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back to article Pillar and Xiotech whip Exchange competition

Pillar Data and Xiotech are much better at providing storage for 8,000 Exchange 2007 users than the competition in terms of drive spindle needs and response latency. Microsoft has encouraged its storage partners to run benchmarks at varying levels of Exchange user populations for both Exchange 2007 and 2010. We looked at the …

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And the point of this is ............?

So Microsoft releases a new version of exchange that doesnt understand or even need san storage (no more single instance copies, no ability to use SAN failover). Which means most people are planning on going back to DAS storage for exchange (which is hilarious watching the SAN vendors see that buisiness go down the pan!).

So what is the point about crowing how good your storage is running the previous generation product that very few people are going to be considering/upgrading?

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Bronze badge

a bit late

compellent and 3par results over a year old

pillar almost a year old

xiotech somewhat recent, few months old

slow news day?

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Anonymous Coward

weak to say the least....

If you want Exchange 2010 on SAN storage....um, you might want to look at IBM XIV.

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XIV - why??

Um, why the hell would you want to when you can build a MS Exchange reference architecture using a load of very cheap direct attached SAS drives? That would save you a fortune on the initial outlay, make it cheap to expand, easy to run and cheaper to run in terms of power (XIV is v hungry!). Most of the big Exchange hosting companies are doing exactly this now as the price per GB is a whole different ballpark to any SAN solution, including XIV.

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Anonymous Coward

REALLY??? I thought the poiont of Exch 2010 was to use DAS!

Out of the line-up the only product meased that can be Direct Attached is the Xiotech Emprise 5000 not the IBM XIV...well I suppose you could attach a single server to an XIV if you really wanted to but what a waste!!

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Because...it works and it is ESRP approved

Not sure your Staples approach above would get the green light from the operations, support, and engineering teams at most corporations. Mom and Pop shops...maybe, just maybe. Folks that need dependable storage solutions that meet SLAs to the business or it is their ass....NOT

There is no layout discussions or planning with XIV, neither upfront or a year down the road. And we run on SATA behind the grid.

http://www-03.ibm.com/support/techdocs/atsmastr.nsf/WebIndex/WP101702

A single DAG solution comprising 5 mailbox servers was created that supported a total of 40,000 mailboxes with a mailbox size of 3.5GB and I/OPs target of .18

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Re: Because...it works and it is ESRP approved

You obviously dont understand Exchange 2010!

There are plenty of DAS options as part of the ESRP as well

http://h20195.www2.hp.com/V2/GetPDF.aspx/4AA1-5736ENW.pdf for example?

I notice with much amusement that the XIV performs worse than the DAS option! How much did that solution cost by the way?

So explain to me what the difference/benefit is in running a SATA drive behind an XIV and a SATA drive connected directly to the mailbox server?

SATA drives are SATA drives, Exchange 2010 is extremely sequential in read/write layouts which pretty much negates the need for large caching. Exchange 2010 handles its own replication and availability groups, so there is nothing a SAN can do that would improve on that.

So to repeat the question above, why would a customer willingly pay extra money to host his data on an XIV when he will get no benefit over a much cheaper DAS solution?

Oh and the "Staples" approach is being used by large corporations, mostly because Microsoft are telling them that is the approach (DAS directly to the mailbox server)!

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What??

Sorry I must have accidentally been put into the SMB realm. XIV handles enterprise class customers...if you want your small to medium class at best...yes yes please do hit the Staples on your way into work.

Yeah, don't leverage you existing SAN infrastructure that procurement still has 2-3 years on the books before the swap for new gear....lets step back into time and build islands of DAS...That helps to CTO big time.

Reliability, management, and consistent predictable performance would just be a few benefits to XIV.

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Re: What??

Reliability, management, and consistent predictable performance would just be a few benefits to XIV.

Errrr, sorry how?

Ill take them 1 at a time.

Reliability. A SATA disk is a SATA disk so drive failure is not going to change. Also as I pointed out all 2010 HA and DR features are specific to the server side, so no benefit from the SAN.

Management. Well what your going to have to do in XIV is 1. go down to the array and carve off some luns 2. then present those luns to the mailbox servers 3. whilst zoning in fabrics and so on. 4. Then you can go to the mailbox server and set up exchange 2010 (where it will treat your expensive carefully provisioned luns in exactly the same way as DAS)! Or with a DAS solution you could just go straight to your mailbox server and perform step 4.

Predictable Performance. Hahahahahahahahah (enough said). Sorry how does an array designed for random IOPS workloads perform better with an application that is extremely sequential? Also as you'll note from the link I sent you the DAS solution outperformed your beloved XIV solution particularly in latency (mostly because DAS was sitting closer to the server)!

Sorry I must have accidentally been put into the SMB realm. XIV handles enterprise class customers

As I'm sure your aware the ESRP is designed for enterprise class solutions that are certified by Microsoft .............. so I suggest you take it up with them why they consider DAS to be just as reliable, more performant and a damn site cheaper than a SAN.

Oh and you raised one valid point about the existing SAN investment, I have many customers (yes I work for a large vendor) who rightfully point out that they only just bought a SAN so can they use that, of course they can and sometimes it makes sense particularly if they have excess capacity sitting around. They all accept however that it isn't the most cost effective or even most performant. However I have yet to meet a customer who when buying storage for 2010 actually buys brand new arrays. I recently had a situation where the cost of just the extra disks for an san (to support 2010) was twice the price of our solution which was the servers AND the storage all in! Guess which one they went for? This was an extremely large FTSE 100 company.

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Re: What??

Sure the drives are going to fail, but what type of extra load and performance degradation will the rebuild cause on your Staples DAS solution?? And how long of a duration will the rebuild take? What effect will this bring to the business operations? On XIV, a rebuild takes under 30min for a 1TB drive under a fully utilized 79TB usable machine and ~50min for 2TB drive in a fully allocated 161TB machine.....So what is your rebuild times? What is the reponse time hit and user expaerience negative factor going to be?

No spare drives to allocate in XIV just spare capacity which is already built in.

"carefully provisioned luns"

Sorry, wrong! Not in XIV. Simply what is the size, how many do you need, and what is the naming convention and your done. All in one screen, in about 1-2 min (and that is if your using it for the first time) Check it out if you are a non-believer, same look and feel as the MAC. Even if you still don't like XIV for Exchange you must give some props for the management UI (which has no licensing fee to use nor a separate server requirement to implement)

http://www.xivstorage.com/demo/GUI_Demo.html

And yes XIV is a predictable/consistent performer...reason being is the underlying architecture. Remember we are a grid consisting of off the shelf computing nodes with distributed cache and 84 core processors running Linux under the covers...much like how Google and Amazon handle their business...(pretty successful model don't you think) A node falls out from the grid, no worries the remaining pick up the slack..a new node is added in non-disruptively.. great you just added in addition cache, disk, and CPU power to the grid. No hot spots in XIV, we spread all the data in 1MB chunks across all the disk drives in the array...that's 180 spindles working for you at all times. All done within the array automatically with no management undertaking

And yes you can leverage that SAN because you don't just have to run Exchange...XIV is a powerful machine with customers hosting Exchange and other applications at the same time with no performance issues.

And to highlight, Snapshot technology, thin provisioning, copy services, replication, and data migration facility are all built into the XIV with no additional licensing fees like other vendors. So may I ask what type of Snapshot technologies, consistency groups for application integration does the Staples solution give the test/dev and back up teams?

Cheap and deep might look great on the surface but you need features, functionality, reliability and a tried and true support organization behind the solution for it to make sense for the business.

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Re: Re: What??

OK Im going to try and be polite here. (takes a deep breath)

You really really need to go and undertand how Exchange 2010 works.

I did not ask for war and peace on how great XIV was! What I asked was why would I pay for an XIV (in fact ANY storage array) rather than a DAS solution (please note that in a DAS solution we use equal to or better technology than you (Midline SAS and 6GB SAS in a fully redundant enterprise class architecture for a start (I digress however!)) when I will not gain anything (other than extra cost)

Im going to try and highlight some areas for you. (Not all, I dont have time)

"rebuild cause on your Staples DAS solution"

Exchange 2010 works with availability on the premise of mailbox copies these are effectively different LUN's presented to different servers but the same data on each one, this is the ONLY model of availability that you can use! A common approach these days is a single mailbox database to a single disk. If a disk fails, obviously that mailbox copy goes offline, however you have multiple other copies being served by different servers (so in fact you are protected against server failure as well) so a disk failure doesnt actually affect user performance as they merely get served by a different mailbox server. A rebuild then happens in the background away from the user between the servers (plus you probably have more than one copy so even multiple drive failures arn't an issue, what happens in yours if you have multiple drive failures in quick succession?) so zero impact with zero impact to response time (which actually cant be said for yours as at some point your array will have to dedicate cyles to rebuilding?).

"Even if you still don't like XIV for Exchange you must give some props for the management UI (which has no licensing fee to use nor a separate server requirement to implement)"

OK maybe Im not being clear. Even if the XIV is a good as you say, you still have to set up the server side AFTER you have set up the storage (so at least two interfaces to play with!). In a DAS model you just set up the server and away you go (which also simplifies troubleshooting as its all server side but I digress).

"So may I ask what type of Snapshot technologies, consistency groups for application integration does the Staples solution give the test/dev and back up teams?"

OK this is the bit where you show your ignorance (Im guessing your either a sales person (not presales) or product management?(Actually the bit about perfomance gave it away, you clearly dont understand what sequential perfomance means for a cahched array architecture)).

ALL of this is provided in the applciation itself it has ZERO understanding of any 3rd party implementation of this, so all you array is doing is providing raw space (you could use thin provisioning but I wouldnt recommend it if Exchange thinks it has space it WILL use it (not particularly a good idea if you overprovision!))!

Please, please please read this before coming back and posting

http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/2010/en/us/overview.aspx!!

PS as a bit of a friendly dig at you have a look at Lefthands P4000 technology, you almost got your architecture as good but you forgot to think outside the box (no pun intended!!)

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Re: Re: What??

Wow...you win. As I stated in a prior post, you must be the poster child for the SMB crew. And Yes your DAS solution makes sense for the few thousand user shop or maybe the LH P4000 you mentioned...again small to medium at best.

Once you carry over to the big boys, at some point, you will see the light.

100K+ exchange users, multiple applications, integrated backup requirements with restore capabilities and leveraging the SAN investment is where it is at....and Yes this is where XIV plays and plays well.

You must agree at some point the Capex and Opex favor the SAN when you scale to the numbers I deal with above...if you don't, you sir don't understand the financial and business side of IT.

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