PeterHG
6 Indium

Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

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Introduction

Although we had to wait almost 1 hour into Sunday’s opening keynote presentation by Oracle’s Larry Ellison at OpenWorld 2014, until he had finished talking about everything cloud that Oracle has to offer, the former Oracle CEO announced Oracle FS1, describing it as a Flash Storage SAN for the Enterprise!

The first slide looked pretty good, describing a substantial product, supporting the full range of Operating Systems and it is always good to see Oracle include VMware support. Keep reading, it gets very interesting!

slide1-500.png

That first slide refers to Flash Storage Enterprise SAN, all good, but what’s the innovation Oracle is bringing to market in 2014? See below, All Flash Performance with Added Capacity of 2 Tiers of Disk… WOW!!!

slide2-500.png

Every enterprise storage vendor I know of has introduced a Flash-optimized option to significantly improve performance, and most have provided some form of storage tiering for capacity. Curious to understand what Oracle’s critical thinking is with this innovation.

Consider EMC VNX2, it provides Fast Cache to cache active data from HDD/SSD in DRAM in 64K chunks and Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) to (as its name suggests) move data between HDD/SSD tiers in 256MB chunks.

According to Oracle, the FS1 provides 640K granularity across all tiers, perhaps this is where the claim to 400X efficiency comes from: 400 x 640K = 256MB. Whether that equates to a significant benefit to the performance of the array, which is what matters, I have no idea personally. One thought would be if this were a problem that needed solving, wouldn’t EMC's storage engineering folks have addressed it in the 5+ years they have had FAST available in VMAX and VNX?

Just maybe it is moving data to the most appropriate tier, I’m not convinced that basing this on QoS is unique though – think Service Level Objective Provisioning in VMAX3.

Now, in a previous blog describing the XtremIO Data Protection architecture, I included two links to IDC material that clarify what is meant by both “Flash-optimized” and Hybrid Flash Arrays. Included again here for reference;

  1. An excellent IDC Web Conference, Flash-Optimized Storage Architectures, where Eric Burgener, IDC's Research Director for Storage, discusses what "flash optimized" means in terms of features.
  2. The IDC All - Flash Array Performance Testing Framework, describes a framework for testing All-Flash-Arrays, from an independent perspective.

That’s all good information that should leave you with no doubt Oracle’s new FS1 is an HFA - Hybrid-Flash Array.

Now we come to the third slide on Oracle FS1, BOOM!!!

slide3-500.png

Most people familiar with EMC XtremIO would have been surprised to see it included here. Although on the face of it this does not look good, let’s consider what is being described and if that small print along the bottom of the slide can help us.

As it is difficult to read, an article published on Yahoo Finance helps us; Oracle Launches the Oracle FS1 Series Flash Storage System, Outperforms EMC XtremIO by Up To 9x!  In the footnotes to the Yahoo Finance article, it does help us understand on what information these claims are based.

Unfortunately, with the imminent release of XIOS 3.0, the document referred to containing previously published performance numbers is no longer publicly available as it was based on the 2.4 release of XIOS. However, I can confirm that running XIOS 2.4, the quoted figures are correct. For a single 20TB X-Brick 50% Read/50% Write IOs of 32KB gives 26,863 IOPS. The 554MB/s throughput figure used is for a 128K 100% Write, so for consistency, 32KB 100% Write throughput was 536MB/s.

Further, the published list price of an XtremIO 20TB X-Brick as May 2014 was indeed $510,000.

Conclusion

I can only assume Oracle used what they describe in the small print of the “BOOM” slide above as their “173TB Flash system recommended for High Performance deployments”. With 10 times the amount of storage, it would be reasonable to believe this is comparable to an 8-10 X-Brick XtremIO Cluster, not the single X-Brick used in the comparison.


Having tried to explain the unusual marketing slide, it looks like Oracle FS1 provides choice in the marketplace, something that is healthy and EMC always welcomes choice for the good of our customers. I certainly look forward to a validated study on the performance and scalability of the Oracle FS1.

I have intentionally made this a discussion post on the EMC Oracle Community, please feel free to comment and raise any questions you have on the subject at hand that is Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO. Thanks for reading and if you have any details on that small print or know more about Oracle's actual testing method and hardware spec used, come on and join the conversation!


Comments / Questions


6 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

Peter, did they discuss what "Full Suite of Data Services" means?

0 Kudos
atkins_david
6 Indium

Re: Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

Peter,

Good post on what is real and not real about the Oracle FS1 from what is available to review today!


I also like the IDC content in the sidebar for people to review when they are evaluating an All-Flash-Array (AFA).


I think your comparison of VNX and VMAX features that have been available for over 5 years and the new ones in the VMAX3 is a valid comparison with the Oracle FS1, a Hybrid-Flash Array not an AFA.

Highlighted
PeterHG
6 Indium

Re: Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

Hi Matt,

This Wikibon article mentions some data services (QoS and T10PI)

http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/Oracle_Announces_the_FS1_Flash_Storage_System_with_a_Unique_SAN_Design

Notably though is that article saying FS1 provides no Data Reduction (DRe), so no compression and no deduplication.

I was very surprised to read Wikibon's comment on HCC there too;

The FS1-2 (along with other only Oracle storage) supports the Oracle Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC), which allows variable and high levels of compression. This is usually useful for data warehouse and analytic workloads, and very useful for these workloads. The uptake of HCC has been limited for Oracle because most online workloads are row based and HCC can have a negative performance impact.

Regards, Peter

8 Krypton

Re: Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

Yep, every customer that i speak with that uses Exadata, does not use HCC for their transactional workloads. So they pay $$ for something that provides no value.

flashdba
1 Copper

Re: Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

Hi Peter

*** Disclosure: Violin Memory employee ***

I was sat in the hall at Oracle OpenWorld 2014 when they announced the Oracle FS1 and I got to sit through the first introduction session. To be honest, I found it all a bit embarrassing. Us All-Flash Array vendors may frequently argue (well, let's say "debate") who has the best product and which engineering or design choice is more sensible, but in the face of this marketing onslaught I think we probably all feel fairly united.

The FS1 is a Pillar Axiom with SSDs. It's a hybrid. It's not, in any meaning of the words that I understand, "the first mainstream, general purpose flash array". And yet that's the claim made in the session I attended.

I wrote some of my own thoughts on the subject here:

Postcard from Oracle OpenWorld 2014: The Oracle FS1 Flash Array - Violin Memory

- flashdba

kevin_closson
1 Copper

Re: Let’s talk about Oracle FS1 and EMC XtremIO!

One *cannot* use HCC for transactions. No row locking and modify DML requires CU decompression. I wrote about this in Expert Oracle Exadata (Apress).

HCC is, generally speaking, a reasonable archival solution...and there are certainly other products in that space.

Alsways remember the truth about HCC compression ratios as well:

Exadata HCC – Real-World Storage Savings | Big Data, Small Font