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How to compare storage?

We hear it all the time, “How does your system compare to your competitor’s system”.  That is when the architect or engineer starts to rattle off the different features and how this works and that. But I think you don’t have to go far below the surface to start seeing real differences. We all know the SPC numbers for these systems and try to spin them when our system doesn’t beat the current record. What I do know is there is more to the evaluation of a storage system than just how many bits it can serve in microsecond.

I love cars and all types of cars. This past weekend I got to see one of the best looking, best sounding cars that is made in America. The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. This car just oozes raw power and from the sidewalk will make men into boys as it rumbles by. But how does it perform? How does it match up with the other ‘great’ cars in that same genre?

Let me introduce you to the SRT Viper GTS. I had to do some research before finding a car so similar that they even look alike.  When you look at the hardware the cars are almost identical:


So from the surface you can see these two cars are not only similar in shape but engine size, power and torque. In order to tell which car is better suited, one would need to go head to head and see how these cars perform in certain conditions.  Like storage, we compare systems CPU, cache  port speed, maximum number drives etc. At first glance you can determine if you are comparing similar systems or not.  You may be trying to compare a sports car to mini van.

Now what do you do next? Put the cars on the track and see who is fastest.  Drag style. In the storage world, this is done from either a bake-off or looking at benchmarks likes SPC numbers.  Now your numbers could show you exactly how your system COULD perform. Now when looking at benchmarks like SPC you have to take in account of how the boxes are configured, how they stack up price wise and even what the green value might be.

But when it comes down to it, it’s all about handling both for cars and storage. As people look at the solutions on paper they may or may not be the right fit.  Just because a car can go 0 to 60 in 2.3 seconds doesn’t do you any good if you are driving on the interstate for three hours.  But a nice comfortable seat with adaptive cruise control makes your back feel better in the end.  Its the things that you sometimes can’t see in the data sheet or someone’s elevator pitch.

IBM does have ways to let you test drive their systems either onsite, remotely or even at a IBM facility.  The idea of putting your hands on the equipment and finding the little things that make you more comfortable can effect how you see storage in a different light.  If you are in the process of looking at a new storage system, take the time to sit in the car and see how it handles.

Here is a great YouTube video showing the Head2Head comparison of the Viper GTS vs the Corvette ZR1.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,
  1. March 25, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Such a useful article! Thank you alot.

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