Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NetApp Performance in SAN Environments

NetApp systems exhibit significant performance shortcomings in transaction-intensive block environments. The NetApp capacity utilization and performance issues observed in the tests seriously compromise NetApp’s claims about low TCO, superior performance, and life cycle costs.2

Specifically, the testing indicates that:

  1. NetApp users need to maintain very low levels of storage capacity utilization to achieve competitive and predictable performance in transaction-intensive block environments. This factor clearly compromises the NetApp promise of storage “efficiency.”
  2. As a consequence, NetApp systems must be significantly “over-provisioned” in terms of total capacity to provide predictable response times and service levels.
  3. Because performance also degrades over time, NetApp systems will need to be defragmented on a periodic basis to restore predictable performance. This is a disruptive and time-consuming activity.
  4. NetApp users will experience the same performance issues regardless of connectivity option—IP, iSCSI, or Fibre Channel.

Key observations

1. NetApp performance degrades as disk capacity utilization increases. Generally, NetApp systems exhibit high performance at low disk utilization capacities—10 percent to 15 percent, the utilization level at which NetApp usually reports benchmark results. As capacity increases, under constant load, NetApp response time and throughput diminish rapidly.

2. NetApp performance and response time degrade significantly over time, even at constant load and constant capacity utilization.

3. Higher drive count does not reduce or eliminate the observed performance degradation. In fact, test results indicate that response times become less predictable with higher drive counts.

4. Performance issues are independent of connectivity—FC, IP, or iSCSI. Performance issues and bottlenecks are related to the NetApp file system and OS, not the interconnect. Utilizing high-performance interconnects such at Fibre Channel does not mitigate the basic performance issues.

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