Two bits of news, oddly correlated.
First, there's EMC's recent SPEC benchmark posting, where a single Intel-based Celerra data mover absolutely *smokes* every other NAS device out there.
Second, there's Timothy Prickett Morgan's take on the IDC server numbers, where -- once again -- the market bought more Intel-compatible servers and fewer of the other kind.
I think I've seen this movie before, and I know how it ends :-)
Remembering The LAN Wars
Once upon a time, there was a vibrant industry debate about what kind of wire and protocol would make sense for a building network. There were many choices: RS-422, Token Ring, Coax -- even a few more esoteric choices. And there was Ethernet.
At the time, I worked for a vendor (Convergent Technologies) who had pretty much bet the farm on the RS-422 approach. We ended up losing that argument. As did any customer who wired their building with Token Ring, etc.
Ethernet won -- not necessarily because it was the better technology, but simply because the fact that economies of scale started to kick in (as well as a powerful ecosystem) and that was that. The effect is often called "Ethernet economics" in the industry.
Listen to me talk, and I'm very clear that we believe that -- over the next few years -- far more enterprise workloads will end up on Intel (or potentially compatibles), and far fewer workloads will end up on other kinds of more traditional RISC processors.
IDC makes the point that -- for the last five quarters -- increasingly more money is being spent on Intel and compatibles, and considerably less is being spent on everything else.
Sure, I can make a technology argument that Intel is delivering amazing price/performance, especially with their latest round of Westmere processors. But my stronger argument is based on economics and ecosystems -- the same forces that makes Ethernet the de-facto standard it is today. Call it "Intel economics".
For me -- case closed.
And The Really Fast NAS Part
Our engineering team posted an interesting SPEC NFS benchmark today.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, EMC is not against standard benchmarks per se, just bad benchmarks. We've always thought the SPEC has done a good job in characterizing real-world workloads, as well as managing an open and fair process.
If you go look at the SPEC NFS benchmark page, you'll see this single node system (with a spare passive node for failover) handily dusts everything else out there at 135K NFS ops, and by a large margin. And we didn't need to use flash drives to do it, nor 10Gb ethernet :-)
The VG8 scales up to 8 nodes (actually, 7 active and one failover), so it's reasonable to expect that a fully loaded VG8 might deliver ~945K ops -- and that's before we get into things like 10GbE and flash and pNFS.
Hey, 1M+ ops might be a good goal to shoot for the next round ...
This Isn't Really About Benchmark Bragging ...
OK, maybe it is -- just a little :-)
I think the real story here is about the new "Intel economics" -- the ability to use technology, scale and ecosystem to deliver price/performance that can't be easily achieved any other way.
It doesn't matter whether you're a vendor of server or storage, or a user of these devices -- it looks like it's quickly becoming an Intel world.