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Take the Elevator to All-Flash or Not: Flexibility to Choose

The VMAX3 is a hybrid array offering a range of performance levels from all-flash through high capacity storage. EMC calls the VMAX3 the Cloud Data Platform and it is. Some of the key values of the cloud is consolidation, automation, flexibility, and simplifying operational management. The VMAX3 has all the cloud benefits in a storage array.

Focusing on performance the VMAX3 simplifies operational management while retaining flexibility through Service Level Objectives (SLO). There are six service levels:

  • Diamond: All-flash – consistent sub-millisecond response times
  • Platinum: 3 ms response times
  • Gold: 5 ms response times
  • Silver: 8 ms response times
  • Bronze 12 ms response times
  • Balanced: System Optimized

Diamond is a true all-flash tier delivering sub-millisecond performance. In a recent EMC paper (DEPLOYMENT BEST PRACTICE FOR ORACLE DATABASE WITH VMAX3 SERVICE LEVEL OBJECTIVE MANAGEMENT) an Oracle 12c database OLTP (70% reads / 30% writes) workload was run on the diamond tier. The test results showed 183,451 average Transactions per Minute (TPM) at a .8 ms response time for the front-end storage and average database read response time of 1 ms. Outstanding database performance that competes with all-flash arrays. 

Balancing Performance and Consolidation

All-flash is excellent for OLTP workloads. I spent ten years working for Oracle designing, implementing, and supporting E-business projects. Enterprise applications with a large number of users driving small transactions is ideal for all-flash tiers and storage arrays. Consolidation is equally important and as the number of databases and amount of data is growing many times faster than DBA teams. For example, Database-as-a-Service in the cloud offers self-service provisioning of databases in minutes but demands the business have a consolidation plan for initial database placement.

The VMAX3 simplifies consolidation by offering a range of performance pools for consolidation. For example, the bronze level consists of large capacity disks which is perfect for initial placement of databases. I’m going to anticipate someone saying, “All-flash arrays have real-time deduplication so initial placement of databases uses no capacity” which is true. The VMAX3 can create copies of databases using no capacity too, with SnapVX NoCopy. The benefits to using the bronze service level are:

  • High capacity disks cost less per gigabyte than flash
  • With SnapVX NoCopy there is no initial capacity usage

So the VMAX3 has a very strong consolidation story similar to all-flash but at less cost. Another way to look at the flexibility of the VMAX3 SLO levels is by asking the question, “Do all databases need the IOPS and sub-millisecond performance of all-flash?” A best practice in designing production architectures was to dedicate both server and storage to the production database. Isolating production ensures the database has exclusive access to all the resources and is not impacted by other databases like test and development. The power of the VMAX3 SLO levels is the DBA is doing this by dedicating diamond to production databases and everything else to other SLO levels.  

Figure 1: VMAX3 SLO Supporting Thousands of Users and Databases

VMAX3 Cloud Data Platform

Enter the flexibility and automation to non-disruptively move databases from one level to another. In the same study initial database placement started at the bronze level which supported 15,000 TPM. Then the OLTP workload was non-disruptively moved to silver, gold, platinum, and diamond. At the diamond level the number of transactions increased by 5X to 150,000 TPM. What I like about this test is it matches closely with my consulting experience. Very frequently a database would start in development and as we neared promoting the database into production it was moved to a production environment. With the VMAX3 this is simplicity of operational management at its best.

Figure 2: TPM Increases by 5X When Moving Oracle Databases Across SLO Levels

In moving databases from bronze to diamond the response times decrease. Faster response times means a better application user experience. In the same OLTP workload test bronze had a response time of 7.5 milliseconds and in moving to diamond the response times decreased by 5X to 1.5 milliseconds. Thus the DBA can easily increase TPM and achieve faster response times by moving the database from its initial placement in bronze to another service level.

Figure 3: Faster Response Times In Moving From Bronze to Diamond

The VMAX3 is the Cloud Data Platform as it has all the performance of all-flash and can consolidate databases at less cost. Operational management is simplified and automated in that a DBA can seamless move databases to SLO levels to match the business requirements. Storage complexity is eliminated as performance is defined by the SLO levels. Here are some supporting resources if you are interested in the VMAX3.

FS1 Complexity vs XtremIO Simplicity

IMHO DCIG Got it Wrong: The Facts on Data Domain DD9500