and start drilling down into the details, because that’s the way I roll. :)

EMC Storage Guarantee

I decided to generate two workload sets side by side to compare what you get when you use the Calculators

I have a set of requirements – ~131TB of File/Services data, and 4TB of Highly performing random IO SAN storage

There is an ‘advisory’ on the EMC guarantee that you have at least 20% SAN and 20% NAS in order to guarantee a 20% space efficiency over others – So I modified my configuration to include at least 20% of both SAN and NAS (But let me tell you, when I had it as just NAS.. It was just as pretty :))

Using NetApp’s Storage Efficiency Calculator I assigned the following data:

Storage Efficiency Calculator

That seems pretty normal, nothing too out of the ordinary – I left all of the defaults otherwise as we all know that ‘cost per TB’ is relative depending upon any number of circumstances!

So, I click ‘Calculate’ and it generates this (beautiful) web page, check it out! – There is other data at the bottom which is ‘cut off’ due to my resolution, but I guarantee it was nothing more than marketing jibber jabber and contained no technical details.

Storage Efficiency Calculator

So, taking a look at that – this is pretty sweet, it gives me a cool little tubular breakdown, tells me that to meet my requirements of 135TB I’ll require 197TB in my NetApp Configuration – that’s really cool, it’s very forthright and forth coming.

What’s even cooler is there are checkboxes I can uncheck in order to ‘equalize’ things so to speak. And considering that the EMC Guarantee is based upon Useable up front without enabling any features! Let me take this moment to establish some equality for a second.

Storage Efficiency Calculator

All I’ve done is uncheck Thin Provisioning (EMC can do that too, but doesn’t require you to do that as part of the Guarantee, because we all know… some times… customers WON’T thin provision certain workloads, so I get it!)   Also turning off deduplication, just so I get a good feel for how many spindles I’ll be eating up from a performance perspective – And turning off dev/test clone (which didn’t really make much difference since I had little DB in this configuration)

Now, through no effort of my own, the chart updated a little bit to report that NetApp now requires 387TB to manage the same workload a second ago required 197TB. That’s a little odd, but hey, what do I know.. This is just a calculator taking data and presenting it to me!

Now… with the very same details thrown into the EMC Capacity Calculator, lets take a look at how it looks.


According to this, I start with a Raw Capacity of ~207TB and through all of the ways as defined on screen, I end up with 135TB Total usable, with at least 20% SAN and about twice that in NAS – Looks fairly interesting, right?

But lets take things one step further. Let’s scrap Snapshots on both sides of the fence. Throw caution in to the wind.. No snapshots.. What does that do to my capacity requirements for the same ~135TB Usable I was looking for in the original configurations.

clip_image005[4]I updated this slide to accurately reflect more realistic R5 sets for the EFD disks.  In addition I introduced an ADDITIONAL spare disk, which should 'hurt' my values and make me appear less efficient.

On the NetApp side I reclaim 27TB of Useable space (to make it 360TB Raw)- while on the EMC side I reclaim 15TB of useable space [150TB Useable now] while Still 207TB Raw.

But we both know the value of having snapshots in these file-type data scenarios, so we’ll leave the snapshots enabled – and now it’s time to do some math – Help me as I go through this, and pardon any errors.

Configuration NetApp RAW NetApp Useable Raw v Useable % EMC RAW EMC Useable Raw v Useable % Difference
Default Checkboxes   197 TB 135 TB 68% 207 TB 135 TB 65% -3%
Uncheck Thin/Dedup   387 TB 135 TB 35% 207 TB 135 TB 65% +30%
Uncheck Snaps   369 TB 135 TB 36% 207 TB 150 TB 72% +36%

However, just because I care (and I wanted to see what happened) I decided to say "Screw the EMC Guarantee" and threw all caution to the wind and decided to compare a pure-play SAN v SAN scenario, just to see how it’d look.


I swapped out the numbers to be Database Data, Email/Collaboration Data – The results don’t change (Eng Data seems to have a minor 7TB Difference.. Not sure why that is, – feel free to manipulate the numbers yourself though, it’s negligible)


And I got this rocking result! (Yay, right?!) 202TB seems to be my requirement with all the checkboxes checked! But this is Exchange and Sharepoint data (or notes.. I’m not judging what email/collab means ;))… I’m being honest and realistic with myself, so I’m not going to thin provision or Dedup it any way, so how does that change the picture?


It looks EXACTLY the same [as before]. Well, that’s cool, at least it is consistent, right?

However, doing the same thing on the EMC side of the house.

I want to note a few differences in this configuration – I upgraded to a 480 because I used exclusively 600GB FC drives as I’m not even going to lie to myself that I’m humoring my high IO workloads on 2TB SATA Disks – If you disagree you let me know, but I’m trying to keep it real :)

RAID5 is good enough with FC disks (If this was SATA I’d be doing best practice and assigning RAID6 as well, so keeping it true and honest) And it looks like this:


(Side Note: It looks like this SAN Calculation has only 1 hot spare declared instead of the 6 used above in the other configuration – I’m not sure why that is, but I’m not going to consider 5 disks as room for concern so far as my calculations go – it is not reflected in my % charts below – FYI!  I fixed the issue and introduced 6 Spare disks.  I also changed the system from 14+1 R5 sets to 4+1 and 8+1 R5 sets which seems to accurately reflect more production like workloads :))

Whoa, 200TB Raw Capacity to get me 135TB Usable? Whoa, now wait a second. (says the naysayers) You’re comparing RAID5 to RAID6 – that’s not a fair configuration because there is definitely going to be a discrepancy! And you have snapshots enabled too for this workload. (Side note: I do welcome you to compare RAID6 in this configuration, you’ll be surprised :))

I absolutely agree – so in the effort of equalization – I’m going to uncheck the Double Disk Failure Protection from the NetApp side (Against best practices, but effectively turning the NetApp configuration into a RAID4 config) and I’ll turn off Snapshot copies to be a fair sport.


There, it’s been done. The difference is.. That EMC RAW Capacity has stayed the same(200TB) while NetApp raw capacity has dropped considerably by 30TB from 387TB to 357TB. (I do like how it reports "Total Storage Savings – 0%" :))

So, what does all of this mean? Why do you keep taking screen caps, ahh!!

This gives you the opportunity to sit down, configure what it is YOU want, get a good feel for what configuration feels right to you and be open and honest with yourself and said configuration.

No matter how I try to swizzle it, I end up with EMC coming front and center on capacity utilization from RAW to Usable – Which down right devastates anything in comparison. I do want to qualify this though.

The ‘guarantee’ is that you’ll get 20% savings with both SAN and NAS. Apparently if I LIE to my configuration and say ‘Eh, I don’t care about that’ I still get OMG devastatingly positive results of capacity utilization. – So taking the two scenarios I tested in here and reviewing the math..

Configuration NetApp RAW NetApp Useable Raw v Useable % EMC RAW EMC Useable Raw v Useable % Difference
Default Checkboxes   197 TB 135 TB 68% 207 TB 135 TB 65% -3%
Uncheck Thin/Dedup   387 TB 135 TB 35% 207 TB 135 TB 65% +30%
Uncheck Snaps   369 TB 135 TB 36% 207 TB 150 TB 72% +36%
Default Checkboxes   202 TB 135 TB 67% 200 TB 135 TB 68% +1%
Uncheck Thin/Dedup   387 TB 135 TB 35% 200 TB 135 TB 68% +33%
Uncheck RAID6/Snaps   357 TB 135 TB 38% 200 TB 151 TB 76% +38%

When we’re discussing apples for apples – We seem to be meeting the guarantee whether NAS, SAN or Unified.

If we were to take things to another boundary, out the gate I get the capacity I require – If I slap Virtual Provisioning, Compression, FAST Cache, Auto-Tiering, Snapshots and a host of other benefits that the EMC Unified line brings to solve your business challenges… well, to be honest it looks like you’re coming out on top no matter what way you look at it!

I welcome you to ‘prove me wrong’ based upon my calculations here (I’m not sure how that’s possible because I simply entered data which you can clearly see, and pressed little calculate buttons… so if I’m doing some voodoo, I’d really love to know)

I also like to try to keep this as realistic as possible and we all know some people like their NAS only or SAN only configurations. The fact that the numbers in the calculations are hitting it out of the ballpark so to speak is absolutely astonishing to me! (Considering where I worked before I joined EMC… well, I’m as surprised as you are!) But I do know the results to be true.

If you want to discuss these details further, reach out to me directly ( – or talk to your local TC (Or your TC, TC Manager and me in a nicely threaded email ;)) – They understand this rather implicitly.. I’m just a conduit to ensure you folks in the community are aware of what is available to you today!

Good luck, and if you can find a way to make the calculations look terrible – Let me know… I’m failing to do that so far :)

!UPDATE! !UPDATE! !UPDATE! :)  I was informed apparently every thing is not as it seems? (Which frankly is a breath of relief, whew!)

Latest news on the street is, apparently there is a bug in the NetApp Efficiency Capacity Calculator – So after that gets corrected, things should start to look a little more accurate, let me breathe a sigh of relief around that, because apparently (after being heavily slandered for ‘cooking the numbers’) the only inaccuracy going on there [as clearly documented] was in the source of my data.

However, being that I’m not going to go through and re-write everything I have above again, I wanted to take things down to their roots, lets get down into the dirt, the details, the raw specifics so to speak.  (If any thing in this chart below is somehow misrepresented, inaccurate or incorrect, please advise – This is based upon data I’ve collected over time, so hash it out as you feel :))

NetApp Capacity GB TB EMC Capacity GB TB GB Diff TB Diff % Diff
Parity Drives 4000 3.91   Parity Drives 4000 3.91 0 0  
Hot Spares 1000 0.98   Hot Spares 1000 0.98 0 0  
Right Sizing 3519 3.44   Right Sizing 1822.7 1.78 1696.3 1.66  
WAFL Reserve 2045.51 2   CLARiiON OS 247.87 0.24 1797.64 1.76  
Core Dump Reserve 174.35 0.17   Celerra OS 60 0.06 114.35 0.11  
Aggr Snap Reserve 863.06 0.84     0 0 863.06 0.84  
Vol Snap Reserve – 20% 3279.62 3.2   Check/Snap Reserve 20% 3973.89 3.88 -694.27 -0.68  
Space Reservation 0 0     0 0 0 0  
Usable Space 13118.5 12.8 Usable Space 16895.54 16.49 -3777.04 -3.69 +23%
Raw Capacity 28000 27.34 Raw Capacity 28000 27.34 0 0  

What I’ve done here is take the information and tried to ensure each one of these apples are as SIMILAR as possible.

So you don’t have to read between the lines either, let me break down this configuration – This assumes 28 SATA 1TB Disks, with 4 PARITY drives and 1 SPARE – in both configurations.

If you feel that I somehow magically made numbers appear to be or do something that they shouldn’t – Say so.   Use THIS chart here, don’t create your own build-a-config workshop table unless you feel this is absolutely worthless and that you truly need that to be done.   

You’ll notice that things like Parity Drives and Hot Spares are identical (As they should be) Where we start to enter into discrepancy is around things like WAFL Reserve, Core Dump Reserve and Aggr Snap Reserve – Certainly there are areas of overlap as shown above and equally the same can be said of areas of difference, which is why in those areas on the EMC side I use that space to define the CLARiiON OS and the Celerra OS.    I did have the EMC Match the default NetApp Configuration of a 20% vol snap reserve (on the EMC side I call it Check/Snap Reserve) [Defaults to 10% on EMC, but for the sake of solidarity, what’s 20% amongst friends, right?]    (On a side note, I notice that my WAFL Reserve figures might actually be considerably conservative as a good friend gave me a dump of his WAFL Reserve and the result of his WAFL Reserve was 1% of total v raw compared to my 0.07% calculation I have above, maybe it’s a new thing?)

So, this is a whole bunch of math.. a whole bunch of jibber jabber even so to speak.   But this is what I get when I look at RAW numbers.   If I am missing some apparent other form of numbers, let it be known, but let’s discuss this holistically.     Both NetApp and EMC offer storage solutions.    NetApp has some –really- cool technology.  I know, I worked there.   EMC ALSO has some really cool technology, some of which NetApp is unable to even replicate or repeat.   But before we get in to cool tech battles, as we sit in a cage match watching PAM duel it out with FAST-Cache, or ‘my thin provisioning is better than yours’ grudge matches.    We have two needs we need to account for.

Customers have data that they need to protect.   Period.

Customers have requirements of a certain amount of capacity they expect to get from a certain amount of disks.

If you look at the chart closely, there are some OMFG ICANTBELIEVEITSNOTWAFL features which NetApp brings to bear, however they come at a cost.   That cost seems to exist in the form of WAFL Reserve, and Right sizing (I’m not sure why the Right Sizing is coming in a considerably fat consideration when contrasted with how EMC does it, but it apparently is?)  So while I can talk all day long about each individual specific feature NetApp has, and equivalent parity which EMC has in that same arena; I need to start somewhere.  And strangely going back to basics, seems to come to a 23% realized space savings in this scenario (Which seems inline with the EMC Unified Storage Guarantee) Which frankly, I find to be really cool.  Because like has been resonated by others commenting on this ‘guarantee’, what the figures appear to be showing is that the EMC Capacity utilization is more efficient even before it starts to get efficient (through enabling technologies).

Obviously though, for the record I’m apparently riddled with Vendor Bias and have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about! [disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m talking about when I define and disclose I am in this post and others ;)]   However, I’d like to go on record based upon these mathematical calculations, were I not an employee of EMC, and whether I did or did not work for NetApp in the past, I would have come to these same conclusions independently when presented with these same raw figures and numerical metrics.   I continue to welcome your comments, thoughts and considerations when it comes to a Capacity bound debate [Save performance for another day, we can have that battle out right ;)]  Since this IS a Pureplay CAPACITY conversation.

I hope you found this as informative as I did taking the time to create, generate, and learn from the experience of producing it.  Oh, and I hope you find the (unmoderated) comments enjoyable. :)   I’d love to moderate your comments, but frankly… I’d rather let you and the community handle that on my behalf.   I love you guys, and you too Mike Richardson even if you were being a bit snarky to me. {Hmm, a bit snarky or a byte snarky… Damn binary!}  Take care – And Thank you for making this my most popular blog-post since Mafia Wars and Twitter content! :)

The latest update to this is included here in the Final Reprise! EMC 20% Unified Storage Guarantee: Final Reprise

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Posted in Celerra, CLARiiON, Deduplication, Efficiency, emc, FAST, NetApp, SSD, Storage | Comments (38)

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