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September 30, 2008



-- You need 10 or more virtual machines doing pretty much the same thing, all in the same flexvol

This is actually a pretty common scenario due to pathological corporate politics, tight IT budgets, and every department with a half way competent techy wanting to control their own servers. IT/IS simply says F*$% it and gives everybody their own VMware image to run themselves. De-duping just the OS files should be a huge win.

Chuck Hollis

Yeah, fair enough, but do you see this resulting in 50% less storage utilization?

Now, I see your point -- imagine a whole bunch of little "crapplications", each with a tiny bit of user data, and all of them requiring the exact same binaries to run.

But does this mean -- in the real world --you need 1 array instead of 2? That's where I have the problem ...

Martin G

Okay, they've bounded this in a such a way, it should be hard to fail. Hardly a stretch target to be honest. But I do think it is an interesting way to highlight the use-cases for primary storage dedupe; I can see it having some great potential in development/test environments where I have many copies of the operating system, Oracle binaries, Webserver, Application Server etc.

I probably wouldn't want to rely on A-SIS in my production environments and it probably wouldn't get to run anyway as I have things like batch-runs which often mean my arrays are busier overnight than the online day, so I don't have spare CPU cycles to play with.

And with vStorage Linked Clones coming along the track; NetApp do need to highlight a potential competitive advantage whilst they still have it.

Its probably all goodness as it gets some of the ideas into the open and lets them be debated now. I hope that in spite of what is a fairly inflammatory marketing campaign that we might get some interesting debate.

But I am fairly certain that in a few years time; we will see primary storage dedupe becoming a fairly standard feature (just like thin provisioning) but only for some use cases.

Chuck Hollis

Agreed on all points, thanks Martin!


> Yeah, fair enough, but do you see this resulting in 50% less storage utilization?

Depending on how draconian central IS/IT is in making sure patches/service packs are installed, I could see 80% savings (assume a standard of XP, 2K3, and RHEL4) and that would take you from 2 to 1 array and give users more room for their own insular little apps. I would bet one previous place I worked would be all over this, with everybody on board. Bean counters furiously counting, all the little empire builders willing to stick to the standard in return for more buildout room and IS, still short staffed even with all the help, wondering if they can fob off basic admin to all departments.

Chuck Hollis


Get a take on Steven Schwartz' blog:


Dave Mcdonald

On the contrary, I see this as a bold move on NetApp's part. No truly binding offer comes without fine print. This is exactly the kind of thing that gets a CFO's attention.

Besides, as a customer what have I got to lose? Either I save a lot of capital and operational expenditures deploying less storage - or I save just capital dollars via free upgrades from NetApp to satisfy my requirements.

Sounds like a win-win to me. I for one hope EMC and other storage players jump on this bandwagon to prove their claims in the most tangible way - by putting your chips on the table where everyone can see them!

Chuck Hollis

Dave, I stand corrected! I guess there IS an audience for this kind of marketing stunt!

BTW, is this the same Dave McDonald who works at Peak, the NetApp reseller?

-- Chuck

Mike Shea

This is a first. The first time I've seen someone actually attempt to characterize a guarantee as a 'bad idea' - unless you are talking sports....


(Yes - I work for NetApp)

Chuck Hollis

Mike, most guarantees imply something of value.

This one doesn't, does it?

It comes across as a marketing gimmick, not an honest attempt to put the customer first.

And I'm not the only one with this opinion.

Paul P

Let's compare with some EMC quotes.


"Low-power SATA drives use 96 percent less energy per TB versus 15k FC"

Wow, SATA drives using only 4 percent of of the 15k FC variety. Is this a normal expecation in normal evironments? Is the fact that EMC do not offer any fine print on this statement and no offer of a money back gaurantee make it less gimmicky or 'more' true?

Let's try another one:

"The CX4 boasts up to twice the performance of the previous generation"

Are you stating that CX3's are twice as slow, again, I didn't see the fine print so maybe I am missing something here.

Steven Schwartz - The SAN Technologist

Thanks for the linking Chuck! When I read the NetApp release, and did the basic math, I just couldn't believe it. Forget about FlexClones, Deduplication, Snapshots, etc. If you take best practices for a RAID10 system vs. NetApp's recommendation for a RAID-DP system, and compare usable capacity, there is a 50% "savings" just in the different RAID choice.

I used 4x 14 drive trays (500GB drives) as my example since NetApp required a minimum of 10TB usable. If you configure 56 drives in RAID-6, closest available RAID configuration in comparison to RAID-DP, and assumed no spares since each raid set is dual failure protected, you end up with 26TB usable. If you take the same number of spindles, assume standard best practices of a single HS per tray for RAID10 configurations, you end up with only 13TB usable. So working math backwards, you only need 28 spindles with RAID6/DP to achieve roughly 12TB-13TB of usable capacity.

So all that is being committed to, or rather the "guarantee", is that with RAID-DP you need less disks then with RAID10. Now let's be honest, in MOST IO profiles, RAID10 and RAID6/60/DP, DO NOT have the same performance profile, so the original baseline, while on capacity might be a savings, number of spindles and performance won't be!!!!

In either case, I'm glad I could bring some laughter to what I considered a pretty comical marketing ploy.


I think NetApp don't need to do this kind of "guarantee" kind of marketing. The product is any way of high quality for the enterprise. The NetApp services and support has really improved. So capitalize!

EMC has the best storage marketing today and
NetApp marketing team should take a leaf out of EMC and learn what to pitch.

If you can save half the capacity on NetApp storage for VMWare, SO WHAT?

NetApp should take some other route like EMC ILM/Cloud Computing or HP-Database Machine etc...messages.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Paul

Obviously, you've got a different perspective on this than many people.

But let me see if I can help.

There's a difference between comparing two technologies, and "guaranteeing" that all customers can see this in their environments, and then lard in a whole pile of disclaimers which render the "guarantee" valueless, which we would never do.

What we do is say that there are specific use cases and tradeoffs, and take the discussions from there. You may not appreciate the difference, but it's pretty significant.

Ditto for performance claims -- no "guarantee", as we all know your results may vary, and then we get very specific as to what and where. Again, no marketing stunt.

Thanks for writing!

Steve Marsden


That is priceless! Thanks for doing the math. I guess NetApp could have made their offer a little less complicated if they had done the maths themselves.

But hats off to their Marketing team right? It is fairly obvious this offer has been prompted by Chuck's blog a few weeks ago. They definitely want people to believe their hype. The sad thing is that some people will buy into it. Great - RAID6 (or DP) uses less spindles - and we'll give you money if this isn't the case.

Their other marketing coup was of course A-SIS itself. Completely impractical in terms of its scheduling and the one area where you might choose to use it - file system data - usually runs up against the maximum flaexvol size limits - but a great marketing message.

All very amusing.

Dave Mcdonald

Hi Chuck - Dave again.

No I'm not the D.M. that works for Peak, but I do represent a large systems integrator which sells and uses HDS, EMC & NetApp.

While I'm not a big fan of their hardware (3100 shows promise) I have to side with Curtis Preston that NetApp's software is second to none - especially with regards to offering more usable capacity than all the others by a country mile.

I have seen all 4 major components of this guarantee differentiate themselves vs your gear and HDS' in real-world PoC's and production.

RAID-DP is easily as fast as RAID 10 without the mirroring overhead, FlexVols implement thin provisioning with no extra I/O later, snapshots don't mess with response times and the new A-SIS icing on the cake accomplishes eye-catching dedupe ratios for VMware.

DMX's and Tagma's have their place in this world, especially for Mainframe or Superdome-class requirements, but in the x86 environment NetApp has a strong value prop.

Chuck Hollis

Wow -- you're "on message" for NetApp!

David G.

Hi Chuck,

Just a quicky - NetApp don't use RAID6, and while you may be trying to "keep it simple", the only similarity between RAID6 and RAID-DP is the parity overhead by space - the data protection and performance characteristics are very different.

On that topic though, RAID 1+0 and 0+1 both have the possibility of data loss after a failure of only two disks (for RAID 1+0, two disks on the same pair, or for RAID 0+1, a disk on each stripe set). RAID 6 and RAID-DP need to have three disks fail under any circumstances to lose data...

Vaughn Stewart


I'd love to have you on our side, maybe if you take a peek at this blog post, you'd stop the claims of Shenanigans and decide to join the legion of ex-EMCers over here.

(note - I work for NetApp)


Give it a read, and let me know what you think.

Thanks in advance, for being open to learning about new technologies and advancements in storage technologies.


Vaughn Stewart


Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my 'shenanigans' post. I appreciate it.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    Chief Strategist, VMware Storage and Availability Business Unit

    Chuck works for VMware, and is deeply embroiled in all things software-defined storage these days.

    Previously, he was with EMC for 18 years, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Holliston, MA with his wife, three kids and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.
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