Validating Powering VMware with Optane

The StorONE S1:All-Flash Array.next (AFAn) initial focus excels in high-performance database environments, but now we are validating powering VMware with Optane. StorageReview recently put an S1:AFA.next through its paces in a VMware environment and came away with impressive results. Join StorONE and StorageReview for a live webinar this Thursday as they discuss how to best use Intel®’s Optane™ in a VMware environment.

How The S1:AFA.next Works

The S1:AFA.next is the world’s first enterprise storage system to blend Intel®’s Optane™ performance as a tier with Intel QLC flash drives’ capacity and cost-effectiveness. The S1:AFAn is built with an Intel-branded server and is powered by StorONE’s S1:Enterprise Storage Platform software. The combination of Optane and QLC delivers over one million read IOPS and over 300,000 sustained write IOPS. The solution is feature-rich, including capabilities such as protection from multiple media failures thanks to our S1:vRAID. It also includes S1:Snap, our snapshot technology that allows for millions of snapshots, taken every three minutes, that are retainable for years and never impact performance.

Validating Powering VMware with Optane

S1:AFAn leverages StorONE S1:Tier to ensure that the QLC drives provide the best endurance possible, rivaling TLC’s endurance. The first step is for all new and active data to leverage the Optane tier for high write performance and low latency. As data ages, S1:Tier automatically moves data from Intel® Optane™ to QLC in a sequential fashion, which is the preferred pattern for QLC. 

Second, S1:Tier does not automatically promote old data to Optane on access. The read performance of the QLC tier is excellent, and not promoting the data saves unnecessary writes. 

StorONE spent eight years completely rewriting and flattening the storage IO stack, creating a single-layer storage IO engine that can leverage all hardware innovations while establishing a new standard in data integrity and protection. As a result, there is no need for a write cache, which further exploits the high write-performance of Optane. 

Not only does the S1:AFAn perform significantly better than the typical AFA, but it also does so with lower storage server requirements and requiring less physical media. The StorONE enterprise storage platform software’s efficiency means that the price of an AFAn is less than most of our competitors’ AFAs. Its next-generation design, powered by the StorONE S1:Enterprise Platform software, solves the numerous problems common to all other all-flash arrays on the market today.

Evaluation by StorageReview Validates S1:AFAn Design

The StorONE S1:AFAn was recently subjected to a thorough evaluation by Lyle Smith and Kevin O’Brien of the highly respected organization, StorageReview. The evaluation examined all aspects of the S1:AFAn’s design, capabilities, and performance.

One of the first things the evaluators noted was that the S1:AFAn uses Intel Optane as the top tier of storage rather than as a cache while leveraging Intel QLC 3D NAND SSDs for high capacity storage. They also noted that the StorONE S1:Enterprise Storage Platform software moves data based on high performance while also managing data economics by using the QLC SSDs.

The StorageReview team also noted that, unlike other software-defined platforms with bottlenecks that prevent users from getting the most out of their hardware, StorONE offered users a way to bypass them to get the best performance possible. Additionally, he mentioned that the StorONE GUI is cross-platform compatible, supporting Windows, Linux, Mac, and mobile operating systems.

StorONE Management Software

The StorageReview team next stepped through downloading and installing the StorONE software and then detailed going through the various options for configuring the drives, volumes, and other aspects of managing the system and server resources in the monitoring and provisioning areas. He also noted that he found the software interface fast and easy to navigate. The evaluation provided clear screenshots of the different menus and options.

They then stepped through, creating volumes and selecting various options for them. They pointed out under the disk pool section how you can define different tiers for the built-in auto-tiering functionality, which they stated is one of the essential advantages of the StorONE platform. They also explained how auto-tiering works by analyzing things like read and write patterns and the length of time since data was accessed to decide which data to move to the less expensive QLC tier. This intelligent tiering ensures that infrequently accessed files don’t waste valuable high-performance space.

The team also noted the flexibility and ease in defining policies for unlimited snapshots and how to access the snapshots and search for specific data and then mount them to access their data.

They then described how our vRAID allows administrators to define the amount of data redundancy fragments you need on the system and how it allows you to focus a particular volume more on performance or protection. The team noted that this made the StorONE software a very flexible system that did not have the limitations found in a standard RAID system.

They covered many of the other functions available in the software for monitoring and management and its support for block-based access via iSCSI and Fibre Channel, NAS via SMB and NFS, and its built-in support for Object Store, which supports S3.

The evaluators further noted that overall they were very impressed with the amount of flexibility and customization provided by the StorONE software and its focus on getting the most out of your system.

Evaluating StorONE S1:AFAn VMware Performance

The StorageReview team then detailed all the various performance tests and the workloads they used in these tests. All tests were in a VMware environment. 

The team used the VDBench workload generator to provide a range of different testing profiles. These tests ranged from “four corners” tests, to random read and write tests with different block sizes. They also included standard database transfer size tests, including trace captures from different VDI environments. The review detailed the results for each of these tests and showed graphs detailing the results.

The highlights of these performance tests showed the following results:

  • 4k read of 400K IOPS, 
  • 4k write peak of 32K IOPS
  • 32K read of 226K IOPS, 
  • 32K write of 54K IOPS
  • Sequential 64K read of 2.8GB/s
  • 64K write of 2GB/s. 

For SQL workloads, they reported peaks of 

  • 287K IOPS, 242K IOPS for SQL 90-10, 
  • 195K IOPS for SQL 80-20. 

For Oracle workloads, they reported peaks of

  • 180K IOPS, 243K IOPS in Oracle 90-10
  • 190K IOPS in Oracle 80-20. 

The team also ran VDI FC tests reporting: 

  • 180K IOPS for boot, 
  • 67K IOPS for Initial Login
  • 74K IOPS for Monday Login. 

StorageReview Conclusions

The StorageReview team noted that while the S1:AFAn takes full advantage of some of the best storage technologies available from Intel, the real key or “secret sauce” is in the StorONE S1:Enterprise Platform software. They commented that S1 helps to create an environment where users can take full advantage of Optane and QLC storage. They also noted that the software is easy-to-use and built around eliminating bottlenecks and maximizing the potential performance. 

The StorageReview team further stated that the StorONE S1:AFAn demonstrates a cost-effective way to leverage QLC NAND in an enterprise setting with Intel Optane SSDs as the top tier of storage. 

Conclusion

The StorageReview testing and evaluation clearly show that the StorONE S1:AFA•next design and its software are exceptionally flexible and fully able to support any technology a data center may use for storage and networking now and into the future. It also proves the VMware environments can benefit greatly from adopting this technology.

Posted in
George Crump

George Crump

George has over 25 years of experience in the storage industry, holding executive sales and engineer positions. Before joining StorONE, he was the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland.

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