Sunday, October 11, 2009

Things you never wanted to know about SAN's...

Here's some information you will try to forget after reading. It explains why SAN's always cause trouble, why "a firmware upgrade" is really a complete change of an OS and therefor really dangerous (and impossible to plan or test for) and more.

From now on, think of the firmware in a SAN as a whole OS, just bigger. Scary, right?

My question to this very smart guy I know was this:

"Could you repeat what OS'es are used in what SAN's for me? And how many code lines the ExaData is using?"

=======================================================================

oh god...that is a huge question... First, Exadata software is small (less than about 100MB of bits)...but that is an unfair comparison to the glut of stuff in a full-featured array... Exadata has Linux underneath it, but then we execute about 98% User, 2% Kernel so really, the only thing we get from Linux is scheduling and I/O... Exadata is small because it doesn't do any of the fat stuff arrays like Clariion do (e.g., snapshots, remote mirror, etc).

Netapp's is called OnTap and it is a heavily developed BSD (Net/1 to be exact). It is huge and full featured as you can tell by how many add on packages it support, but just in protocol provisioning it is huge. Consider the fact that it can support front-end FC yet the LUNS are actually files in the WAFL filesystem! Wild.

Clariion OS is called FLARE and it sits on top of a full Windows distro (XP). EMC NAS (celerra) is called DART which is written from scratch.

HP StorageWorks Clustered Gateway is Linux +hundreds of thousands of very specialized PolyServe code.

EMC DMX OS is called Enginuity...DMX cpus are Power and I have no idea what the origin of this OS is. If I were a betting man I'd bet that it is scratch like DART.

IBM DS83XX is full blown AIX plus more (this is the old SHARK array) in fact, it is a cluster of AIX boxes in there...

I don't know what HP calls the stuff that runs inside EVA ...

as you can see...it is very confusing.
=======================================================================

38 Comments:

Blogger Tim... said...

I thought you of all people would know that it's perfectly safe to do an upgrade and nothing can possibly go wrong... :)

Cheers

Tim...

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Blogger Mark said...

It has occurred to me to wonder about Exadata - how much of the performance gains are attributable to the subtraction of the SAN from the equation i.e. the use of a dedicated IO subsystem? As someone said at an some Oracle seminar I was at (might even have been Mogens) - "there is nothing good for DBAs in SANs" ;-)

Mark

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Blogger Moans Nogood said...

Hey Tim - got two responses from dear friends:

Dan Norris: I don't think Exadata is "better" or "faster" because it is dedicated and not shared. I think it is because of the efforts to avoid bottlenecks at all layers: bus, controller, storage network fabric (IB), # of CPUs available for ingest, etc. If a SAN design also considers all these things, it would be better than most SAN implementations I've observed in the wild.

Of course, the biggest advantage is from the offload capabilites and doing some SQL processing (projection, filtering, bloom filtering) in the storage layer. However, if it was possible to share Exadata storage with other systems outside the DBM rack, those things would still exist.

Dan
==========================
Arup Nanda:

Exadata can attribute its "magic" to several things:

(1) The Exadata software that runs at the cell level, filtering out data from the storage itself before sending to the the application (Oracle in this case)
(2) The smart flash - all 5TB of it in a full rack
(3) The Infiniband fabric that transports it at faster speed

So, the equation is not just SAN or no-SAN; it's not fair to compare the SAN performance with the dedicated storage in Exadata. Perhaps a better comparison would be several single instance databases all running from SAN and all running from dedicated storage.

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