By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy
I just finished watching the exciting conclusion of the Euro2012 semifinal match between Spain and Portugal. Call me weird but I couldn't help think about NetApp and their new SPC-1 results as the match was nearing its end. If you missed the game, it went to penalty kicks (PK) to decide who would move on to the Euro2012 championship game. Both goalies made excellent diving saves to start things off but then Portugal drew first blood scoring on their second PK.
What does the game have to do with NetApp SPC-1 results?
After Portugal scored first, I thought they should "pull a NetApp" and just leave the field and claim victory. That's what NetApp is doing with their latest SPC results. Here's what I mean.
NetApp in their pitching the press on the SPC results is claiming it has better results than HP 3PAR. Then, quietly under their breath, they say, if you redefine the SPC-1 rules and ignore the fact that HP 3PAR was nearly 2X faster than NetApp, we have found a way to claim victory. NetApp picked a latency number and compared the results of the two systems at that latency and started running a victory lap.
I gotta give it to NetApp for the creative marketing; if they would have been coaching the Portugal team during the Euro2012 match today, I'm sure they would have pulled the team off the pitch after the second penalty kick and claimed victory. Unfortunately, neither result would stand the test of reason. Check out this chart with some of the data comparing the SPC-1 results from NetApp and HP 3PAR. A couple of things jump out of this for me:
- HP 3PAR results were 200,000 IOPS better than NetApp, nearly 50% faster. NetApp is trying to redefine the intended purpose of the SPC benchmark and its shenanigans like this that are probably a big reason why EMC still refuses to submit SPC results. I'm a bit surprised that the SPC allowed NetApp to do this.
- If NetApp could have beaten the 3PAR numbers outright, they would have - they can't. Even with over 3TB of SSD FlashCache, they couldn't get close to the HP 3PAR IOPS. So plan B is to find some other way to declare victory.
- NetApp also claimed that they have a lower $ per IOPS and justified it by saying other suppliers discount by up to 50% compared to their supplied prices. Unfortunately, that's not how the SPC-1 $ per IOPS works - again, I'm surprised that the SPC would approve of what NetApp has done here. The SPC certainly wouldn't allow them to publish these re-spun numbers in the official report and I'd venture a guess that the SPC isn't very happy with the games they playing in the press with recasting their results.
- In NetApp's results, their array's useable capacity was almost 50% less than we had with HP 3PAR. I find great humor in this given the way my old friend Alex McDonald used to attack HP capacity utilization compared to FAS several years ago.
- Lastly, let's talk about the "clustered system" NetApp used vs. the HP 3PAR architecture. NetApp used six nodes in their cluster but it isn't anything like a 3PAR cluster. Each controller in the NetApp cluster has its own disks assigned and there's no load-balancing across the other controllers. A NetApp controller can only access another controller's assigned pool of disks when one controller fails. With HP 3PAR, data is wide-striped and load balanced across all controllers.
With deep apologies to Portugal, Spain won the Euro2012 semi-final match 4-2; the match didn't end after the first PK was scored. And with no apologies to NetApp, they don't have a better SPC-1 result than HP 3PAR.