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December 15, 2008


Ken Steinhardt

Chuck, Good stuff, and I couldn't help but be reminded of many very-real situations where your comments triggered memories, some of them quite recent. The most important aspect of testing that I've always encouraged (storage or otherwise) is that if you want to get meaningful information, test with your actual production applications and data, at as close to real scale as is practical. I was recently involved with a customer where a competitor claimed, rather emphatically, to be "2X!" the performance of EMC's Symmetrix. I was reminded of my own days as a customer where never once did I ever hear any vendor claim to be anything other than "the best" relative to performance. I can't recall even one vendor ever saying anything like "did I mention how inferior my performance is to all of my competitors?". Always quite the opposite... The competitor in this particular case was justifying their claim based upon an artificially rigged benchmark that violated most of the suggestions that you make in your note - it used minimal paths, minimal data, no back-end, etc. Fortunately, the customer's true need for performance was associated with a very common application for their industry, using a very common database product, and the data from the arduous task of evaluating the actual application at scale showed EMC's Symmetrix to consistently outperform the alternative, at least in the "real" world. After only a tiny percentage of the data was then moved to Flash disks (not an available option for comparison on the competitive offering), the gap in performance became massive in favor of the Symmetrix DMX - almost 7X for response times. I also recently saw an actual situation like the one that you describe where a competitor's storage system appeared to be performing quite well with one server connected to a very-lightly loaded configuration, but when the customer (fortunately) decided to load up more capacity and add several additional servers (closer to their actual requirements), the performance dropped to about 1/3 of what the storage was delivering with only one server connected - and well below that of the EMC Symmetrix being evaluated as an alternative. Anyway, I believe that your suggestions strongly support good "best practices" for customers to consider, having been on both sides of this fence. Thanks, Ken

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Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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